How is it that the most wonderful time of year almost always coincides with the busiest? I know I’m not alone here. After getting home late afternoon on Sunday, I really didn’t get my engines revved until yesterday morning. Looking through my calendar I started feeling the pressure of the busy week ahead, but decided to take it bit by bit and start where I always start- food.
Meal planning on busy weeks is different. I take a no-frills approach.
1. No new recipes. Stick to the basics. Magazines and blogs are bursting with recipes I’d like to try, but on crazy weeks, it’s just not in the stars. I pull out simple, low maintenance meals. This week, for example, grilled cheese and tomato soup make an appearance, along with spaghetti.
2. Make it to the grocery store. I’ve tried to forgo a formal trip before, but always end up unorganized, grabbing take out or making multiple trips to the store for small things throughout the week, which ultimately ends up in more wasted time. It’s better to go and grab basics- bread, fruits, eggs, a couple veggies, etc and have food at the house.
3. Use machines. (If you happen to have them.) I have several gadgets I love, but sometimes forget to pull out. The slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker or bread machine can be so helpful during busy weeks. The set-it-and-forget-it factor makes it easy to squeeze in a little prep the night before or during nap time that results in great food later on.
Plus, bread machines make the house smell incredible!
4. Have a back-up meal on hand, just in case. I just pulled out my last frozen enchiladas dish for this week, but I also have some store-bought freezer meals ready to go at all times. If something does not go as planned (which let’s be honest, is always), it’s so nice to stick a frozen meal in the oven instead of figuring out how to load up the kids to grab take out and is generally healthier than ordering in.
5. Prioritize convenience. Sadly this can mean spending an extra buck, but maybe that extra buck at the store will save your several of them if you had to resort to a last minute meal-grab out. I like prepping my own food, but some weeks are crazy so if you can and need to, snag the pre-chopped veggies or the ready-to-go meatballs (on our menu this week).
*Bonus Points* if you can prep any items. Bananas and apples are nature’s fast food, of course, but it’s nice to have some sources of protein or fat ready to grab too. My favorite quick-prep item that I’m always grateful I took the time to do is boiled eggs. They are great with fruit for breakfast, on top of a salad at lunch, quickly mashed up into a sandwich filler and Hailey loves them too.
How do you handle healthy eating during crazy weeks?