I remember asking myself this when I first started motherhood. I wanted to be the best mom, wife and budding entrepreneur yet still make sure I made nutritious home cooked meals for my family. As a Nutritionist I felt this was very important, but I had no idea the work and planning involved when I first started out. Without asking for help or guidance I would scramble around for dinner ideas at the last minute. Between nap time and working on my business, pick ups and drop offs from school, laundry, cleaning, connecting with friends, making beds and having a shower (thank goodness for dry shampoo) and of course bonding and spending time with my children; I would try to muster whatever energy I had left and head to the grocery store to pick up what I needed to start preparing dinner.
I would struggle with what to make, what it might cost and how much time it would take. By the time I finished prepping the meal, I always had accumulated so much mess just to get the meal in the oven and even more mess when the meal was done. I would often stare at the mess on my table, counters and in my kitchen sink and of course on my kitchen floor and think, “there must be an easier way”. Just to do it all over again the next day.
So I channeled my skills and expertise as a Nutritionist into designing ways to improve the process and deliver healthy meals to my family in less time while spending less money. Then, I built my business around sharing my experiences and guidance to thousands of men and women; helping them to improve their nutrition and make healthier choices for themselves and their families .
I would like you to consider how you can do this. It takes about 6 weeks to master, but once you do, your grocery bill will be approx $200 – $400 less a month for a family of four and you could be eating more nutritious meals while increasing the amount of time you spend with your family. And of course, with NO stress.
My name is Roslyn Gordon and I have a degree in Applied Human Nutrition, a designation as a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner and own a wellness studio called Highway to Health in Burlington Ontario. I am a busy mother to two young daughters and two stepsons. We often have a very busy household with many mouths to feed.
Here are some tips I use to make the transition from grocery store to meal on the table less painful and more enjoyable.
- Cook 2 large meals a week When I cook these large meals, I double the recipe. I make 14 hamburgers instead of 7 and I make 2 lbs of spaghetti sauce to get 2 or 3 more meals. I roast 2 whole chickens at a time and either freeze the leftover chicken whole, or cut it up and make a stir-fry, chicken sandwiches a casserole or soup. So I end up cooking less and having more frozen options to choose from on the other days where time is tight. This takes a few weeks to develop a stash of items to choose from, but once you do, you cook WAY less and ultimately lower anxiety around meal preparations. So please note when I say I cook twice a week, I COOK TWICE A WEEK…Some moms make the mistake of doing a half day grocery shop on a Saturday and taking an entire Sunday away from their family to prep a bunch of meals. For me this causes more stress and anxiety and defeats the purpose of developing an easy flowing meal program for you and your family. Start by doubling up 2 meals a week and then go from there. Don’t worry about how it may look; just DO IT and watch how easy it becomes.
- Make a list of easy fill in meals as you are building up your freezer: Mine are baked beans and veggies, eggs, taco salad, fish on the barbecue/oven, steak and salad, cooked chicken from the grocery store with salad and rice from the freezer, grilled cheese, make your own pizzas (I freeze my pitas and pizza sauce so I always have on hand), sandwiches, cold plates (veggies and hummus, rice crackers and sliced avocados/boiled eggs) etc…
- Cut once not twice When I cut a cucumber, I cut the whole thing. When I wash broccoli I wash and prep the whole floret. I cut my whole pepper and my whole stalk of celery. Cutting once and not twice saves clean up and gets you eating more fresh vegetables because they are ready to go and easy to use.
- See your food Store all your leftover food and prepped food in clear ziplock bags or clear containers. Being able to see your food is essential for knowing what you have on hand in the fridge. You can then take a quick glance when determining your grocery list or dinner meal.
- Never throw leftovers away I keep leftover rice and freeze it, ripe bananas I slice and freeze. Canned black olives I freeze and leftover tomatoes. I freeze anything and everything that I won’t eat right away.
- Freeze leftover cooked vegetables When I have a few cooked vegetables leftover I throw them into my “soup bag”. This is a ziplock bag I have in the freezer where cooked or raw leftover veggies can go. I use this bag when preparing soups. Sliced tomatoes, onions and squash can also go in here.
- Shop in less time Instead of doing a HUGE grocery shop weekly where food often gets thrown out by the end of the week. I shop everyday to every other day, running in quickly for a couple items I need to complete my day and prepare dinner. I am able to bring my kids without cause into the grocery store and use the fast check out lane. We are in and out for less than $20. A big grocery shop used to cost me way over $200; and I always ended up throwing half of it away.
- Learn a new recipe each week Every week try one new recipe that you can learn and memorize. I have many recipes now that I used to struggle to prepare, reading the processes and the ingredient measurements. Now it is quick and easy, all off the top of my head. I double up the recipe and store for later.
- Eggs for dinner When in a pinch, eggs are fantastic for dinner. Crack a bunch and whisk into a crustless quiche in the oven or throw into buttered muffin cups with leftover veggies, and spices. Cheap and super easy. Bake at 350 until set.
- Get help children can help out too! My 5 year old is cleaning out the dishwasher everyday. It is a great time to bond and chat with her while I am preparing dinner. I have my 9 year old taking out kitchen garbage and recycle to the garage and setting the table.
The possibilities of easy meal preparation are endless. I love to teach and explore new, flavourful foods which are easy to prepare. The tips I have developed are from all of my experiences and struggles of finding the perfect solution to less mess, less stress and more time for myself and my family. I have developed many programs to support this.
Check out my programs at www.highwaytohealth.ca for my upcoming classes.
Use up your Garden Tomatoes
Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce:
- 6 ripe tomatoes, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 3 tbsp red wine
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- dash of salt and pepper
Mix ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Store in your fridge for up to 3-5 days or store in freezer for up to 6 months.This sauce is excellent on fresh pizzas, in soups or stews or on top of turkey meatballs.