PJ may have just noticed that we’re eating clean in Neverland, but there have been some gradual changes happening for awhile that went right over that cute curly head! A big one is in the way we grocery shop. I’ve mentioned before that planning ahead and cooking extra foods on the weekends is a key part of how I manage to get through the week.
For my new friends (hello!), I’ll recap that on the days I go into the office, I work 10 hour days so that I have an extra full day off with the little man. This is great in many ways, but being able to consistently get a healthy dinner on the table isn’t one of them. In the winter, I rely on my Crock Pot and casseroles that can be made in double or triple batches and frozen. Now that it’s too hot to run my oven so much, I’ve been having to adjust.
I’ll admit that this was not a smooth transition. We went through a few weeks where we ate out or ate a lot of convenience foods, and I felt much worse for it. But things are getting easier, and I feel like I’ve finally got my mojo back to share some of my survival lessons learned with all of you lovely people!
My best summer plan ahead tool is our grill. I do all of our meats for a week at the same time – and we actually have a bigger variety than we did during the winter because of it. Last night, for example, PJ and I had grilled salmon and Paul (who is not a big fan of seafood) had pork chops – and it took next to no extra time, and didn’t break my “one family, one dinner” rule because I was already preparing multiple recipes. Win win! And now we have pork chops frozen to eat another night next week!
The other thing I’ve had to work past is how to shop for and make quick prep meals without compromising our whole foods goal. Here are 6 things I’ve completely eliminated from my grocery store shopping list:
1 – Oatmeal Packets
Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts. It’s easy to pack, keeps me full almost as well as eggs, and can be dressed up so many ways. I stopped buying premade packets and started buying rolled oats (in bulk when I can get them). Every few weeks, I make up my own packets in snack size baggies. I put a half cup of oats into each baggie, add any dry ingredients, and write on the bag with a sharpie any wet ingredients to be added when I’m ready to eat it. I usually do two bags of each flavor and store them in the pantry. Check out my “Rise & Shine” Pinterest board for the recipe pictured above and some of my other favorite varieties!
2 – :90 Rice Packets
For awhile, I bought these so we could have a quick side dish when I heated up a pre-made dinner, or to use in casseroles to save the time of cooking rice before baking. And then one day it occurred to me to try cooking a BIG pot of rice and freezing it in smaller portions. I let it cool, then divide it into quart size freezer bags which conveniently hold about two cups each. Squeeze the air out of them and freeze flat. Saves space, and I only have to do it once every month or two. I cook the rice with chicken stock and add any other flavorings when I reheat it.
3 – Hummus
This is a favorite snack in our house. Even the baby likes it! But a small container is fairly expensive, so it used to be an every now and then treat. Then I discovered the awesome blog 100 Days of Real Food and purchased one of her recipe collections, which included a recipe for hummus that is to die for. That particular collection isn’t available right now, but if you follow her blog I am positive you will find several other similar recipes that can replace pre-packaged staples in your grocery order.
4 – Lemon Juice
This one may be pretty obvious, but I’ve made it a point to cut out lemon juice and lime juice from bottles. I buy in bulk when they are on sale, run them through my juicer and freeze the juice in cubes. Bonus: it makes my kitchen smell amazing!
5 – Salad Dressing
I’ve been eating a lot of salads since the weather turned it up a few notches. And I’ve found that it’s much better and easier to make my dressings than buy them. Like oatmeal, the varieties are endless – pear and arugula salad with a cinnamon pear vinaigrette, anyone? Although my go to favorite is to just splash together some olive oil, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, and a dash of salt. It goes well with just about everything, including this delicious turkey wrap with avocado!
6 – Protein Shakes
This is a newer one, and a surprise even to me. I have resisted protein shakes as I’ve been getting further into clean, whole food cooking. I was all “Why do I need that when I’m eating all these different proteins, fruits, and veggies already?” Buuuut, I decided to listen to a friend of mine who has had some pretty amazing success with the Beachbody program, and added shakes after my morning workouts.
Holy breakthrough, Batman! I actually found that a shake early in the morning helps me snack less the ENTIRE day. But because I’m stubborn and skeptical, I started out with grocery store shakes to save some money. They made a difference, but eventually I took the plunge and ordered the real thing (Shakeology) and I feel better on a whole different level. One of the things I love is that the ingredient list derives nutrients from actual food and tells you what they are.
You can’t get Shakeology in a store, but if you want to check it out, here is my Team Beachbody site that has everything you need to know about them. [Disclosure: I am an Independent Coach for TBB and receive a small commission if you decide to order anything through this site.]
I hope that you’re all having a great summer so far, and would love to hear what your “hot weather” coping strategies are for preparing healthy meals, especially if you try to cook ahead like I do!