As a busy mom of three busy kids and almost three busy businesses, I have learned that the more places that I can simplify, the better. I am trying to let go of some expectations that I have of myself, because I know I just can't do it all. I used to think that I loved to cook. At one point back in the day I considered culinary school! And while I do enjoy feeding my family good food, I have realized that I can just do simple. I don't need to try new recipes all the time or find ways to use exotic ingredients. That just isn't me. Meal prep almost never looks like this. (I only have a photo like this because the one time it happened deserved recognition!)
Life usually looks more like this. Especially because until last week we were without a working dishwasher for 6+ months. (Bowls and spoons are hard to come by when the dishes don't get done more than twice a week!)
So how do we eat relatively healthy, while keeping things simple? I've figured out a few ways.
1. Have a Go-To Meal List One way I have simplified is having a relatively small list of go-to meals. I almost always have those ingredients on hand and they are either recipes that only take 2-3 steps, or I have made them enough times that I can do it from memory. Cooking from close to memory is key! Those meals include parmesan fish with rice and veggies, grilled fish with rice and veggies, chicken with a noodle and veggie side, beans and rice, homemade spaghetti, tacos, chili and cornbread, chef salad, and a few others. I try to swap out different fruits and vegetables, and on the weekends, I will often cook slightly more elaborate meals like Thai food or a whole roast chicken.
2. Shop Big Once Another way I simplify is that I try to do a big grocery shopping trip once a month and then only buy milk, bread, and produce on a weekly basis. It doesn't always work out, but on the months that I do it, I am SO glad to have a stocked pantry and freezer to work from.
3. Take Short Cuts The third way I simplify is that I do use some convenience foods to get me halfway there with a meal. For example, I never make chili from scratch. But I do doctor up the Hormel canned chili with tomato sauce, beans and corn. We also eat a lot of frozen veggies. I usually mix in frozen edamame with a bag of mixed vegetables and we'll eat that side at least once a week. Sometimes I will buy the flavored minute rice or noodle packets and serve those as a side with fresh produce and chicken or fish. We do frozen pizza almost every Friday night, and once every few weeks we do pancakes (from the mix) with a green shake for dinner. I frequently use frozen Rhodes rolls and boxed muffin mixes. None of these convenience items are necessarily healthy, but for me it is all about balance. Every time I use a convenience item, I will balance it out with other fresh items in the meal.
While I believe in cooking from scratch most of the time and I want my family to eat a healthy and varied diet, I don't have time or energy to make that my main focus. Thankfully I've found I can do that without overcomplicating it. A simple meal prep routine helps me make room and time for everything else required in this SAHM and WAHM gig.
Now onto the giveaway!
Coupons.com is giving away 4 amazing prizes! You can win a Vitamix, a $500 Sephora Gift Card, a Roomba and a $500 Cash! How awesome would this be for Mother's Day for yourself or for the Mother in your life! I would enter just for the Sephora card - but honestly they all sound amazing.
If you haven't heard of Coupons.com, you need to check them out. They have some great coupons for just about everything on your grocery or shopping list. When I was big into couponing back in the day, I used them all the time. Make sure you print some out before your next trip to save some extra cash. You can also check out their Mother's Day Deals this week for not only great ideas on gifts, but also some great prices too.
In addition to these 4 amazing prizes, you can enter below win a $200 Gift Card to Williams-Sonoma! I've teamed up with 20 bloggers to host this giveaway and hope you enter to win! (Sorry - I didn't know those two required entries would be there! I know those are so annoying, but I hope you'll push past them and rack up a few more entries.)
Phew! I know that was a long post - but I had to get my two cents in along with all of the giveaway info. I really hope one of you wins! You deserve it!