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Make Food, Not Meals!

Chris Mayer provided this Great Advice for Easy Meals!

Early on in my Healthy Eating Adventure experience, Patti Nitterhouse shared a piece of advice that really helped me get my head around this idea of whole food,  plant-based eating.  Patti said, “Make food, not meals.”  Simple, right? In fact, this logic rocked my world and has literally changed the way I now approach preparing meals.

In my old way of preparing dinner, I was taught that a “proper” meal needed meat, a starch, a vegetable, a salad and desert. I worked to create this perfect combo every dinnertime, often from square one.  Sound familiar?  And what a chore it is to make sure all those components were ready at the same time.

Consider preparing all 5 pounds of that bag of potatoes.

In my new way of cooking, I aim to prepare one or maybe or two items each day, and use the leftovers for the beginnings of the next day’s meal.  Consider preparing all 5 lbs. of that bag of those baking potatoes at one time.

Bountiful potato toppings at Shippensburg Potluck

These can be served as a traditional baked potato one day, something to top with chili on another day, shredded and mixed with beans to be used as burrito filling, delicious on salad with balsamic drizzle, sliced into wedges and roasted with smoked paprika for a snack or side dish.

You can add them to a salad and make it a meal. (Get ideas for salad variations) And then maybe the last potato ends up in a pot of vegetable soup by the end of the week. Oh, I forgot potato pancakes!

No-chicken tomato rice soup

Cook a whole pot of grains.

A big pot of rice can become sushi, the beginnings of a rice bowl, a soup ingredient, ‘fried” (yes, it can be done without oil), or as the all time favorite rice and beans. One night’s lentil loaf can become lentil burgers and/or filling for a wrap.  The pot luck “left overs” along with a pot of rice made wonderful Nori wraps at HEA’s “It’s A Wrap” night: 

If you make Quinoa for breakfast one day (great with fresh fruit and a tiny bit of maple syrup), cook a whole pot and then have some to use later on a salad or “stir fried” with veggies.

Of course, the corollary to this way of cooking is – if you make a dish for a meal — such as roasted veggies – – make plenty so you’ll have some for tomorrow’s  lunch, or as a side dish for supper, or add beans to it for another one-pot dish.

With a little practice and forethought, this simple idea has helped me tremendously with meal preparation and planning. Hopefully, it can help you too.  Eat well!

Chris Mayer - Director of Fulton Farms, Sustainable Agriculture at Wilson College



An Adventure is a community-based 28-day program that can kick-start you on a lifetime of healthier eating with a whole foods, plant based lifestyle.

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