Grilled Butternut Squash

September can be a tricky time for food. There’s still so many warm sunny days that make you want to BBQ and sit out on the deck. But it’s also (finally) starting to cool off and leggings and fuzzy socks are beckoning you to come sit and eat your favourite fall comfort foods while wrapped up under a blanket. I like to think this squash is a middle-ground transition dish that fits in perfectly right now. The grilled aspect hangs on to summer just a little bit longer, while squash helps us ring in fall. Try it and savour the last few weeks of BBQ season. Unless of course you’re my father who shovels a path to the BBQ in January.

Meal Prep Pro Tip: Make this squash ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Use in lunches and dinners all week. I’ve eaten mine on top of an arugula and spinach salad, in a warm orzo salad, and as a side with chicken thighs. This squash can go pretty much anywhere, so be creative!

Just a side note, my new favourite lunch to take to work are salad and grain bowls. I’ve been packing a small container of a grain (barley, rice, couscous, orzo) and a protein (taco meat, white beans, hard-boiled eggs) and heating them up in the microwave at work, then topping them with a big pile of veggies and some avocado or homemade ricotta. It is seriously the best way to use up weird combinations of leftovers, as well as the strange odds and ends that get left in the cupboard indefinitely. Every night when I make my lunch, I just reach into the fridge and see what awesome combination I can come up with next! This squash has been featured in these, and I have more ideas for it this week!

This recipe makes 6 servings.



  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rings
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp basil leaves
  1. Preheat the grill over medium-high heat. Place the squash rings in a large bowl and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle seasonings over top and toss to coat evenly.
  2. Place squash on grill and cook, covered for 15 minutes, or until soft, turning halfway.
  3. Serve as a side, on salads, or as part of a grain bowl.

How To Freeze Kale

This post is in line with last year’s posts about freezing carrots and parsnips, as well as the one about canning applesauce. I find it really hard to throw out food, and it’s just painful to throw out produce that came right from the backyard. Therefore, I try to preserve every thing I can! Last year, this included freezing some tomatoes, and this year it’s involved lots of jam making, eating corn constantly, and canning a batch of tomato sauce! I was telling this to someone recently, who replied “oh you’re  a squirrel”. If a squirrel means I love preserving food in season to eat during the winter, then yes, I am proudly a squirrel.



With the dry summer we’ve had, the kale plants in the garden had a rough start. And then pretty much overnight after a handful of rain drops, they took off and started getting out of control! Even making a huge kale salad every day or two, we could not keep up with them. At that point we started hauling in giant armfuls once a week and blanching the leaves to freeze.

Kale is not super expensive to buy at the grocery store over the winter, and I’ll still choose fresh kale for a salad, but having these bags of kale in the freezer will be perfect for soups, stews, casseroles, frittatas, sauteing with some lemon zest and almonds… I have lots of ideas. And it’s cheaper to freeze the kale to use in these dishes than it is to let it go to waste and end up buying it all winter. I think I’m up to 5 large freezer bags stashed away now, so maybe that will be enough? An extra row of kale went in the garden recently that will be ready towards the end of the month, so there may be more to put away yet!


  1. Wash all kale and rinse well. Make sure there is no remaining dirt or bugs attached.
  2. Shred the kale into large leaves. Prepare a large bowl or sink of ice water.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. In batches, add the kale to the pot and stir to make sure it all gets submerged. Let cook 1 minute.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove kale leaves from water and place in ice water to stop cooking. Repeat until all kale has been blanched
  5. Divide kale between labelled resealable plastic bags and freeze.
  6. Frozen kale can be added to soups and stews while still frozen, but should be defrosted in the fridge for other recipes.


Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

This recipe is simple. The only thing that needs to be cooked is the corn. All you have to do is find good ingredients and put them together. For me, this means the corn, tomato, and basil all came directly from the backyard. However, I know at least in my end of the world, there is fresh corn and tomatoes available all over the place. On my (albeit lengthy) drive to work alone, I pass no less than 3 farm stands, all selling corn, and 2 selling tomatoes. Even the corn and tomatoes you can find in normal grocery stores are so much more flavourful and juicy at this time of year. Take advantage while you can! Look for ones grown closest to you, since they’ll probably be the freshest.

I think corn tends to be an underrated ingredient. People think you either eat it on the cob or just boil the kernels. And while both of these options are great, especially with a smear of butter, there are so many other options. Try a corn salsa or chutney. Or throw some cooked kernels in a frittata or quiche. Or make a salad like this one.

