Grocery shopping, meal prep and cooking can take up way too much time. This is exactly why most moms just prepare the easiest meals most nights of the week, which ends up lacking in very important nutrients to heal our hormones.
In this episode, I share some of my personal hacks.
Not only to help you fit in meal prep and cooking into your already crazy schedule, but also how to free up to 6 hours in your week!
If you're interested in my $7 mini course to learn how to plan those meal plans, you can find it here
And if you want all the planning done for you, complete with 4-weeks of shopping lists, find the FEAST meal plan here
Hello again my friend, and welcome to another episode of Beauty in Balance.
So last week, I shared a bit about how important food is if you are on a journey to heal your hormones and your body.
Even me, as a dietitian, for many years thought as food as just food.
If I was experiencing some symptom, I would want the real stuff.
But over the last few years, as I consistently studied the intricacies of women's hormones, it became so clear that food really is the very first thing that you should make sure is in order when you’re trying to heal your hormones and your entire body.
Food is incredibly powerful, it is what will become your future body.
So feeding yourself well, should really be one of the highest priorities for you.
So last week I shared about what a hormone healing meal looks like. What are the foods that you should be prioritising. I specifically made that episode, because I know that you are likely immersed in a diet culture.
Unfortunately, over the last decade or more, the diet culture has become the norm.
Even healthcare professionals recommend dieting and creates the impression that dieting is what you need to lose weight, and losing weight will solve all your problems.
But you and I know that that is not the truth.
But the sad reality is that there are no alternatives offered to us, so we do embrace the diet culture out of desperation.
So make sure you listen to episode 37, as I share some easy points on how to make sure you nourish your hormones and your body.
But, you may have already listened to that episode and now feel completely stuck as to how to fit meal planning and cooking into your already crazy, full schedule.
So today I wanna share a few tips and tricks that I have up my sleeve, that I use myself, to make sure meal prep and cooking is not the first thing out the window when life gets crazy!
I always make sure that meal planning get’s the highest priority at the start of each week, so it does not fall off the bandwagon when life gets really full.
So without keeping you waiting, here are the things that I do every week to make sure we eat nutritious, balanced meals, every single day.
Number one: Plan your meals ahead each week.
The worst thing that you can do, is wing it every day.
If you get home at 5 or 6 pm and then suddenly have to think of something to cook, I can guarantee that you’ll go for the easiest option.
So once a week, I plan my meals ahead.
And here’s the great thing.
You only have to plan 4 or 5 weeks ahead, and then start repeating those weeks.
You don’t need to do brand new meals every day of every week. Unless you want to and enjoy that kind of thing.
This is pretty much where I am right now.
I hardly follow any recipes anymore, because I know what works for my family and I also enjoy delicious, tasty, but simple meals. So I try keep it simple.
If you make it too complicated, you’ll struggle to keep it up.
Instead, try do make things as simple as possible.
So maybe on a Sunday, or whatever day works for you, sit down and plan 7 meals ahead for the week. Ideally you would make big enough meals for dinner, so your entire family can have leftovers for lunch the next day. Then plan your breakfasts and add in some snacks.
Make sure you keep a copy of those plans so you can use them again in future.
Which brings me to Number two:
While you are doing your meal planning, order your food online for pickup on a day that will work best for you. Or plan on one trip to the grocery store for the week.
This has been an absolute game changer for me.
Going to the grocery store takes a lot of time. It takes the time to drive there and back, and also the time to actually go in and do your shopping.
Apart from the time, going to the grocery store more than once a week, means you spend more money and buy more things that you simply don’t need.
So here’s what I do.
On a Tuesday morning first thing, I go online and order my groceries. I do it on a Tuesday, because Kayle has diving on Tuesdays which means we need to drive past the grocery store on our way there and back. So I literally stop at the grocery store on our way back home and collect the groceries that are all in bags, ready to go.
I hardly ever visit the grocery store a second time in a week. This will only happens when we are invited for dinner and we need to take something special that I don’t have at home.
And the important thing is, when your groceries for the week is done once a week, you remove 1 big thing from your mental load and to-do list.
This will have a significant affect on your stress and cortisol levels.
Also, you’ll have more time each day to do other things, such as selfcare, family activities, more time for cooking beautiful meals, reading a book. Whatever it is that you need more time for.
So I would say, getting into the habit of planning your meals, and doing grocery shopping once a week, will free up about 3-6 hours in your week.
That can be as much as one hour per day during the week, and who can’t do with one extra hour per day?
Number 3 - Lower your expectations and make your meals as simple as possible!
Often I think we are under the misconception that healthy meals are complicated meals.
It really does not have to be.
Throwing veggies together for salads or roasting can be really fast.
The closest your food is to the natural form the better.
So don’t try to turn your veggies into some fancy outlandish meal, unless you want the time and want to have fun with it.
You can literally fry some broccolini on the pan, roast veg in the oven and chop up some salad veggies and then add some oven-roasted chicken.
Simple is good, so don’t overcomplicate things.
Wraps are a real simple way to load heaps of veggies into your meal, or poke bowls which I love. I build them by using leftover rice and meat, with lots of fresh, chopped up veg, soy sauce, little bit of mayo and loads of pickled ginger.
Some nights, I’ll even get the kids to help me build small platters for each person. Fresh fruit, crackers, cold meat, olives, boiled eggs, chopped up veggies, little bit of cheese, hummus, whatever I can find in the fridge.
So keep those meals simple
Number 4 - Prepare in bulk
I don’t generally do this, because I really enjoy cooking and I work from home. Which means I have the time to prepare fresh veggies every day.
But there was a time in my life where I worked an 8-5, which left little to no time for food prep after work.
So processing veggies in bulk can be a real game changer for you.
If you have a food processor, even better.
So a good idea might be to process veggies on the same day as you do your grocery shopping or collect your grocery order.
Process onions, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and other veggies in bulk and store them in containers in the fridge.
So every night you can just grab a handful of each of those veggies and add to your meals.
Another way to do this, which is what I do on Monday nights, is prepare Tuesday night meals in advance, because Tuesdays are our crazy days.
On Mondays, I’ll double up on the veg preparation and throw it all in the slow cooker with some meat bones for a stew or soup. So I’ll turn it on through the night, turn it off the next morning and just heat up on Tuesday night.
You probably know which nights are really crazy, so you can prepare your veggies in advance for those specific days.
Which leads to number 5 - Prepare meals in advance
Something that I love doing, is doubling up on recipes and freezing half.
For instance, when you prepare a lasagne, it takes barely any extra effort to double up the recipe. And then freeze half the meal in a foil container to be removed from the freezer on days that are crazy and heated up in the oven right before dinner time.
So what I love to do, is every night when I cook dinner, I think about whether that meal can serve as a second meal somewhere in the near future.
For instance, when making nacho’s, I’ll double up the meat by adding extra lentils and beans and then freeze half the meat for another day.
Also, while doubling up on veggie prep, you can make a soup in the slow cooker which you can freeze for another day. Usually soup can serve as 2 seperate meals, because the volume is usually quite large. So you’ll be preparing 2 future meals in one go.
And finally, number 6: Include your family in the food preparation and cooking duties.
We are in the final stages of a huge reno project.
On the weekend, Michiel and i was full-on busy with painting and other thing