Podcast Guest:  Jess Brooks

Recipe Developer and
Pro-Trained Cook and Baker

Jess Brooks is on a mission to help busy people cook healthy
meals for their families, without spending hours in the
kitchen. She's created PREP15: the time-block prepping
system that helps busy people get organized at dinner time.
With a background in food television, Jess writes recipes for
Buzzfeed and how-to cooking articles for the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
When she's not in the kitchen, she works as a copywriter for
digital entrepreneurs -- juggling project deadlines while
caring for two young kids.
Jess sends out a curated collection of family-friendly recipes
in her weekly newsletter, Easy Eats.

You can follow Jess and find more info at easyeats.substack.com and [email protected]

Episode 129:

Simple and Easy Ways To Meal Prep With Jess Brooks

You are in for a huge treat today. First of all, welcome to the Caregiver Cup podcast. It's Cathy here again, and I have an interview for you today that we're gonna go through. And I think the interview or the guest that I have today is gonna provide you with inspiration and ideas and tips and motivation.

That's going to go ahead and help you with some of your time management or protecting your energy. And if you remember in the few episodes ago, we talked about chronic caregiver stress and how important it is to go ahead and take care of yourself and work towards that. 

Your time and protecting your energy. And so we're gonna work on that because, you know, as a caregiver, you're balancing everything, you're juggling everything and trying to go ahead and keep all of those plates that you're spinning up in the air. You're a chauffer to your loved one to appointments, an advocate, managing the household and I know you're taking care of your job or your business or working and family. So it's a lot to go ahead and keep all those plates spinning. And so when we can give you a tip or a trick or an insight, I want you to just be open and think about it today.

So my guest's name is Jess Brooks and we met in a  business course about a little over a year ago And as soon as I met Jess and I felt her energy and saw her energy, I knew right away that I had to put Jess's name in my back pocket.   I knew you had to hear her someday on a podcast and today is the day. And so she sent me this beautiful  little brochure about her.

So I'm gonna read the first few paragraphs.  She's a recipe developer and a pro trained.  But I love her ready. Jess is on a mission to help busy people cook healthy meals for their families without spending hours in the kitchen.

She's created prep 15, the time block prepping system that helps busy people get organized at dinner time with a background in food television, Jess. Writes recipes for Buzzfeed and how to cook articles for the Canadian broadcast corporation. When Jess is not in the kitchen, she works as a copywriter for digital entrepreneurs, juggling project deadlines, while caring for two young kids.

And I like to think of this. As I know Jess, you're not a caregiver forsay, but you do a lot of the things we as caregivers do, you're juggling a lot of things. And with young children, you're probably caring for them and all of the things that they need to do. So without further ado, everybody, I wanna introduce you to Jess, who is just smiling away.

Thanks, Cathy. I'm thrilled to be here. Yes. So that, I mean, you said it all, that's me. In a nutshell, the kids are running around downstairs. Dinner is on the table in kind of unpackaged form for them to assemble themselves. It's six. When we're taping this.  So it is prime caregiver time and yes. So I had to find a way to stay organized really, Cathy, becauseI love to cook, which might be different than a lot of your listeners. And I still find it super hard to make meals for my family and find the time and juggle it so that we're not eating at nine o'clock.

Not all of our caregivers, their loved one may have a special diet and they have to make one meal for that person and then one meal for the rest of the family. So if you have any tips on how to make things easier for them, we would so appreciate it.

So can you tell us about how you came about with like the 15 minute. And yes. How this all evolve for you? Yes. Okay. So, so first off I will just address and I'll go back to it, but cooking for a few different pallets because, okay. I'm familiar with that in these sense that my kids are pretty picky, but also my husband and I eat very, very healthy and I have worked with a health coach over the last couple of years.

