You’ve probably heard of a capsule wardrobe, but how about a capsule kitchen? Similar objectives, including keeping tried-and-true staples on hand, so you can mix ‘n match to create something that works every time.
When applied to food, we’re essentially talking about meal planning, which, if you’re like me, you’ve tried (and failed) before. That heroic motivation to meal plan, followed by an epic grocery store run, ends up in frustration because it’s too complicated.
By the way, did I mention that we make over 250 food-related decisions a day?
Now, this is different — hear me out. A capsule kitchen is designed to simplify healthy eating, eliminate decision fatigue (a real thing), while also offering structure and flavor variety.
Here’s how it works: instead of planning all new recipes with all different ingredients every week, keep something constant — like meal type. Hello Taco Tuesday! Then, the only decision to make is what flavor taco you’re having every Tuesday. Your grocery list remains consistent and less stressful.
First, ask yourself what types of meals (categories) you want to make. I recommend choosing four or five per week, allowing room for spontaneity along the way. You might choose to start with only dinners. Or choose a combo of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
With a capsule kitchen, you choose the category (think recipe type or cooking method). This will stay the same for a desired length of time (ex: one month), but the flavors and ingredients can change week to week.
In this example, we’ll start with one breakfast, two lunch and three dinner options.
Breakfast: I personally love overnight oats. I always prep several at once and change the flavor each week. Week one might be blueberry vanilla. Week two could be chocolate coconut. Week three could be strawberry almond butter.
Lunch: Salad or leftovers. Buy an assortment of greens and toppings to add to the mix. Spice it up each week by choosing ingredients that are fresh and seasonal. Option two is leftovers.
Dinner: Choose two to three dinner categories. Assign one cooking method to a specific day of the week. My personal favorites are crockpot, stir-fry, grill, pizza, soup and sheet pan meals. Maybe every Monday, for one month, you make a different flavored sheet pan meal. Steak fajitas, fish and veggies, etc.
The key to making this work is to choose flavors, cooking methods and ingredients that you love! Don’t enjoy cold oatmeal? Overnight oats probably aren’t a good choice for you. Egg cups or a smoothie might work better.
The next step is to peel it back, and create a capsule grocery list. Choose ingredients broken down by category (or aisle) that can be mix ‘n matched into different cooking methods. Rice can be used alongside a grilled protein or as a base for a stir-fry, for instance. Sweet potatoes can be used in soup, homemade fries and more. Let your creativity and taste buds soar!