Does this scenario ring a bell with any of you?!
It’s 5:00 on a weeknight. Everyone is hungry, you are exhausted, and you have no plan or earthly idea what you are doing for dinner. You still have a night in front of you of homework, activities, baths/showers, etc. OF COURSE you order pizza or go pick up Chick-fil-A — at this point there are no other options!
Fast food is a dangerous habit, and here’s why:
- Loaded with chemicals that create an addiction to this type of food, so you want it more.
- Loaded with added sugar. Sugar is THE root cause of our obesity problem. It’s added to everything that is processed.
- Big box fast food uses low quality meat — you won’t find hormone-free or grass-fed in the drive-thru’s.
- Serving sizes are out of control. A regular coke, 8 piece nugget meal, and a regular fries from Chick-fil-A is 860 calories with 49 grams of sugar. Hello, fat storage!
Cooking and eating real food is the solution. Here are some simple steps to get started:
Step #1 Create a SIMPLE, dinner plan. This should take 10 minutes.
Monday-Friday should be very simple dinners. Pick a theme for each night, and let a family member pick what they want each night. Plan the SIMPLE dinner menu on Saturday for the next week. Here is an example from my house:
|DAY OF WK||MEAL|
|Monday||Spaghetti w/gluten-free noodles, grass-fed beef, and organic tomato sauce, side salad and side of cucumbers. Adult version zucchini noodles, mushroom, and onion stir-fry with spaghetti meat sauce on top.|
|Tuesday||Quesadillas, spelt tortillas, and hormone-free cheddar cheese, avocados, sliced cucumbers, adult version 4 cups greens, Sarah’s Lemon Heaven salad dressing, 2 boiled eggs per adult, 1 cup raw rainbow veggies, and sliced avocados|
|Wednesday||Gluten free chicken tenders, organic and grass-fed macaroni and cheese, steamed green beans. Side of apples. Parent version is a stir-fry of green beans and balsamic chicken tenders with a rainbow vegetable side salad.|
|Thursday||Super busy activity night, so kids get a Chick-fil-A night. They share a large fry and no sodas. This cuts the sugar by 25 grams per child! Mom and Dad enjoy a fresh and healthy meal made by my great friend and dietitian from Powerhouse here in San Antonio. We carry 12-15 healthy, balanced meals at Local Health Market for busy, health conscious people. I am bringing a family style portion of rosemary chicken, quinoa, and green beans home this night.|
|Friday||Grass-fed burgers, organic baked fries, and steamed broccoli|
Step #2 Create a List and Shop, or have someone shop for you!
I love grocery stores, but I have a bad habit of strolling around and throwing things in my cart. Since I opened the store and relaunched my nutrition practice, going to the store turned into a huge stressor for me. Thank God for Shipt and Instacart — I use both of them. Since I only order what I need, I spend a few hundred dollars a month less than I used to. Just a suggestion if you struggle to find the time to shop for healthy food, or just want more time to enjoy your life.
Step #3 (Optional) If you want to be more pro-active, take about an hour on Sundays to prep the fruit and vegetables for the week.
I prefer to get my groceries for the upcoming week on Saturday, and then do some basic food prep work on Sunday. I mainly focus on getting a few days of lunches made for the kids, wash and cut up fruit and vegetables, make a healthy tuna or chicken salad for adult lunches, and get a large salad ready. This takes about an hour.
Step #4 Every night, look at your dinner plan for the next evening, and get out any meat that you need.
While you are preparing your dinner, look at your plan and see what’s on the line-up for tomorrow. Get out any frozen meat so it’s thawed by the next night. The next day goes a lot smoother if you have lunches and water containers packed up.
Step #5 MAKE YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY help you with dinner prep and clean-up.
The prep and clean up work should be shared by the entire family. If everyone helps, dinner prep and clean up time will be dramatically cut down for YOU. I realize this isn’t the case in kids 3 and under, but they will get there! Give kids the tiniest jobs, so they learn that are supposed to help at this busy time. My 7 and 9-year-old help with putting things back in the fridge and pantry, clean up dishes, and wipe down the counters and chairs.
*Sarah’s Busy Family Tip* Move up dinner time to 4:30 to 5:30 pm if possible. When kids come home from school, give them a VERY LIGHT snack, like a bowl of grapes. Then they will actually be hungry for dinner. Eat earlier before activities, and then have a healthy snack before bed.
I work with individuals and families on meal planning in many ways. We have regular meal planning classes AND we have a concierge menu planning service. We can provide healthy meals-to-go in combination with light cooking (or NO cooking if cooking is not your thing). Call or email us if you are interested in any of these services. email@example.com or 210-455-7892
Happy Meal Planning!