Working on my gut and the health of my gut. So it's been a struggle to get them to Bo to get everybody eating the same meal. So that's really where my frustration kind of came from. So I'll get into like ways that you can get around that. But we'll just tell you about the prep 15. Time block system came out of when the pandemic happened, I had a house cleaner that would come and work kind of biweekly here and help me with everything.

And when the pandemic came, I couldn't have anybody in my house anymore. So I had to take over the everything, and I I was, I ended up finding this woman called the fly lady. And, and this is a great thing for your listeners too, who maybe are also cleaning their house is she has a 15 minute cleaning system where she breaks down your house.

You can go to her site and she breaks down your house into categories. So you're in like a zone every week and you are cleaning like today, I'm in the living room. So I clean, I set my timer. I, I usually have a timer. That I wear like a gym timer. Mm-hmm and I just got an apple watch though. So that's very exciting.

it's a little more modern. Yeah. But the gym timer works great. And so I will just time myself and it's like this focus productive, clean, clean, clean. And so you move through the house in these zones every week, you're in a different zone in your house. Mm-hmm so everything. Gets done. You, you know that, that if you're not, if you don't get it done this week, it'll get done.

Like the next it's it's the next month, but months come really quick. So I, I was trying to figure out how I could get this into like a cooking system. Cause it was working so well for me in cleaning and I I was thinking about it and thinking about it. And I ran a kids' baking club. And so I had all these parents that they were talking about how frustrating it was cooking.

And, and one of the moms just said to me, because I was telling her about my cleaning system. She said, why don't you do that for cooking and, and just cook in 50 minute. Increment. So it was really her idea that I just took it and ran. And so I ended up writing all the recipes that I love to cook, and I like to write and changing them into these 15 minute prep blocks that you cook.

As you can fit into your day. Right? So whether like you have, whether you're drinking your morning coffee and you can do 50 minutes of work, and that includes the cleanup. So you're just like, whatever needs to be done. You saw a little bit, put it in the fridge. Like you just work ahead. Slowly kind of like, you know, when you're doing a workout, like the hit workouts and you do like five burpees and 10 pushups and 10 jumping jacks five times, and you're done.

So you just do these, you get into kind of a habit of cooking. That's what I see a lot of people do is they'll cook, they'll think of dinner as like an island. So they approach it where they have Cook every night, something different, but if you kind of think in this kind of cycle way of cooking, it really kind of spreads it out and takes the, the, that huge chunk of time.

Like dinner usually takes like an hour to cook. Really. Like you can read a recipe and it looks fast, but by the time you clean up and you cook for me anyway. We're talking an hour in and out of the kitchen. So it's a large chunk of time. So at least dinner, you can work ahead and then it's sitting ready to be cooked right at dinner time.

And there's no like hidden prep time anymore. Nice. Nice. Can you give us some, like, an idea of kind of like what, like if you had 15 minutes, what would you do in that 15 minutes? Like, yes. Yeah. Give me just cause I'm like, I'm te I'll be honest with you. I am like not good at, at the cooking piece so I can, I can love that I can make a, a mad, you know, like chicken and rice meal and stuff like that, but it, when it comes to trying to.

Prepped. Mm mm, yeah. Not good at it. Yeah. So, so an example of what I might do, and this is chicken and rice, this is gonna be a fish and rice example. So it's not that complicated, but I'm gonna start easy. Here is you would just in the first prep block, like it would be chicken, rice and broccoli. So I always have a lot of vegetables and really heavy on the vegetables, not a lot of like a little bit of grains and stuff in my recipes.

And. A little bit of protein, more vegetables. So what I like to do is in the first prep block, like cut the broccoli, get it all, ready, put it in the steamer. So it's ready to be steamed you, just leave it on your stove. So it's ready do that in the morning and it's ready to go. And then you make a little sauce for that.

Like I just put olive oil and Dejan mustard together and, and shake it up or Whis it up and then you have that ready and on the side. So that's done. And then the The rice, I will just get the rice already. So it's actually in the pot on the stove. And if you wash your rice, you've washed it, you've put it in the stove or you put it on your, in your instant pot.

