I would classify myself as a healthy eater. I like my cookies and cupcakes as much as the next person, but I don’t keep that shit in my house because I have zero control when its around.
And don’t even get me started with those little girl scouts all up in my business trying to make me fat.
Anyway, where was I…
Before I had the baby I had a lot more time on my hands. It was easy to cook healthy foods on a nightly basis, I’d just grocery shop on the weekends and then each night whip up something for Tyler and I. Easy peasy.
After Piper came along though it seemed like I instantly had much less time. Plus the kid eats like a crazy person in the evenings so I’m constantly getting stopped to feed her, burp her, change her, you get the idea. I really don’t have the luxury of taking an hour to get dinner ready anymore, but now more than ever its so important to eat healthy.
Since I’m breastfeeding its super important to have a healthy diet, plus I want to make sure my lifestyle is one that makes my kid healthier, not the opposite.
I’ve only been a mom for a few short weeks but I can totally understand how busy families end up going out to eat all the time or eating dinners that consist of chicken nuggets and mac and cheese on a nightly basis. Time is limited and its so much more practical to order a pizza or put a box of Kraft mac and cheese on the stove. And while that kind of eating is totally ok occasionally it really should be the exception and not the norm since those types of dinners have little nutritional value.
But how do you eat healthy when you have zero time?
At first I didn’t know the answer to this question myself and I found myself stressed about it. But where there is a will there is a way and I figured out that one of the easiest things to do would be to prep and cook as much food as possible on Sunday’s so then during the week I can just throw something on the stove or in the oven and cut down on my prep time.
5 Tips to Cut Down on Nightly cooking
1. Roast a big chicken on Sunday. Go buy yourself a whole chicken (organic if possible) one that is bigger than what your family would typically eat in a meal (heck maybe even buy 2 if you can’t find one big enough). Roast it for dinner using a recipe like this. Save all the extra leftovers for later in the week. You can use the extra chicken for salads, tacos, fajitas, soups, chicken and rice. Get creative. Use pinterest
2. Premake salads for lunch. Buy yourself a few containers for your lunch and then get creative. Each container should contain greens, veggies, and a protein source. Other ideas of things to throw in there, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, hard boiled egg, strawberries, blueberries, cheese. One of my favorite salads is spinach, blueberries, strawberries, feta, and toasted almonds. Yum! When it comes to pre making salads just remember to keep the dressing off the salad and if you have some veggies or fruits that have a lot of juices you may want to wrap those separately in some foil (Ie sliced strawberries, cucumber, etc). An even better way to keep things separated is this container I’ve found.
3. Double a recipe. When it comes to casseroles, soups, stews, just double the recipe and then put the extra in a separate freezer safe container to eat later. I’ve been doing that a lot with things like goulash, chicken noodle soup, and beef stew.
4. Chop all your veggies that you will need for your recipes at once. Pick your meals for the week, whatever vegetables you will need chop them all at once and then separate into a different container for each meal.
5. Premix any spices you’ll need. Sometimes recipes call for quite of bit of seasoning, a tsp of garlic powder, a tbsp of Italian seasoning etc. Premix all that together before hand and throw it in a ziploc bag so when you are finishing the meal you can just dump the spices right in there.
A Sample Meal Plan
Still need more direction? Here is what I did for this week.
Roasted chicken with vegetables.
Recipe here. I do tweek this recipe by omitting the butter and brushing the chicken with grapeseed oil instead. I also use sweet potatoes instead of red potatoes and occasionally add green beans to the mix. We ate this on Sunday. Would have saved left overs for chicken and rice, but the dog ate the chicken.
Chicken & Rice with Veggies
Pre chop your veggies, toss with grape seed oil and salt and pepper. I used green & red pepper, onion, broccoli, carrots, and green beans. You can choose whatever you’d like. On the day you eat this meal, just prepare your rice according to the directions, sauté or roast your veggies and combine with chicken. For a little extra flavor mix some teraki sauce with your rice (just read the label on the sauce, make sure you are choosing something without a bunch of chemicals and sugar in it).
This is a cook once eat twice kind of a meal. I use this recipe. For just Tyler and I this will feed us 3 times. Prepare this on Sunday then in one container refrigerate however much your family will eat for one meal, and put the rest in a separate container. Throw that in the freezer and eat it next week or next month (I’ve eaten this after it was frozen for 4 months and it was still delicious).
Throw a roast in the crockpot using a recipe lie this. Then save the leftovers for beef stew. Again I precut my veggies for the week, put then in a ziploc bag and made sure I had a roast in the fridge ready to go. This meal takes approx 5 minutes to put together the morning you throw it in the crockpot
Leftover pot roast beef is perfect for this. If you are lacking on the meat just make sure you have a steak in the fridge and you can use that to get some additional protein in there (you’ll just need to chop it into pieces and sauté it on the stovetop before throwing it in the crockpot). Again, precut all your veggies, combine any spices beforehand. This is another meal that provides us at least 2 if not 3 dinners so freeze the leftovers for another time. Recipe here.
Does this planning ahead business sound good, but you need more ideas? Check out Once a month meals They have menus for all kinds of diets (regular meals, whole foods, gluten & dairy free, paleo, vegetarian) and everything is geared towards cooking once and eating for a month! They do offer some free recipes, but for the full she-bang (a months worth of meals, step by step cooking instructions, customized serving sizes, etc) you will have to pay for a subscription. $10/month or $99 for the year seems worth it, if you eat out one less time each month you should cover the cost. There is always Pinterest to find some free options but then you have go looking for recipes, make lists, and repeat on a monthly basis. If its not simple you probably won’t do it so just spring for the website and actually use it!
Now I want to hear from you!
How do you help your family to eat healthy with little time? Do you have favorite recipes or go to websites that give you ideas? Tell me about it in the comments below!