Family Meal Planning Made Simple

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Photo by Goodhousekeeping

How do y’all feel about Meal Planning? Helpful? Does it simplify your weekday? I hope so! The goal of meal prep or batch cooking on Sunday is to make it easier for you and your family to enjoy foods you LOVE.

We are coming off a whole week of celebrating the hell out of my birthday over here. Plus savoring Valentines Day AND an extra long Presidents’ Day weekend {Woo Hoo!!}. If there was ever a day for meal planning, and getting our green party act together, it’s today! HOORAY!

After enjoying a celebration or a holiday, I’m always super excited to get back to my routine in the kitchen. I equate returning to our “clean-ish diet” and wellness focused lifestyle to returning home from a nice vacation.

Vacation is fun and exciting, but I’m always happy to get back home! Coming home to health is simply the best y’all!!!

The thing with “health”, is there is not an end goal! You never cross the finish line. Health is fluid and moves with you as your life changes.ย  Your body actually craves balance {and health} and works towards finding it naturally! Listen to your body, and you will find your health waiting for you with a nice warm, welcoming hug!ย 

Batch Cooking, and prepping ingredients makes it easier to return “home to health”. When you have healthy options at home you are less likely to head for fast food or order pizza.ย 

So let’s talk smart strategy! My version of meal prep does not include cooking one meal and individually portioning it into five containers for the week. I don’t know about you, but no one in my family will down the same salmon & green bean combo all week! Variety is the spice of life, and a variance of veggies & protein is so good for your gut! And your sanity! ๐Ÿ™‚

Caprese Roasted Asparagus - Climbing Grier Mountain

Prepping Ingredients for a Successful Week

  • Pick Your Protein: Pick three options to shop & serve per week. When I buy fresh fish I like to prepare and eat it the same day. So I usually serve fish for dinner on my shopping day. {Here’s my favorite way to serve fish}.

    Chicken and meat are more forgiving so I tend to roast or bake in advance (like Sunday) and keep protein in Pyrex containers for easy, mid week meals! Chicken legs are a big hit with our kids so I try to keep drumsticks ready for meals and snacks. **Zia asked for one in her school lunch last week! {WHAT~!} Hard boiled eggs and tuna and salmon salad make the easiest bases for lunch!

This Paleo and Whole30 grilled marinated flank steak will become your go-to recipe to top salads or serve with your favorite grilled veggies and potatoes. The marinade comes together in a blender and can be boiled into a sauce to serve with the steak. Gluten free, refined sugar free, soy free, dairy free.
Photo by Paleo Running Mama
  • Select Your Veggies: Pick 2-3 raw, 2 for salad and 2 to roast

    A) Raw {crunchy} options for family lunches and snacks. Our rotation consists of Carrots, Celery, Persian Cucumbers, Jicama, Cherry Tomatoes, Broccoli, and Sweet Bell Peppers.
    B) Fresh spinach for smoothies like this one!
    C) A mix of lettuce for salads. We love Arugula, Endive, Microgreens and the kids like romaine boat salad. This is one of my fav lunch time salads!
    D) Veggies to Saute or Roast. Our go-to’s are Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Asparagus, Mushrooms, Cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts

    ****Fearful about throwing out a fridge full of expired veggies? You’re in luck! When you prep and cook your veggies in advance, you actually extend the shelf life! Leaving more time to create meal time bowls and yummy side dishes before your veggies expire. Here’s the general veggie prep method I use.
Veggie Prep Saute Roast @ 425 w/ Avo Oil S&P
Asparagus5-7 Minutes15 Minutes
Peppers 6 Minutes10 Minutes
Green Beans5-7 Minutes
Grape Tomatoes 5 Minutes
Cauliflower or Broccoli Florets12 Minutes20 Minutes
Halved Mushrooms12 Minutes25 Minutes
Kale or Spinach2 Minutes10 Minutes
Sweet Potato Toast30ish Minutes (flip half way through)
  • Prep Your Grains: Left over grains can last the entire week so double up! Make a batch of quinoa, lentils, rice or farro on Sunday and keep your grains for salads and bowls all week!

  • Freezer & Pantry Winners:
    Pack your freezer with extra protein you can thaw for easy family meals. It often saves money and time! I freeze fish fillets, ground beef and ground chicken for taco night. I also freeze grass fed sirloins, chicken breasts and turkey burgers for satisfying grilled meals. Frozen veggies like frozen peas, frozen broccoli & edamame can be sauteed in the wok in minutes. Keep your pantry stocked with meal time saviors like canned beans, pasta, noodles, rice and taco shells. Read this for more pantry ideas.

  • Dressings & Sauces:
    Dressings and marinades can really elevate a basic chicken breast! Tesse Mae’s makes the best clean marinades and dressings. My favorite flavors are Green Goddess and Lemon Garlic. The kids love Avocado Ranch! Making your own dressing for the week is seriously simple too. It usually only requires olive oil, vinegar, herbs, spices and a blender! For something spicy, whisk together equal parts of EVOO, and Apple Cider Vinegar with 2 tsp honey and 2 TB sriracha! So easy!
    Chimichurri is also great to have on hand for steak night!
Sheet pan with roasted cauliflower and chickpeas topped with cilantro.
Photo by Eating Bird Food

My last tip is to think beyond food!!

Sit and enjoy your meal with people you care about! Sharing a meal is one of the most important mental health aspects of food, and it has nothing to do with it’s nutrients.

When we sit down for a “family” meal, what ever family means to you, that’s when the magic happens. The Europeans are on to something!

If you are looking for tips on how to integrate Family Dinner into your home routine, read my Guide To Family Dinner! If you want to work together to come up with a meal prep strategy that works for your family and your lifestyle send me an email! I’d love to help you feel more at ease about your health.

XOXO

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Cortney

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Welcome to Happy Dinner! Iโ€™m Cortney, a Holistic Health Coach, wellness entrepreneur, wife and Mama of two, here to make holistic health simple and engaging!

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