One of the most common questions that I get is, how is it possible to actually eat only real, unprocessed foods, in the midst of the busyness of life? My response is that it takes preparation! It is very possible to eat real food without it feeling like it is taking over your life but it does take some time to figure out a routine that will work for you and your family and it definitely takes planning ahead.
My typical week involves grocery shopping once per week and two days (usually Saturday or Sunday and Wednesday) spent preparing food to have meals ready for the next 3 or so days for two people. That way, besides those concentrated times where I am in the kitchen, I do not feel like a slave to the kitchen the rest of the week or dread it being the end of the day and not knowing what we will have for dinner.
Here is what went down in that two hour cooking session this past weekend.
What I made:
- An egg casserole with peppers and greens like this one
- An adapted version of this soup recipe
- Sides of veggies (butternut squash and a broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, onion medley)
- Italian Spiced 50/50 Sausages
What will this give us?
The egg casserole yields 6 healthy servings so this is our breakfast for 3 days. We will have 2-3 meals out of the soup for dinners or easy lunches packed in thermoses. The extra veggies and sausages will make out the rest of our meals and can be heated up simply as is or used in stir fry’s or curries to provide some variation but still quick meals.
What I did:
I begin by preheating the oven and prepping my veggies for the egg casserole. I toss this together and throw it in to bake at 350 for 40 minutes. While the egg casserole is cooking I get the soup going. I already had shredded chicken and broth from dinner the night before (a great thing to make in the crock pot the night before food prep to have on hand!) Instead of roasting the veggies like she suggests in the recipe link, I simply throw them in the stock pot with the broth and let them cook in there.
Now we have the egg casserole in the oven with about 15 minutes left and soup simmering on the stove. Next I prep veggies that I want for the week. On one baking sheet I did cubed butternut squash, on another other I roasted a mixture of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and onions. The egg casserole timer dings and I take that out. Bump the temperature up to 425 to roast the vegetables and throw both pans of veggies in at 425 and set the timer for 30 minutes.
The egg casserole is done and cooling, the soup is simmering on the stove and the veggies are in the oven. All that’s left is the Italian sausages. I quickly mix the ingredients together for those and cook them on a cast iron pan. The sausages are finishing just as the veggies are beeping. The veggies aren’t quite done yet so I set the timer for five more minutes and take the sausages off of the pan. Next the veggies come out and begin cooling. This gives me a chance to get back to the simmering soup. Per the recipe, some of veggies in the soup are pureed while the others are left whole so I use a ladle to scoop a 4-5 ladles worth of soup into the blender and blend until pureed. I throw the puree back in with the rest of the soup and add the spinach until the spinach is wilted and everything is blended together.
OK! You did it! This is the final stage now that everything is cooked and just needs to be packaged up for easy meals. I slice the egg casserole into 6 pieces and place into separate containers for easy to heat up meals in the morning. I put the sausage in one container to simply grab and reheat as needed. I put the roasted veggies in a few containers depending on what I have on hand (sometimes individual containers are nice to be throw into quick lunches to go). The soup gets stored in a big glass bowl in the fridge for easy stove top reheating.
Whew! Did I mention that this was also a good workout? You are so close at this point, just the clean up remains. Maybe you can recruit a willing child or spouse to help you out with this part but in my experience, it’s best to just tackle it right away to get that full feeling of accomplishment, instead of letting it wait for later and get harder to clean.
Now you can relax in knowing that you have several nutritious meals packaged up and ready to go for the next few days! Now you can get a few extra minutes of precious sleep in the morning and you will certainly avoid the fast food line at dinner!
Article by: Joelle Kurczodyna, NTP