Make Cooking for Your Family Easier

Cooking for your family can feel like a huge responsibility – I know because I have two young boys I want to make sure are eating healthy foods while also finding time for myself and my husband. To help, here are a few simple tricks.

1. Pack lunch while cleaning up dinner.
Busy life calls for multitasking, and also mindfulness. One way to get ahead of the morning rush and ensure that everyone has healthy lunch options is to organize and pack up lunches for tomorrow while cleaning up dinner.  Use leftovers for lunches the next day.  Pack leftover salad and main dish into individual containers and add to each lunch bag.  Then add fresh fruit, cut up veggies, granola bars, water, and all your other favorites and store in the fridge overnight.  When morning comes, you’re ready to go!  Here are more ideas that go beyond your Average School Lunch, Reboot Your Lunchbox, Home Cooked Meals, and Recipe Makeovers.

2. Customize family dishes by cooking in stages.
When cooking family meals there are usually numerous preferences and needs.  To accommodate everyone and make the process quicker, I like to pull out items in stages.  For example, my youngest has food allergies including dairy, and he’s sworn off beans lately (urgh) while my oldest is a vegetarian and loves beans of any kind. Let’s take one of our favorite weeknight meals, baked pasta with veggies.  Start with cooking whole grain pasta (we use quinoa) and figure out the protein you’d like to add. Once the pasta’s cooked and drained, add to a large bowl and mix in all your veggies, herbs and seasoning.  Then, spoon some pasta out into a separate bowl; I sometimes add grass-fed beef that I’ve already cooked for my youngest, place into a baking dish and pop into the oven. Next, add beans to the remaining pasta top with a bit of our favorite local, raw-milk cheese and bake in a larger container.  This way one meal can now be enjoyed in 2 different ways, but the overall process, prep and cook time is much simpler.

3. Looking for a lighter spin on pasta, try these awesome recipes.

Low-Carb Spinach Pesto Pasta Salad
Vegan, Noodle-Free Alfredo Zucchini Pasta
Sweet Lime Quinoa Pasta Salad

4. Sunday is “Everything in the Fridge” Juice Day.
Sunday mornings we love making our favorite cinnamon gluten-free waffles with a glass of fresh juice.  Since Sunday is my prep day for the week, I clean out the fridge.  Rather than compost leftovers or aging produce… I juice it.  I collect uneaten apple slices, carrots, berries or any other produce that finds its way back home in my kids’ lunch boxes.   I also collect bits and pieces of salads makings, like the ends of carrots, kale stalks and strawberry stems.  Come Sunday morning, I’ve got a bag full of fruits and veggies ready to juice along with some fresh produce. It’s easy and a great way to make the most of your produce.