Feeding our families well should be a joy, but often it seems like just one more item on our “to do” lists. Planning meals, shopping, cooking, providing snacks for family members on the go – it just feels like a lot of work! And if you’re trying to serve more real food and less processed food, well, let’s be honest – that requires even more effort. Believe me, I often wonder if the time and energy that goes into preparing real food is worth the extra effort. (I know it is, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.)
(Want more ideas? Download our free ebook – The Busy Mom’s Guide to Healthy Family Meals.)
One of the goals of CalmHealthySexy is to help women feel less stressed and more in control by suggesting ways to make some of our everyday tasks a little easier. With that goal in mind, I want to suggest that we all take some time this weekend to organize meals and snacks for next week. Although I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an authority on getting organized in the kitchen, I have learned that doing a few things on the weekend can make my life a lot easier in the coming week. Here are 5 that can help you eat well (and increase your peace of mind) next week:
- Organize your refrigerator or pantry. Very often, my refrigerator and/or pantry looks like a small explosion went off inside it. I really hate that! I want to be able to look inside and see exactly what I have on hand to feed my family. It gives me a bit of a feeling of calm. If you feel that way too, take a few minutes this weekend to organize your refrigerator and pantry or cabinets. A small investment of 15-20 minutes will take you into the new week feeling slightly more in control.
- Plan your menu. Okay, you probably already do this, but in case you don’t – let me strongly recommend it! I sit down on Friday evening or Saturday morning and plan our meals for the next week, taking into consideration work schedules, evening activities, and food we have on hand (which I will know at a glance if my refrigerator and pantry are organized!) Then I write out my grocery list, based on the menu. If I didn’t do this, I would be completely crazy on weeknights.
- Put your Crockpot to work for you. On Saturday morning, put a whole chicken (or several chicken breasts) in the Crockpot with a little bit of water or broth. Let it cook on low all day. In the early evening, take it out, let everything cool down a bit, and pour all of the broth into a container (don’t throw it away!). Refrigerate the broth and skim off the fat when it’s cool. Use it within a couple of days or freeze it – it makes great homemade chicken soup. Remove the meat from the chicken (or refrigerate it and do it later) and use it for a couple of meals next week – a chicken dinner, shredded with salsa for chicken tacos, a chicken stir fry, or a casserole. Wipe out the Crockpot and put in a pork roast with a little bit of water or broth. Let it cook all night on low. On Sunday morning, remove it and let it cool a bit, then shred it for next week, to mix with barbecue sauce for pulled pork sandwiches or with salsa for pork tacos.
- Organize breakfasts and snacks for next week. Think about your family’s schedule for the coming week. Will you need grab-and-go breakfasts some days? Will you need healthy snacks the kids can eat at home after school, or quick snacks they can eat in the car? Get some things organized and ready to go, so you’re prepared before the weekday craziness begins. Make some homemade muffins, energy bars, or granola. Fix individual servings of Greek yogurt topped with fruit. Plan to cook overnight oatmeal in your Crockpot one or two days. Package nuts or trail mix in snack bags or small containers that the kids can grab on the way out the door.
- Do some prep work. It’s easier to wash fruits and vegetables and cut them up on Sunday afternoon than it is on Wednesday evening after school, work, choir and soccer practice – just sayin’! Take half an hour to wash fruits and vegetables, cut up vegetables that will be needed for recipes and salads, grate cheese – anything that will save you time and hassle on weeknights.
(Need more ideas for eating well when you don’t have much time? Download our free ebook – The Busy Mom’s Guide to Healthy Family Meals. You don’t have to sign up for anything – just download it and go!)
Have you tried these or other strategies for eating well without driving yourself crazy? What are your best tips? Please share them in the Comments – I would love to hear from you.