“I just don’t have time” is always the response I get when I talk about how easy it is to cook nourishing foods at home without relying on prepared, packaged, or processed foods. And how it IS possible to find nourishing foods that even the pickiest eater will tuck into.
After my post yesterday, in which I relayed my rather strong feelings on how we should be eating, and the consequences we can expect when we repeatedly subject our body (and that of every member of our family) to inflammation, I thought I should maybe try to tackle this “I don’t have time” issue . . .
Here’s the thing. YOU DO HAVE TIME. I promise!
I know. You’re busy. I get it.
So . . . . how do you make more time?
Start by blocking off half an hour on Sunday. Preferably in the morning. Preferably when the whole family is home (this of course depends on the ages of your kids).
Go through your fridge – toss out anything that needs to go. And figure out what food you need to get you through the week. It’s at this time that I menu plan for the week – my kids both have lunch programs at their school, and the Husband and I eat salads each day for lunch – so I plan breakfast and dinners for the week. From there, I make a grocery list. Depending on what we’re having in a given week, I may schedule in a mid-week grocery shop as well. But since we’re in the dead of winter, there isn’t much exciting fresh produce in the stores, and I am happy to have frozen meat in the freezer for dinners (especially now that I have an InstantPot, but that’s a story for another day), I can go from Sunday night through Friday night with one grocery shop on Sunday. It’s at this point that the Husband usually heads out to the grocery store, but if that isn’t in the plan for the day, I have my list ready to go for Monday morning.
Once I have taken care of the food planning side of things, I tackle the calendar for the week. I make sure everyone knows if there’s something special going on that week – from field trips to appointments to nights the Husband will be working late.
Then I tackle the school bags. Since my kids are still young, I make sure that both their bags are emptied of garbage and any other detrius that accumulated during the week. I also make sure that they have everything in their bags that needs to be in there. As my son is getting older, I have him check his school schedule and help pack any gym clothes, winter clothes, or homework that he needs for the next day.
Next up is the activity bags. I get the dance, skating, swim and hockey bags ready for the week.
I also make sure that my purse is cleaned out, that my gym bag is ready to go, and that I have everything in order for my week.
I print out the charts for the week for the kids. (Sure, this may seem a bit tiger-mom-ish – but, most of the things on the charts are things they have to do anyway, like homework and practice piano. These charts simply transfer the responsibility to them to ensure that they get the work they need to get done, done. And if we get extra work done . . . well, then that’s just a bonus! I also sometimes add in incentives for them in case they want to do more work.)
And then I sit down to plan out my week, what things I want to get done and when I’m going to do them. I am absolutely LOVING using both my Powersheets and my Simplified Planner – between these two tools, I have been able to spend the last three weeks chipping away at my to-do’s and my goals, all without feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of my to-do list or my long-term goals.
Ok . . . I know what you’re going to say . . . but . . . YES, you can do all this in THIRTY minutes! You can take longer if you want . . . but it really can be done in just half an hour!
So, how does this save my sanity exactly? Well, first off, come tomorrow morning, when we’re jolted back to the reality of the work/school week, I know that at a minimum, the whole family is on the same page with breakfast, and there will be no last minute running around trying to find/pack what we need for the day! Repeat that for each day of the work week, and you’ll be amazed how much more relaxed you are!! When the mornings go well, the rest of your day seems to magically go well too . . .
I also know, come Monday morning, exactly how my week is going to work. I know that I won’t have to make unnecessary (and time-wasting) trips to the grocery store. I know that there will be no last-minute panics with the kids needing something. And I know what I can expect to get done each day. Of course, I also know where I have pockets of time to fit in anything unexpected that might come up during the course of the week.
And how does this mean we’re all nourished properly? Well, first off, by menu planning, I can see at a glance what our food intake for the week looks like – making sure we’re not eating too much of one thing, or too little of another. Secondly, I know what to take out of the freezer in the morning so I’m never caught at 5:00 with nothing to feed the family, and I’m never in a situation where I have to resort to eating out / packaged / processed / prepared food.
Sure, we have nights where we don’t get home until 5:30, and the kids are still young enough to need dinner at around 6. So on those nights, we have quick-to-prepare dinners – things like pasta sauce on quinoa pasta, or a meat that can be quickly grilled on the barbecue. And on those nights when we have more time at home, we can have dinners that take longer to cook – things like roast chickens.
Taking it one step further, I can also ensure that there are enough “intentional” leftovers that I have tasty things to throw in my lunchtime salads (I am quite certain that there is nothing better than left over roasted sweet potatoes in a salad . . . but that’s just my opinion).
We’re now so used to this routine, that the kids are taking part in the menu planning, and helping to cook the dinners as time allows. This is adding yet another layer to my sanity as dinner is taking less time to prepare at night, the kids are FAR more willing to eat what they’ve cooked, and we all have more time to do the things that we need/want to get done.
So . . . I know it’s now Sunday afternoon . . . but maybe try even just packing your kids’s or your own bags for tomorrow and making sure that you have everything you need for the week. See how even just that little change can make your weekdays go so much more smoothly . . .and if you can, add in the menu planning!
I promise, not only will you have some sanity back, you’ll also feel better from feeding yourself better!
(And of course . . . the real bonus . . . check out how your kids’ behaviour changes when they start eating more whole foods . . . yet another sanity saving tip!!)