As you guys know, having little mini rituals in my day is a huge part of my life (and how I stay sane as I switch between mama mode to ceo mode to creative mode to solo/ myself mode, back into mama mode, and then wife/partner mode every single day). From my morning matcha to my almost nighttime baths these days, I crave and NEED a few moments of transition and intention before I jump from one thing to the next, so that I can focus on where I am, feel less scattered and hopefully be more present in whatever task or role is at hand.
This is especially true when it comes to my food. Our food.
I get asked sooo often in DM’s, in our inbox and during my programs about how exactly I go about planning out & prepping meals, especially when it comes to Kyle, Noah and me.
Eating healthy, but not overcomplicating it.
Having a nourishing dinner on the table everynight…..but not cooking everynight.
Eating well & feeding my family…..um but not at the expense of using ALL of my free time to make it happen.
While I’m def not the girl who is full-blown meal prepping each weekend for hours and storing it labeled in the fridge (though, more power to you if that’s your vibe!), there are certain things I love to do to make sure that there are simple and healthy meals on the table most nights of the week.
Cooking is medicine for me in so many ways. The stress relief it gives me, the other side of my brain that gets some creative play, and the joy I get when Noah helps stir some muffins or pour nut milk into a recipe is like a salve. But, I’ve also been there when it comes to cooking as a stressor, too.
You know those days when you just feel overwhelmed and exhausted, and you want to do nothing less than figure out what you’re supposed to cook?
I get you, I really do.
I have them, often.
My key? First, it’s checking where my head is at.
It’s making sure I’m making it fun, and like a moment in the day to look forward to vs something that I just *have* to do in order to survive. Mindset changes a lot of how we experience things, truly.
And it’s about setting a VIBE first that helps you enjoy it. Making it a respite, a healing time of day vs a chore. I love really great playlist on the speaker (always), my favorite oils diffusing, the fireplace on, Noah running around while I dodge all the legos on the floor, having weird toddler dance breaks in the middle of it, with a some fancy sparkling water or a 1/2 glass of rose next to me, and a simple idea of what it is that I need to do.
When we start a new week, I usually make a list of 2-3 things that sounds good, fit the weather/season, and then make sure that they’re doable for our lifestyles and schedules that week. (And, leftovers are a must too. We’re huge leftover people at this house over here.)
But, the *always constant* factor we keep in our meals over here?
Real (& realistic time wise). Nutrient dense. Simple.
How I Plan My Meals Each Week
Lunches: Oooo wee, I love lunch. Lunch has always, always been a constant in my life (I’m just not a big breakfast person). It’s usually my first chance to put something really nutrient-dense and delish in my body. I’m also a mama and a work-from-home business owner (which I know a lot of us resonate with), so I’m all about ease when it comes to lunch.
I *aaaaalways* try to pack as many veggies into my lunch as possible. Some of my favorites? Smoothie bowls for sure when it’s warm out, and non-cold smoothies like the warming smoothie (above) from the Simply Real Eating cookbook or soups (I have soooo many delicious soup recipes). Smoothie bowls or soups. I just keep it simple. Lunch is all about efficiency in the middle of my workday, and with all of us at home, thick stews & soups work for everyone. And are so easy to make if you have a instantpot or crockpot.
I don’t necessarily plan out what I’m going to have for lunch each and every day, but having those go-to guys in my back pocket make the choices so much easier.
Dinners: I LOVE to cook, but that doesn’t mean that I have the energy or desire to cook every single night. We like to pick three recipes a week that A) sound good to all of us in the moment and B) make good leftovers, because we’re all about the leftovers over here.
I’m all about picking 1-2 ONE pot meals each week. It changes depending on the season and what’s in the stores (aka, more one pot cozy meals in the winter but in the summer we’ll do more grilling & great salads), but for the most part it’s this.
Also, you may be sensing a pattern here: veggies, veggies, VEGGIES. All the veggies. Some of our go-to dinner recipes lately are this hearty, comforting sweet potato chili, this delicious carrot noodle pad Thai, and this warming butternut squash and sage risotto.
A few extra tips:
1.There is nothing wrong with having stuff that’s pre-made to add to your dinners for ease (as long as the ingredients are simple and clean). Aka, a organic roasted chicken, some deli side dishes, sliced nitrate free turkey, hummus for a quick dressing, salsa for a quick topping, some good cheeses and olives, etc. Do it. You do NOT need to make everything from scratch (unless you love to).
2. Also, don’t forget about using what’s in your pantry. I ALWAYS always keep it stocked with the basics, so it’s easy to create something, even without going to the store. I have my full pantry, freezer & fridge staple list here for you if you want to grab it. Beans, tomato sauce, broth, quinoa, etc…. there is SO MUCH you can do with staples, and I rely on mine heavily.
3. Make a weekly dressing. It takes less than 5 minutes and can be used as salad dressing, over roasted veggies, as a marinade for any meat/grains/veggies, etc. I have sooo many in both cookbooks to pick from.
4. Don’t be above a instantpot or crockpot. I know, it’s not “gourmet”. And the texture isn’t perfect. But it gets the job done, breaks down beans and grains in a much more digestable way, and helps save so much $ and time– especially hands free time = prime time that time of day. I used to not really get the fuss about them but now being a working mama, I use my IP every single week, especially for soups and making them from my pantry staples.
Basically, our go-to rhythm is choosing vibrant, easy dinners that make for really good leftovers on those busier nights.
Snacks/Treats: My goal is to always eat meals that fills me up and keeps me satisfied.
But there’s also value in really delicious, nutrient-packed snacks & some good quality treats. Especially in times like now when we’re home a lot more, it’s nice to have something to grab that’s not going to leave us feeling bad and heavy, right?
Every weekend, I pick a a snack or baked good to make for that week. It takes me about 30 mins and I do it as we’re lounging around on Saturdays or Sundays. From breakfast cookies, to the granola ball bites I always try to keep stocked in the freezer, the best gf banana bread, and cranberry walnut granola to golden milk lattes, energy balls, and tea with splashes of milk (I’ve been obsessed with this loose-leaf nettle tea lately, and it has so many health benefits), it’s all about giving your body what it’s needing in the moment.
Some days, that’s a warm drink. Some days, that’s something with a little more substance.
Baby: Now, we’re at that point in our lives where Noah is eating most of the same food we are, just in smaller portions (although that’s not even true now, he eats more than me). It’s important for us to all be able to eat the same foods, too (I’m not a short order cook… and neither are you). That was always my goal with how I fed him when he was little, and I’m so happy it worked. It saves me so much time.
So the recipes in the Baby Food Files saved. my. life. when Noah was really little and even now too. That’s the best part…. they grow with your fam and your littles. Would highly recommend snagging it up to give you ideas that babe (and you!) will love.
Truly though? That’s it! The approach that we use to plan meals each week is super simple, because that’s just how I roll!
2-3 meals a week. It’s do-able. Sometimes I prep all 3 beforehand…sometimes not. I’d rather get out for a long walk on my weekends than be in the kitchen. But the point here is to DO YOU. Try something new. Take the pressure off of a brand new meal every single night. All that matter is that it’s real food, it doesn’t have to be fancy.
For those of you that want to learn more and are more visual learners, I’m going to be taking you behind-the-scenes next week and showing you how I really do it, in real time. Cooking class livestream style! I’ll be making 3 meals for the week, in 30 minutes. Come grab a spot here (yes even if you can’t make it live, you’ll get the replay when it’s ready). Plus you’ll get the recipes AND shopping list so you can repeat it at home too.
See you there next Tuesday?! I have so many more little secrets & tips to share too.