If you don’t know me, I am a self-employed Massage Therapist and Yoga Teacher, as well as a Mom. Though my Jobs are technically part-time, they still take up a lot of my schedule. Running to and from day care, work, and home is a lot. Not to mention, my husband works and odd shift, so most of the time I am trying to take care of meals, house-keeping, and a four-year-old. I need easy. I need quick. (What I really need is a maid.)
When time is tight and things are stressful, it is easiest to reach for whatever is available. The minimal preparation foods are normally things from a box, loaded with preservatives that have better places to be than inside our bodies.
Here are three very important steps that I take to save some time and money, and still stay compliant when I’m in a hurry and on the go.
(seasoned, ground pork, roasted purple cabbage, butternut squash with coconut manna and cinnamon)
1.) Take a few hours to plan what you are going to eat for the week and go shopping for everything you need. If you are like me, you will probably fall off that plan because your life gets messed up every day. At least we tried and have the ingredients to make healthy things.
Don’t’ beat yourself up if you were supposed to make Chicken and mashed cauliflower for lunch on Tuesday and it ended up not happening until dinnertime Wednesday. We will get there. Roll with it. Sometimes new plans pop up and you don’t have the time to make what was on the meal plan. I always have salad on hand and some meat that I cooked and froze that can be heated up in a pinch. If its close to the end of the week and the salad is looking a little mushy, the steam-in-bag freezer veggies are a life saver. Dinner in less than 10 minutes.
(scrambles eggs with mushrooms, salmon with smoked paprika and lemon juice, cantaloupe, blueberries)
2.) Plan meals that may use the same items for the week or prep and freeze.
In our area, its hard to just buy enough of an item for one meal. Or its more cost effective to buy the bag of carrots, rather than two or three individual carrots.
So maybe have two meals that week that will include your carrots.
If that doesn’t sound like a good idea, the freezer is your best friend. I am the only one in my house that happily eats cauliflower rice. So, I buy the entire head of cauliflower, rice it, and separate it into freezer bags. I can pay $3.00 or so for the head which gives me about 3 servings, or I can buy it already riced for $4.99 (sometimes more) and only get two servings.
Same with meat. We buy the bulk pack for a little less per pound and separate into freezer bags enough for a meal.
(Balsamic glazed pork chop, roasted parsnips, cauliflower fried rice with carrot matchsticks)
3.) Always cook some extra. OR Cook two meals at once. It takes about the same amount of time to cook a double batch of something as it does to cook a single batch. I always make extra soups, stews, stir fry, and even chicken. Sometimes I cook extra roasted broccoli or green beans to take to work in my lunch the next day. Recently I cooked a medium-sized butternut squash. I’ve had it as a side dish for two meals thus far and I have one more serving left. I could freeze it for later, but I will probably eat it today or tomorrow.
Its also common to find me cooking lunch or dinner while making breakfast. I’m already in the kitchen! So, while my eggs are working on cooking, I will be chopping some parsnips to pop in the oven for a later meal or browning meat on the next burner. Sometimes I take on a little too much and burn things. Its important to set a timer when there is that much going on. Take my word for it.
(Shrimp sauteed in ghee with Old Bay seasoning, strawberries and blueberries with unsweetened coconut flakes, big salad!)
I will be the first to understand someone falling off the wagon because they had a stressful day and came home starving. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Hopefully these tools can help you. PLANNING IS KEY. Being able to think ahead is a habit that does take time.
Also, Day 19 check-in. This evening I came home super hungry from teaching a class. I didn’t even CRAVE something sugary or chocolaty like I used to! I actually WANTED to eat veggie! I had some left over roasted cabbage (good thing I made extra this morning!), some tuna, and some salad greens. I call that a win!