I always say that one of the most influential aspect of my health is meal planning and prepping. It is funny how something so simple can really transform how you feel on a daily basis, especially if you build in time to make it happen every week. We like to keep it really simple in our house, and each week we prep and cook a color variety of vegetables, a few proteins, and a some grains. I like to grocery shop on Saturday morning, that way I can prep a little on Saturday afternoon while Parker is sleeping, and finish up on Sunday. This way things are less overwhelming, and I am not spending an entire Sunday cooking.
I have been reading Emily Ley’s A Simplified Life, and it has really prompted me to look at how I run our family’s day-to-day “stuff”, whether it is clutter in the house, dealing with toddler behavior, or mealtimes, which can be so challenging with a two year old. I love the wisdom Emily shares, and one of my favorite parts of her book is where she she shares a typical week of meal planning. This really inspired me to share what a typical week looks like in the Rosen household, as well as a mock grocery list with some of my fave items. It has taken me years of label reading to find these food brands with REAL ingredients, little to no added sugar, and tons of nutrition.
I love that Emily does a Pizza Party every week on the same day, and would love to do this as well. Perhaps a pizza party picnic on the floor of the living room? Maybe make your own pizza night with our fave Califlour Pizza crusts or whole wheat pizza dough from trader Joes? Or just ordering a freakin pizza ’cause momma is tired and the kitchen is already clean? I also LOVE that she designates a night each week for leftovers. Pure genius I tell ya. My husband lovingly calls this “Hodge-Podge” night. Take everything out of the fridge. Stick it in a bowl. Cover it in pesto, salsa, avo, etc.
As you can tell, I love options 🙂
A note about kid food: When I was pregnant with Parker, I vowed to be that Mom whose child would eat “everything we are eating for dinner” and no “special separate meals”. Ha! You naive little pre-parent Penny! How sweet. Right now Parker does get different food for dinner, while I always include one or two things from our dinner. For example, beets, some sort of fruit, a cracker of some sort, and cheese are always on the rotation. Then I will add salmon or ground turkey, whatever cooked veggie we are having, etc. to his plate. We try to give him a variety of items that make up a colorful plate. I will definitely write up a different post on how we feed Parker, but just wanted to give you an idea. Some nights he will eat an entire serving of salmon, some nights he whines and grumbles and gets a pouch of green beans + whatever other weird stuff they put in those things that gets him to eat his veggies. Remember, kids will never starve themselves.
I also try to make things really easy by cooking one thing in the oven (a sheet tray of veggies), one thing on the stove (pasta) and one thing in the instant pot (chicken). That way everything can cook at the same time and I am done. Also, Trader Joes has a ton of prepped veggies so sometimes that comes in handy when I do not want to spend the entire day cutting veggies.
OK, back to meal planning. Here is a typical week for us:
MONDAY: Almond flour chicken + veggies + quinoa
TUESDAY: Turkey tacos+ beans+ all the toppings (avo, cabbage, guac)
WEDNESDAY: Order in sushi (try to get brown rice instead of white + skip the fried stuff)
FRIDAY: Usually Shabbat dinner at the in-laws or a simple one pan dish like lasagna filled with all the veggies
SATURDAY: Dinner Out
SUNDAY: Chickpea pasta + pesto + veggies + turkey meatballs + big salad
SNACKS: I almost always make a few hardboiled eggs and a sweet treat like sweet potato snacking bread or paleo banana bread to have for the week. This saves me when I get that afternoon sweets craving or need a high protein snack when I am out and about with Parker.
This varies depending on where I shop, but here are some of the favorites I have designated the items that I can usually only find at Whole Foods (WF) or Trader Joes (TJs). I am still mostly gluten and dairy free, so I have added those items in here too.
Fruit: Bananas, organic berries (fresh and frozen), organic apples, melon, papaya. Wash an prep when you get home so fruit is always handy.
Veggies: Lettuce, cucumber, snap peas, carrots, zucchini, spaghetti squash, chard, kale, collard greens, onion, avocado, peppers. I rotate between all of this and stick to the clean fifteen or dirty dozen rules if I cannot find organic.
Dairy: Organic cheese sticks, Fourth & Heart Ghee (WF), Malk almond milk (WF), organic plain whole milk yogurt, organic cottage cheese, pasture raised eggs, CoYo coconut yogurt (WF), Kite Hill Cream Cheese (WF), Myokos mozarella (WF), Treeline Cheese (WF).
Meat/fish: Organic chicken (Costco), wild caught salmon if I can find it, wild caught smoked salmon (Costco), grassfed ground beef (WF), organic ground turkey (costco), sugar free turkey bacon (WF)
Grains/Pasta: quinoa, brown rice, EatBanza chickpea pasta (WF) or red lentil pasta (TJs) or brown rice pasta, Annies organic mac n’cheese (costoc or WF).
Canned: Organic full fat coconut milk, SafeCatch Tuna (WF)
Misc: BetterBeans (WF), vegan pesto (TJs), Raos tomato sauce (WF), olives, half sour pickles, Chosen Foods Mayo, Sir Kensington’s ketchup, Primal Kitchen salad dressings (WF), Siete chips (WF), Macro Bars or Square Bars, Pirates Booty cuz lord help us all if this is not in the house.
Baking: Almond flour, coconut flour, maple syrup, vanilla, almonds, cashews, dried fruit, Eating Evolved chocolate, coconut oil, Chosen foods avocado oil + avocado spray. I usually get all this from Costco/Trader Joes/Whole Foods. Try to get organic when possible. I am always stocked on this so I can whip up sweet treats when the craving hits!
Bread: Simple Kneads GF bread (from their website) or Canyon House GF bread, a local whole grain loaf (TJs), Barely bread (Kings).
I try to get the bulk of my items from Trader Joes or King Soopers, then only the specialty items at Whole Foods. This way things do not get crazy expensive. We also get our whole milk delivered from a local farm here, and I usually buy my chicken + turkey in bulk from Costco and then freeze it. Costco has an awesome assortment of organic items!
I hope this helps! If you are overwhelmed, try starting with one meal, for example, prepping a few lunches for the week or just two dinners. It took us awhile to find our groove when meal prepping, so you need to see what works for your family! Also, you do not need to cook every single thing on the weekend. Maybe prep some veggies so you can cook them later in the week, or marinate some chicken so you can stick it in the oven the next day. Remember, this should be SIMPLE AND EASY.