So cutting corn off the cob can be a pain in the butt a lot of the time. I can’t eat corn right on the cob (dental issues), so I constantly have to cut mine off. Usually this ends in a shower of kernels and a cob sliding all over the place. But wait! When making this, it occurred to me to use a big, sharp knife. It made all the difference. The corn slid right off the cob with a minimal mess. Remember, sharp knives are safer than dull knives, since dull knives need more pressure to cut through food and increase the chance that the knife will slip. I’m sure you all knew this and use sharp knives for your corn, but I thought I’d throw in the tip in case anyone is struggling like me!

This recipe serves 2 as a side. Pair this salad with your favourite grilled chicken or fish for a complete meal.



  • Kernels of 2 cobs of corn, cooked
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place corn on a plate. Top with tomato and basil. Crumble goat cheese over salad and drizzle with oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sweet Potato Feta Flipped Frittata

I have gone on and on about my love of breakfast foods in so many posts, that I will not be doing that today. But I still love breakfast foods and they should be incorporated for all meals of the day.

One of my first posts was a frittata, featuring dandelion greens, potato, and mozzarella. At the time, I lived with 4 other girls and we had a cast iron skillet that made it easy to take a frittata from the stove to finishing in the oven. For some reason, I don’t have one in my kitchen now, so any frittatas have to be made in a Dutch oven, since I’m not totally sure any of my frying pans are oven safe.

So when I saw this article about flipped frittatas from Serious Eats, I was intrigued and so impressed that someone had such an easy way to make one, without using the oven. This party trick is doubly useful in the summer when it’s too hot to heat up the whole house with the oven anyway.

Food Geek Book Alert: Have you seen the book The Food Lab, by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats? It is an awesome resource (or cover-to-cover read if you’re like me) for the scientifically-tested best way to make all kinds of basic and more complicated foods, from grilling a steak to the best pancake batter, to every way you could want to cook your veggies. The sciencey bits are interspersed with sarcastic jokes, and there’s a recipe to go with every concept, in case you need to do some of your own science. If you need to know the how and why of everything you cook, you probably need this in your life.

This recipe uses sweet potato, feta, thyme and parsley because that’s what I had in the pantry/fridge/herb pots on the deck. The beauty of a frittata though, is that you could throw in whatever weird and wonderful combination of ingredients you have on hand and it will be great. Also, I used a larger frying pan because the smaller one was dirty. Serious Eats recommends using a 10-inch pan, which will give you a thicker frittata than the pancake-esque one I made.

This recipe makes 2-4 servings. Leftovers can be covered and stored in the fridge. I ate my leftover slice cold for lunch, or you can heat it up in the microwave.



  • 6 eggs
  • Pinch each salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Beat eggs with salt and pepper in a small bowl until light and fluffy. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet. Add the onion and cook until translucent, roughly 3 minutes.Add onion to egg mixture.
  3. Heat another 1 tbsp olive oil. Add sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, roughly 6-8 minutes. Add to egg mixture. Beat in herbs and feta.
  4. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil and swirl to coat entire pan. Scrape in egg mixture and let cook 3 minutes, or until the bottom is lightly browned and top is starting to set. Lightly press in edges of frittata.
  5. Carefully place a plate over top of the frittata. Over a sink, quickly flip the pan so the frittata is upside-down on the plate. Gently slide frittata back into pan to cook the other side, 2 minutes.
  6. Carefully flip out of pan and serve.


Cilantro Pesto

Happy Tuesday friends! How’s everyone’s week going so far? So far I’ve had two great suppers this week, I killed it at the gym tonight, and there’s so much amazing produce coming out of the backyard garden.

Last night I made The Kitchn’s Garlicky Grilled Kale Salad, which is a very interesting take on kale salad. We served it up with some grilled pork for a simple summery meal. I think I’ll be grilling kale to use in my own Garlicky Kale Salad before the summer is out. If you have this salad in your usual meal rotation, try grilling the kale and let me know how it goes! There is also so much kale coming out of the garden right now that I don’t know what to do with it! As much as I’ve cooked and made salads out of it, there is such a thing as too much kale, so I’ve been freezing it. If you’re interested in this, stay tuned for a post telling you all about it!

