Thursday, May 24, 2012

How do you find the time?

I get asked A LOT.... how do you find time to cook healthy meals? And the key, my friend, is PREPARATION! And that preparation starts before you even take your trip to the grocery store.

1. Plan out a menu.
I make a menu for breakfast (hubby doesn't eat breakfast), lunch, dinner and snacks for the girls. I usually make the menu in two week increments since that's how we get paid. I usually buy all my groceries for the two weeks except for veggies. I buy those only one week at a time. Obviously if you buy your veggies and aren't planning on using some till two weeks from now you will have a lot of waste. And that might as well be money thrown in the trash.

2. Have a preparation day.
Wash all those veggies, slice what needs to be sliced, chop what needs to be chopped. Separate the meat and marinate the meat that needs to be marinated to place in the freezer for future use. Make a huge salad, without dressing, that you can pull from throughout the week. Bake up sweet potatoes, and hard boil a dozen eggs to use throughout the week as well.

2. Choose menu items that can be transformed into another meal.
For example.... crock pot carnitas. There is a lot of meat in a pork shoulder. Use it to make taco's one night, (lettuce taco's in my case), and then serve it over a cauliflower mash with a side salad on another night. In the case of the pork shoulder there is usually enough for a couple of leftover lunches in there as well. Roast a chicken. For our family we would eat a thigh and leg each for hubby and I and a half of one breast for the girls. The rest of the chicken is shredded for chicken salad for lunch the next day.

3. Precook easily frozen items.
Almond flour pancakes, almond blueberry muffins, waffles, meatballs, and soups. All of these things can be prepared in one day (preparation day) and stored in the freezer until you need them. In the case of the pancakes, muffins, meatballs and waffles (if you have a waffle maker) Cook them up and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer until frozen then you can store them in your favorite freezer ready container. In the same day cook up a batch of soup and store them in individual serving freezer containers. That way you know how many servings you have or if you need a lunch....grab it and take it to work. All of these things taste just as good when they are reheated from frozen. With this method a breakfast would look like this.....four silver dollar almond pancakes in the microwave, put them on a plate with a drizzle of raw honey (most of the time they just eat them plain), sliced banana, and some greek yogurt for the girls. That takes about 2 minutes to get ready and serve.

4. Take advantage of your crock pot.
Not only does it cook for you, but you can prepare and store multiple crockpot meals in gallon freezer bag and just dump them into your crockpot when you are ready.

5. Prepare snacks
Use and reuse snack bags for some almonds, walnuts, jerky, veggie sticks, grapes etc. If you prepare these bags on your preparation day then it is so easy to just grab them when the kids or you need a snack. I also make up some kind a bars for the girls and just wrap them individually in plastic wrap for easy access.

Here is an example of a weekday menu
B: turkey sausage, hard boiled egg
L: roast chicken with salad
D: carnita's
S: almonds, sliced apple

B: egg cupcake, banana
L: chicken chili soup
D: pasture pork chops with roasted broccoli and carrots
S: veggie sticks with eggplant dip

B: turkey sausage, hard boiled egg
L: chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts (made from left over chicken) with a side salad
D: Left over carnita's over cauliflower mash, roasted asparagus

B: egg cupcakes, cantelope
L: chicken chili soup
D: crock pot mongolian beef with side of sweet potato and left over roasted asparagus

B: pancakes, banana, yogurt
L: Left over mongolian beef, side salad
D: crock pot teriyaki chicken over cauliflower rice

On preparation day I would have...
made and frozen the turkey sausage, pancakes and soup
washed and chopped or sliced the broccoli, carrots, veggie sticks, huge salad, asparagus, cauliflower, cantalope
riced the cauliflower
made egg cupcakes to store in the fridge
assembled the crock pot teriyaki meal for the freezer
prepared snack bags and/or bars
marinate pork chops for the freezer
Boil some eggs

With this menu, I would still have left over turkey sausage, chicken chili soup, and pancakes in the freezer for the next week.

Keep in mind. I LOVE this stuff. I love to cook, I love to make menu's and go grocery shopping. Now, I don't love to clean. So if someone has a solution to that problem, please share! :) It does make it so much easier when everything is prepared for you. It helps to avoid the "oh, I forgot to defrost the chicken, we must go out to eat" situation. And it TOTALLY helps the little ones get a quick and healthy snack, with little to no effort from me. E usually runs to pantry and picks out a bag of nuts or opens the fridge and get a snack pack of fruit or veggies for her and her sister. I really hope this helps and that you can implement some of these ideas into your weekly planning. Click on the links for all the recipes. I hope you try and like some of those as well. Happy Eating!!

1 comment:

  1. What's the recipe for the crock pot Mongolian Beef??