What’s for dinner mom?? Do you feel your blood pressure start creeping up when you hear that? I know mine sure used to. Most days I hadn’t had lunch or if I had, it was something quick I grabbed from a place near by. When it was time for dinner, I was usually starving, tired and just wanted whatever it was we had to be fast and easy. SO!! Pizza or take out it was! I would convince myself that if I had veggies on my pizza, it wasn’t that bad for me was it? Now, don’t get me wrong, I still indulge in the occasional slice of pizza, but it’s usually not out of necessity because I didn’t plan something else. My energy was always low, my digestion was usually off and I found myself looking at an unfamiliar person in the mirror. Life was taking its toll, that’s for sure. I was so consumed with my patients and my family that I had taken last place in the priority line. Now, as I look back, I realize that even though I thought I was doing a good job as a mom through all of this, my choices were affecting my family as well.
Along the way in my journey to a healthier life, I decided we had to start eating healthy. Not just me, but my whole family. But it took so much time! Good grief! Dinner went from a quick drive by pick up or phone call to the local pizza joint to an hour long process (or longer). Although I had started noticing some benefits, such as: my clothes feeling looser, my digestion working better, more energy, ect., the time is was costing me and the stress of having to come up with what we were going to eat was driving me crazy. As a veterinarian, I am a problem solver…. and to be honest, I love systems and process. So, I dug in, did some research and came up with three strategies to make our new found healthy eating plan fit within my busy life.
First, I started planning out the meals a week ahead of time for the next week. When I was searching through websites and cookbooks, I looked specifically for recipes that were fast and easy. I even created a list of four different weekly meal plans ( with recipes and a grocery list as well as prep and cook time on them ), that if I needed to, I could just rotate through each week if I hadn’t had time to plan during the week. I also created a file for recipes and ideas I came across while surfing around, so that I had a running list of new ideas. My meal plan is created over the weekend or the week before and then all of the groceries purchased on the weekend before the week starts.
My second strategy was to incorporate meals in the week that doubled up on ingredients. Cook once, use twice! For example, if I roasted a chicken (or bought one already roasted in a pinch), I could use the left over chicken in a soup, on tortillas (if I added some southwest seasoning) or in a pasta if I created a sauce. This way, I could minimize the amount of cooking during the week even further. Also, if a recipe called for sautéed onion and another did later in the week, I’d cook it all at once. You get the idea 🙂 If I made a casserole or a lasagna, I would make 2 and freeze one for another day. Making spaghetti sauce? Make enough for four meals instead of 1 and freeze the remainder in grab and go containers. Same with pasta, which freezes surprisingly well!
The last was prepping ahead anything that I could. So, chopping up veggies for the week for dinners, salads for lunches, ect. I store them in separate containers so I can just grab them when I need them. If I needed marinated chicken for Wednesday, I might put it in the marinade on Sunday and then that step was done, either freeze or refrigerate until I needed it. If I needed browned ground beef or turkey for a meal, I would brown two to three times the amount and freeze the extra for later. I could also make pasta, rice, quinoa ahead of time and cut down on tons of time during the week!
Would you like to see some of my weekly meal plans? I’ve been thinking about either posting some here, or including it in my Life By Design newsletter. Drop me a comment and let me know if that would be something you would like to see! Do you have any meal time saving tips that you recommend? I would love to hear yours!
As soon as I put all of these strategies into place, my stress level dramatically decreased and our meal time was much less stressful! Time management, lessening stress in our lives, it’s all so crucial to living a healthier happier life. It took time and trial and error to get it all figured out though. I would love to share these tips and more with you in my 5 day program, the 5 day blueprint. It’s a 5 day program that I send to you via email once daily for 5 days. The 5 day program includes a video and a worksheet each day to jumpstart you in the process of goal setting, time management, clean eating plans and more! Did I mention it’s all 100% free with no obligation to do anything else? This is my way of paying it forward to a community of women that are struggling, just like I was. No need to figure it all out for yourself, just go to www.cheahall.com/5db to kickstart your journey today!