The Daily Beet

17 Jan Saving Time With Char: Keep it Simple

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Keep it Simple

Just when I think that I have exhausted all of my handy time saving tips, this is what happens to me.

My husband and I were at a poetry reading the other night, when a lady came up to me and said, “Hey, aren’t you Char Nolan from Engine 2?  I heard you speak at an event last year.”  I confessed, in fact, that I was Char Nolan.

The woman, whom I didn’t know, scanned my table to see what I was eating (brought my own food)…I find that people love to take an inventory of what I am eating.

As our conversation developed, she told me that she had really tried the “E2 Thing,” but that she just didn’t have time for all the work involved in the food prep.  I tried not to roll my eyes.  But at  that exact moment, I thought this:

It isn’t the time factor, chica, it is the fact that you are moving from the lane of convenient and fast food (that is loaded with preservatives and “food gunk”). You are comparing the quick opening of a microwaveable meal to preparing vegetables.  Of course there is a time difference in what you think isn’t “enough time.”

But in my Yoda voice I said to her, “Well, start off at a salad bar, and make a salad everyday.”  Start small.  Make foods in bulk (brown rice, baked potatoes, etc.), get frozen fruits and veggies.  Keep it simple.  Focus on the big picture, rather than the dot matrix.  I then said to her (at this point, my husband, Patrick, is really rolling his eyes):

Well, you know, when you weren’t plant-strong, you probably spent loads of time preparing a meat-based dish, basting it, etc.,  You don’t have to do that with veggies.  Vegetables are life’s pure and simple foods.  Are you trying to shave off a few minutes because you want to watch re-runs on the CW?

She looked at me and said, “Oh, I never thought about it.  Why do I think I need to have so much time when I prepare vegetables?  It took way longer to prepare a roast, or whatever.  I see where you are coming from.”

Consistency, planning, and loving what you do will make this plant-strong journey more fun and much easier.  Think about the fact that you used to cut corners with pre-made, pre-packaged dinners.  And now, you might have to clean the veggies, scrape them, then steam them.  One of the things that I loved about my intro to the Engine 2 Diet was that Rip’s recipes were easy to follow and QUICK!  I used to think about the firefighters at Engine 2 (I’ve been there!!!) and the fact that they were the ones who really needed to save time, because they never knew when a bell would ring, and then they’d have to be on their way…to save a life.

Start small.  Keep in simple.  The longer you are Plant-Strong, the easier shopping and preparing foods will become.

photo (10)

This picture was taken more than two years ago when I escaped from an Immersion and visited the Engine 2 Fire Station.  I’ve seen the Vatican, Buckingham Palace, the Mayan Ruins, and more, and frankly, for me, going to the Engine 2 Firehouse was just as much of a joyous occasion.

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Engine 2 Team
Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • Tracy D
    Posted at 12:00h, 17 January

    One of my duties at work is managing a conference center. Everyone has crappy food delivered. They are always very nice and offer me what ever… in the beginning it was so easy to take that muffin, donut, chicken parm or what ever. Now I am so disgusted by it all. I envision it in my body…doing horrible things.

    The funny thing is, I overhear them every day…”I’m so tired, My bones ache, My back, I can’t kick this cold” If only they realized that they are living a lie that corporate America made a part of our culture & that it is ruining their lives!

    It’s just gross. I don’t care if I now spend 3 hours every Sunday, cooking, prepping, packaging for the week…I envision the good things it does in my body. Especially in flu season. The good news is after we do the Sunday prep, I only spend 10-15 minutes assembling/reheating dinner for the family after a crazy work day.

    Char, I have loved reading you/about you since I joined the Engine 2 Extra group…your journey is very inspiring to me. I think you gave her good avice about starting with a few items & growing from there. I first saw FoK in Dec of 11, and it took me until the Immersion in August to really make it a full reality. Reading things like this helps me stay on track and not be one of those folks who “tried” it. I want to live it.

