Real Food, Real Busy
How to get real food on the table every night
I get it, you’re busy. The last thing you want to do when you finally get home from work is to cook dinner from scratch. But in your mind, you know that it’s so much better for you, your family, the budget and your health.
I know that after a long day at work that standing and making dinner can feel like a chore. But I don’t exactly have a choice. I have a lot of food allergies and have been working super hard to heal my gut. This means that everything I eat is made by me, from scratch. I can’t cheat and pick up something from the frozen entree section at the store or stop at a restaurant. Seem like a lot of work? It is, but for me home cooked food is a top priority.
So how do I juggle a farm, another job, a home and still have dinner on the table every night? Here’s how:
Stock your Pantry and Freezer
With a well stocked pantry and freezer you are only limited by your imagination. It also means you won’t have to stop at the store every night.
Look into buying in bulk- it’s often a better deal (especially for locally raised meat) and you won’t run out as often.
I like to set some time aside before grocery shopping day and pick out a few recipes that I want to make in the upcoming two weeks. While most of my recipes just use the basic staples I already buy, it’s always good to double check that I have everything on hand.
Your system can be as fancy or as simple as you want. Personally, I scribble a few main dishes on a post it note and call it a day.
Something that might help you plan is to have a theme for each day of the week, then you keep the theme but change what you make:
Monday- Breakfast for Dinner
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Grocery Lists and Shopping
-I keep a note pad in the kitchen handy for when I’m cooking. When I notice that I’m running out or low of something it gets added to the list for the next trip to the store. Most of the time this saves me from running out of something in the middle of a recipe
- While I’d love to say that I shop at the farmer’s market every week, it isn’t an option September through March. Buying frozen vegetables saves the washing and chopping you would have with fresh produce.
- I have a dedicated evening set aside just for grocery shopping (Friday evening in case you were wondering.) and we only go every other week. To further streamline, we only make two stops. If something is specialized and I can’t get it in my little backwater then I order it from Thrive. Hit the link to get 25% off your first order and I get $25 too!
Finding Time to Cook
I usually try to do the bulk of my cooking on the weekends. Then I freeze some for later and we spend the first part of the week living off leftovers. Towards the end of the week I can either thaw something from the freezer or I plan an easy weeknight dinner.
For my husband and I, I make 1-2 main dishes plus a big pot of soup. Some of the soup is always frozen and if I make a casserole I make enough for 2 meals plus extra to freeze.
I am a HUGE fan of cooking once and eating multiple times.
Set some time aside after going to the grocery store to do a little prep. If you bought a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables take the time to wash them now and peel and chop.
I eat breakfast once I get to work and don’t have time to cook in the mornings. I make a big batch of muffins and breakfast sausage and freeze them. When I make my lunch in the morning I just add muffin and sausage and heat at work.
Lunches are leftovers from dinner we pack up to take to work.
Time Saving Appliances
Hands down, favorite wedding present has got to be my Instant Pot. I can cook soup in 30-45 minutes, potatoes for baked or mashed in less than 10 minutes, and bone broth is under 3 hours.
I can toss everything in the pot, walk away and not have to worry about stirring or burning dinner.
Crock pots (Instant Pot can double as one) are great because you can prep dinner before you get your day started and come home to a hot dinner.
In case of Emergency
No matter how much you plan, something will happen and throw all those nice plans out of the window. On those nights my husband has frozen pizza. But, since that’s not an option for me, here’s what I have as a back up:
So there you have it, my top tips on how to get real food on the table. I know it’s not always easy and you won’t always want to, but it does get easier.
And the more good food you cook at home, the less eating out appeals to you or tastes as good. Why go out and over pay for bad food when you can make it at home for less money, better ingredients and more flavor?
Lastly, give yourself grace. It won’t happen overnight, but with time and practice you’ll get there.
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