I love cooking rice in the instant pot. Cause it's like super hands off. Then you can just leave it and ready to go so that it will turn on. Later in the day and you turn it on. Although I just discovered Instapot has a delay start, which is now opening up. nice whole, whole world, but yes. So then it's ready to go.

And your fish, of course you would just, the recipe I like to do is just really simple on the stove, but everything's kind of sitting there ready because. Well, you know, there's two in business, Cathy, like what happens is that the mind shift from coming in the door and then you put your stuff down, you, you walk into the kitchen and like, you're like, oh my gosh, I have to start dinner.

But it's like the mental shift. If the dinner is already there, you turn on the stove. You turn on the instant pot. And then it's all ready to go. So no, and I, I think from a caregiver perspective too, was like I say, you're in appointments all day. You get that 15 minutes in the morning, you come back and you feel like a wet dish rag.

When you come back, you know, you're tired from sitting all day of, of all things. You're, you're exhausted from being an appointments in a doctor's office all day or sitting at the chemotherapy chair all day, and then you come home and you, you don't feel. Making anything. And if it's already that's perfect.

You can, you can find, I think, just to be honest with you, you can find 15 minutes anywhere, like you had said, and yes. Being creative of where you find that 15 minutes. Yes, mm-hmm, being creative and, and almost like habit stacking it with something else that you enjoy doing or need to do that day. Like I will call, you know, my, my friend, I have a friend that I call to find out like how she re we talk.

We have these conversations to find out like, how are you really? They're called her, how are you really conversations? So we'll call each other and chat. So if there's 15 minutes and I can call her and just connect, that is so much for your mental health in two. Connecting with someone, but also cooking and helping meal for your family.

Yeah. So I think about all the time that I spend on calls within the, like the insurance company or you're waiting to reschedule an appointment. Yes. You're you really, I mean, you could go ahead and find that time during that time with, you know, your earbuds on or the speaker on and you're just going, going yes.

That way. Oh, Exactly. And your timer, your timer around your neck? Yes . Oh, oh my gosh. Yes. The timer around your neck. I just trying to figure out, you know, I, I think you gave us two ones, so yeah. So I'm trying to think of what else I can ask you or what, what else you can, what we can do. So when you. This is what I used to do.

And tell me if you have any other suggestions, way back when I was a new mom and I was working in the corporate world, we would have these little lunch chats working mom lunch chats. And now I have those with our circle, our caregiver circle, very similar, and we talk about how much stress and overwhelm it is and what are the tips that we could do and what I would do.

I used to go ahead and figure out my menu in advance, what I was gonna cook for the week ahead of time. Do you do that? And then when you go to the grocery store, you get exactly what you need and you have it in your house. And so you're not frantically looking for stuff to go ahead and make dinner. Do you have suggestions on that?

Yes. Okay. So I have to be honest, I am like maybe some of your people who. I will start, like with big intentions to meal plan for the week. It, it can just take up so much mind space. And I hear this from parents as well, where they will be like, they'll have a board, a kitchen board where they, they, they start off in September where they're right.

Like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and they'll plan. And it'll go well for a month or two. Yeah. But then it kind of falls off the wayside and, and, and as new things, shiny things that just kind of is blank for a long time. So I, I, I revisit and, and I actually try to document my meal plans. Can collect them in a spreadsheet if I have time.

Yeah. So I have all these old ones that I will go back to, but what I try and do, if I, and what I try and tell other people to do, if they are having trouble finding the time or the mind space or the motivation or inspiration to plan like that is to think of each night as a theme. So tonight we're gonna have fish tonight.

We're gonna have tacos tonight. We're gonna have What's another theme tonight. We're gonna have eggs. Eggs is a big one at our house cafe. We'll do like an egg wrap. So we'll do like tortillas with scrambled. It it's super, super quick meal. With scrambled eggs in a tortilla wrap, some people have cheese, some don't and you just wrap it up with a lot of cut vegetables on the side.

