It’s Sunday… but Monday’s coming! Putting together health conscious meals takes a little planning and effort. Even with decades invested in natural and clean eating, Jack and I are in a season of life that makes putting food on the table fast a necessity… and because we choose to eat fresh and natural – it’s a challenge! Most weekdays we are pressed for time so new strategies are now in place that help save time and money. Working, hanging out with family and friends, exercise, maintaining a home and garden, being involved in a community….we want to do it all. The following tips may seem minor but trust me…. they buy us time in the overall scheme of things. Here are some shortcuts that I’ve found helpful.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At the risk of sounding like a food snob, other than homemade granola, you won’t find any packaged breakfast cereals in our pantry. We need more nutrients and substance in the morning! The problem is every minute counts before heading out the door. Who has the time to cook up a nutritious meal at 7 am? I have found it extremely helpful to have something accomplished for breakfast the night before. One of the easiest breakfast plans is to put steel-cut oats in water (3 cups water to 1 cup steel-cut oats) and let them soak until morning in the pot they cook in. In the morning add a handful of raisins and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, turn down, cover and cook 20 minutes while you’re getting ready for the day. This along with a green smoothie is our “go to” breakfast. Our routine is; Jack cleans up from dinner while I prepare something for breakfast for the following morning.
If Green Smoothies are on the menu for breakfast, fill your blender bowl the night before, with fresh greens, the liquid of choice and any other ingredient that isn’t frozen and won’t discolor. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning add the rest of your ingredients and whiz away, blending up an exotic nutrient rich smoothie with time to spare!
Have something accomplished for dinner, after breakfast. Pre-soaking rice, layering food in the crock pot, defrosting chicken, scrubbing potatoes, washing veggies….whatever and however small a step, it helps! As insignificant as this tiny baby step seems…. knowing what’s being served for dinner and having the ingredients on hand, streamlines eating in.
Be creative with leftovers! Use up what’s already cooked and sitting in your refrigerator! Turn your leftover cooked whole grains into a salad, or croquettes. Make a big fresh green salad and chop leftover salmon, chicken or cooked and cooled beans on top. Add vegetables and chicken to those leftover noodles that are sitting in the fridge. Scramble eggs and chop veggies, then add to leftover rice for fried rice. Leftover stew and mashed potatoes? Make a shepherd’s pie with mashed potatoes on top of the stew. Leftover roasted veggies….turn them into a soup with added leftover whole grains or noodles. Discover that leftovers can be the start of a new favorite recipe.
Whenever possible, make ahead proteins for the week, on the weekend. For instance cook up 2 different kinds of beans, cooked chicken and any other protein that your family enjoys. Either toss them in the freezer or refrigerate if they will be used within 5 days. A little protein goes a long way when added to whole grains, pasta and vegetables.
Anytime I’m making a freezer compatible meal or soup, I multiply the recipe. The little extra time it takes for preparation is so worth it! You can enjoy a care-free day knowing you’ve got dinner done, just add a salad. What is freezer compatible? Just go to your local grocery store or natural foods market and look in the freezer section to get ideas!
I’ve heard it said, “Most people work hard and spend their health trying to achieve wealth. Then they retire and spend their wealth trying to get back their health.”
Thankful for good food and good health,