March Was Project Lazy

So I am just a big ol’ basket of failure this month. I spent the beginning of March not running because it was cold and I was whiny and then I started running again and almost immediately tweaked my hip to where it even hurt to walk. Then spring break rolled around and I iced my hip and sat around with my kids. My food tracking goal has gone extremely poorly and I’ve completely fallen off the quitting soda wagon.

March has been rough in terms of health goals. On the other hand, March has been tremendous in terms of rodent population growth.

I’m still fighting though. I’m going to go running Saturday and Sunday this weekend and I’m going to try to get my food and water back on track. Along those lines, I am looking to make Team Stimey’s food healthier. I want to get less of our food from boxes and bags and jars. I like the idea of fresh food and think it will be good for everyone, but I’m not quite sure where to start.

Does anyone have any good suggestions for where to get some recipes or meal plans for fresh, simple food from scratch? I have some criteria though:

1. The recipes have to be easy, because I am not a good cook.

2. The recipes have to be simple, because I am a lazy cook.

3. The recipes have to be not fancy, because my kids are extremely picky and won’t eat food that has a lot of ingredients.

4. I’m happy to look at blogs and websites, but actual paper cookbooks tend to work better for me.

Help? Also wishes of good luck for getting back on the health bandwagon are welcome.

31 thoughts on “March Was Project Lazy

  1. I recommend for slow cooker recipes. It’s so awesome to dump stuff in a pot in the morning and have your main dish ready in the evening. The author also has a paper cookbook.

    If you don’t have a slow cooker I like The Best 30-Minute Recipe (not too hard and consistently tasty) or Quick Cooking for Two by the editors of Sunset. You can double or triple most of the recipes easily and it has features like Freezer to Table in 30 Minutes (five different recipes using frozen chicken breasts). You can tell how long I’m willing to spend cooking dinner most nights!

  2. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall; falling occasionally is inevitable. All that matters is whether you get back up again after you fall. And you have the strength of character and will to get back up again, believe me.

    I’ve been living the Whole30 lifestyle for several weeks now (with a few stumbles, of course), and I feel incredibly good. It may be more restrictive than you want to attempt right now, but one great thing is that it *has* forced me to cook just about everything from scratch–even my condiments! This has been a surprisingly empowering experience (I can make my own mayonnaise in 5 minutes flat and it tastes better than *anything* from a store-bought jar! Homemade sausage patties are a cinch to make!) but also enlightening. I’m learning how to really taste my food again. I’m also relearning how to read my own body’s signals for hunger and thirst. I think this is the first time in my life that I actually stop eating when I’m full without gorging to discomfort. I love it so far.

    That said, I have a daughter who is probably as picky an eater as Jack, and I don’t force her to eat this way entirely. She still gets french toast in the morning and pasta occasionally. I look at it this way: it’s like the oxygen masks on an airplane. You have to get your own nutritional house in order before you fix anyone else’s. So I don’t stress too much if R. refuses to eat my mashed cauliflower. Changing her tastes will take time, but that’s no reason to delay my own transformation.

    Check out the Whole30 website for more info. I would also recommend the various Paleo blogs and books out there, because they focus on clean eating. There is a cookbook app for the iPad I like called Nom Nom Paleo that has some very nice recipes in it (I just had this recipe last night and it was super delish: You might also want to try the Everyday Paleo blog (–lots of good recipes there, and the owner has two cookbooks you might want to check out.

    Re: Diet Coke–I kicked my liter-a-day DC habit to the curb this year. (“My name is Gayle. It has been 65 days since my last glass of Diet Coke.”) So I speak from experience and as a veteran of several previous, failed attempts: the only successful way to ditch the DC habit is to get rid of all the bottles in your house and go cold turkey. There, I said it. It will be awful for the first few days. I had tremendous headaches. Iced green tea helps. Around day 4 or 5 the cravings will be gone.

    Hang in there! I admire you so much. Don’t give up–get up. And if you can’t run, walk.

    • Forgot to say–if you don’t go there already, visit Penzey’s Spices–you can visit the store close to where we live, or you can go to A great seasoning blend, like Fox Point or Sunny Paris, will make even the simplest recipes taste incredibly good. Also, you can toss asparagus, brussels sprouts, or broccoli with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast them in a hot oven and they will be so good that your kids will beg for them.

  3. Start trading any drink with water starting at dinnertime. After awhile soda will taste way too sweet and then go from there.

