When I was a kid, I didn’t like all the food that was put in front of me. Ok, full disclosure, that’s is an understatement. Chewing on a piece of capsicum or tasting celery would make me run to the bathroom. My parents still sigh when they think back to how I could easily spend the better part of an hour, picking out the ”green stuff” that I could clearly see in the bami goreng we were having. While I do not think you should force yourself, or anyone else, to eat something they feel tastes awful, I am glad my parents and friends always encouraged me to try new things and to keep trying the things that I thought I really did not like.
I still don’t enjoy raw bell peppers but I absolutely appreciate them in sauces and soups, and while I used to despise onions, I now list a good onion bread as one of my favourite kinds of bread. So why am I telling you all this? When people talk about food, I often hear that they find it difficult to find the time to eat what they really want to eat or to make choices when it comes to what to eat, or what not to eat. In this article, I want to share what I call ‘Truthful Living Food’ and what that means to me. It is about how I make choices regarding what to eat and how food fits into my life. Hopefully, it will help you in trying to figure out what works best for you.
Eating out or preparing your own Food
Having lived in both Europe and North America, one of the first differences I noticed was that people eat out regularly in North America, where Europeans prefer to prepare their own food. I believe that there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
What I like about going out for food is that:
- you do not have to do any groceries;
- it is often fast;
- you do not have to cook yourself;
- there is no clean-up;
- if you want, you can eat something you would never eat at home; and
- if you pick the right place, you can be sociable and enjoy the ambience of the restaurant.
What I dislike about eating out is that:
- it is often much more expensive than eating at home;
- depending on the place you go to, especially in North America, you cannot talk to the people you are with because there are televisions all around you, making it hard to understand each other;
- and last but not least, you do not know exactly what you are going to get if you aren’t familiar with the restaurant you have chosen.
The last reason can also be a good thing but since I usually try to dine out on a low budget, it is not always easy to find a place where they serve food that I really enjoy and I don’t feel like I could have made at home for much less.
What I like about staying in for food is that:
- I get to save my money!;
- I get to do groceries (Yes, depending on the mood I am in, I really enjoy doing groceries. You get to look at all the products and let your cooking-imagination run wild);
- it can be extremely fast;
- you get to cook yourself;
- you can try out all kinds of new recipes;
- you can prepare your food for several days in advance;
- I know exactly what goes into my food and thus it is easy to make sure that what I am eating is healthy; and
- if you eat with your family or friends, it’s a perfect way to all sit at the dinner table and catch-up.
What I dislike about eating at home is that:
I enjoy going out for dinner for a special occasion because it is nice to have a change of scenery every now and then. I also go out when no one in the house feels like cooking that night and there is nothing left in the house, not even some bread, something to put on that bread and some fruit that we can have as an improvised ”lazy-people-dinner”.
What to buy
What is in my food?
Know what you are buying. If you are not used to it, reading food labels can be a bit intimidating. If this is the case, just start small. Pick a food that you regularly use and have a look at the label. If there is an ingredient listed that you are not familiar with, just look it up online and get familiar with what it does (is it a thickening agent or a flavour enhancer etc.) The more you learn, the easier it becomes to make informed choices about eating vegan or gluten-free, switch to organic products or to decide if you want to try to use less processed foods.
I like to have a number of things in my house at all times so that it is easy to whip something up if I have to improvise last minute. These are things that usually have a long shelf life and that I use regularly. If you want to have a look at the things I usually have in my kitchen and would come in handy for my favourite recipes, check out my article: ”Staple Pantry Food”.
Eating at Regular Times
To make it a bit easier to plan your meals, it is good to realise what your average day looks like. What time do you get up, are you on-route when you are going to enjoy your lunch, how much time do you have to prepare your breakfast or dinner and how much time are you willing to spend on it. If possible, I like to have set-times to I eat. When there is a lot going on and I cannot stick to exact times, I try to be as close as I can be. Aside from the fact that it makes it easier to plan other things that need to be done during the day, I enjoy taking that time to take a step back from work or whatever it is I am doing, and let myself relax. I am always very tempted to keep working once I get sucked into something but I find that I am more productive and more efficient when I take regular breaks and take care of myself. So if you are busy, don’t be tempted to have your food while you are working or when you are watching the news. Try to consciously go and sit somewhere else, set the table if you can, and create a quiet moment to be aware of what it is, you are eating.
Delicious, easy to make and fast
Most people do not have the time (or energy, or interest) to cook incredibly elaborate meals every night. If you do, I assume that you are not reading this article but instead are perusing a fantastic cooking book or website on something like gastronomy. Even though I love to read about food and develop recipes, I want my meals and snacks to be very delicious, easy to make and if possible, ready in a short amount of time. A few ways to achieve this are:
- buy prepared meals (This can be expensive and personally, I do not always find them very delicious, but I have met several people who disagree. If this is your solution, make sure you check out what it is you are eating. Does it contain all the nutrients you need? If you think it is healthy, is that just a feeling or is that actually the case?);
- make one meal in a very large quantity and freeze it so you can defrost it whenever you need it. I like to do this with soups and bread, it works like a charm. (Make sure you check if you can freeze a meal before you attempt to do so. If it doesn’t taste good when you defrost it, it is a waste of good food. Keep in mind that you need to figure out the shelf-life of your meal. Freezing something doesn’t mean it has an infinite shelf-life. Check out my ”Refrigerator and Freezer Food Storage Chart” for more information.);
- use a cooking book, website or food-app (or a combination), that you know offers the kind of recipes that you enjoy;
- come up with your very own recipes and write them down in a notebook so you can.
Truthful Living Food Recipes
For me, the best way to find the right meals is to look for recipes with food that is minimally processed like vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and some animal products like eggs, poultry and seafood. With everything else but in general, I try to live by; ”everything in moderation”. If you are looking for some recipe ideas, on Truthful Food I publish the recipes that work well for me. If you go to the recipe page and select ”Truthful Living Menu” under ”Meals”, you will find all my favourite breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes. Having breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a snack in the morning and in the afternoon, works great for me and with this menu, I hope to help some people who are looking for delicious and easy to make menus too. (If you have any suggestions or ideas, please feel free to leave a comment or send a message!)
Important note: If you are worried about your health, or if you are looking to make adjustments to your diet in order to lose or gain weight, please consult a health professional like your family doctor or a registered dietician. Information that is being offered on the internet is usually generic and can in some cases even be untrue.