4 Tips for Better Meal Planning

standard October 13, 2017 Leave a response

Starting our journey into Baby Led Weaning has meant I’ve started to get serious about meal planning again, instead of just loosely planning out days of freezer and Hello Fresh meals. And to remind myself that it does not have to be a big weekly chore, I’m revisiting my own tips to make it easy.

Most of us like the idea of meal planning but the execution is just too daunting most weeks. After a long week of work and appointments and activities, the weekend is for house chores, more activities, and hopefully some relaxation. Not sitting down with a grocery list or trekking to the store to fight checkout lines with everyone else in town. So how can you still have a week’s worth of healthy meals for you and your family ready without sacrificing a lot of effort or precious weekend time?

1. Start simple.

You don’t have to make something different for every meal every day of the week. Start with one breakfast, one lunch, and three dinners. That gives you five meals to rotate on different days. And of course, some days you want dinner leftovers for lunch. Or breakfast for dinner. Just double up the recipe if you need to ensure you have enough.

You also don’t need to make fancy meals. Peanut butter and jelly works. So does incorporating pre-made items or convenience foods. For instance, a boxed soup that you can jazz up with a few extra veggies, rice, or a protein. Thin with a little water to balance the sodium and make it last even longer.

2. Don’t wait until the weekend.

Schedule a weeknight that is not otherwise taken with activities, sit down with a cup of tea, and make meal planning an enjoyable evening activity. Or keep a running list of ideas for next week up on the fridge. Maybe make it a communal activity, where everyone has to add something (and then help make it when the time comes!).

Also, try grocery shopping during the week. Or go in the early morning on the weekend before the stores get crowded if weekdays just don’t work for you. Having a standard grocery night that you either tackle alone or with the whole family to help out (whatever works best for you!) can make sure the weekends stay relaxing and stress free.

3. Rotate favorites.

When you find a recipe you love, especially one that may also be quick and easy to prepare, write it down. Keep a list of go-to recipes on hand, and make sure to rotate one or two in to each week. That way you there is one less new recipe to try out, and there is something to look forward to, particularly on an extra crazy night or week.

4. Prep is your best friend.

You may not want to spend time washing, chopping, and prepping everything all at once, especially after the planning and shopping. But if you take the time to at least wash and chop veggies, marinate proteins, or batch cook starches, it will make each day’s prep that much easier. And the fridge will look a little neater, so win win!

Any other tips for making meal plan easier? What are your biggest challenges when meal planning each week?

Weekly Menu: Easy Staples

standard October 9, 2017 Leave a response

Now that my sweet baby is 7 months old (where has the time gone!?), we are venturing into the world of solid foods and all the mess that comes with it. I expected the food mess. I was not ready for the scheduling mess and kitchen disaster and mental load that came with it. Do we now have to have family dinner at 5:30? How do I feasibly DO that when I work until 5 or 6 most days? What can I make that a vegan, a meat lover, and a baby can all eat without making 3 different meals? And how, logistically, do we handle cooking, eating, cleaning up, bath, and bed time all in the span of an hour and a half? Ugh. Mamas who have gone before me, wear your crown. And wear it proudly.

I feel like I JUST got into the easy routine of baby in bed, then 20-30 min prepping dinner with minimal effort or cleanup, relaxing on the couch, and bed by 10. Now dinnertime feels like a stressful scramble, and once baby is in bed, I have all these hours free. What do I do? Work? Clean? Read? Go to bed early? It’s a whole new open world of evening free time that I somehow forgot about.

ANYWAY, back to dinnertime. Most meals we eat, I can easily take part out and prep for baby, and add meat if needed for the husband. My main issue came from the fact that most of our meals I had already premade and frozen, so cooking parts separately were a little difficult. I am slowly on a quest for baby and family friendly meals, similar to what I used to make way back in the old days of the blog when I was still figuring out how to feed just the two of us and actually cooking all the time. And while I will not be going back to cooking from scratch every day, I am figuring out what meals work best in a pinch, are easily modifiable, and can keep everyone happy and full. Here are a few favorites we are enjoying this week.

  1. Back Pocket Stir Fry with Noodles // My go-to pantry staple from Pinch of Yum
  2. Butternut Spice Risotto // A fall favorite.
  3. Roasted Root Vegetable Rice Bowl // Add peas and tofu for extra protein and a little color.
  4. Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce over Sweet Potatoes and Rice // A hearty easy dish from Cookie + Kate
  5. Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon // One of my best recipe discoveries from pregnancy. This dish also freezes beautifully.

More family meal adventures ahead! And probably some plant-based Baby Led Weaning recipes as I start getting more adventurous on the baby food front.

Have a delicious week!

 

Be Present: October

standard October 2, 2017 Leave a response

As the year gets closer and closer to an end, I find myself scrambling to finish all the things I wanted to do this year. Then I stop and remember, I had a baby. That alone was a huge accomplishment. But I also find it nice to have these monthly posts to look back on and see how much has actually been done, even if it doesn’t seem like it. And now I have a whole fresh new month to keep working on tasks to get me closer to my year-end goals.

I mention this in my yearly goal posts, but I use power sheets to focus, brainstorm, let it all out, and bring it all back together. And then I share here the big things for each month. 2018 power sheets are going to be available later THIS MONTH, so if you’re interested in having something to use as a strategic goal setting guide for your business, your family, your life, go grab a set on October 25th!

September in Review:

1. Read 4 books.

I didn’t feel like I read that much, but Goodreads reminded me that I did indeed read 4 books last month. I think this one is hard for me because I don’t consider anything that’s not just for fun. I read baby books, nutrition books, reference books, etc all the time without even recognizing that I read (I know that sounds weird). And it’s not just that I need a novel to make it count, its more like the relaxing, evening wind down reading that I need to get me in a mindset to sleep well.

Best book I read this month? Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things. Extremely timely, well written, and with a perspective that really made me think about my own unconscious prejudices.

2. Update Celebration Nutrition services.

Phase 1 is complete! When I started my business, I offered counseling packages by time frames. As I have met with people over the past year, I have found some common themes that have led me to further narrow down and focus my expertise on a few key areas. Namely  vegan/vegetarian nutrition and mothers in all stages of having babies (pre-pregnancy, prenatal care, postpartum, and breastfeeding). I updated my services to reflect this change, allowing clients to know upfront what to expect out of each package, and to ensure I am able to present the best information for each person I work with. All services are now subject based, and counseling packages include intuitive eating, introduction to vegan/vegetarian nutrition, expectant mamas, and vegan athletes. More services for postpartum and breastfeeding mothers, as well as easier meal planning are coming later this year.

3. Carve out time for weekly self-care.

I realized the need for this when I started spending Saturday mornings running solo without a stroller or heading off to Whole Foods to work and savor a decaf latte. Now that I have childcare help and can run most days on my own to clear my head and work from Whole Foods at least once a week, I had to find new ways to spend some time both NOT working and NOT worrying about my daughter. The best time to do this now is Sunday nights. Even something as small as couch time with a glass of wine or a bath with a book has proven so beneficial to unwinding after a busy week and gearing up for a productive Monday. If you are a mama, and you haven’t made time for yourself, do so. Even just 15 minutes a week alone without your brain going a million directions. We all need it.

October Goals:

  1. Update editorial calendar for Neat & Nutritious (much more nutrition-related content coming soon!)
  2. Finish my first postpartum/stroller race.
  3. Complete phase 2 of Celebration Nutrition services updates.
  4. Plan WEEKLY date nights.
  5. Walk 10k steps every day (work days make this surprisingly difficult!)

Summer Goal Setting

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