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Sometimes, the question of, “what’s for dinner?!” makes me cringe. Usually, it’s because it’s at the end of a work day, which means my second job of wife/mom/chef/maid/live in assistant/etc. has begun. If you’re overloaded with daily tasks and fall short on time, this article is for you – busy mommas balancing work, family and dinner time (supper for some of you – ha!)! We need all the help we can get sometimes! This is just another tool for your toolbox 🙂
By simplifying your diet, you are able to simplify your schedule. Within this article we’ll cover:
- how migrating to a whole food plant-base diet can simplify your grocery list and meal prep
- how to maximize the use of a weekly meal plan to stay organized and simplify your schedule
- my secret to making it all happen without costing me any time. Keep reading for more!
Before I begin, this article is not around the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Although there are many, that is out of my wheelhouse to discuss. However, a quick Google or Pinterest search on ‘whole food plant-based diets’ will bring you to an array of literature. I highly recommend reading as much as you can! I made the switch when I was pregnant with my son and I cannot say enough about the benefits that I have experienced. Although I’m not 100% vegan with my diet, I’ve seen great benefits in greatly reducing the animal products that I consume.
Also, I want to explain, when I use the term ‘diet’ I am referring to the noun not the verb. As in, this is the diet I eat, not ‘I am on a diet’. I just wanted to clarify, this is not a trend-type diet but a lifestyle change. **stepping down from soap box**
For starters, what is a whole food plant-based diet and how can it simplify your life?
- Whole food describes natural foods that are not heavily processed. That means whole, unrefined, or minimally refined ingredients.
- Plant-based means food that comes from plants and doesn’t contain animal ingredients such as meat, milk, eggs, or honey.
In essence, you’re eating REAL food.
When you look at a grocery store, it is recommended to shop on the outskirts of the store and avoid those middle aisles. The middle aisles are where you find boxed/canned everything, etc. This ‘food’ is extremely processed and packaged with things you don’t want or need in your body. These foods are an extreme sacrifice for the little nutritional content provided. On the outer skirts of the store is where you’ll find the produce section, which contains the base for this diet, as well as the freezer section (lots of quick ‘go to’s’ here).
Think fruits, vegetables, tubers (potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.), whole grains and legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.). Most likely, your family is already consuming almost all of these items, usually paired with a meat (i.e. meat and potatoes).
Making the change
Transitioning to this diet is reducing the amount of animal protein consumed and replacing it with more plant-based ingredients. This really isn’t difficult and the growing interest and products in the marketplace make it even easier. For example, a quick go to in my household is a sheet pan with vegan ‘chicken’ tenders and sweet potato fries. Pop it in the oven and, in less than 30 minutes, I have a meal from freezer to plate. No, I’m not a perfect raw vegan with a self-sustaining garden in my backyard (although, a girl can dream!). I’m realistic and flexible because that’s what life calls us to be sometimes! The goal is to just reduce the animal-based products in some form or fashion.
So how does a plant-based diet simplify things?
Well, guess what takes forever to prepare? The MEAT!! There are usually multiple steps – thaw, marinate, season, cook, wash everything because using the same utensils can make you sick….oh, and then you make your sides! It’s just a whole process to itself. Not only does cutting out the meat prep decrease your meal prep time, but a plant-based diet is super easy to prepare!
Let’s use stir fry as an example.
- start cooking rice
- put bag of frozen stir fry veggies into pan and start heating
- top with a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil (my fav)
- plate the rice, top with stir fry mixture and enjoy!
Ladies, this is a 15 minute meal. And there are a number of quick meals like this. For instance, I give myself 30 minutes MAX for meal prep. I have an hour commute to and from work, I work full-time and I have an adorable toddler, who I miss, dearly, all day. I’m not spending my precious time cooking all evening! For this reason, I avoid any sort of recipe that is multiple steps and really in depth, unless it’s being planned for the weekend. I haven’t starved yet so there are plenty of meal options available! Think spaghetti squash and an easy homemade sauce. Throw on some black beans or, if you have time, make meatless ‘meat’ balls (also available in the freezer section)…dinner is done!
