As a busy Mom one of the biggest challenges I find is providing my family with nutritious and healthy food without losing the fun and enjoyment that I want my kids to associate with meal time. One of the best tips I’ve gotten is from my friend, studio owner and TDM anatomy trainer, Kerry Corcoran about organizing a meal board for the family on a weekly basis. I’ve been doing this for 6 weeks and am having such great success that I want to share it with all of you! Honestly it’s helped change my life - I am saving time and money, my kids are trying foods I never thought they would and I’m enjoying my time in the kitchen so much more.
Here’s the plan:
Sundays I sit down and write out menus for breakfast and dinner Monday – Friday. The kids have a reasonable say - so yes that means occasionally putting chocolate chips in the sprouted pancakes that I prepare the night ahead, but we also sprinkle coconut flakes and walnuts on them so a little chocolate feels okay! One of my daughter Nico’s chores is to make dinner on Monday nights and she’ll research recipes and make her choice and then I’ll fill in the other four. Once I’ve finalized each meal I make a grocery list making sure to put on the quantities. I end up buying a lot in the bulk section to the exact measurement needed which saves money and room in the pantry. It also allows us to try new things without committing to the whole bag. It takes me about 45 minutes to plan the meals and another 45 to do the shopping (even less if I can get one of my kids to come with me and help) and I’m done for the entire week! My old pattern was to spend brain time each day thinking about what I should serve for dinner that evening and making multiple trips to the store during the week. Often times I would pick up prepared foods to supplement or was not organized on quantity of ingredients so I ended up buying more than I needed. It added up to more time and money spent and potentially less quality food!
Julius helping with the shopping. Isn’t he cute?
Face paint credit from our Easter brunch!
Some additional things I think about when preparing the menu:
When I make something the whole family loves I write it down in a notebook I keep in the kitchen as a recipe catalog of things for us to choose from.
I get a produce box delivery every other week so I look through my refrigerator prior to the meal planning and use what I have on hand to help inspire meals.
I aim for one meal per week purely vegetarian. With all the amazing recipes out there sometimes they don’t even notice!
I look for variety in protein and vegetable/fruit additions to help diversify their palates and get a full range of natural vitamins and minerals.
I try to make sure that there is at least one component to the meal that each child will like so they can go heavier on that food if they don’t like the rest.
In order to keep us on the same page, we write out it all out on a board that also holds the kids after school activities for the week. It’s beneficial because now I don’t get the “what’s for dinner tonight Mom?” and then “EEWWW that’s gross!” It makes it clear and also empowers them because they have a say and always know what’s happening. By the way, it’s really never gross :).
I am fortunate that Nico will write out the board for me but I’ve encouraged that by making it one of her chores. May I digress on chores for a moment? Chores are something that I’ve been working really hard to instill in my kids because I have been guilty of the “easier to do it myself” route and was starting to raise some lazy, entitled kids which will not do! We now have a chore list but we let them have a say in some of the chores they do. For me a chore should be something that makes my life easier, so they are truly contributing to the way the household runs. Nico loves to be creative and organized so having her write the board and make a meal lets her contribute a way she enjoys. She also feeds the dog and sets the table so it’s not all fun but it helps create balance and lessens complaining.
Each week I’ve done the boards I’ve been able to get more creative and make the meals even healthier. On May 5th my Studios are doing a 30 day challenge and I’m also introducing an optional real food and mindful eating component called The 30 Clean which is aligned with how I would like my family's diet to be the majority of the time. On this program for 30 days you focus on eating a clean diet. The things to avoid are sugar, dairy, soy, corn, gluten, wheat, grains and anything artificial. Gratefully it's ok to have your morning coffee and wine (a glass or two on the weekend) and a small square of real dark chocolate 3 nights a week. The goal is to inspire you set and achieve goals, develop a new relationship with food, and gain more conﬁdence in yourself, with the help of a like-minded community on private Facebook boards. I’m excited to try this new program and see if it’s something that can help me be even more successful in creating delicious, nutritious and clean meals for myself and my family. If you’re interested in joining me you can sign up here.
Here’s to saving time and money and always striving for optimal health!