This past week on WGT I got the chance to interview the awesome Laney Schwartz, creator and culinary mind behind Life is But a Dish.
Now here’s the thing: I come from a long line of great cooks (hi, Mom!), but I don’t consider myself one. But I want to get better! I mean, I’ve got a few tried-and-trues—soups and chilies—but I’m looking for more options.
Another reason I want to cook more is I just feel better when the kids eat home-cooked meals. No judgment on takeout—we basically existed on UberEats this summer—but it’s time I whip my kitchen into shape.
If you’re on a journey to cook more but to also keep it simple, you might enjoy these 3 things I learned from Laney. She’s got some tips that make cooking feel what it should be—good, approachable and healthy! And read on for a discount code for access to some of her best recipes.
Being able to quick a quick, healthy meal means having some basics on hand.
For the pantry, Laney says to have different types of carbohydrates on hand. That includes different pasta shapes, as well as grains like white or brown rice, quinoa, couscous or lentils. These, she says, you can mix with different proteins and toppings.
Another thing I never would have thought of to keep on hand—canned vegetables. I have a jar of artichoke hearts in our pantry that I had no idea what to do with, and asked Laney how she’d use them in a quick, healthy meal.
“They’re delicious just to eat, but [you can also] chop them up and throw them into a salad … [or] a big chicken dish. Toss them with tomatoes and olive oil and herbs, [or] put it over fish or steak, or throw onto a pizza.”
As for the freezer and fridge, here’s what Laney recommends having on hand:
“I always have frozen meat on hand. I’ve got tons of boneless, skinless chicken breast, we do a ton of ground turkey and ground beef.”
Then, pull from them as needed. “Maybe pull out two or three meats for the week, let them defrost in the fridge, and then decide what to do with it from there.”
Some ideas? Meatloaf or meatballs with the ground meat, or a grilled burger; and for those chicken breasts or whatever cut of chicken you like, she suggests using some of those aforementioned veggies—hello, artichokes!—and using them as a topping after baking.
This was a big lesson for me while talking to Laney—dropping the pressure from myself to feel like I have took every single night of the week.
Especially if you’re just starting to try to cook more, aim for a few days a week, so you can get your sea legs in the kitchen. You can always add days from there!
While Pinterest is a great resource for me (my go to search term is “quick, healthy family dinner”), I also learned from Laney that meal inspiration can come from other places.
“[It’s all about] re programming your mind. Like, ‘Oh, I never thought to think about the protein as an anchor.’ And for some people that’s like a light bulb. And that can really help.
For others, they just need to either find something that inspires them. … If I’m ever in a super huge rut, going out to a new restaurant, or going to even a different grocery store, just like mixing up the routine [helps].”
I’m a huge fan of checking out the Aprons section at Publix. Lots of grocery chains have an area where they have recipe cards near all the items needed for the meal, so it’s a quick grab-and-go situation.
And we can’t forget about social media and TV!
“For me, watching Ina Garten. [Or I just] go on Instagram and basically watch all of these bloggers. Finding someone that you love and trust to watch them make something can just open up so many doors, they just really helped spark your imagination.”
But even better, Laney has offered a huge discount for WGT listeners and readers to access her library of amazing recipes.