And now for today’s recipe: cilantro pesto! As you’ve heard me say zillions of times, I hate wasting food. I never want to throw anything out if it could be used in any way, shape, or form. Composting my odds and ends helps this, since the compost will be used on the garden eventually, but even still, I try to use up all the scraps I can. Do you ever find that you buy a bunch of an herb only to use a couple tablespoons worth, and then the rest just turns to mush in the crisper drawer? Me too, every time. For this recipe, the cilantro can be a little bit wilted, but not gone bad yet. I served mine over some pasta and topped it with Parmesan cheese, but this would make a great marinade for chicken, could be used in sandwiches or garlic toast, or could be tossed with vegetables before roasting or grilling. It’s a versatile little sauce to make with your leftover cilantro and keep in the fridge for a couple days.

This recipe makes roughly 3/4 cup.



  • 2 cups cilantro leaves and some stems
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and blend until a paste forms.
  2. Add water slowly until desired consistency is reached.


Summer Cherry Chutney

When it is as hot out as it has been here the last few weeks, no one wants to cook at the end of the day, and especially anything fancy. My favourite way to work around this is to make a lot of something and then eat the same thing for a week. It sounds boring, but there’s ways to switch it up.

For lunch, I’ve been packing hard-boiled eggs, a container of cut veggies, some almonds or nut butter, and a piece of fruit or two. The things that keep it interesting are having different combinations of veggies and different fruits, as well as different nuts or pairing the nut butter with the fruit.  Kale salad has also been featured here instead of the veggie sticks, and a left-over burger snuck it’s way in instead of the eggs. I’m fairly sure I’ve eaten some variation on this for the last two weeks (atleast), and I’m not bored yet.

Dinners can be a little bit harder. A couple weeks ago I was rooting through the freezer while figuring out what to cook for the week and found three GIANT pieces of pork. Like enough to last two people for most of a week. The obvious solution was to defrost one over the course of two or three days in the fridge, and then grill it on low heat until it was cooked through. We paired this with really simple kale salads straight from the garden, and we didn’t have to really cook dinner for days!

Eating the same dish over and over can get repetitive eventually. An easy way to mix things up and keep your healthy eating interesting is to change what sauce you have with your meal. Sauces are easy to make and many can be made with a few ingredients you already have on hand. This one uses the sour cherries I froze last summer after making this recipe.

Does anyone else eat the same thing all week often? Let me know in the comments and tell me what keeps it from getting boring!

Have a great 4-day week!



  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed pitted sour cherries
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (like from this recipe)
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • Pinch each salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the cherries and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, to caramelize the sugars.
  2. Add broth, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer 20 minutes or until almost all liquid has evaporated.
  3. Serve over your favourite grilled meat.


12 Perfect Paleo Treats

During my Whole 30, I found it was much easier to find recipes that were marked as paleo, versus ones that were marked as Whole 30. These diets can be very similar, but have some different theories backing them up. There are also differences in what foods you should eat. One of the main differences between Whole 30 and the paleo diet is how desserts and treats are treated. Under Whole 30, you don’t eat any sugar of any kind, and you are not supposed to use compliant ingredients to make some kind of treat-type concoction. Paleo diets don’t have this restriction, although grains, dairy, and heavily processed sugars are all normally excluded.

12 perfect paleo Treats

Since Whole 30, I’ve kind of settled into a paleo-type diet, for the most part. I haven’t been able to find many dessert or treat options that fit with the types of food I want to be eating, so I found a bunch of recipes from some other members of Food Bloggers of Canada, and I’m sharing them with you! Just a note, just because a recipe is labeled “paleo”, “dairy-free”, “gluten-free”, “protein cookies”, or anything else in my search history on Pinterest, does not mean they are healthy, it just describes the kind of ingredients you’re looking at. There is probably still sugar, but the ingredients overall might have more nutritional value than the processed cookies you found at the grocery store. Also, let’s remember that sugar, whether it’s honey, agave, maple syrup, raw brown rice syrup, cane sugar, or coconut sugar, is still sugar.

  1. My Dairy-Free Chocolate Chia Pudding from last summer


2. Orange Chocolate Hemp Bites from Pasta to Paleo


3. Double Chocolate Mousse Torte from Flavour & Savour

Double Chocolate Mousse Torte. Decadent, delicious, dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan!

