Planning ahead

My kitchen counter is covered in food. There are black beans cooling after being pressure cooked, rice cooking in the rice cooker, vegetable broth, spinach, pesto and butternut squash -- all three frozen from last summer -- thawing, dried yellow split peas and garbanzo beans waiting for their turn in the pressure cooker.

I'm lucky. I have a schedule that allows me the luxury of time, decades of experience cooking, and a genuine love for the process. And that's fortunate because cooking can take a crazy amount of time, knowledge, and energy. Women (yes, almost always women) all over the world have spent 12 and more hours a day preparing food and cleaning up after everyone. Diets that claim to save you time, those "fast, fabulous weekday meals," can be genuine time-savers -- if you've been cooking multiple elaborate meals every day for years. But if, like most people, you're starting from take-out, from frozen foods warmed in the microwave, from scrambled eggs or packaged ramen every night, well, cooking real food isn't going to save you time. It's going to be a time investment.

But the key word there is investment. When you make food at home, you're investing in your health. You're investing in the health of your family, especially if you have children. You're expending considerable energy toward the goal of having more energy over the long haul. You're putting money into an IRA -- it cuts into your liquidity today, but it builds towards a future you hope to enjoy for a long time.

It's never a bad time to start planning ahead. It's not too late to start investing in your future health and wellness. Commit to adding in one you-made (or your-partner-made) plant-rich, high-fiber food each week -- delicious dividends await you.

FoodNicki JonesFood