Plan Meals. I've talked about this one here before, in a post about feeding your family on a budget. Not only does planning meals save you money, but it also saves you oodles of time. By planning out your menu for the week before you go shopping, you'll know exactly what ingredients you need to have on hand for the week's meals. Knowing what you're going to cook, and having all the ingredients already, saves you from having to run out to the store several times a week for a few ingredients here and there. Because really... aren't you busy enough? While some families might find it helpful to plan out all the meals for the week, I usually just plan out dinners, including side dishes. For example:
Saturday: Homemade Pizza Night
Sunday: Curry roasted root vegetables and sauteed kale
Monday: Bean burritos and Salad
Tuesday: Lentils and brown rice, roasted carrots, broccoli
Wednesday: Tofu, quinoa and veggie bowls with ginger nama shoyu sauce
Thursday: Three bean chili with avocado and salad
Friday: Surprise! (Friday is our shopping day, so Friday dinners are always leftovers or other "cleaning out the fridge" meals.)
For breakfasts, we just keep basic staples on hand such as cereals, fruit, etc. For lunches we often eat leftovers from dinner, but we also keep things like bread, peanut butter, tortillas and salad fixings in fridge. Once I've planned my dinners for the week, I make my shopping list by writing down all the ingredients I need for those meals, then add in the staples we'll need for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.
|Shredded carrots, shredded cabbage and |
cooked quinoa, ready for the week's meals.
containers. I wash and chop my kale, shred a bunch of carrots and cabbage in my food processor, cut up celery sticks for the kiddos, etc. If you have healthy food that is prepped and ready to go, you really have no excuse not to make healthy choices. I can throw a salad together in 3 minutes, because everything is washed and ready to go... I just toss everything into a bowl, slice a tomato and add dressing. If I know I have a lot going on in a particular week, I will even precook some grains like rice or quinoa, and keep those in the fridge. That way I can just toss my prepped veggies and precooked rice into a skillet along with some beans or tofu for a quick dinner.
Cook Double (or triple) Batches. Whenever I make things like chili or soups, I ALWAYS make a big pot. It's not much more trouble to make a bigger batch, and that way I can freeze some for another meal. It's great on busy work nights to just have to reheat something and toss together a salad instead of having to cook a whole meal. Reheating some frozen soup doesn't take any longer than ordering in, and it's WAY healthier.
Pack for the Road. This is one I will admit to being pretty inconsistent with. On days when you're going to be out and about a lot, pack a bag with healthy food, so you won't be tempted to get takeout. I failed at this one last Friday! We had a REALLY busy day of rushing from one activity to another... we didn't have time to stop home for dinner before an evening activity. We were starving, out someplace with no healthy choices, and ended up with greasy snack bar pizza. Bleh. Lesson learned!
I won't lie...it is definitely a lot more effort to eat healthy than to not. Most of the time, it requires planning and preparation. But, when you think about how great you'll feel, and the benefits to your health long-term, it is well worth it.