Get back to basics

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Wednesday, 07 September 2022.
Tagged: Basics, healthy cooking, healthy eating, nutrition, wellness

Get back to basics
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“Get back to basics”.  I hear this all the time so it’s a good topic to spell out more! Here’s what I regard as the ‘basics’.

What are the ‘basics’ anyway?

For me, it means two things:

  1. Eat from the five basic food groups (vegies, fruit, meat/chicken/fish, dairy, whole grains and nuts/seeds). People are seeking simplicity and nowhere is that more evident than with food. Nutrition is confusing with extreme messages such as ‘Cut out all carbs’ or ‘Cut out all sugar’ being used to sell specific diets and the lifestyle attached with going paleo, carnivore, vegan, etc.
  2. Cook from scratch (the ‘Just Eat Real Food’ or JERF movement). This is where you concentrate on simple, important ideas – what really matters. It means consuming fewer chemicals and additives.

These things both require a degree of cooking skill. After all, you can’t cook a stir-fry if you’ve never used a wok before. They align with the non-diet approach which specifies that all food can be eaten (say junk food) regardless of the “value” attached to this.

3 basic mains for a meat-eater

  1. Grilled or barbecued steak + mash potato + green vegies
  2. Grilled fish + roast potato + tossed-leaf salad
  3. Roast chicken + roast vegetables such as potato, pumpkin, onion and gold potato + green veg

3 basic mains for a vegetarian/vegan

  1. Pasta dish + butter + herbs such as thyme or basil + chick peas
  2. Eggs (if you eat them) + mushrooms, herbs such as tarragon or chives + cheese (if you eat it) or non-cheese dairy
  3. Eggplant topped with tomato pasta sauce + cheese or non-cheese dairy

 5 top foods to include

  1. Salmon and other oily fish
  2. Blueberries, strawberries and other berries
  3. Eggs
  4. Green leaves such as rocket and dark lettuces
  5. Nuts and seeds

Back to Basics Chalkboard

Searching for the basics

 The search for simplicity in food products does not mean craving less-flavourful foods but desiring to avoid colours, flavours and preservatives, say experts. Many foods today contain basic ingredients without any additives, yet offer an increasing variety of healthy, less-processed foods, allowing individuals to eat properly despite their fast-paced lifestyles.

 Learn four basic dishes and cook them often. They are:

  1. An omelette  - Eggs always available and there are endless variations from mushrooms to spinach.
  2. Mince dish  - You can make a bolognaise sauce or meatballs, or save money and ring in the changes with a can of lentils, or a few capsicums or tomatoes.
  3. Stir-fry - This is a fast and vegie-rich option.
  4. Roast dinner - A roast is easy to place in the oven, but more work dishing it up at the other end.

 Learn to use your freezer and you’ll be on-track with meal-prepping trends

 Freezer-friendly meals to get you going are:

  • Classic Beef Lasagne
  • Basic Bolognese Sauce
  • Meatball Pasta Bake
  • Savoury Mince
  • Lentil and Feta Frittata
  • Minestrone soup
  • Pumpkin soup
  • Chicken, Barley and Vegetable Soup
  • Pea and Ham Soup
  • Cheese and Greens Filo Pie
  • Chicken Casserole such as Butter chicken or Teriyaki Chicken

 Basically any “wet” dish freezes well and includes soups, curries, casseroles and pasta and dishes with mash on top such as Cottage Pie. Freeze rice or pasta separately. You can freeze your own cooked rice or pasta – it freezes well.

 Simple dressings/sauces

 Forget commercial salad dressings and complicated sauces. It’s easy to make your own.

  • Make your own salad dressing from oil, lemon juice, pepper and mustard. Try my way of making it.
  • Make a simple sauce from fresh herbs combined with olive oil. Or else a basic white sauce – start with a roux made from flour and butter to which you then add stock or milk.

 The bottom line

With these basic foods, you can supercharge your health. Today, there are many more products that combine convenience and budget with being healthy.

Catherine Saxelby About the author

About the Author


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