4. Pina Colada Popsicles from Farm Girl City Chef

Piña colada popsicles

5. Carrot Cashew and Apricot Energy Squares from Making Healthy Choices

These energy squares are fresh and light with freshly grated carrot, apricots and cashews. There is no sugar needed as the apricots provide natural sweetness

6. Lemon Lavender Cakes from Phruitful Dish

Lemon Lavender Raw Vegan Cheesecake 7

7. Paleo Baked Apple from The Primal Desire

Best Baked Apple Ever -

8. Raw Hemp Chocolates from Unconventional Baker

Raw Hemp Chocolates (Free from: dairy, gluten & grains, nuts, and refined sugar)

9. Vegan No Bake Key Lime Avocado Pie from She Loves Biscotti

Vegan No Bake Key Lime Avocado Pie

10. Ginger Mango Chia Pudding from From Pasta to Paleo


11. Paleo Chocolate Truffles from The Primal Desire

Paleo Christmas Schweddy Balls -

12. Raw Lemon Ginger Chia Cheesecake from Unconventional Baker

Raw Lemon Ginger Chia Cheesecake (Free From: gluten & grains, dairy, eggs, and refined sugar)



5 Things that Happen When You Finish Whole 30

5 Things that Happen When You Finish Whole 30

I have been officially done Whole 30 for a week now. Let me start by saying that I felt great at the end of the month. I definitely had that “tiger blood” running through me and I had tons of energy.

And now let me say that I kinda made a mess of my reintroduction. For those familiar with Whole 30, you know that part of reintroduction normally includes adding back the different groups of foods that might be problematic, one at a time, and seeing how your body reacts. The other option is to just ease up on the sugar restriction and keep eating Whole 30-ish, and then choose off-plan foods that you decide are worth any possible unpleasant side effects as they come along. That’s what you’re supposed to do. I, on the other hand, tried to add foods back a little bit faster than that. This made me feel gross, but I’ve gotten back on track and started really paying attention to what foods make me feel great and what foods make me feel less-than-great. Because I want to feel great all the time!

So here’s my 5 things that happen after Whole 30:

  1. Everyone assumes now you can eat whatever you want:  The number of people who congratulated me on finishing Whole 30 and then asking what I ate to celebrate was hilarious. Everyone assumes that you live on hard-boiled eggs and carrots for a month. No one wanted to hear that I was trying rice crackers and hummus, which, for the record, have no weird side effects for me.
  2. You want to eat the favourite foods you haven’t had in a month, but you’ll also be surprised what you don’t miss: I missed cheese. And ice cream. And beer. These are things that I want to be able to eat in small doses in my normal life going forward. I did not miss the Rice Krispie squares or gummies I used to be able to munch on at work. I did not really miss having a glass of milk when I could have a glass of homemade unsweetened iced tea. I didn’t miss a lot of junk food. All this, to me, indicates that these aren’t foods I really love that much, they’re just things I eat because they’re there. These are things I eat out of habit. These are the things that I probably don’t need to bring back into my diet. (Disclaimer: milk is a very healthy part of a lot of people’s diets, but I’m still trying to see if it is something that makes my body happy.)
  3. You have some weird reverse withdrawal to sugar: Two days after finishing Whole 30, we were working on a white chocolate truffle recipe at work. I figured it wouldn’t really be that much milk so I’d just see what happened. Never mind the milk, what about sugar!? Within 15 minutes, my head was killing me. I was jittery and could not focus and was just all over the place. Is that what I was like before? How on earth did I get anything done? I did have sugar in other forms over the weekend and found it just makes me feel sluggish and unable to focus. I’m not likely to completely cut sugar out of my diet permanently, but it’s worth thinking about what tastes good enough to feel so gross.
  4. You just want to be a normal person again: By the end of Whole 30, I just wanted to eat like a normal person. I want to not meal plan or prep or have to think so far ahead. I want to just say “sure” when someone offers me a piece of something, instead of politely declining. But eating the way everyone else does clearly was not working for me, and doesn’t make me feel as great as eating Whole 30-style. Normal is overrated anyway.
  5. You start to wrap your head around what can be a “normal diet” for you: This is going to be an on-going project that changes over time. I want to feel as good as I did for the last month, but I also have to balance that with work and my sanity. My compromise here is that I am trying to eat Whole 30 as much as possible when I’m prepping my own food. But I’m also not being super difficult if I’m a guest or I’m out for a meal. I’m not eating potato chips, I’m eating pop corn with avocado oil and sea salt. I’m not eating chocolate chip cookies, I’m eating cocoa coated coconut chips (new favourite find). I’m not eating white pasta, I’m tossing a little bit of quinoa with my vegetables for a salad. I’m trying to find a balance where I feel great and get to eat the foods I like. Obviously this will look different for everyone, and what stays and goes in your diet is up to you!

Have your done Whole 30? What did your introduction look like? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook!