Yeah. So you just plan kind of more in themes. Now that works to an extent, but one of the things that I like the most. Is to rely less on thinking about all seven of the days and maybe plan like three meals. Yeah. Yeah. And then think how you can repurpose them now, if, if, if you don't like leftovers, which I hear a lot too.

Yeah. There's a way that I like cooking with where you kind of break things up. So it's more, you have the building blocks for meals. So you'll like roast a couple chickens at one time, you can roast a bunch of potatoes at one time. So, or I will boil those little baby potatoes. So that, that they're on hand for like a Hardy salad and you have a can tuna in the, in the pantry.

So you kind of make the building blocks rather than like sifting through your cookbooks and picking recipes and stuff. You. Have your lettuce that you wrap you wash, or you buy washed already ready in the, in the fridge. You can have your favorite salad dressing. You can make a salad dressing on Sunday.

So it becomes more what you're cooking that day. Like today, I'm gonna roast two chickens. I'm gonna wash the lettuce and Sunday I'm gonna make a delicious salad dressing, and it's gonna be turned into grain bowls and salads all week. Yeah. So you're not. To just recipes. So I find that can help me too and help me be inspired and then go back to the menu planning board, if we feel like it again, that's a good idea too.

So, so yeah. So if you're not real organized or you don't have that, which I'll be honest with you, I am now like. I'm like, okay, what, what are all of the, the pieces? Because I raised three boys and they would always come into the house. What are we having for dinner? You know, what, what are we going to eat?

And I was so tired of telling them what we were going to eat. I would be like, look at the board. And if you don't like what's on the board. Then write something that you want for next week and we'll go ahead and make your favorite meal next week. And so it was, it was that much easier, but yes, now but I like the idea of making things in advance or if you're gonna throw in, you know, some extra, you know, roast or something, you're gonna have a roast or something you can, you probably won't finish all of that roast.

And so could you make. I don't know, stew or a soup out of it or something. Yeah. Yes. I love the idea. Exactly. Yes. Yes. So what do you do then when I have a lot of clients that their loved one has a special diet and like maybe they have like Dennis had a transplant and he could not have, we could not have raw fruits or he could not have raw fruit.

Vegetables raw. We, he had to have everything frozen or canned, which was something I wouldn't have. So we had to have, he had to have that to make sure that there was no bacteria in it. A lot of our, my clients may have like diabetes or special diets and then we as caregivers. Tend to not, at least I'm confessing tend to not then eat healthy because we're making the meal for our loved one.

And we don't wanna create two meals or how do we handle that? Do you have ideas for, cause you said you, yeah. That's a great, your kids are picky eaters, you said? Yes. Yes. So what we do a lot is kind of a deconstructed. Meal. So for instance, I'll make a big batch of like a meat, pasta sauce, and I'll cook pasta for them.

And I will roast sweet potatoes for. Anyone who doesn't want pasta and I'll put, so everything stays separate until we're at our plates. Yeah. And then we put the sauce on top of the sweet potatoes. So the meat sauce on top, like a sloppy Joe almost, but without the bread. Okay. And then a lot of herbs that I like to keep washed to kind of bump up the flavor and I'll even add sometimes like diced.

Avocado to that, to our stuff. And then the kids can just be plain. Now, if it's actually stuff, like you said, like coming out of the, the freezer and stuff that you have to be, you have to be mindful of that, that stuff can still either go on the side and, and depending on how you need to cook it, you could quickly do like a side that gets served that either you add onto top of, kind of.

Kind of a deconstructed grain bowl, if you think of it like that, but a really good base is potato for a lot of people that can't eat gluten or that want to eat kind of healthier stuff for the gut. You'd go with like a nice. Potato to be like this sturdy thing. And then you kind of pile it on so everybody can kind of make their own meal, but you can all still eat together.

