I can’t tell you how often I get asked how do you eat so well with your busy, hectic schedule? Or I wish we could eat as well as you guys do, or sit down to at least one meal a day with the family or the best one – have a hot nutritious breakfast.
I make preparing and eating healthy foods a priority in our house – that is not to say that there aren’t nights/days that I just say I don’t feel like making anything – but that does not mean that we do not have a nutritous meal. Many years ago – some friends of mine told me that they spent Sunday afternoons preparing their lunches and dinners for the week. They would freeze the whole meal and then in the morning they would take one of the meals, place in the oven and set the timer – dinner was ready when they got home. I thought this was great. We have another family of friends that belong to a dinner co-op – I love this one – they prepare one meal each week for 5 families and the other families do the same – then deliver – so they have 4 nights where a healthy, delicious meal is delivered to their house! How great — we have been trying to start other ones, but the hard part is finding enough families in close proximity that want to participate.
So how do we do it? First, each week I put together a meal calendar. This allows me to shop for only what I need and not waste food and it also allows me to plan leftover nights on the evenings that we are pressed for time with Stella activities. Now, with the garden, sharing of garden abundance from our neighbor, the farms and the farmer market – I usually plan our menu around what we get at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning and what will be ready in the garden – so a little different in the summer.
The essentials – that are pretty much always in the house: lettuce, avocados, fruit, lentils, hard boiled eggs, yogurt. All of these make for a quick meal or snack. The other thing that we are fortunate to have is a freezer, which by the end of the summer if full up. This allows me to make large batches of baked goods, frozen fruit, preserving of the harvests, etc. and then I get the benefit of the harvest all year round. This time of year the large freezer is almost empty and ready for filling.
The other things that I do to make sure that we have healthy meals available to us in our hurried life – is make things ahead. Once a month I make a batch of veggie burgers and crab cakes and usually I make a batch of cookies or muffins – for a quick dessert, treat for the kids. Each weekend I make a batch of soaked oat pancakes and at least a half dozen hard boiled eggs. In the cooler months I make bread a couple of times a month and then freeze the extra that we will not eat right away.
All of this does not feel like a burden and I think it is because I take such joy in cooking and nourishing my body and others. It is a time for me to slow down, which is very rare for me and so many others, but so needed for our well being. We make it fun. Lately I have been making quick guacamole (mashed avocado mixed with some good salsa) and snack on that while we are making dinner – Stella and the friends that are over love it! During the course of the week – we eat breakfast together at least 5 times and dinner about the same – the weekends are a little different – mainly because of activities.
I hope that this inspires you to making meals ahead of time. If you really think about it – it takes about the same time to prepare a wonderful meal as it does to wait for delivery or to go out and eat – and it is better on our wallet and waist line! Here’s to happy, healthy eating!