One Burner

Aniela gives practical advice on how to stock a kitchen and prepare food, celebrating the goodness and simplicity of homemade meals.
Aniela gives practical advice on how to stock a kitchen and prepare food, celebrating the goodness and simplicity of homemade meals.
Photo of uncooked ingredients for homemade soup

I have often struggled, as many women do, with the problem of how much time to spend in the kitchen. We want to prepare food to nurture our families without buying ready-made food at the grocery store or a restaurant—food that’s expensive, where you have no control over its quality or preparation. Jerzy once said that he could live without a kitchen in the house. I suppose when you are frustrated you just don’t want to deal with the problem, and I think he pushed a little bit here. So he agreed that maybe using “one burner” wouldn’t be so overwhelming.

Photo of uncooked ingredients for homemade soup
Before cooking
Photo of homemade soup
After cooking

This is how Jerzy and I simplified the idea of cooking.

Our plan is easy: we make soups daily for lunch, which we love. Once a week we make our own batch of healthy food bars. Every morning we start with our own smoothie or green juice, and we use pulp for vegetable pate as snack. Fruit with nuts is also a snack we enjoy.

Our weekdays are simple, with the focus falling on what we need to do workwise and helping our daughter with her schoolwork and activities. Weekends are more relaxed, so we occasionally go to our favorite restaurant for lunch or dinner. We also like to entertain at home often, enjoying cooking creatively and spending time with friends. We’ve found  that simple, high quality and healthy food is the best remedy to keep our body healthy in the fast paced, challenging times we live in.

I would like to share five simple ideas to help you streamline your meals and clear more time for what makes you happy:

1. Simplify your meals.

Instead of elaborate dishes, we make simpler meals without skimping on nutritional value. Making soups for lunch takes little time, but fills the house with delicious aromas, and leaves you satisfied for the rest of the day. Add a dollop of yogurt for a dose of richness—in such a simple meal, it will feel like an indulgence.

Salads or stir-fried vegetables are great source of vitamins and fiber and also so easy and fast to prepare. For a quick meal, chop up some red or green cabbage or lettuce and top it with a little bit of protein. The dressing can be as simple as lemon juice mixed with Tahini or hummus. The meal will have fewer calories, will slow down your eating, and fill your colon, making your organs healthier.

2. Go back to basics.

Whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, are already packed with nutrition and goodness. Instead of viewing them as ingredients, consider them what they are: food.

Always chose produce over products, unless you make it yourself. When shopping, to save time and fewer trips to the store, consider buying produce that lasts longer in your pantry or fridge.

There are some foods that I always keep at home; I can combine them differently to create a variety of dishes.

Fill your own pantries with foods below:

Dry pantry: jams, potatoes, sweet onion, red onion, garlic, ginger.

Also, fruit like pineapple, lemons, limes and oranges for dressings, green apples and pears (some green to leave time for ripening) that you can use in salads, fresh or poached.

Pantry: jarred tomatoes, marinara sauce, a variety of canned beans, canned salmon, smoked trout, tuna, coconut milk, roasted seaweeds, pickles, sauerkraut.

Refrigerator: red and green cabbage, zucchini, all varieties of peppers, celery, carrots, cucumber, baby tomatoes.

Freezer: cooked rice, cooked quinoa, fava beans, English peas, sweet corn, berries, mango, bananas, ground lean beef, a few steaks, wild salmon.

3. Prepare food in batches.

Set aside time once a week to make your own batch of healthy food bars. These are simple to make, packed with flavor, energy and nutrition, and one batch will last all week. You can also make a large batch to last a month and freeze some of it. We make ours with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate.

Another great practice is to make your own vegetable broth for the whole week. Pack a daily serving of broth into containers and freeze it. Add one raw vegetable like tomato (add dry or fresh cilantro), or mushrooms (with basil), and enjoy different soup every day. If you love soups as much as we do and have little time, this method will provide a great way for you and your family to eat healthy and be satisfied.

4. Use everything.

We make smoothies or green juice in the morning, and then we save the pulp. When we want a snack we’ll use mix the pulp with lemon, garlic, avocado and fresh herbs (parsley, arugula, dill) to make a tasty vegetable pate. Then we top it with sliced tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, zucchini, or other vegetables that we have in the fridge. Sometimes we might even eat vegetable pate with fresh fruit like banana, peach, pear or apple. It’s simply delicious!

If you have leftover soup, add a new vegetable to it to transform it into a fresh and different soup for the day. For example, if you have leftover tomato soup, add some broccoli. The ‘revised’ soup adds variety and will delight you. Often if we have leftover steak or fish, we just add it to our salad the next day for a nice addition of protein.

5. Entertain with ease.

We love entertaining at home and spending time relaxing with friends. But instead of taking hours to prepare elaborate meals beforehand, we keep it simple and creative, and everyone (including the hosts) has a great time.

Between children, work, and daily responsibilities, these are fast-paced, challenging times. But you can take the pressure off without losing any pleasure if you commit to preparing simpler meals. Stick to good quality, healthy food, easily preparations, and your life will be filled with goodness instead of hours in the kitchen.