Whole 30: My Non-Scale (and scale) Victories

So for those who have followed the blog for a little while, you know that I started my Whole 30 a month ago. Today is officially Day 31! I am very excited to say that I managed to get through the whole thing and noticed tons of positive changes.

Whole 30- My Non-Scale (and scale) Victories

Today I’m going to tally up my non-scale victories (Whole 30 speak for things that aren’t losing weight), and I found out if/how much weight I lost, but in true Whole 30 fashion, I’ll get to that at the end after we get through everyone else.

Even though I have noticed tons of positive changes through completing this crazy diet/lifestyle change, not everyone is going to have the same results, and every diet will affect everyone differently. Pay attention to what your body wants and needs, and what makes it feel good.

Physical (outside): Clothes that used to fit tighter are now looser. My stomach feels flatter, I definitely have less bloating, and more muscle definition (although that might be more of a CrossFit victory). I do feel more confident in my appearance because I just feel better overall. Whole 3o lists longer stronger hair and nails as a common victory, but I’ve had chronic problems with those, related to iron deficiency, that will likely take longer than 30 days to completely repair. By removing food with the phytates that could blocking my mineral absorption, I’m hoping that I’ll see more improvements in this area later.

Physical (inside): Definitely a general overall improvement in GI health and regularity. I feel less tired throughout the day. I don’t have any large chronic problems that I expected to improve, but everything just seems to be running more efficiently.

Mood, Emotion, and Psychology: I’m happier, more patient, more optimistic, and somewhat less stressed, or more able to deal with it when I am (probably a side effect of not being hangry). Fewer sugar and carb cravings are something to celebrate, since this was such a large part of my diet prior to Whole 30. I didn’t feel reliant on the scale at all, since I was able to focus more on how the food I was putting into my body was fueling me, versus how it was impacting my waistline. I feel like I’m way more in control of my food and able to make better decisions about what I want to eat. You would think after 4 years studying nutrition and spending so much other time reading about food and diets, I would have a better relationship with food before Whole 30. Go figure.

Brain Function: I have a better attention span and can focus better on what I’m doing at work, which makes me more productive. I have more attention towards the end of the day than I used to, which means I can putter away at the blog in the evening.

Sleep: I’ve been falling asleep pretty much instantly for the last few weeks, but I don’t know if this a change, since I didn’t pay attention to it until now. I still feel groggy when I get up in the morning, but I’m more or less functional by the time I’m commuting to work, instead of waiting for the caffeine from my tea to kick in while I’m driving.

Energy: My energy levels are higher throughout the day, not just at my prime-time of 11 am. I do have some more energy in the morning, and don’t get tired in the middle of the day. I have tons of energy when I get to the gym after work, and still more energy to do stuff around the house after dinner. I don’t eat as often throughout the day, but I do still space my food out so there’s a small snack in the morning to keep me going, and a small snack before I head to the gym. I’m not as cranky when I’m getting hungry, but I still can be grumpy if I’m really hungry and tired. I don’t need sugar to keep my energy going, and several times throughout the month I brought my coffee to my desk and forgot to drink it, and still had energy.

Sport, Exercise, and Play: I had already gotten into the habit of going to CrossFit 3-5 times a week when I started Whole 30. I was consistent throughout this month, but I don’t know if that’s related to my diet changes or not. I was able to push through harder workouts and lift heavier, although again, I don’t know if this is necessarily related to Whole 30 or just my physical strength improving overall. I feel more athletic and I have found I’m not as sore all the time as I sometimes can be. I can’t say I’m more coordinated or have better balance, but my athletic style has been described as “spastic” so I have a long way to go.

Food and Behaviours: This is where I noticed the biggest change. I definitely feel that I have a healthier relationship with food. I don’t necessarily need to eat something just because it’s there. I’ve started to think more about my food improving my health, versus just what will give me enough sugar to power through a couple more hours. I’m also thinking more about foods that will not improve my health, and which ones are really worth eating. I’m more mindful about my eating and enjoy my food more. I already knew how to read a label and ingredient statement, but I found myself looking at them more to make more informed choices. I only ate until I was full and didn’t ever feel overly full-to-bursting. I didn’t think as much about how foods were going to impact my weight, as much as I focused on how they would make me feel. I started eating more fats without being afraid of them. I tried try new recipes, foods, and techniques. I looked at food as fuel and exercise as something awesome that I get to do, not exercise as punishment for food or food as a reward for anything. I paid attention to when I was actually hungry instead of just wanting a snack or bored. I started drinking tea when I had a sweet craving while watching TV. I tried to incorporate different foods into my diet, and tried to eat my favourite foods in different ways. I don’t feel guilty about eating. I’m looking forward to mindfully eating off-plan foods and really savouring them.