Which Kathy, since we're talking about mental health and self care, mm-hmm to be eating together and, and, and having that communal gathering at the end of the day is just so important. I know in our family, we, we that's, when we it's really the only time that we sit down and go, how was your day? And we talk.

And ask the girls questions. And so I think it's, I think I, I think it's not to be overlooked as that as part of your self care, as well as that connection time and then food bringing you around the table. Yeah, I think that's a good point because I think that, yeah, I think that even you can make some of the same foods, but obviously you may have to have different, different pieces to kind of fit into it.

Yeah. I feel bad for the caregiver that has. To go ahead and, you know, they have to make their meal for their loved one. And for the rest of their family, there's yet to be a way that you have to try to think about what can I go ahead and do from a communal perspective, that's really, really a good piece.

And going ahead and doing that. Yeah, yeah. The other thing I would say is there's, I mean, there's many prepping systems out of, out there. And another one I have tried and liked is the cook once and eat all week. And I'm blanking on the woman's name that does it, but where you actually cook a few dishes and then turn them into different things which can also be done for you.

And then you can cook as, as, as the, the, the wheat goes on, but you still have to find that prepping time, that big batch of cooking time on the weekend or something. Right. Which not everybody. Not everybody has now you, I maybe, and I'm just throwing this out there to the listeners. Maybe that there's an idea and I've done it once.

And, and that is invite your friend over for like coffee or or having a wine together and saying, Hey, I'm gonna cook meals for three days this week because I know we're going to be. You know, out of town or we're going to be at appointments all day, Hey, do you wanna come over and visit me while I'm doing it or come and help chop up the vegetables?

Because I know everybody has people that says, what can I do for you? How can I help you? And instead of, and for some of us, we, we have to be so cautious if somebody makes a meal for us, especially if there's a special diet instead saying, come on over, Hey, bring some things and we'll go ahead and meal prep together.

I need the company because caregivers feel so isolated sometimes. And it, it's kind of a good way to kind of giggle and laugh and enjoy a little bit of time together too. I love that idea, Kathy. Yeah, that's such a good, that's such a great idea. Like things that, that you could do as like chicken pop pies that you could freeze, or like a big meat sauce that you could then put on potatoes.

So I said that mm-hmm but also things that you might not think of, like, like marinating steak, like actually making the marination. So then you can stick, like make, you can make a. you can buy teriyaki sauce, but I, I like to make it from scratch, just cuz you can enjoy like refined sugars and stuff and then sticking it into the, the marinade and then you freeze the steak or the fish or the chicken in the actual marinade, in a Ziploc bag or a container.

And then you put it in your freezer. So having someone come over and like, yes, help you cut and chat and connect. That's a fabulous. Yes. Are you into any crockpot meals? Do you, do you have recipes of crockpot meals too? So Ida personally don't have a crockpot and I am kicking myself because I had one and I gave it away Kathy, before kids and I it came, it was given down to me and now I it's all.

I want to I wanna start writing recipes for it because it's just makes so much sense. Now I will say the instant pot is my go to pot. Okay. I, I don't call it the instant pot. It's I find it more, the hands off pot so you can set stuff and then, and then kind of walk away. Okay. So I love to do like a pulled pork in that, but it's less of the cooking.

The crock pot all day, I do like pulled pork and bone broths and, and soups and stuff in the instant pot. Okay. And then you can, you can freeze those or okay. Or have them. Okay, but the crockpot is on my radar. I think. I think we have to bring it back to my house and I, I have to get, I have to write some that's the only thing I have, I don't have an Instapot, but it's Instapot sounds like it's I saw the Instapot when I was at cuz Dennis, we spent six weeks at this facility called Kathy's house.

You would've probably been in kitchen heaven because it had, it was a big how many kitchens were there? There were, there were one. 2 3, 4, 5, 8 kitchens in this place. And so we all, there was stoves, refrigerators you know, all of the, the pieces there. They had Insta pots there and everything. And so everybody, you.

