I had lunch with my friend and colleague Rob this week. I brought my own while he grabbed a salad and we shared a table in our building’s cafe. He took a look at my lunch (baked cod – NuVal score of 81, Lundberg wild blend rice – NuVal score of 91, steamed Brussels sprouts – NuVal score of 94, and yellow squash – NuVal score of 99) and he asked me, “When do you cook all that?” When indeed. That’s a great question.
It takes a lot of time to plan out meals, buy the ingredients and then make the recipes. A lot. And really, who has time? I was on a NuVal conference call yesterday and someone mentioned a conversation with a shopper, who happened to be a busy mother of three. She said, “a meal plan is just not going to happen. That’s why I buy processed foods.” We all buy processed foods. Technically, the rice that I was eating is a processed and packaged food, but thanks to NuVal, I happen to know that it gets a great NuVal score. The thing about NuVal is that it helps us to figure out which processed foods get the best scores.
My family would probably eat a lot more processed foods and a lot more take-out if we didn’t take the time to meal plan, prep and cook each week the way we do. We’d also be buying lunch more. We don’t do that too often – maybe once a week, just as a treat to give ourselves a break from lunch-making. So, while it does take a lot of time, it is at the absolute top of my priority list.
Here’s how we do it:
Usually, my husband is part of the planning. We plan meals according to our family’s schedule. There’s almost always a pasta casserole during the winter, because I can make it ahead and our babysitter will put it in the oven for us so that it’s ready when we come home from work. The crock pot is my savior too. Thursday night is almost always leftover night since there’s always extra of everything we’ve been eating during the week and it’s great to clean out the fridge for the weekend. I use the Ipad to help with menu planning and note the ingredients we need as we go, adding them to the weekly shopping list.
From 4 – 7 pm on any given Sunday, if you were to walk into my kitchen, you would find me making 3 – 4 recipes all at the same time. It looks a little bit like the Swedish Chef from the Muppet’s on a lot of caffeine. I usually play some good music, sometimes I have a glass of wine. If my husband isn’t busy doing other last-of-the-weekend house chores, he’ll jump in and be my sous chef or wash some dishes. For the menu you see above, I made the Chicken Sausage and Provolone Penne Bake first. It’s a not-too-complicated pasta casserole recipe from Cooking Light. I had twice the amount of provolone than I needed, so I froze the rest so that I can use it the next time I make this recipe. Next, I tackled the Gluten Free Meatloaf, which was a new recipe that I had never made before. It was pretty simple (and everyone loved it). You could substitute regular bread crumbs in this recipe and it would no longer be gluten free. Next, I prepped the Santa Fe Turkey in my crock pot. That is something I could do in my sleep. In fact, I probably have done it in my sleep. It takes no more than five minutes – every busy cook’s dream! With all of the week’s meals prepped, labeled (with cooking instructions) and put away in the garage fridge, now I could make dinner for Sunday night – Baked Cod with Whole Wheat bread crumbs (mine is gluten free). While it makes for a busy Sunday afternoon, it makes my weeknights much easier. It’s worth the effort.
And all those dinners make great lunch-time meals too.
The mom who inferred that there’s no time to cook is right – if she meant during the week. No. Time. At. All. But if you devote a little block of time of the weekend, you can get it done.
We’ve been dinner in the kitchen all week. But at least we’re eating together – and at least it’s healthy, right?
Question of the Day
When do you cook?
Yesterday’s Giveaway Winner
Congratulations to Carol B! You were the first person to correctly guess Oklahoma in yesterday’s “Guess the State” Game. Reasor’s is the supermarket chain that launched NuVal there yesterday! Send me an email with your mailing address to email@example.com so that I can ship your prize to you. Thanks to everyone who entered!
Posted in: Healthy Life