Lifestyle and Social: I became even more knowledgeable about food and nutrition, especially about how it impacts me personally. I’ve tried new recipes and still have so many more I want to try or adapt. I am much more efficient at meal planning and meal prep. I’m making better use of the food I buy, instead of wasting it. Co-workers have asked if I’ve lost weight. A coach at the gym mentioned that my squat and snatch are hugely improved. I just feel better about everything overall.

There’s so many testimonies about how the Whole 30 changed someone’s life or cured their rare un-treatable condition. That’s not what happened for me but I did improve my health and relationship with food. Moving forward, I’m planning to keep a lot of these habits, but let myself have desserts from time to time and not be quite so crazy about making sure everything I eat is Whole 30 approved. I will keep you posted.

And I lost 5 pounds. Boo-yah.


5 Tips for Easy Meal-Planning

sayyes tohealthy

Throughout my Whole30 experience of the last few weeks, and before that when I was just trying to eat a healthy balanced diet, I realized I ate better on the weeks where I set out a meal plan, even if it was just a rough one. While this system might not work for everyone, and some people like the challenge of trying to come up with something edible on the spot on a regular basis, I like knowing I have a plan, even if I don’t necessarily follow it exactly. Personally, I plan my food a week at a time, with lots of room for rearranging, but planning a day or two, or a few weeks at a time might work for you too!

Here’s my top 5 tips to make meal-planning easier!

  1. Check the freezer and pantry first: Ok seriously, I can’t be the only person who throws bags of fruit or random meat that’s on sale into the freezer and then totally forgets it’s there. Before starting a meal plan, have a rummage through the freezer and pantry and take stock of what’s there and what needs to be used up. Plan to marinade and grill those freezer-burnt chicken breasts and take them out to defrost. Move the fruit so it’s easy to get to when you want a smoothie for breakfast on Tuesday. Dig out the applesauce you bought two months ago and pack it for lunch this week. This will definitely help cut down on groceries and decrease your food waste.
  2. Have one meal that could be put off or happen another timeA reality of life is that things change all the time. Maybe you end up going out for dinner on Thursday. Maybe you have leftovers because the recipe made more than expected. Doesn’t matter. Either way, have one meal that can be put off in one way or other without wasting food. I consistently plan a spinach frittata into my meal plan most weeks, which I would make with the frozen spinach I always keep handy, and eggs that are never in short supply or go to waste. That way, there’s always that quick and simple meal ready to be made, but nothing will go to waste if we skip it that week (or three weeks running). Something similar would be keeping burgers and buns in the freezer, or putting the meat you were going to use in the freezer for another week (just remember to follow tip 1!).
  3. Make notes about meal prep on your plan: This can include things like packing a lunch, defrosting foods for another day, or just chopping some veggies for snacks. I find it really easy to lose track of the little meal prep things that need to be done throughout the week to keep things ready to go for the next meal. To solve this, I started writing all of this down on my meal plan on the days they need to happen. I.e., if I need ground pork on Thursday, I put a note on Wednesday to take it out of the freezer.
  4. Get ideas from everywhere: Keep a Pinterest board of favourite recipes and things you want to try (if you pin mine, you’re my favourite). Flip through cookbooks and tag recipes you want to try. I have zillions of little Post-It tabs in all my cookbooks so I know what recipes I haven’t made but want to. Rip recipes out of magazines. Do a Google search. Buy a vegetable you’ve never tried from the farmers’ market. Subscribe to bloggers’ e-mail lists to get recipes right in your inbox! Try to make new recipes so you aren’t bored with the same thing every single week. If you always make pasta on Tuesday, find a new easy pasta recipe to try. If you’re bored with your sandwich for lunch every day, try making it into a salad with some homemade dressing. New ideas don’t have to be complicated, but they will keep you from getting bored and completely abandoning your meal plan for take-out.
  5. Plan stuff you actually like: Even while you’re out there trying new things, remember to plan things you actually want to eat. If you know, like I do, that burgers and grilled veggies is a simple summer meal after a busy day, plan to make some variation on that once a week or every second week. If you know that carrot and celery sticks do nothing for you at lunch time, don’t plan to pack them. This sounds simple, but if you don’t plan for food you like, you won’t enjoy eating it!

How many of you meal plan, even loosely? What tips would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments or on facebook!