If you needed a kitchen area, our kitchen corner, there was a little dry erase board. And you said, you know, our room number, what we were cooking and how long it would be cooking in the oven or on the stove or Insta spa. And, you know, you would be able to cook your homegrown meal in there. And so it was really amazing.

To see people cooking different things in different ways. But yeah, there was a lot of people using the Instapot and for me not being really well versed in the kitchen, I was like, okay, I don't know how to use it. So I'm just gonna watch . But yeah, people would go ahead and just put their. Little piece of meat.

And if I, if some of the caregivers were there by themselves because their, their loved one was in the hospital, but they would still take their little piece of meat, their sweet potato, few vegetables, and they'd put it in there in five minutes. They would have their meal. Yes. Yes. It cooks. How can be that?

Yes. Okay. Yes. And it's nice cuz you don't forget about a pot on the stove. It, it, it takes care of itself. No, it does. It does. When you're multitasking oh, yes. I know. You know, multitasking, Kathy. Yes. So any other efficient cooking tips that you could recommend to a caregiver? If they are, let's say they, they don't feel.

Doing anything, you know, and they didn't prep. They didn't prepare. You know, any, any thoughts or advice for them on, on what they could do? End of the day, if they're just dog, dog tired. Yes. Yes. So I, I total standby for us is the greens. And they may come pre-washed or I washed them at the beginning of the week.

So at least I know I'm going to have a leafy green to get to feed myself. And then on top of that, like I keep really good tuna or salmon, like canned salmon and I'll have potatoes. Those boiled potatoes that'll do at the beginning of the week. Not, you don't need to have them. What I will sub in sometimes is a can of or a jar.

Artichokes in oil and it makes a really nice salad, just artichokes in oil and that nice, like a good quality tuna or salmon in oil, if you can find it and then it just goes on and you don't even need to add, you can use the oil from the can or you add. Olive oil. And what I like to keep on hand is balsamic reduction.

So it's a, you just boil down, you can either buy the glaze. So it's on hand. So you have an instant salad dressing. You're just like, actually my, my stepmom tip me off to this in the summer where we'd all come back from the beach and we would just wanna eat like a nice healthy meal. She just put out the balsamic glaze and the olive oil and we just make our own salads.

So you have. A, a really quick salad dressing without like you can, without much fuss. So you just, so the balsamic though, I sometimes make it from scratch. It's just balsamic. You just boil down with half the amount of honey. So it becomes this like really sweet, rich sauce that you just drizzle over top.

So that is just having, knowing you're coming home to eat something fresh without thinking about it. and kind of juggling everything that you have in the day and coming home to sitting down to a big salad for yourself, I think is such a self care thing to do rather than grabbing a piece of toast and then being hungry and having enough protein in the meal too.

So keeping your canned protein on hand, we. This isn't for everyone, but we do eat sardines as well. So if you can get like a nice sardine from Spain and they come in tomatoes sauce, and you can put that on a nice piece of Ry toast or something in your freezer that you keep in your freezer. So just having, like making sure you have.

Protein, even if it's canned on hand so that when you eat, you are full is so vital as well. Because as you know, carbs, don't fill you up for as long and you, and, and it's good to make sure that you always have that protein on hand. Yeah. I also was looking on your Instagram site and I saw the, were, were they Walnut.

Power bites. Yes, because my husband makes the, he makes his odd of Sesame seeds. I think he uses almond butter. I don't know whatever he makes a power ball too, because he needs. Some instant and he puts protein powder in it and stuff, but mm-hmm I saw you had like walnuts in it, which was a really nice thought too.

And I'm thinking, oh yeah, I'm having some healthy snack, especially if you have a sweet tooth and having yes. Something that. Is good to grab or somewhat good to grab versus, you know, a piece of chocolate or, you know a go-to just processed piece of cookie or something like that too. Yeah. Yes. So important.