  4. I love the Clean Eating magazine… and I have found oodles of healthy, clean eating recipes on Pinterest. I fell off of the healthy eating/ food tracking thing this month, too. I blame Mother Nature for making March more like January…and, well, carbs are just so dang delicious. Wishing you best of luck!

  5. This month has been an eating disaster here too. I blame the foul weather which is just so depressing.
    I badly need to get fit and shake off excess winter weight but have decided Easter weekend isn’t the time to start!
    Tomorrow we’ll be surrounded by chocolate eggs, cake, biscuits and hot cross buns, so the healthy eating starts on Monday…or maybe after we’ve finished up all the cake and choc.
    You have been doing about a million times better than me and you’ll soon get going with it all again. I have no doubt at all.

    (BTW I don’t know if it’s printed over there, but I like a cookbook by Sam Stern called Cooking up a Storm. It’s aimed at teenagers and he was I think 14 when he wrote it.)

  6. To learn basic cooking techniques, I’d suggest Sarah’s Weeknight Meals, Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way, and Cook’s Country – all on PBS. If your family likes Mexican food, Pati’s Mexican Table is also excellent. [I find it easier to learn by watching than by reading a cookbook.]
    L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda has great classes. I took one a few years ago that was all about vegetables.
    Finally, you can always get a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods or Balducci’s, and just cook the side dishes. Whole Foods’ salad / prepared foods bars are an easy way to try new foods without a lot of work.
    Here’s hoping for a nice Spring – and soon.

  7. The 5:30 Challenge. It’s a cookbook from the AJC feature by the same name. I haven’t actually used the cookbook but I do have several recipes from the AJC feature that I use. The name says it all — 5 ingredients and 30 minutes. You can find it on Amazon (and do an archive search on the Atlanta Journal-Consitution’s web page) to look at the recipes and see if they fit your family.

    Sounds like March was not good for a lot Stimey readers. I was all set to get moving and then we got more snow than January. I, too, am a weather wimp. And my favorite indoor walking place is going through a major renovation and won’t be as walking friendly when they are done. Of course what I really need to work on is not letting these kinds of obstacles stop me.

  8. I have to say that I find all my recipes thru Pinterest right now, and several have been huge winners. Only a few have been put in the “never again!” file. I love the variety and absurdity (sweet and sour chicken, made with ketchup and vinegar – sounds terrible, but tasted actually really good!). I love that I can pin things that we’ll eat, rather than buy a book where half the recipes are things I hate. Downside is you lose half the day to Pinterest, but… I don’t mind. :)

  9. I went from zero exercise, eating fast food up to a dozen times a week and living on soda to almost zero soda, fast food maybe once a week, mostly gluten free, veggie juicing, organic food co-op, farmer’s markets, and triathlons. (Though, the plantar fasciitis isn’t letting that happen this summer). I did it with teeny tiny baby steps over many years, and it’s still a work in process. (Exhibit A: last night I had frozen pizza rolls for dinner.)

    Lifestyle change is so hard that I think we have to plan out how to make something new work in our life or it won’t stick. Kicking the soda was tough because we drank it like water with meals. I did what someone else suggested above – started swapping it out for water one meal at a time. And I swapped out the packaged juice at breakfast for either water or fresh made veggie juice. Just don’t ask me how much sugar I put in my coffee : )

    I recommend learning some easy cooking techniques that work with a ton of stuff; that way you’re not tied to cookbooks. This was a hugely liberating revelation for me. A great place to start is roasting (in the winter) and grilling (the rest of the time). It’s really simple, works for a huge variety of fruits and vegetables (you ever grilled peaches and served over pork chops? Or ice cream? NOM!) and makes it very easy to put several veggies on your dinner plate. One of my family’s favorite sides is roasted carrots and parsnips (peel, rough chop, toss with a touch of olive oil, wrap in foil, toss in oven, ignore for a while).

    Two other suprisingly easy “techniques” that are easy ways to cram lots of veggies into a meal are quiche and risotto. I know, I know. I used to be intimidated too. Now? Quiche is my favorite ’10 minute prep and ignore in oven’ meal. It’s also a great way to use up bits of leftover roasted veg from other dinners : )

      • After seeing this recipe posted here I decided to bookmark it and give it a try. I made it tonight and it was super easy and turned out just like risotto is supposed to! I went with the lemon thyme version and was a bit heavy handed on the crushed red pepper (not sure if I accidentally used a half tablespoon or if I just have a wimpy palette), so it’s certainly spicier that I wanted, but I’m still excited about an easy risotto recipe and all of the other varieties I can try!