  • Marsha S.
    Posted at 12:02h, 17 January

    This is good. Oh yes I adore my veggies. Funny, a friend asked me what I ate, and I said “a yam”. I love them microwaved. She replied in disbelief, “a yam”. Oh yes, quite filling.

  • Barb W.
    Posted at 12:11h, 17 January

    Char, you are SO right. People kind of fall into two camps when it comes to cooking – either they are in the convenience, fast food lane, as you so aptly called it, and ANY cooking from scratch is more than they’re used to. Or they DO cook from scratch, but it’s with meat, eggs, dairy, fats, etc. So what tends to be the roadblock for them, is that they have to learn new ways to cook without all that stuff. It is a learning curve. We’ve all been there. The trick is to figure out which camp they fall into, and give suggestions to make it easy for them, just like you did with that woman. Then perhaps the lightbulb will go on. The other thing I’ve noticed is that people will often picture a plate piled high with beans, brown rice and broccoli as our dinner every night, as they ask the common question “So what DO you eat”? They think it’s boring and can’t possibly imagine what else you can do with beans, legumes and vegetables. So to give them a quick picture of the variety, I’ll ask people “do you likeethnic food – Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Asian, Greek food”? Usually they’ll say “Oh Yeah”! Then I’ll rattle off a bunch of dishes in those cuisines that are familiar to them so they get the idea – lasagne, veggie pastas, minestrone soup, burritos, enchiladas, hummus, Chinese stir “fry’s”, salads, lentil soup,….you get the idea. That’s usually a lightbulb moment for them, too. 🙂

  • LL
    Posted at 15:55h, 17 January

    I’ve been eating the “Engine 2 way” for 17 days. I’m seeing myself slowly melt away without all the added fats I used to eat. I don’t miss meat at all and I feel great, no headaches, always full etc. My only “issue” is that our family was invited to a good friends party at El Torito’s Mexican (prepaid buffet) and to not offend anyone….I just ate the lunch that was there. When I got home dinner again was plant based. Then a few days later we were invited to go to dinner with friends for pizza. We did our best and ended up with the Salmon Veggie pizza. Well, best would have been veggie, but we were sharing and I guess kind of threw in the towel because it was already on white dough and with cheese. Any suggestions on how anyone handles these events without offending anyone? I can’t figure it out except to say we’ll meet them for a walk after dinner or to tell them to please not prepay dinner for us as we’re on a 28 day program and really want to see them, but we just can’t eat like we used too. ??? Suggestions? Hardest part isnt the eating out, it’s the events (Birthdays out, Anniversaries etc). I’ve gone as far as going to Applebees for a salad and whipping out a tupperware with a lemon and an avocado and making my own dressing right at the table. We generally only eat out once per week now. Hoping all our big events are done for the moment !

    • teachrc2
      Posted at 16:51h, 17 January

      I would let everyone know ahead of time that your diets have now changed. Tell them you have had to change for your health. When you are arranging to go out remind them that you and your husband will not be throwing in with the group but will order on your own for health reasons. Then you are free to choose what you want from the menu. Maybe they will even ask you to choose the restaurant! I love the way you handled Applebees! I once went to a family wedding with a few containers of salad supplements like that including chickpeas and a nice dressing.

  • LL
    Posted at 15:59h, 17 January

    Can someone tell me what an Immersion is? :-).

  • Scott
    Posted at 08:41h, 18 January

    Char, you are right on point! I will spend a few hours 2X a week cooking, Some of what I make goes in the fridge, some in the freezer and…some in my belly 😉 I will bring my meals to work and there’s a bit of “spectacle” about it.

    The people that I work with are the biggest group of foodies and they always ask what it is and how I made it. I’ll go through the steps and they are always amazed how easy it is and how good it looks.

    Like Char said. Make a big batches of the basics. Think of them as a blank canvas, you can use them for 4-6 different thing. With a properly stocked fridge of basics, some greens waiting in the crisper, and just a few extra ingredients, dinner will take LESS time than in your pre-Plantstrong days.

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