Plus, the app she uses to find healthy foods at the grocery store.
Zoey Deschanel on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Rodin Eckenroth

Zooey Deschanel is pretty busy. Between hanging out with her family, hosting a podcast about her sitcom New Girl and getting ready to head back on tour as half of the musical duo She & Him, she has lots going on! And there's more. Zooey has also spent time co-founding an interesting new app, Merryfield

Merryfield puts a healthy twist on the receipt-scanning apps you might already have on your phone. Instead of getting points based just on how much you spend or which brands are offering a rebate, Merryfield curates a library of healthy brands, and awards you points based on the items you buy from companies like Stonyfield Farm dairy, Justin's nut butter or Barilla pasta. You can build up your points and eventually use them to snag a gift card to your store of choice, from Whole Foods to Sephora.

For Deschanel, Merryfield was a perfect way to continue her mission of making healthy eating accessible to more people. That mission started back in 2014, when Deschanel was pregnant with her daughter and trying to eat as healthy as possible—only to come up against expensive prices and indecipherable food labels. Her frustration drove her to start The Farm Project, which is aimed at reconnecting people to their food supply, and then Lettuce Grow, a company that sells hydroponic systems that make it easy to grow food at home. 

"We were hoping people could grow like 20% of their food at home, but you still have to shop at the store sometimes," Deschanel tells EatingWell. "You have to buy food at the store and make healthy choices. Most people have jobs and are overworked, or they have kids. They have family they want to see, friends they want to spend time with, and they don't want to stand there in the store reading every label … So Merryfield came as a solution for that problem."

"Food labels and long ingredient lists can be very confusing, so it's nice that this app helps decipher some of that jargon," says EatingWell's associate editorial director, Victoria Seaver, M.S., RD. "Though, it's important to note that all foods can fit into a healthy diet, so just because something isn't in the app, it doesn't mean it should be off-limits. In fact, you can do more harm than good—both mentally and physically—when 'banning' foods or ingredients from your diet, so be mindful of that."

To stay on top of her game as a multihyphenate entertainer and businesswoman, Deschanel eats pretty healthy, sticking to a vegetarian and gluten-free diet. Read on to find out what kind of meals end up on her plate throughout the day—and how she juggles feeding kids with changing palates.

What Zooey Deschanel Eats in a Day

Breakfast: Coffee and Oatmeal

Deschanel may be a fan of breakfast, but she usually ends up skipping the first meal of the day in favor of morning coffee and an early lunch. But on weekends, a bowl of Scottish oatmeal will have her ready to face the day. 

"I love Bob's Red Mill Scottish oatmeal," Deschanel says. "It's delicious, but that would be something I might do on a weekend, or something. I don't normally eat breakfast at breakfast time. I love breakfast foods, but I'm just not that hungry when I wake up."

Lots of people feel the same way as Deschanel—they're just not hungry in the morning. "Yet, research shows how eating breakfast can have some major benefits, beyond giving you the much-needed energy you need to start the day," says Seaver. "Breakfast eaters tend to have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight and, over time, are less likely to develop chronic conditions, like heart disease—both of which are compelling reasons to start your day with some fuel, even if it's a single piece of fruit."

Lunch: Salad or Smoothie

Deschanel keeps her midday meal produce-packed, to help her feel energized all afternoon. "When I'm working and I need to keep my energy up, you have to eat, obviously, but if I eat too much, like too heavy of a meal, then I don't feel like going back to work," Deschanel says. "So I like to eat something on the lighter side." Salads and smoothies are go-to quick fixes whenever she needs a light meal to keep her going. 

We here at EatingWell love a produced-packed lunch! "Fruits and veggies add volume to a meal, while keeping it light, and they deliver lots of important nutrients, like fiber, which benefits our gut and helps to keep us feeling satisfied for longer after a meal," says Seaver. "It's also important to mix in some protein and healthy fats, to give your meal even more sustenance. Some of my favorite salad toppers include nuts and seeds, edamame and canned tuna."

Deschanel says her kids don't mind a quick salad—especially if she can catch them off-guard by debuting an unfamiliar green from her Lettuce Grow Farmstand—but she normally ends up packing them a little bit of everything, bento box-style, for their school lunches. "Otherwise, they complain, so bento box it is," Deschanel jokes. (This formula for packing the perfect bento box might give you some inspiration for satisfying a fastidious eater.)

But if she is going to surprise the kids with a salad, microgreens or sprouts with some tasty salad dressing (Deschanel is partial to Primal Kitchen's dressings) might just get their attention. 

Dinner: Build-Your-Own Pasta with Family, or Lentils & Cauliflower Rice on the Go

"I'm being honest, I have to cook something different for every single person," Deschanel says of a typical family dinner at her home. Since everyone can get on board with pasta, Deschanel likes to boil some noodles—preferably the lentil-rice variety for some extra protein—then serve it up made-to-order. For the grown-ups, some pesto or Rao's tomato sauce will do. The basil for the pesto will probably come off of Deschanel's Farmstand, which normally has all kinds of herbs growing—right now thyme, Genovese basil and dill all have a spot in her tower of greens.

Her son, who's 4 years old, is also a Rao's marinara fan—you'll find Rao's in the Merryfield app, and Deschanel says she's been known to "buy it by the 12-pack." Her daughter, 6 years old, is a butter pasta purist, but Deschanel can relate. "I mean, I don't blame her," Deschanel says. When Deschanel is traveling for work, as she does often these days, a bowl of lentils with cauliflower rice is often on the menu. (Our Lentil Curry with Cauliflower Rice is an easy way to make something flavorful out of just three ingredients.)

The Bottom Line

The Merryfield app is simple to use and makes it easier for consumers to find healthy products and get a return on their purchases—but that doesn't mean you have to stick to the app's approved brands for a healthy lifestyle. Foods you love, from sweet to savory, can be a part of a healthy eating pattern when you enjoy them in moderation.

And we'll definitely be taking inspiration from Deschanel's daily routine, especially her protein-forward pasta dinners and morning bowls of oatmeal. Yum!