  10. There are 2 cookbooks I use all the time bc they are simple, easy and
    quick and have no real crazy ingredients. Great Food Fast and
    Fresh Flavor Fast. Plus they have pics for each recipe. I hate cookbooks
    without pictures!
    Happy cooking!

  11. Fix it and Forget It Lightly. Crock pot meals–hence minimal preparation other than vegetable chopping and occassional meat browning etc. All recipes come with nutritional information so you can track and a lot of the recipes have already been input to My Fitness Pal app for easy calorie tracking. The Turkey Black Bean Chili is favorite lunch of mine, I make a pot, portion out the chili and freeze it. Then I have an easy healthy warm lunch whenever I need it without having to think about it.

    Catherine Newman is a blogger who writes about her children and about food. Her recipes are easy to follow and (mostly) focus on whole foods, etc. You can find her at Also a lot of her old recipes are on Some are as simple as how to make really good chicken breasts or your own salad dressing. Most are kid friendly. Made the broccoli salad on the front page when family visited this weekend and it was gobbled up. My two boys even had some.

    The Coke addiction is hard to break. Sometimes it is mental. Maybe read a few things about all the crappy things Coke does to your system, calcium leaching, dehydration, etc. to help make it less palatable. Like any addiction though what strategy works will be highly personal, so you may have to try a few before you get there.

    Like anything else–small changes. Maybe start with just making sure everyone has at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal.

    Good luck!!

  12. OK, a few more thoughts.
    First, I agree with an earlier commenter that learning some basic cooking techniques is great. Cookbooks are awesome; however often the recipes are complicated / have many ingredients. Who has coriander, anyway?
    Second, I love farmers’ markets. The growing season here is rather short. However, by May there will be lots of interesting produce to try. Maybe bring the kids with you. Or just go to Whole Foods – my local Whole Foods has great produce and a salad / veggie bar.
    Third, many websites and cookbooks have lists of healthy staples to keep on hand. You really can make a meal out of these! Anyway, YOU decide what ingredients to stock. [When I’m organized, I’ll have frozen vegetables, whole grain pasta, lentils, canned tomatoes, and canned beans. In the fridge: yogurt, rice milk, couple of kinds of cheese, bag of mandarins / clementines. For soup: giant clamshell box of kale, bunch of carrots, and a carton of veggie or chicken broth or my favorite: no salt added vegetable bouillon – Rapunzel brand.
    Fourth, and maybe for a weekend treat [yah know, kind of convince the kids that this is a treat]: When I was growing up, we had the occasional ‘taco night’. Yes, the tacos were based on ground beef with garnishes. [Completely unrelated: I now can’t eat ground beef. It just doesn’t taste good.]
    SO, to adapt this idea, maybe buy a package of whole wheat or corn tortillas, an assortment of salad bar veggies, cheese, and leftover shredded chicken. Then everyone can make their own wraps.
    This won’t work if you don’t like to have different foods touching. Kids outgrow this, right? :)
    I have a slightly different challenge, which is to prepare healthy meals for one or two people without shopping every other day!

    • Oh, and by ‘earlier commenter’, I meant ShesAlwaysWrite, and not me.
      We did have similar ideas about learning some easy cooking techniques.
      Happy cooking! :)

  13. You have such an awesome group of commenters. On other sites I read, a question like this would get answers like “When I get home from work with no time or energy to cook, I just whip up a quick porchetta with a little bulgur and kale salad on the side.” You are getting good advice. At our house, the use of official recipes is the road to at least one person being unhappy. We do best with super boring meals (think chunks of chicken breast cooked in a pan with plain baked potatoes and plain broccoli) that people can season, or not, with spices and sauces from the pantry/fridge.

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  15. We signed up for the Fresh20 they post a weeks worth of menus and the grocery list on their website weekly. EMeals is also a good service, and they have lots of choices for meal plans. Both had groupings a short time ago. I have both and love them.

  16. I’m stalking your comments and gathering ideas for myself. We’re doing the same thing and eventually I’m getting myself back into exercising, too.

    Good luck with your healthy eating goals! Make little changes and keep building on those little changes!

  17. I’m sorry, I lost your reply to my original comment, thanks to an over eager inbox purge. But I thought perhaps I would offer up my “Success” board. These are recipes pins I found that are really good and have made several times. Give you an easy place to start. :)

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