Simplify: Freezer Meals

standard January 13, 2017 Leave a response

Welcome to a whole new year of Simplifying! While most of these monthly posts this year will be centered around making life easier with a baby, they are definitely universal enough for everyone! January is a perfect month for cleaning out and restocking the freezer. A lot of us are gearing up for new schedules, big goals, and with the momentum of the new year, we have the energy to prepare ahead for the approaching slow down that usually happens late February. We are ready for Spring, but it may still be cold and snowy. We have lost our energy from the new year’s sheen. And a freezer full of healthy meals will keep us going until the warmth and sunshine comes back. Ready to get started?

Make a plan.

Ready to go all out and make all this month’s meals at once and eat out of the freezer every night? Or do you just want a handful of staples for those extra hectic weeknights? Making a list of meal ideas, recipes, and a schedule for making it all will really help once you get to cooking day. You may be able to do it all at once. Or you may need to break it up. For example, I am working on stocking my freezer for after baby comes, so I have a plan for breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and dinners for at least a month to balance out what friends will bring over. Each week I pull a handful of meals from this list to shop, prep, cook, and store to keep things manageable over the coming weeks.

Don’t try new recipes.

It may be tempting to make all the recipes from a brand new cookbook you just got for Christmas. Or a blog recipe you saw yesterday. But since these meals won’t be eaten right away, you want something you know is good to look forward to. And you want something that you know will hold up to freezing, thawing, and reheating. While adding one or two new recipes can be okay, make sure most of your plan include tried and true family favorites, that everyone can look forward to eating.

Store in manageable portions.

It may seem convenient to freeze entire casserole dishes of food, but if you are wanting to feed just one or two in a hurry, thawing a whole casserole can take a while. And once an item is thawed, you don’t want to refreeze it. Think ahead to how each dish might be enjoyed and store accordingly. For me, this means single serving containers of everything, so I don’t have to worry about the husband wanting something else or needing to feed myself for lunch during the day or wasting the food already in the fridge.

Keep it simple. 

Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Start out small. Make Plan A, then build on it with Plan B, until you get an idea for how long it takes you to shop, prep, cook, and store meals. Some people can multitask easily, cooking up two or three dishes at once. Others, like me, prefer to do one recipe from start to finish before starting on the next one, cleaning as I go. Whatever your method, keep it simple. And don’t stress out about it. This is supposed to be helpful, time-saving, and possibly fun (if you are someone who loves being in the kitchen and the sense of accomplishment of filling your freezer with delicious meals!)

 

April: Spring Clean Your Gear

standard April 30, 2014 Leave a response

What is it about spring that incites the urge to clean, purge, and organize? I’ve been spending the month doing a lot of spring cleaning. Emptying out drawers, donating unused items, deep cleaning the pantry and fridge. Following my monthly running goals, I also took the chance to wash all my winter gear and store it away for the season. Of course, we will end up with one last deep freeze now, and I’ll have to dig it all out. But I was so tired of the biting cold and ready for warmer temps and the teasing weather we’ve been having. So away it all went.

Along with that, I took the chance to organize my gym clothes drawer. I used to have a shelf in the closet, but moving to a city with seasons caused my wardrobe to expand, and I now have a collection of items for any type of weather. You never know where what you will need. And so now I have an entire drawer. I went through and tossed all the stained, gross, well-used items; donated what no longer fit; and neatly piled what was left by item type for easy early morning grabbing.

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A few tips for spring cleaning your gear:

  • If it’s stretched out, stained, or smelly, toss it. Chances are you aren’t wearing it anyway.
  • If it doesn’t fit, toss it. It may fit later, but it won’t make you feel better about your workout now.
  • Organize by seasons. I keep my tights with my thermal tops and hats and my tanks with my shorts. This makes it easy  to grab and go, especially when running outside
  • Keep all your “extra” gear in one spot. I have a container in my kitchen drawer where I keep my watch, sunglasses, ipod, water bottle, running buddy, and ID bracelet so I can easily find it when I am on my way out the door. I also keep my chargers here so I know where they are when I get back with a dead battery.

My energy and excitement level for early morning runs is now a little too high, knowing I have a fresh “new” set of gear for the season. It may be a little thing, but I will take whatever works to get me going when that alarm goes off. Now it’s time to start cranking up the speed for May!

 

 

Traveling Vegan

standard October 30, 2011 Leave a response

After a few months hiatus, I am heading back out for a conference this week. Since I get asked all the time about how I eat healthy while traveling, I thought I’d document my packing process for this trip.

Packing:

  • I ALWAYS carry-on my luggage. I’m not taking any chances with something getting lost.
  • Make-up and skin care samples stay packed in my Mary Kay quart zip bag so everything is always ready and airport approved.
  • Jewelry goes in a box in my shoe so it doesn’t get lost and saves space.
  • Show uniform is a work polo and dress pants so I add a few tops for going out to dinner and two pairs of shoes that go with everything. Sticking to a neutral color palate is key to getting fewer items that can mix & match.

Eating:

  • The only time I buy instant oatmeal is when I travel. It is so convenient and can be made with the hot water from the hotel room’s coffeemaker. Just remember to pack a spoon! I also like to pack a banana and some peanut butter to mix in. You can buy single servings of pb or you can just put some in a snack bag and stash it in your quart zip bag with your toiletries.
  • Granola or protein bars are also a must pack item. I rarely get time to eat lunch when I am on the exhibit floor, and airports do not always have the best food options, so I like to always have something in my bag if I need it.
  • Before I leave for a trip, I check out the dining options in my hotel as well as the local restaurants around the convention center. That way I know ahead of time where there will be vegetarian options and can plan my meals accordingly. Sometimes there are even grocery or convenience stores nearby, so I can pick up a few fresh fruits and veggies to snack on in my room.

Traveling:

  • Bring an empty water bottle that you can fill once you get through airport security. I have found that most airports are fine with my water bottle in my bag as long as I take the lid off so they can see it is empty when it goes through the scanner. I also bring electrolyte tabs to put in my water to help with the taste as well as keeping me healthy and properly hydrated through all the traveling and running around at the show.
  • I also get ice first thing after I check in to my room. Aside from being able to have ice water, once the ice melts, the water is usually better than what you’d get out of the tap, and you can keep your bottle filled without having to go buy water.

It takes some planning in advance, but it’s always worth it. Once I get to a show, its is always go, go, go. I don’t have time to worry about not having something I can eat, and if my option is junk food or go hungry, I’d rather go hungry. Now that I’ve done this a few times, I’ve got a packing routine down and a list to check off as I get everything together, which has made my frequent flights something I can look forward to instead of stressing over.