You're right. And those power balls are just, yeah. So great. And any form just to have in your freezer and have them on hand as well as like energy cookies. Just are sweetened with dates or honey and, and just like a nice little, yeah. Huge me too. Yes it's so it is, yeah, it's so important when you're just running around and it's so easy.

If you don't have the stuff on hand, it's so easy just to grab something else and then you, you just don't feel. As good after for sure. Right. So tell us about your easy eats or your, your newsletter. And, and if they, if our listeners wanna hear my listeners wanna hear more about the, what is it called?

Prep 15. Yes. Yeah. Yes. So I have a newsletter called easy eats and it comes out. And it's a, you. Recipes, a family friendly, curated selection of my favorite recipes sent to your inbox. And when you sign up, you get a gift of it's a re the, the prep 15 recipe guide. So you can try out this. 15 minute time block prepping system right away.

See if it's for you. And if it works and the, there is a, there's a, there's a free version and a paid version of my newsletter, but you can try it out and try that recipe guide and see if it's something that helps in your life. Good. And everybody I'll put the information in the show notes so you can click on it.

But I just love the concept now. And I'm really like, I'm like geeking out on it now, where can I do 15 minute blocks to make life easier? And as a caregiver, 15 minutes. What can you, how can you go ahead and be better prepared so that when you're, when you're at the end of the day, you're so tired. You you're like, oh yeah, I have almost all of it.

Ready to go. And boom, we're gonna have this done. So this concept is so great and yeah. Incorporating it into your life and making your, your life healthier. Because I think one of the things we talked about just in the last few podcasts is. When, when you get to the point where you're, you're burnt out and your, the chronic stress is so heavy, your body is already your central nervous system and your vagus nerve is already detached and not working correctly.

And we gotta go out and get that back and we have to work on ways. And one of the things is trying to go ahead and de deregulate that stress and trying to go ahead and, and almost kind of. Recreating our body. Again, we have to think about deep belly breathing and, and different activities, but we also have to go back to what can we do for our health, from a nutrition perspective, because we have to heal our body inside as well.

And. I can tell you I've done all of the bad things when it comes to caregiving stress, especially at the very beginning, just pounding the sugar to just try to make it through to the next day, without even thinking about the adverse effects, it would have years from now and it, and it definitely has. And so, yeah, it's almost like retraining your brain again and retraining your habits again.

So I think this is gonna. So, yes. Yes, yes. Yeah. So what would you say to somebody that says, well, Don't like the kitchen. I don't wanna, I'm not good at cooking. I hate being in the kitchen. What would you tell them? like me. Well, first of all, I get it. Listen, I get it. it's not for everyone. It's messy. It's.

It's another chore. But I do, I would say that if you can approach it from a place of fun and a place of self care. So you are doing it and paying attention to how you feel after, by cooking yourself a better meal. Yeah. Or, or not even a better meal, just real food and not from a can and, and go and simple.

No ingredients that, you know, the ingredients list that you are putting quality food into your body and paying attention to how you feel after. I just think the, the reward is so much more important and it's, and it's like starting any habit, starting any workout regime. It's hard, but it helps when you do kind of take an approach that works for you and.

And think of it just as this cycle thing, a habit thing that you're gonna work into your, your days and make a priority in your life as part of your self care regime, it then becomes something bigger than a chore, something bigger than cooking. It becomes something for you. And what I would say is yes, enjoy yourself and and you.

Recipes from a recipe developer to you recipes are made, they're just guidelines and they're rules and they are made to be broken. And I think looking up ways where, like, you don't need to brown a piece of meat or you don't need to, or you can add more greens when, you know, you wanna make it like a sauce into a one pot meal where you don't wanna cook vegetables on the side, just throw a bunch of kale.

Into the pot and you'll have your vegetables in there. So you don't, you don't have to approach recipes. So cups and spoons and teaspoons and yeah. Just have, have fun with it. And, and if, and if you can explore kind of cooking intuitively it, it maybe, maybe you find you like it and it'll become almost a creative outlet too.