When entertaining I keep in mind a few qualities that seem to satisfy everyone:

hot (start with broth soup like clear tomato, mushroom, beet)

and cold (veggie platter with dip, or arugula salad)

low calories (stir fry or steamed veggies)

a rainbow of colors (all kinds of vegetables from green cucumbers to yellow peppers, to red tomatoes to purple beets)

a variety of flavors (salty, sweet, sour, bitter)

and textures (crunchy, soft, etc.)

protein source: one grain (like quinoa) and one animal protein like filet minion, or fish

Above all, food is not the only way we entertain our friends. Our gatherings are the time for a good conversation about what’s happening in everyone’s life. We also like playing board games, putting together puzzles, or reading Taro cards for entertainment, which has now become our pre-New Year’s tradition. On rainy or cold days, we watch a movie together, and talk about it afterwards over a good cup of tea (our favorite Marco Polo) and a mixed berry salad topped with Greek yogurt with honey and cinnamon. Yum! Food is a wonderful complement to our lives, but never the center of attention.


Do food preparation or the selection of meals take up a lot time in your schedule? Do meals need to be such a central focus in your life? Do you have a simplified practice in your life that you could share with others?

Leave your response below in the comments.


Photo of uncooked ingredients for homemade soup

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  • Aniela, thank you for sharing your passion and love for delicious, simple, nutritious meals and snacks. Years of wisdom shared with such simplicity and guidace. Very inspiring. I’ve learned so much from you-life changing. Pressure cooker, juicer and food processor have been the secret to simplicity and health in our household too.

  • You’re welcome Michelle. It’s my pleasure to share my experience and knowledge with others. That’s what makes sense – an active participation to help yourself and others be better.

  • My husband and I LOVE to cook soups on the weekend and eat them during the week for lunch or light dinner. We make our own bone broth and add lots of fresh vegetables, beans, chicken or grass fed bison. Our favorite – Smoky Black Bean & Vegetables. But in the winter – nothing beats a chicken soup.

    Aniela – many thanks to you and Jerzy for The Happy Body Program. We have been doing it for about a 6 weeks now and it has truly started to transform out lives.


    • Marietta,
      I am so glad you are enjoying The Happy Body lifestyle. We are at the grassroot movement to make health and fitness practical and economical so peoples’ life is simpler and sane and they can focus on the important issues like family, friends or business.
      Good luck to you. The best is to come!

  • Aniela,
    Thank you so much for sharing your meal plans and pantry list! My husband and I are just beginning The Happy Body, so this is very helpful. Would you please share how you make your smoothie? My goal weight is 110, so I wonder how I would keep the smoothie in that range.

    • Peggy,
      The simple way of making smoothie for three people:
      I banana
      I cup of berries
      I glass of almond milk
      I bag of spinach
      1 tbsp of almond butter
      ice cubes
      We all enjoy it!

  • One wonderful strategy that we use in our food life is to make large batched of food, freeze it in 8 oz or 4 oz glass canning jars. We label them then tuck them in the freezer. Throughout the week, healthy food is easily available and the variety is great because you build up various jars over time. I wished I had thought about this when I was much younger. Mike and I eat so much better with the jar method. Kerr has wide mouth 8 oz jars to freeze vegetables. Currently, I have frozen fresh tomato and artichoke heart soup that I have for any meal time. Excellent.

    • Louise,
      Thank you for sharing your practical method of freezing your left over soups. We’ve done the same thing with broth. If needed I would use the frozen broth and add one vegetable to make soup like fresh tomatoes, broccoli or cauliflower. I love herbs and use them sparingly either fresh or dried – that brings even more flavor. 🍵

  • My practice of doing a “weekly menu -eating for health” has been super helpful.. there are weeks I don’t do it. Those weeks are more difficult, I’m more chaotic in the kitchen, I waste more… The weeks I take the time and plan (loose’s not carved in stone, still a lot of flexibility) I cherish. My life and my kitchen time become so much easier and more enjoyable.. I shop the green market on Saturday for veggies.. every week I try to include a variety of proteins. With my little planning sheet I made in Google documents I write down the main veggies that need to be used asap, like avocados are ripe, most likely I’ll make quacamole, and for me that calls for a taco night (it’s tonight and we are having a grass fed beef tacos).. or I have a bunch of peppers, add some onions and Italian sausage and serve on a bed of lettuce…later in the week I’ll include a chicken and a seafood night. At least one day I’ll slow cook and serve it on the busy night, often it’s a lamb Curry. I’m always making soup..often have it for lunch and freeze extras.. I’m Polish so it’s in my DNA! We never do pasta, or heavy starch dinners. My husband just joined me in quitting sugar and grains and it’s what works for us. Dr Mercola, Dave Asprey, Dr Gundry and a few others inform my diet decisions as I come to understand food and nutrition… I love my time in the kitchen, we love food and I love feeding us healing foods… And in my 40’s I finally have a way to make it a bit easier too! 😉

    • Maya,
      Sounds like you got grip on food part. Planning is liberating, keeps you in touch with what you want to achieve. Most of us usually fail because we don’t take time to think ahead and than we only react to what it is – we reach for already made products which are packed with calories but no nutrients. Of course it takes time to prepare our own food but it is fresh and the best quality. Also, we learn to appreciate our own efforts. If we keep in mind health and joy of cooking we can only work on quantity – not to overeat. Keep in touch and please share your experimentation and experiences with us!

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