3 Simple Steps to Create a Real-Food Meal
To those who aren't used to cooking or eating with real food all the time, creating a real food meal may seem intimidating and overwhelming!
However, it doesn't have to be that way - eating real food meals can be easy, and it can be done on any budget with any amount of time.
Today, I'm sharing 3 simple steps to create a real food meal to help you get the most nutrition out of each meal for you and your families.
1. Pick a protein
Start each meal by deciding what protein you want to base your meal around. There are so many options to choose from that are real food approved, as long as they are high quality and not the cheapest of the cheap cuts of meat. Paying a bit more for quality meat and poultry is total worth it!
Common and easy proteins for real food meals include chicken (whole, breasts, thighs, etc), pork, beef (ground or full cuts), turkey (whole, breasts, ground), eggs (always whole eggs!), and seafood of all kinds (salmon being my go-to).
Once you pick a protein, you can move on to step 2. But before you do, if you want a bonus tip: cook your proteins in bulk. If you are grilling 4 chicken breasts, why not grill 8 or 12 and save some for the next couple of days? Other examples include browning a couple of pounds of ground meat to store or freeze, roasting two whole chickens instead of a single one, or making a double batch of meatballs to freeze for later.
2. Pick the veggies!
My favorite aspect of any meal is definitely the vegetables. This may be a huge change for some people, but veggies don't have to be boring!
Aim to have at least 2 or 3 different varieties of veggies at each meal. This couple be as simple as roasting broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots together or making a large salad with carrots, peppers, peas, berries, onion, and any variety of greens. Basically, just get those veggies on your plate!
When it comes to the types of vegetables, it's a great idea to have one starchy vegetable and one non-starchy vegetable.
Starchy vegetables include sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, winter squash, plantains, peas, beets, etc. These contain more carbs and are denser vegetables.
Non starchy veggies are just about everything else: peppers, greens, onions, carrots, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, zucchini, etc. These should take up the bulk of your plate and meal, as they are overflowing with vital vitamins and minerals!
3. Choose your fat
With steps 1 and 2, you have your protein and carbohydrates covered. Now, it's time to round out the meal with your choice of healthy fat.
Healthy fats are so important, and many of us don't get enough of them in our diet. As I've said many, many times, low-fat or fat-free is NOT healthy. Don't fall into that 1980s trap any longer - fat is your friend!
Real food, healthy fat examples include avocados, egg yolks, coconut oil, avocado oil, high-quality extra virgin olive oil, olives, coconut milk (full fat), nuts (excluding peanuts, which are not nuts, but legumes), and seeds. Make sure to include a source of fat with each meal, and remember to avoid the rancid, unhealthy vegetable oils (canola, peanut, safflower, sunflower, etc) and trans fats.
There you have it: how to build a real food meal. Pick protein, a couple of veggies, and a healthy fat. Put it on a plate and boom, you have a real food meal to enjoy!
Need some extra help or recipe inspiration? Check out my favorite real food blogs for more resources: