And we’re off… the start of 2015 has come and gone! I hope everyone is already enjoying their long weekend. This time of year has typically been hard for me, coming away from time with friends + family and setting the tone for a new year. But with Back To Basics January in full swing, I’m ready to take on this month!
I have been blown away by all the excitement surrounding making positive changes through this challenge, and want to remind you all that we are not doing any type of ‘diet’ or ‘detox’ here. Instead, these are lifelong changes that we can learn to adopt (or readopt) slowly after a more indulgent season of eating. Each action you make, whether making tomato sauce from scratch or reminding yourself to make coffee with honey + milk at home instead of stopping for a sugary latte, is a step towards a healthier balanced lifestyle. I hope that this challenge helps us all to find things we love to make from scratch, celebrate home cooking, and allow us to rethink how we eat out + spend our hard earned money.
BACK TO BASICS JANUARY: THE COMPONENTS
A quick recap of what Back To Basics January challenge entails (see the full post here): Again, I urge you to take on just one component up to the whole list – pick and choose whatever sounds manageable, fun, and exciting!
- Cooking basic items from scratch (for example, making homemade pasta sauce instead of jarred)
- Reducing dependence on prepared foods (for example, making my own granola bars)
- Eating 100% at home (I am excited to invite people over to our new kitchen!)
- Making coffee (this will save me an average of $10 per week)
Let’s Get Started!
Use this long weekend and your motivation from the start of the new year to get a leg up on some basic items that will help you succeed this month in curbing eating out, eating real food, and using your money to buy whole ingredients.
My biggest downfall when grocery shopping is going unprepared. This month for Back To Basics, I vow to make a list and stick to it! That doesn’t mean I can’t switch out buying broccoli for cauliflower if it’s on sale or it sounds good, but it will help me from picking up pre-made convenience items that I find at the end of aisles or in the checkout line.
My Sample Weekly Grocery List
- Dairy: large container of plain greek yogurt + milk for coffee + feta or goat cheese for salads
- Proteins: tofu + chicken breasts + chicken sausage, ground turkey, frozen fish, or frozen shrimp
- Fruits: bananas + apples + clementines, grapes or pomegranates + lime or lemon for seasoning
- Vegetables: 2-3 leafy greens (spinach, kale, spring mix, or collard greens) + onions + garlic + carrots + broccoli or cauliflower + sweet potatoes or zucchini + salad toppings/snacks (cucumber, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, avocados)
- Pantry Resupply: I will do a detailed post on my pantry within the next week or two, but this is when I’ll also pick up items like rice, olive oil, spices, beans, diced tomatoes, or anything else I might have run out of.
- Frozen Items: Similar to the pantry, I like to keep some frozen fruits for smoothies on hand + frozen veggies for back up (edamame, green beans, spinach, and corn).
Food Prep Ideas
Here are some examples of items that I will get prepared on the weekend when I have more time in the kitchen. Not only does batch cooking save time and money, but you will have lots of items on hand to whip up delicious meals that sound good to you on the spot instead of eating the same soup for lunch + dinner a few days in a row.
Pick an item or two from the list if you have an hour to prep…
- Use your slow cooker to make chicken, beef, chili, or even steel-cut oatmeal for the week
- Make a pot of brown rice minestrone soup or kale tortellini soup (sub any plain pasta for the tortellini)
- Cook grains or legumes for topping salads
- Bake sweet potatoes, roast vegetables, and roast chicken in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes
- Hard boil eggs, make protein bites, or make trail mix from nuts, seeds and dried fruit
- Chop veggies for snacking and topping salads along with a batch of homemade hummus
If you have additional time…
- Prepare salads for the week without any dressing
- Try making something from scratch you wouldn’t normally: bread, chicken stock, or almond butter
- Use your meal prep items to prepare quick meals below to store in the fridge for busier days
- If you have time to make larger batches of items to last longer than 3-4 days, check out my Freezer-Friendly category for items to stock the freezer!
- Check out my Food Prep + Meal Planning Pinterest board for plenty of additional ideas
- Check out Lean Green Bean’s series on Food Prep for more inspiration (with 80+ weeks of submissions from people like you!!)
Quick Meal Ideas from Food Prep
- Slice sweet potatoes and top with chopped salad veggies, plain yogurt, + cooked chicken
- Reheat roasted vegetables and chicken and top with golden raisins + capers
- Stir fry garlic, onions and peppers + add in tofu (add quinoa to bulk it up if needed)
- Slice zucchini into ribbons and cook quickly, topping with cherry tomatoes, feta, + cooked chicken
- Serve crockpot chili with green onions, diced peppers, and plain yogurt
- Heat chicken broth + a bit of soy sauce and garlic, and reheat sliced cooked chicken + broccoli florets into a soup
- Top salad greens with quickly sautéed shrimp + roasted veggies
- Make tuna salad or egg salad to top salads or stuff into pita bread
- Make a quick bean salad with chopped veggies, onion + white beans to put under meat + arugula
- Toss grains with cooked protein + vegetables and a bit of vinegar for a cold grain salad
- Heat together coconut milk + curry powder and add in any chopped veggies, tofu + pre-cooked rice
- Make a burrito bowl using quinoa, spinach, crockpot shredded beef, plain yogurt + avocado
I also created a Back To Basics January Recipe Ideas Pinterest board for easy browsing of a bunch of my favorite recipes I’ve posted that use whole, unprocessed food or are ‘how to’ posts.
I hope this post helps you get off to a good start! Are you making something today that fits with the challenge?
Be sure to use the hashtag, #backtobasicsjanuary, so we can celebrate success together!