As my time at UBC is quickly drawing to a close, I thought I would try to impart as much of my wisdom as possible before I’m gone.
Over the last three years I have successfully cooked for myself, without dying! And without eating KD and ramen every night. Now, as the title suggests, I am not great at cooking. And I don’t really like it THAT much (I’m more of a baker), so as you can imagine I didn’t eat super healthy every single day. Especially at the start. But I think I’m sort of starting to get the hang of it, so here are my suggestions for when you are attempting to eat healthy on your own:
- When you first start cooking after you move out, if you’re like me and never cooked at home, it can be very daunting. At the beginning, focus on just getting yourself fed without breaking the bank without stressing out about if it’s healthy or not.
- Make a list of all the meals you can already make. At the beginning, this might just be quesadillas and pasta with sauce and maybe a few other things, but if you have a list, when you’re stuck on what to make you can reference that.
- Try new recipes. If you aren’t sure if you’ll like it, MAKE A HALF RECIPE! So many times I’ve had to eat some disgusting casserole for a week and then chided myself for making the whole recipe. Don’t be me.
- When you are looking for new recipes, look for ones that feature vegetables. Or at least include a vegetable side dish or salad in with your meal.
- When you’ve made a recipe a few times, are good at making it, and know you like it, add them to your list of meals you know how to make. There’s been plenty of times I didn’t know what to make in a week and went to my recipe binder for ideas! And once you’ve got some healthy recipes in there, it can make picking a healthy meal to cook a lot less overwhelming.
- Obviously, unprocessed foods > processed foods. But, frozen meals are fast and easy so in my opinion, if you eat them now and again, it’s not a huge deal. Plus, if you pair say, a frozen pot pie with steamed frozen peas and cooked rice, that’s not really so terrible, right? Not all frozen foods are created equal, so look for ones with less sodium and try to pair partial meals with unprocessed veggies.
- Most people who eat a western diet tend not to get enough fruits and veggies. (I don’t have source on hand for this but in my experience this tends to be true.) If you’re having trouble implementing more veggies into your diet, start with small goals: for example, make sure you eat something green (eg. spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, brussels sprouts) every single day.
- Make your snacks healthy. Fruits like apples and bananas make great snacks, and if you cut up carrot sticks at the beginning of the week you’ll have healthy snacks for days! (For the record, the Canada Food Guide recommends at least one dark green and one orange vegetable per day!)
- If there are days where you eat cookies and chips and pizza and beer, don’t freak out. Guilt is not productive. Just as long as that isn’t your habit every single day, you’ll be okay.
The two things I would like to stress the most is keep a list of your favourite recipes for reference, and incorporating fruits and/or vegetables into all of your meals and snacks. At its most basic, eating healthy comes down to eating more fresh ingredients, less processed food, and drinking more water, although even figuring out how to do that can be overwhelming! Hopefully these tidbits of advice will help you get organized and get you on your way to eating a little bit better. Let me know in comments if you have any more tips!