Photo Credit: Evan Duncan
Our family's nutrition could be best described as: slow moving, forward progress, with an 80/20 mindset. We eat our best about 80% of the time, and don't sweat it the other 20%. We all prefer to eat a healthy, balanced diet with low sugar, no antibiotics, and organic whenever possible, but there is a kicker: four of us are lactose intolerant, two of us have Celiac Disease, and one has Crohns disease. Therefore, there are times I need to have a gluten free, dairy free, nut, corn and seed free, low fiber meal. Yeah. It's crazy. Due to the restrictions, I need to plan ahead. I also prefer to keep it simple. Though I love to cook, and consider it one of my most enjoyable hobbies, I only find it enjoyable when done at a leisured pace, and preferably when I'm not constricted to a kid's palette. So, generally 30 minutes or less is an ideal amount of cooking time. Before I can start a simple and balanced meal, I need to know what I am making AND have the ingredients in the house. This is what works for me with some examples of our favorite meals included.
First I try to do the following:
1. Have a stocked pantry with different pastas, broths, rice, granola, oats, etc.
2. Find frozen options that work, and keep them in the freezer (e.g., organic chicken, wild fish, fruit for smoothies and veggies).
3. Use good spices to change it up and add flavor.
4. Create a meal plan each week/month (see below for examples).
5. Grocery shop once a week for everything. Put your list on your phone so it is always with you!
For meal planning I follow the same general ideas each week
1. Pasta night
(Spaghetti and meatballs, Chicken parmesan, Ravioli, Baked Ziti, Baked Macaroni and Cheese)
(Tacos, Enchiladas, Burritos, Ultimate Nachos, Fajitias)
(Grilled chicken or fish with pita, feta, cucumbers, olives, and tomatoes in any form or fashion)
4. Salad night
(Ceasar Salad, Cobb Salad, Taco Salad, Quinoa Salad, Wedge Salad)
5. Panini night
(Bread, rolls or wraps filled with leftovers, lunch meat, cheese and veggies. Get creative!)
6. Pizza night (my favorite night)
7. Leftovers night
(Side note: I desperately want to learn how to cook Indian food. We all love it so much, but I only know how to make one dish!)
We probably eat the same 25 meals over and over...life with kids. At least I could cook these recipes in my sleep! I also made a list of 7 general breakfast choices to keep in the house, as well as 5 school lunch choices so that I don't forget to keep those items stocked week to week. Here are my family's favorites on that front.
Egg Bagel sandwich
Waffles with Fruit
Pancakes and bacon
Granola and yogurt/almond milk
Muffins and smoothies
Scrambled eggs with toast
Oatmeal with fruit and nuts
Turkey and cheddar sandwich
Roast beef and Swiss sandwich
Chicken ceaser wrap
The basic general gist is "don't try to reinvent the wheel" every week. Switch it up with more generalities and have fun in a thematic sort of way. A stocked pantry, menu planning and a food list on your phone will help tremendously. Happy eating!