This past week it felt like everywhere I went such as the gym, Crossfit, or a social gathering the topic of the struggle with making a healthy and nutritious dinner came up. For a variety of reasons, everyone seemed to be struggling with trying to make a healthy and nutritious dinner. The common thread of most of these conversations was the craziness of sometimes having to work late as well as having young babies or toddlers taking up the use of mommy’s or daddy’s 2 hands. Hey – I totally get it; I was once there with an active baby all day long and trying to manage the household simultaneously. Now, I’m in an environment where both my husband and I work all day and then it’s a mad scramble to get dinner going once we have picked up our little one from daycare. I used to think I was guilty of suffering from a “hangry” attitude, but my little Liana has taken this state of being “hungry” and “angry” to the next level. If Luch and I don’t get dinner into her little tummy by a certain time she completely loses it and morphs into a little 2 foot HANGRY monster!
These conversations and interactions made me feel like I should share some of my tricks for meal planning for the week as well as share a recipe or two. My disclaimer (and so sad that we live in a society in which I even need to add this disclaimer…but here it is…) is that I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist, nor am I formally trained in time management or parenting 101; but I am a self-proclaimed master of proficiency.
Selfishly I also want to share this and stick it to the nay-sayers whom before having Liana, would worn Luch and I that we would no longer be able to eat healthy nor that we would have time to cook. Well, I thank everyone that told me that because it gave us the motivation to prove this belief wrong. Here is how we did it.
What really works for our household is simply being prepared and thinking ahead. Like anything in life, a good plan of action (POA) is the key to success. Luch and I always go to the grocery store with a POA for the following week. We know or have a very good idea as to what we will be making for each of the days of the week. This really helps us focus at the store and not over or under buy any of our ingredients necessary to get through the week. This is especially helpful when it comes to the proteins! It’s simple – plan out Monday to Friday. (for all you perceptive readers I realize I am missing Saturday and Sunday but those days are left open for socializing or whatever may come) Think of what your proteins will be and the guessing is taken away each day. Rather than opening up a fridge to a selection of chicken, beef and fish in various forms, we know that Monday will be chicken burgers, Tuesday will be salmon, Wednesday will be fish tacos, and so on. If you get really good at planning out your proteins, then start to plan your sides as well. With the cost of produce going up, the last thing you want to do is throw away veggies that have wilted in your in the fridge. If you plan ahead of time for the week what veggies will be used on what day, you will use what you buy! The rest of the stuff, your staples – milk, fruit, breads… are the items you always need in the fridge, so don’t worry about planning those for the week, stick to the dinner planning before heading out the grocery store. Luch and I have gotten so good at this (again, I reiterate – I am a self-proclaimed master of proficiency), that we now do our weekly dinner prep on the drive to the grocery store – yes I know, that is good.
Now like any good plan, know that thing will change throughout the week so you will need a Plan A, B, and sometimes C. The only differences between Plan A through C is the complexity of the dinner. For example, if Liana’s HANGRY levels are off the chart then queue plan C which is usually our emergency backup that calls for the fastest possible preparation of the proteins and sides that we bought for the week.
This week I am going to share with you my “it’s an emergency – Liana is HANGRY – get dinner ASAP” recipe:
PLAN A: Oven roasted Salmon with my “go to” salad and a side of quinoa.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Pre-heat oven to 350
Salmon – place on a non-stick oven sheet (I like to drizzle a bit of olive oil on the pan before placing the salmon on top), salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 14 minutes, more or less depending on thickness of the salmon piece.
Go to salad – sliced tomatoes with sliced avocado, I drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Quinoa- If it is a state of emergency, and I need dinner ASAP (Plan B), I will cook quinoa pasta penne (I really like the gogo quinoa brand), it cooks el dente in 5 minutes! If it is not a state of emergency and I can wait for water to boil, then I will cook some quinoa then add some olives and red onions, cherry tomatoes and some feta cheese to spruce it up.
PLAN C: Oven roasted Salmon with my “go to salad…forget the quinoa. Give Liana a banana and hope for the best.
Wishing you all a wonderful week of yummy dinners! Please send me any of your ‘go to’ recipes and I can share them with all of the readers.