PHOTO: Kris Carr’s Save the Tuna Wrap for lunch!
So I thought I was busy when I had just one kid, but now that I’ve got two under two the one kid days seem SO easy! Now it is harder to get a meal on the table any time of day, let alone when I’m juggling both kiddos on my own while my husband is working. So I’ve had to resort to new tactics because I am in weight loss mode so I cannot compromise when it comes to the quality of what we are eating.
I’ve been doing this consistently for about 6 weeks now and am LOVING it. Inspired by my friend Anna at Clementine’s Produce & Provisions I have been diligent about meal planning. As a result we waste a lot less food and I never find myself staring aimlessly at the fridge wondering what to make.
It also ensures that my weekly shopping trip has me well stocked so I am not flipping through cookbooks for ideas without having the actual ingredients on hand. With two kids this young I pretty much can only allot myself a maximum of 15 minutes to prepare a meal (suck it Rachel Ray!).
So you want to know how this magic happens? There are three steps.
1. Make your meal plan and coordinate it with your grocery shopping list.
I have a plan that includes each meal down to snack ideas, and each week’s meals use the same basic components and I just changeup the way they are used to keep a bit of variety (see examples below). I have been doing my grocery shopping every Sunday while my husband can take care of one or both kids. I adhere so tightly to the list that I can make this trip in 45 minutes total – the time from when I walk out my door until the time I walk back in. I use a very unsophisticated system of post-it notes, but now I will be upgrading to this kick ass printable from kriscarr.com
2.Wash and prep everything ahead of time.
So this part of the program I did steal from Rachel Ray and man is it a time saver! I wash and prep everything ahead of time. Generally I can’t do it the instant I get back from the store but sometime between Sunday and Monday I wash, dry, chop, dice, and store everything in see-through containers (that way I don’t forget what I have). Since we also juice every morning this means I am washing a copious amount of produce, if you do not juice, this part of the process should take you a small amount of time. This usually is not done all once either – below I will outline my process.
3. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time and all at once.
The third step is to prepare as much as you can ahead of time and all at once – this way you are only cleaning up one big mess. For me this generally means a large batch of something like soup, pasta sauce, or taco “meat.” I will also make something that I can easily throw together for lunch when I’m by myself like tempeh salad or cold peanut noodles. I try to do this on Monday while my son Rocco is napping that way the meals stay fresh through the week.
CLEANING & STORING PRODUCE
First, I soak the fruit and veggies in a sink full of cold water and I squeeze the juice of one lemon juice into the water (above). This helps remove any pesticides and kill bacteria that may be lingering on your produce (I do this even with organics, but it’s most important for conventional produce). You should soak for at least 15 minutes but I often let it sit there for hours simply because I don’t have time to come back to it right away.
Next I lay everything out on the countertop on dish towels to dry – again because I don’t have time to hand dry each piece (above). The lettuce and greens usually take a little more work to dry – for these I roll them up in a towel and shake the excess water out.
Once everything is dry I store it. Fruit stores whole on the countertop in bowls. Greens store in tall bins with saran wrap over the top. Chopped veggies go into clear glass storage containers. Carrots and celery go in a large glass storage container and the rest of the whole veggies go in ziplock bags. You can also put a paper towel in the ziplock to help soak up extra moisture, which will keep the produce longer. Moisture and air are the worst enemies of fresh produce – so keeping everything dry and airtight is the key to success.
MEAL PLAN EXAMPLE
Generally if I plan for two to three dinner items, two lunch items, two to three breakfast items, and a variety of snacks I’m good to go as I will have enough leftovers to fill in the gaps. This can get a little repetitive but I don’t mind that as I prefer to eat homemade food the majority of the time. I also keep homemade freezer burritos and lots of varieties of soups frozen in individual portions that I can eat for lunches if this stuff becomes too repetitive so it’s always a great idea to make extra batches of items that can be frozen.
PREP ITEM 1: Fajita Vegetables & double batch black beans (sliced onion & multi-colored bell peppers)
PREP ITEM 2: Double Batch Vegan Sausage & Peppers
PREP ITEM 3: Kris Carr’s Save the Tuna
SNACKS: fresh fruit, string cheese, almonds, popcorn, greek yogurt, cottage cheese
Breakfast: Crispy Breakfast Fajita Wraps
Lunch: Save the Tuna Wrap (pictured at the top)
Dinner: Vegan Sausage & Peppers over whole wheat spaghetti
Breakfast: Sausage & Peppers Omelet
Lunch: Save the Tuna over green salad with half an avocado
Dinner: Blackened Salmon Tacos with Fajita Veggies, side of black beans
Breakfast: Fruit & Greek yogurt parfait
Lunch: Shrimp Quesadillas with Fajita Veggies
Dinner: Save the Tuna sandwiches on wheat with a side of kale chips
Breakfast: Huevos Rancheros with black beans & Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce
Lunch: Save the Tuna Wrap
Dinner: Sausage & Peppers Tortilla Pizzas
Breakfast: Sausage & Peppers Crispy Breakfast Wraps
Lunch: Veggie Quesadillas
Dinner: Mexican Pizza