As our society rapidly moves towards more convenience and pre-packaged foods full of sodium and sugar and ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, I begin to fall back to the basics of questioning a product by asking myself, “Would Grandma Eat This To Lose Weight?” If the answer is, “NO,” then neither would I. Americans have slowly been getting fatter and fatter as our way of convenience foods and portion sizes have changed. Technology has enhanced our food by making it more readily available, longer shelf life, and cheaper to produce. Therefore, the cost of food has gone down and the portion sizes have gone up.

My Grandma was raised in New York City, then moved to California where she was a homemaker. She raised her three daughters and one son by cooking them 3 hearty meals every day, from scratch. Many people from many other countries spend time making and preparing food. Food becomes a way of life, a social-setting, and a memory so powerful the smells and flavors can bring about intense emotions. I still remember the smell of cooked garlic and olive oil upon entering Grandma’s house and man, that smell was divine. Presentation was important, too, and we always ate with a tablecloth, cloth napkins, and candles. (Check out Eating Free’s blog on the Elegance of Eating).

So with Grandma in mind, I advocate bringing back the basics by cooking from scratch and preparing one’s meals. Yes, we are busy. Yes, most of the time both parents in the household work. Yes, our schedules are more chaotic with many things to do. For these reasons, I do not expect anyone to cook every day. Making at least 1 meal per week is progress. Basic needs, such as the need to eat and energize and the need to sleep have not changed. Therefore, by prioritizing our most basic needs, food and sleep, one can really enhance health, happiness, and longevity.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Make a big dish at the beginning of the week, such as a stew or casserole, which will last at least 2 meals (see our recipe website for ideas).
  • Have at least 1 or 2 easy-to-prep dinners which you are comfortable cooking and know how to prepare quickly.
  • You have just set yourself up for at least 3 homemade dinners for the week! You’re off to cooking success.

I truly enjoy bringing back the basics and remembering the foods that Grandma would eat: fresh, whole, and colorful. Best of all, the aromas and flavors bring me to euphoric places full of laughter, family, and fun. Cheers to Grandma for reminding us how to Eat Free!

Sarah Koszyk, MA, RD, is a nutrition coach at Eating Free who cooks with love and loves to eat.

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