Like, I, I like. Cooking because I like to follow rules because I feel like I have control when maybe the rest of my life I don't have control, but I also see the joy that I feel when I kind of cook without rules as well, which can, which can be very scary, but having fun and coming up with a, with a meal that you made and you can share with friends that.

Maybe you need to connect with, and then it becomes almost like an outlet for you too, to kind of be making something that's actually a productive, productive piece of your life that you need to get done anyway. Yeah. So if you can approach it like that. Yeah. And who knows maybe your loved one would wanna help you?

They could sit on the, sit at the table and cut up something. Or like I said before, having a friend come over. So I have a challenge to you, all listeners, if you like, if you are prepping for a meal or you found a creative way to go ahead and get dinner done, I challenge you to post it and I'll put Jess's Instagram tagline in there and mine as well, and post it and share it in a post.

And we'll be there cheering you on, even if it's a healthy snack and you're gonna go ahead and, you know, bake your kale chips or whatever it would be, or you're going ahead and you're gonna, you're cutting up your veggies and saying, Hey, I'm gonna get one step ahead today. I'm gonna have my veggies cut for dinner.

And I'm going to go ahead and put 'em in the pan and we'll be ready to go for dinner time. So. We'd like to do that. That inspires me to go ahead and saying, yes, I can go ahead and, and get things done in advance as well. I have my things out. So in the morning, I know what we're having for dinner, but I don't cook it ahead.

So maybe I can go ahead and, you know, kind of jump ahead there. So, but I'm lucky just as a sidebar, my husband loves to do the. Oh, you are lucky. He that's that's half the battle. It's taken care of but I'm telling everybody has just a, a, a little, little secret. And I think he knows this already. I pretend that I make a mess and I don't do the dishes well, so then he just like, does em, so that's that's a great, he would, I had to do 'em again.

So it was like, oh, Oh, it's not bad. It's not that bad, but you know, he does, he likes to go head and putts and clean up the kitchen and do the that's his quiet time. So I'll make the mess and he can clean it up. that's a perfect relationship right there. Yes. Yes. So to end today, is there any closing thoughts you wanna share with me regarding this topic at all?

Because I. I mean, there are, there are comments that I'm reading from you that says Jess feels like a cooking coach, which is awesome to hear. She's got a knack and a creative side. So I invite you to go ahead and look at her newsletter, but is there any other piece of advice you would have for us as a caregiver?

You, yes. So I just want to remind people that simple is better when it comes to cooking mm-hmm and that taking. Your food and approaching it as ingredients that you don't have to assemble in too much fuss. And, and really can give you like a big. Like a big payoff, if you can, if you can make things that you can assemble together.

So I know parents have told me that they will look for recipes on Instagram or they'll find recipes that they think look good, and they'll put all this work and then, and then no one eats it or that it doesn't turn out how they like it. So. I just want people to be, to remember that there's things other than recipes and, and just cooking what you love, like cooking some sausages and, and having them there and serving them with rapini.

I mean, that's a dinner cooking a a steak, a beautiful. Butter basted steak that you then cut up and, and just put a little bit onto a, a big leafy salad of, of mixed greens with herbs. Herbs are delicious and salad, and that becomes a meal so that it's not so much assembling. You don't have to saute the onion and I don't have to brown the meat.

You can make it a lot simpler when you need it to be well, still eating healthy and taking care of. Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you very much, Jess. And everybody that the, all of the information will be out in the show note. So you can follow Jess, you can check out her recipes, you can check out her, her 15 minute tips and tricks.

Check out the Caregiver Cup Circle  ❤️ https://www.cathylvan.com/caregivercircleThe small group meets every other Tuesday.  We would love to have you!

If you are interested in 1:1 support  ➡️  DM Cathy at @cathylynnvan


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