No more falling into the infamous ‘meal rut’!
You may be at a loss for ideas in the beginning but Pinterest is overloaded with quick plant-based meals. Another awesome resource is YouTube. Is anyone else mesmerized by someone else cooking?! I’ve always loved cooking channels. Weird? Maybe. Anyway, back on track. Veganism and plant-based diets are really on the rise so the resources are growing exponentially. The thing to keep in mind is keep all changes bite-size(pun intended). For instance, if I don’t have time to make my salsa…I’m buying salsa. Stay realistic so that you set yourself up for success. To me, the worst thing I could have done is cleaned all processed food out of my house and started 100% from scratch. I would have failed and possibly starved. Slow and steady has maintained and progressed the lifestyle for me.
Want some more information? Here are some of the best selling plant-based books and cook books, packed with additional information.
Simplify your schedule by meal planning.
The second leg to this article is simplifying your schedule by meal planning. I do this within my household binder by keeping a full list of meals my family likes. This can get really basic, like down to ‘pizza night’. This doesn’t need to be anything more than a brainstorming list to use as a reference later. Having this in my household binder means I can add and edit anytime and always have it handy. Then, once a week, I meal plan for the upcoming week(s). This usually occurs Sunday evening. I quickly pull from the list of meals and sketch out a rough plan of what I’ll make that week. Presto, I have a meal plan and am able to shop accordingly.
By keeping the last few weeks of meal plans, you’re able to avoid falling into the dreaded ‘meal rut’, where you make the same 7 meals on repeat. Anyone know what I’m talking about?
Invest just a little time doing this and it will save you time and brain cells later on! This does not need to be anything extensive. I’m talking 15 minutes while you watch TV. Just make sure you do it! This helps a ton when it comes to thinking through my schedule for the week ahead. For instance, I just know that I don’t cook on Monday’s. I just can’t. It’s the first day back to work for the week and I’m already drained. Therefore, I know to prep extra on Sunday night to carry over to Monday.
By meal planning, I know what I’m walking into for the week and this takes a huge load off of my shoulders and puts dinner time into automation, which allows me to spend guilt-free time with my family with less distractions of what I have to do next.
The secret to saving time every week!!
Last, the secret to keeping me sane during the week! If you’ve read my household management article then you already know this golden tip: using grocery pick up!!!
I know, I’m really excited about this. If you haven’t started using grocery pickup in your area then you are missing out! I save at least an hour, possibly two, EACH week by using this option. This service is gaining in popularity and almost everywhere has this option. You download the app, add grocery and household items to the cart, reserve a pick up time and that’s it. You show up, they load your car, and you drive away! It’s that easy. I don’t even get out of my vehicle until I’m home and ready to unload.
Reasons I love grocery pick up:
- I know I’m saving money. When I walk through a store, I’m liable to grab things off of the shelf that I, definitely, don’t need. Anyone else guilty of this? By ordering groceries online, I see the cart total, which makes me accountable for where my dollars are going. With an easy ‘remove’ function you can better manage your total.
- It makes me plan my meals. There’s nothing worse than walking through the grocery store hungry or with no meal plans in mind. When I used to do this I would spend way more money and leave with a hodgepodge mess of foods and still have no idea what I should make for dinner. This was always very frustrating.
- The time savings are invaluable! It’s not that I mind going grocery shopping it’s just not how I want to spend my time. Especially when my time with my family is so limited. This enables me to spend more of that precious time how I want!
There you have it, three ways to simplify your diet and simplify your schedule. If you want more information on migrating to a plant-based diet, checkout the Plant Based News YouTube channel. They’re always featuring studies, personal testimonies and clips of the latest documentaries. I hope you found these tips helpful and have a new game plan to better organize your time and efforts. Sometimes redirecting our efforts can save a LOT of time in the long run! Happy learning! And, remember, YOU are a lady well-loved.
Photo Credit to: Food photo created by prostooleh – www.freepik.com