My family is on a journey to a more wholesome and nutritious lifestyle and one thing that I have learned already is that real food takes time, preparation, and a bit of forethought. It is so fulfilling to serve your family a nutrient dense, whole foods meal but honestly getting to where I can do this twenty-one meals a week has been challenging. It has definitely taken a lot of patience, grace, and a whole lot of learning! I have definitely not arrived yet, but these are some things that I have learned that have made this journey a little less challenging.
Have A Menu
In cooking real food, having a menu is a must, at least for me. Not only does this give you what to purchase, but it also enables you to plan and schedule your ingredients, so they don’t spoil. I plan my weekly menu according to the sales of the week, and what is in season. This has allowed me to buy lots of whole food on a budget and add lot of creativity into our menus.
Last year around this time, the leeks went on sale, two for a dollar. Awesome price, but what do you do with leeks? Of course, Pinterest is the answer. I was able to find some really delicious recipes like this Mediterranean salad and this crockpot Leek Risotto. In turn, this tip has expanded my family’s palette while providing wholesome, creative meals.
Anticipate How Much Raw Food
Another thing I have learned along the way is to anticipate the amount of raw foods I will need. I have the privilege of being able to purchase raw milk from a local farm, which I love. In the beginning though, I wasted a lot of milk and yogurt because I would make too much. Since then, I have learned to make smaller portions and be more resourceful.
Plan the Night Before
Something that came as a bit of a shock to me was the fact I could have a great menu and all the right ingredients, yet still prepare to provide wholesome meals to my family. I’m not sure if this is just me, but I am amazing at finding all the ways to fail at a given topic. It’s definitely my art form. :)
Now that I have menu planning down, I am learning to organize it, so it works. For instance, Tuesday I have planned to make bean and cheese tacos for breakfast, but if I don’t remember to make the beans, take the tortillas out of the freezer,and make sure I have cheese made, this won’t be happening. This instance happened all too often in my house, until I started writing down exactly what needed to be done for the next day before I went to sleep. Normally this might include taking something out of the freezer, soaking nuts, or dehydrating something. These are all really simple things, but are some of the little meal plan breakers I have found.
Something that saves me a ton of time during the week and aids our busy lifestyle is having a preparation day. My prep day is Saturday, and I am able to make tortillas for the week, freeze bread dough, cut up veggies, and make the week’s snacks. I do my best to keep my preparation time to a two hour maximum, because it is Saturday. Honestly, who wants to be home working on Saturday, especially when it is gorgeous outside.
Batch Some Meals
This last tip may not work for you, but it is definitely a time and budget saver for us. I make only one type of snack and breakfast a week. This helps me to buy in bulk and prepare a weeks’ snacks and breakfasts on my prep day. I know some people can’t handle such little variety, but it works for us. Although I must admit that I have been known to throw away leftovers at the end of the week because honestly by Friday, I don’t want pancakes again for the sixth time.
Sometimes I get a little carried away looking at Pinterest recipes and plan four or five new recipes in a week. Although this may sound creative and fun, it is very stressful! Not only do I not know how long a recipe will take to make, I have no clue if we will actually like it. I hate preparing meals that we don't fall in love with. It also kind of puts a damper on the other new meals I planned on making because I want them to turn out great and not be another recipe fail.
Because of this, I now only plan at the most two new meals a week. The rest of the week are tried and true meals that I know that we will eat up and love. Also because, breakfast is the same all week, I only try new breakfast recipes on Saturdays. I never make a week of a meal that we have not tried.
Master Meal List
This is something that I began doing after I got married that has saved me tons of time! When I find a recipe that my family loves, I write it down on my master meal list. I also put where I found the recipe, how expensive it was to make, and how much time it took. I arranged it by season as well because I go by seasonal ads for the best deals.
This saves me lots of time when I need to plan a menu! I pull out my master list and look up some good meal combos and ideas that I know my family already loves. You can download your printable here. In the printable, I organized them by season and by category. I hope you enjoy it! :)
These are some tips and tricks I have learned on my real food journey that I hope will inspire or help you. What are some of the tricks you have learned along the way? I would love to hear about them!