Finding time to eat better

Finding time to eat better

It’s amazing how you look back at life before one child and think, “What did I do with my day?!” Well, the feeling grows exponentially with the second!

With our first, we were both working full time and our evening routine consisted of rushing in the door, throwing together kid good, getting said kid washed and into bed, scarfing down something vaguely food related and collapsing into bed. The second time around I was determined to avoid this. I’m an organized person. Really, I am. Sudden changes to routine send me into a tailspin. Ask my husband how many times I check with him to be sure he’s picking up the kids! Changes to the routine equals bouts of anxiety quickly escalating into panic. Seriously, don’t mess.

Over the past three months of maternity leave I felt like I gained a lot of traction in organizing our lives. It was complete chaos most of the time but the last few weeks we had full cupboards, healthy meals (albeit from a relatively limited menu) and clean clothes the vast majority of the time. I remembered why I enjoy cooking so much and took pride in our new house , actually having time to keep up with most (ok, some) chores. Facing the end of leave, I was living in abject fear. Let’s just say I have a hard time giving up control. There, I said it.

I couldn’t fathom spending one minute away from my not-so-tiny babe and my precocious two-year-old, let alone commuting for the first time in two years. Anxiety induced paranoia? Check. Floods of tears? Check. Begging to stay home even though I knew I’d be miserable and it would be fiscally impossible? Check. Week two and I’m totally better. I didn’t actually burst into tears upon leaving my kids in the hands of my mother, who lives roughly three minutes from work and feeds me lunch (when I stop in to check on the kids) while also delivering said kids to my doorstep at least once during the day. Yep, SO much better. You get the picture.

Anyway, one way we have introduced some sense of sanity (because clearly I have none) is through a nifty service we saw online and decided to give a whirl. Blue Apron is a game changer. Not only do they deliver delicious and easy recipes to your door, they’re healthy too! What’s better than fresh ingredients and fun recipes that encourage you to try new things?

Also, they’ve recently upgraded their menus so now you can more accurately select the types of foods you enjoy and opt out of foods you don’t eat. Can it get any easier?

Ok, so it might be slightly more expensive than your average home cooked meal but I believe you make up for that in lack of waste. I mean, how often do you need a head of red cabbage or an entire jicama? Most of the ingredients are readily found in most grocery stores so if we like a recipe we just buy the basic ingredients and recreate it on our own.

So now, three nights a week we have meals planned. We wing the rest but have rediscovered our love of cooking. New ingredients, new recipes…and it’s relatively brainless time we can spend together when we are burnt out at the end of a long day. We just have some fun and eat a great meal, together. Hard to pass that up!

A few of our favorites:
Kumquat lime glaze over chicken with a side of freekah with Brussel sprouts, mint and almonds.

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Chicken potstickers.

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Shortrib burger on a pretzel bun with sweet potato chips.

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Turkey with lemon caper sauce over mashed potato and roasted broccoli.

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Why I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s.

Parenthood is stressful. That’s a no brainer. So when something comes along that can simplify your life, you jump on it. Right?

One of my biggest concerns has always been ensuring my kids get a good meal. I try hard not to let them eat too many processed foods and as a result, we’ve been buying better products for the entire family. I can’t see this as a problem, except for one thing. The cost.

Purchasing organic produce and products that adhere to a higher standard comes at a high dollar value. Not only that but you can spend hours in the grocery store reading labels in order to make good food choices. It’s exhausting and parenting is challenging enough as it is!

Stores like Trader Joe’s try to take the guess-work out of the equation. In not expecting perfection but it’s a huge relief to know that whatever winds up in my cart is something I am comfortable buying for my family. Their prepared foods are delicious and I’ve always been satisfied with the quality of their products. All that comes with reasonable prices! Not only reasonable but often at much lower prices than I’d pay elsewhere.

The bottom line is TJ tries hard to supply great food. I’ve become a total convert and wish we had one close to us. Maybe someday soon a store will come to our area…until then I’ll just stock up whenever I can!

Maybe I’ll send in a few dozen location requests in the meantime. ;-).

Toddler Meals

Toddler Meals

Between teething, emerging personalities and learning new tastes and textures it’s always a struggle to find easy to prepare foods that are healthy and relatively quick and simple. Most of my attempts to disguise veggies in Lena’s favorite foods, she never fails to find me out!

Cauliflower hidden in mac n’ cheese completely failed. She literally spent 30 minutes picking out the pasta and removing every last trace of the offending veg.
Healthy quesadillas were a favorite for a while but are no longer an options (perhaps the texture with her sore teeth). Grilled chicken was a huge part of most meals but now she barely touches the stuff.

I’m sure that some of these changes can be attributed to her little brain learning to manipulate us, but I also think she’s craving more variety and new tastes.

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Tofu pups, peas, corn, veggie pouches, oatmeal, pasta (of any sort usually), almost any fruit, beans, yogurt etc. are all still on the menu but I’m quickly running out of options to spice things up. Even the always coveted cheerios are off the current list! Meal times are always a challenge because we literally arrive home from work and start throwing together leftovers or something quick and easy to cook.

What are your kids eating?

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