People ask me all the time, how I'm able to cook nutritional meals for my family with the tight schedule that I have. So, I thought I'd put some of my tips here. When my kids were little, all were in extracurricular activities at the same time (now I only have 2 at home so it's not so hard anymore). It seemed we lived out of my van. Seriously, I had a cooler in there with food and drinks in it all the time. There was no way we could afford to eat out all the time and there was no way I was going to get my kids hooked on fast food at such young ages. After all, they were athletes and had to eat good.
In the cooler I kept lots of fresh fruit, granola bars, deli style lunch meats, salads and sometimes leftovers. We also keep dried fruit and nuts around all the time. Water has always been a big deal at our house. We still drink lots of water all the time.
At home I always have prepared green salads in zip lock bags. We always have green salad. The kids are used to just putting the prepared salad on a plate and maybe adding some grilled chicken or fish that was already prepared, or cheese or seeds or tomatoes or whatever they want on their salad. The greener the lettuce the better so I use a mixture of lettuces and spinach too.
We live in the Southwest so green chili is a staple around here. I have it roasted, peeled and chopped all the time. It's high in vitamin C and very good in everything! It makes the most boring food extra yummy! Sometimes I'll put a huge pot of beans in the Crock Pot and it will make a few meals. We can have it soupy with green chili and cheese one day, the next I'll cook up some ground turkey and make a bean a topping for nachos and if there is anything left after that we might make up some burritos or quesadillas.
Crock Pot cooking is so easy and there are so many nutritional and healthy recipes on the internet. But, I also like to use the pressure cooker when I'm short on time. It takes a while to get used to cooking with the pressure cooker the food comes out so good in so little time. You can put just about anything in the pressure cooker, including deserts :).
I'm all for easy and quick so having things prepared a head of time really helps. My girls take lunch to school every day. My little one is able to have warm lunches so the night before I'll put a little bit of leftovers in a microwavable, covered dish and all she has to do is grab that dish on her way out the door. I also like to buy Gogurts and freeze them. The girls love them and they're nice and cool when they're ready to eat them.
Portion servings a head of time too! You know how bad it is to grab a bag of chips or a box of crackers that you really like? You can't stop eating them! I love the little snack zip lock baggies. As you are putting your groceries away put one serving size in the little baggies. Your family won't over eat that way and again, they can just grab them and go. Your food last longer and when that happens you save money too!
You know, your family won't eat so much junk if you don't bring it in the home right? Stop bringing in the cookies and the greasy chips. Instead, buy healthy snacks like trail mix with fruit and nuts, whole grain crackers and popcorn, granola bars and yogurt and even ice cream! As long as it has nutritional value I will buy it. If it doesn't, I don't bring it home. Of course, when my kids are away from me I know they're having their junk treats and I personally think it's fine, but when they're home they have the good for them treats. They get used to eating that way and they begin go love it. One more thing, I freeze yogurt. I only buy whole grain and multi grain breads. Instead of peanut butter I buy almond butter. It taste great and doesn't have near the fat that peanut butter does.
Another thing I do is make extra. I really do not like cooking so when I make casseroles or soups or meats I make more than enough. You can throw the extra in the freezer in single size servings or
family size servings and take them out whenever you need to.
We love all kinds of food but we are a chicken and fish family. Fish is easy and fast to prepare an filled with vitamins and omegas. Although our family likes a good steak or hamburger we rarely eat them. I use ground turkey in everything from spaghetti to nachos. Instead of hamburgers we grill turkey burgers. We didn't always eat this way but we're so used to it now, the family prefers this to the "old" way.
It isn't as hard as it may sound if you aren't used to this. Just try it and sooner than later you and your family will get used to it. You'll save money knowing you're doing a great thing for your family. Plus, you're teaching your kids healthy eating habits.