My friend, Leigh Weingus, is my favorite kind of health-obsessed person. She doesn’t tell other people that her way of being healthy is the only way. A healthy lifestyle means something different to everyone, and for this yoga and fitness editor, it means making conscious decisions that contribute to her overall well-being every single day.
In this interview, Leigh shares her advice for people just getting into cooking, air tight mealprep strategy as well as her number one health rule.
Leigh is an amazing example of how health is not a “one-size-fits” all deal. What matters most is that she put time into figuring it out for herself, and now she has the energy to focus on more important things. Like the fact that she now has an amazing smoothie bowl cookbook you can pre-order on Amazon!
You can also check out some of Leigh’s MindBodyGreen articles here.
The TL/DR message from Leigh is this: If you want to be at your best, you should eat only the best. Also, knife skills are the most important to learn if you want to cook!
Scroll down to learn Leigh’s secrets to mastering mealprep.
- I’m a 29-year-old senior yoga and fitness editor at MindBodyGreen and my hours are 9-6
- I live with my boyfriend in New York City
- I spend $250-$300 a month on groceries and cook most of the time
- Favorite food: pickles, for sure. Oh and chicken soup.
When did you start cooking?
Growing up, my parents rarely cooked because they were always so busy. They were career-oriented people, which was an amazing role model for me, but they just didn’t have much energy left to cook at the end of the day. Dinner was usually takeout. If they did cook, it would be like, spaghetti with tuna on the side. A lot of chicken too.
I got into cooking when I first moved to New York City six years ago and made no money. It started because I knew cooking would help save cash and make me feel a lot healthier. At first, I was eating boring stuff like chicken and kale, but my roommate who was super into cooking showed me how to do more. She used to say, “cooking is really relaxing” and I had never really thought about it like that.
Why do you cook?
Overall, it makes me feel healthy. When I’m cooking most of the food I eat, I feel better. Even though I’m not allergic to anything, there’s a grossness I feel after eating a meal out.
Eating takeout in the middle of the makes me sluggish. Low energy affects the quality of my work. It’s kind of like why I would never drink alcohol during the day either. Eating cooked food helps me feel my best at all times.
What is your diet like?
I eat a plant-based diet with lots of fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes. I don’t cook with meat because it grosses me out a little! I save eating fish and chicken for going out because it’s more of an indulgence for me.
I like not having a label on my diet because restricting myself would be a disaster. I just end up wanting to eat what I’m not allowed to have. It doesn’t work.
How do you plan for the week?
I put a lot into planning. Usually on Saturdays, I look at my schedule and think about what meals I’ll need to make, and then I have to run everything by my boyfriend since he eats what I cook too. I’ll look at a blog like Minimalist Baker or Deliciously Ella and either copy their recipes or get inspiration.
From there I make two lists, one for Trader Joe’s and one for the farmers market. At Trader Joe’s I’ll get staples like almond butter, oils and frozen fruits and veggies. I love trying new farmers markets for produce and everything else. I pick up things throughout the week too.
I usually cook on Sundays and Mondays. My rule is to never make plans on Mondays just so I have time to relax, cook and get really into mealprep. Shopping on Sundays is already a lot, especially because Trader Joe’s is 20 blocks away from me.
Cooking doesn’t feel like hard work. It just feels like fun organizing! I read a study recently that says people eat more unhealthy food when they feel like they’re starving. I never let myself get to that point because I always have food ready to go.
How has cooking improved your life?
I’m a great cook now and I can confidently invite friends over for dinner instead of going out and spending money. In general, it helps me keep my finances under control.
Some of my friends go out every night and drop $65-$70 on dinner. It blows my mind. I want to buy a house and retire one day.
What did you eat today?
Breakfast before work at 8 am: A little bit of oatmeal, almond milk and coconut sugar
Snack at 11 am: plain yogurt with lots of protein
Lunch at 1 pm: salad with avocado, roasted sweet potato, carrots and tomatoes
Snack at 3 pm: a little smoothie and some wasabi peas that I picked up from a store nearby
Dinner after work at an event: I knew I’d be going to an event that Dig Inn was catering, so I didn’t need to cook or prep!
Snack at 10 pm: gluten free wrap with almond butter
After spending the morning traveling, I'm fueling up for my afternoon workout with a coffee chocolate smoothie (healthier than it sounds, I swear!) complete with a scoop of super energizing plant-based protein powder courtesy of @kachavatribe. Next stop: @circuitofchange, because a girl's gotta sweat 😎
What is the health rule you live by?
My number one health rule is that everything I do- eating, sleeping, moving- has to make me feel good AND look good. Looking good is important to me, but it’s mostly about feeling good.
What I put in my mouth and how I work out- it all has to make me feel my best. That’s why I do yoga instead of boot camp. Yoga just makes me feel better. Every decision is for my happiness, and my physical appearance is definitely a part of that. It’s not a bad thing to care about how you feel inside and out.
What is the most important and necessary skill to have in the kitchen?
If you’re going to invest in learning one skill in the kitchen, learn how to use a knife properly. It will save you a ton of time!
What advice do you have for people starting out?
Look for food blogs that focus on food you can make in 30 minutes with around 10 ingredients. In the beginning, if you think you’re going to make a fancy pie or something, you’re going to give up.