Back to school time means getting back into a routine. A great portion of our family’s eating for energy readiness strategy is meal planning and meal preparation. With both of my kids in sports and extracurricular activities along with my husband and my work schedules, I learned early on that having a plan is the best way to get through the week. Eating for energy is always my goal. I am trying to watch my weight and my kids are trying to fuel up for activity, so I try to accommodate everyone’s goals with my meal plans.
Pick a day of the week for meal preparation. For us, Sundays work best. Make a shopping list, download your digital coupons and head to Kroger to stock up. Prepare a few dinners and snacks and refrigerate or freeze them. We use a variety of new recipes and even some old favorites from family recipes, such as this spinach rice casserole from my Aunt Barbara. I also cut up veggies and prepare snack boxes. One of my favorite Sunday dinners is Slow Cooker pulled pork. I make enough for a couple of meals because it lasts for a few days in the fridge and can be put on hamburger buns, low carb tortillas, nachos or even a salad! It’s nice to have dinner ready after a full day in the kitchen and it smells great while it’s cooking.
What About Breakfast?
One of my favorite things to prepare ahead is breakfast. First I scramble eggs and pour them in muffin cups sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Then I put bacon slices on cookie sheets and bake everything in the oven on Convection Bake for about 15 minutes. While that is cooking, I toast bagel thins or whole wheat English Muffins. For those who like cheese, I place a thin slice of cheese on each bagel, put the egg cup on it and then add bacon strips. There are tons of variations of breakfast muffin cup recipes on Pinterest.
It’s OK to Modify Recipes
It’s OK to make modifications and experiment with recipes that you find online or in your heirloom cookbooks. I substitute applesauce for oil when I make brownies. I have been doing this since my kids were little and they do not know the difference. When they eat brownies made with oil they gag! For my aunt’s Spinach Rice Casserole that I mentioned earlier, I substitute the high fat cheeses for lower fat versions and I take out the butter altogether. I also add rice instead of flour. I let everyone add their own seasonings to taste so the recipe works for all palates. My husband likes spicy foods so he will usually add hot sauce or Siracha to his.
Don’t Forget Snacks
Most days my son wakes up at 6 am, goes to school and then immediately heads to baseball or football practice from 2:30 – 5:30 pm. Because he has a nut allergy, packing snacks can be challenging. Most days he brings an extra turkey sandwich in his lunch to eat later. He also brings chocolate milk and nut free snack bars. I try to keep a ‘walking salad’ ready for myself when my 3 pm craving starts. Most days, it’s carrots, cherry tomatoes and cubed low fat cheese in a sandwich bag. And my daughter swims so I pack her a snack box with diced low-fat turkey, cheese and crackers. For dessert, try a parfait with Kroger Chipmates and low fat vanilla yogurt. Your week will go easier with a fully stocked refrigerator to carry you and your family though their busy week. A few hours of preparation once per week will save you time, money and your sanity.