Weeknight Meal Planning for Your Crazy Life

25 09 2015

I know your struggle, and the struggle is real! You and your spouse both work, your kids are in 3 different activities, in 3 Cathy head shotdifferent places, and you don’t have time to breathe, let alone plan meals, shop, cook, and clean up. Meal planning and preparation are a constant battle for most of my clients, and I must say, it is a big challenge for me at times well!

It may seem really hard, but it doesn’t have to be hard to plan simple, healthy meals that fit your family’s lifestyle. Lately I have been trying to share “busy family” friendly recipes with my friends who suffer from the same chaos I do. These have been simple dishes (mostly one dish meals) that can be made ahead to accommodate the coming and going of your kids, your spouse, and yourself.

And, as I was thinking about this topic today, the My Fitness Pal Blog, Hello Healthy, posted some great make ahead one-pot meals to share! You can find their collection of these recipes here:
5 Make Ahead One-Pot Meals: https://goo.gl/yps4QE

When looking for great recipes, I look for ones with simple, whole food ingredients that I can readily find at my usual market. I also look for recipes that don’t involve an excessive amount of preparation time. If it takes more than 30 minutes to prep, it’s not going on my list of weeknight meals! Remember that even healthy food can be found in more convenient forms, such as pre-cut or frozen veggies and fruits, canned beans without added salt, and instant brown rice or frozen quinoa. Taking a few minutes to prep some of your ingredients ahead of time will also save a lot of time when putting your meal together. Try pre-cooking ground turkey or chicken breasts, chopping vegetables, pre-measuring spices, and prepping herbs. Take advantage of some great kitchen gadgets that may be hiding in your closet! Using a crock pot or a pressure cooker can make it so easy to have a meal ready for your family to dish out as they come through the door after practice or work. I have discovered that my crock pot is one of the best pieces of kitchen coolness ever!

Another busy family tip? Make enough that you have leftovers. These can be used to pack lunches or to have for dinner on a “leftover night” (that is Thursday in my house ;). You can even use leftovers as ingredients in a totally different dish, like making a healthy chicken salad or a crock pot white chicken chili with leftover baked chicken! This will help make planning easier, and help prevent running through the drive through because “there’s nothing to eat at home”.

Here is one favorite that I shared recently with friends that was a big hit! For this pork fried rice I made some modifications according to what I had on hand. I doubled the recipe so we were sure to have leftovers. I had a bag of frozen peas and carrots in the freezer that I used instead of just frozen peas, and I used the whole 12oz bag rather than 1 cup …the more veggies in your pan the better! I also added a couple of handfuls of fresh sugar snap peas that I had in the fridge. I used a non stick skillet so I didn’t double the butter to cook eggs. I also had some wild rice already cooked, so I added brown rice to what I had on hand. I used lower sodium soy sauce as well to reduce the sodium content.

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http://www.myrecipes.com/m/recipe/pork-fried-rice-0

So plan on making some simple, healthy dishes that don’t stress you out next week, and let us know how they turn out!

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