Here's me in my nonphotogenic kitchen. With wine.

Here’s me in my nonphotogenic kitchen. With wine.

I dieted throughout my early twenties, and one of the things I tried was an online diet and meal planning app. I liked being told what to eat and how much. I didn’t have to think about it.

However, after a couple of weeks, there were problems.

Not only were the recipes redundant and bland (English muffins and cottage cheese featured prominently) but I always had a ton of food leftover, which I wasn’t supposed to eat. I would buy a carton of cherry tomatoes and use half, plus a plum tomato and a slicing tomato, each for a different recipe. I’d buy 8 oz. shredded mozzarella and use 4, a package of 10 slices of cheese and use 2.

It drove me crazy that I had to throw out all that food! And sometimes I didn’t throw it out—I ate it.

So I had the idea of starting my own meal plan that focused on using up your groceries to help with budgeting and food waste and portion control.

But I was intimidated. How on earth would I come up with all those recipes and turn them into something people could use? Instead, I started a blog called Eat2Prevent.

Then, I found out about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and joined their health certification program. I learned so much about eating, cooking, and health—mainly, that we have to take responsibility for our own.

But it’s still not easy to cook, even if you love it! My husband and I moved to the middle of nowhere so he could finish his degree, and I often found myself eating alone while he was in class or at the library.

I was on my own. It was lonely. It was boring. It was depressing. And every recipe I looked at made food for 4–6 people. What about 2 people? What about 1? Didn’t we count?

In desperation, I finally started seeing a business coach. During our first session, we did not talk about business plans or marketing. Instead, he asked me to close my eyes. He asked me about a feeling I would like to change.

I said “panic.”

He asked me what the purpose of panic was for me. I replied that it stopped a dangerous situation before it got any worse. He asked what was more important than avoiding danger. Embarrassed and uncertain where this was going, I replied, “Saving face. Not looking bad or vulnerable to others.”

We continued in this vein until we got to what I thought was the most important thing: oneness.

That was pretty much the first session. I left feeling exhilarated. We did get to the practical stuff, but not before I had admitted my fear of failure and figured out a way to thank the part of myself that was trying to protect me from failure and then tell me I didn’t need its help anymore.

I launched The Unprepared Kitchen in January 2014. It has been through several incarnations. What I have now is a recipe-pairing concept that simplifies cooking for 2 and uses leftovers in a different recipe so you spend less time in the kitchen. It’s great for portion control, learning to cook from scratch, preventing food and money waste, and never having to eat boring leftovers again!