Eat home cooked food while managing a busy schedule

Do you know what you’re having for dinner tonight? Fewer than 30 percent of Americans know by 4 p.m. and for those of us who don’t it usually causes a lot more stress than it should. Whether it’s working, caring for kids, running errands, going to school, getting exercise, volunteering or some combination of the above, we’ve all got hectic schedules. Often, we know we could be eating healthier but we just can’t find the time. The good news is that sitting down to a home cooked meal (even on the busiest of days) is possible. Here are some simple tips to help you and yours eat home cooked, whole food while managing a busy schedule.

Sunday, fun day
Sunday morning, sit down with paper, pen and your favorite cookbook or cooking magazine. Think about what’s in your pantry, what your family likes to eat and determine how many nights you will be able to cook dinner and how many require a different solution. Now, plan out the week’s worth of menus. At the same time, write out your grocery list. Post the list of menus on the refrigerator or bulletin board and answer the inevitable what’s for dinner question effortlessly. Keep your grocery and recipe list on your computer, and you’ll be able to rotate weekly menus every month or two. Here’s the best part,  once you have eight weeks of menus, you’re set for the rest of the year!

Freeze it
First and foremost, freezing can and will revolutionize how you eat. On those nights when the last thing you want to think about is making dinner, the home cooked meals that you froze earlier in the week or month can save the day.  Here’s the trick, think of things that freeze well like casseroles, stews, soups and beans. Side dishes also freeze well, particularly grains and breads. Next, determine how much of a one-pot meal you need to feed your family for one dinner, and then make a double sized quantity and freeze enough for future meals. Be sure to label your containers with the contents and date. Finally, be prepared for delicious, whole food meals that are easy and fast to reheat and delicious. Enjoy!

Breakfast for dinner?
A great dinner option is breakfast, especially the all mighty egg. Eggs can be scrambled, fried, made into an omelet, quiche or frittata. They are quick and easy to make, a great protein source and delicious when added to vegetables.

Play with your food
Disguise last night’s leftovers. For example, if you have chicken one night, use the leftovers to make chicken enchiladas or chicken Caesar salad the next. Similarly, if you make grilled steak one night, try steak fajitas the next. When preparing meals increase the amount of protein and grains that you make so they’ll last two nights instead of one. Have plain rice one night and then the next night transform your leftover grain into a grain salad. Be creative and have fun!

Pantry Power
Planning is paramount for preparing quick healthy meals, particularly dinner. It’s difficult to make nutritious foods without a well-stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Knowing the contents of your kitchen helps to streamline meal preparation. A well-stocked kitchen doesn’t mean every meal is made from scratch.  For example, frozen seafood, store-bought roasted chicken and pre-cut and frozen fruits and vegetables are convenient to have on hand for dinners in a pinch.

Whether you’re meal planning on the weekends, filling your freezer or recreating leftovers in brilliant new ways, enjoy the process of bringing more whole food goodness into your life.

Also, if you need help coming up with meal plans/recipe ideas, grocery shopping or need a pantry makeover we can help. If you sign up for 6 weeks (Mon-Fri.) worth of meal plans you’ll only repeat meals 4 times through fall and winter, which is pretty impressive considering most people eat the same thing over and over again. Plus, letting us plan your weekly meals and grocery shop saves you time, money and can help involve the entire family in mealtime. Meal plans go in the fridge, groceries are pre-purchased and whoever gets home first can get started or family members can have designated nights. Making dinner can be something that the whole family is involved in. Bon Appetit!

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