Eating “right” — whatever that is for you (vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, etc.)– is hard to do if you don’t plan ahead. It’s even harder to do when you’ve got a full life.
I’m a full-time working mom who also maintains two (count ‘em two) daily blogs and does a variety of freelance work in addition to daily workouts (running three to four days, weight training three days, with some Pilates and other stuff thrown in there).
Did I mention I also have a bunch of living things depending on me — two kids, a husband, a dog, two cats, a guinea pig, a goldfish, and a tankful of creek minnows that are “wintering over” in Lauren’s room?
So, yeah, I can be stretched for time. Who isn’t though, right?
Eatin’ clean requires prep work
When I started trying to “eat clean” (or going Paleo/Primal…whatever you want to call it…no label really fits what I’m doing), I didn’t think I could do it because hello?, I do not have time to make freakin’ eggs in the morning and meat and vegetables for dinner every night.
One of the bad things about giving up grains and all processed foods is that, well, there’s no such thing as grab-and-go. No “quick” meals or snacks to tear into when you’re starving or pressed for time.
But I was committed to giving the new way of eating a go, so I started doing what all those Working Mother magazines had tried to get me to do for years and I started cooking ahead on weekends.
I’ve found, through trial and error, that most foods keep really well when cooked ahead, including salads (providing you don’t put any wet stuff in there).
Now I spend an hour or two every weekend cooking up a bunch of stuff to get me through the week (or at least most of the way through).
Here’s what I did last Sunday (took less than 2 hours):
* Hardboiled a dozen eggs for snacks and to put in my lunch salad (but not until it’s time to eat the salad….remember, no wet stuff in the salad or it will rot quick).
* Made Jello for snacks for Lauren, who, for some reason, loves the wiggly stuff.
* Baked kale chips to snack on during the week.
* Put “breakfast” together. Further explaination below, but all I need to do in the morning is crack three eggs into a bowl, mix it up and microwave.
* Steamed some cauliflower and sauteed some zucchini so that it’s cooked and ready for quick serving on weeknights.
* Pan fried some thing steaks for quick dinners.
* Opened and separated a pomegrante for snacking.
* Packed three salads for lunches.
My lunch salad: Romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, sliced olives, almond slivers, mushrooms, onions, and feta cheese. All of this keeps for days in the fridge (provided nothing is wet). Tip: Don’t use iceburg lettuce, it rots fast and it’s nutritionally void anyway. I recommend Romaine. It tastes good (not bitter) and it keeps for several days to a week.
My breakfast: I chop up mushrooms, green onions, black olives and fresh basil. In the morning, all I have to do is add eggs, salt and pepper and microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for another minute and voila – breakfast is served. (I mix in a little Colby cheese, too.)
Quick dinner: These little steaks (I have no idea what cut of meat they are…do I look like a butcher?) are great to pan fry in a little butter and keep in the fridge to eat as is or to cut up and put into fajitas, stir fry or a steak salad. I also routinely cook up chicken breast or Dan smokes a turkey, sausage, or seafood and we store in the fridge and eat it all week. (Can I just tell you how much I love our smoker — best gift I ever gave the man).
Essential ingredient: Pyrex bowls — I can’t even tell you how much I love Pryex bowls. They look so nice stacked up in my fridge and I can easily see what’s inside. They are made of sturdy glass and can be used for storing and reheating food. (You know you should never heat anything in or on plastic now, right?). By the way, this is the time of year to stock up on Pyrex as they practically give it away for the holidays. I’ve seen 12+ piece sets for less than $15.
* Do you ever cook ahead? What “keeps well” that you never thought would.
* Are you in love with any inanimate objects, like me? Do tell what makes your heart swoon!
* Any idea what the mystery meat is that I keep buying?
* Ever tried paleo/primal/eating clean? It’s changed my life
Also posted on my personal blog.