Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Busy Paleo Mom Go-To Meals

Today, chatting with a co-worker, I briefly lamented the end (or, to be more optimistic, the gap) in my days of challenging recipes, with long ingredient lists and tons of prep.  It was fun, it was a creative outlet for me, and it was always such a huge sense of accomplishment and pride when something I created out of thin air turned out great.  I think someday I'll get back there, but for now, I have to be a little more efficient with my time.  I can't spend an hour (or more) preparing something for just myself and my husband.  Not when there are three other little mouths that all need to eat in a small window of time.

Over the weekend, we were lucky enough to have some cousins in from Chicago that graciously spent an entire day with us at the house, helping with the kiddos, having dinner, making us feel unhurried and content to be at home.  It was lovely.  My cousin asked about dinner times, and did we ever wait until the kids were in bed to sit down and have a meal, just Mike and I.  That sounds lovely, in theory, but in practice is just not feasible.  By the time everyone is down for the night it might be 830, and to then have to sit down and eat, and then clean up, well it might be 10 o'clock before you're done in the kitchen.  And that's assuming dinner is ready and waiting once the kids are in bed.  Just doesn't work out for me- not when my alarm goes off at ten to 5 in the morning, 7 days a week.  So that means you have to get smart about meals, and have a good list of quick, easy, and satisfying meals at the ready.  These are just my humble suggestions:

  • As I've said, a big garbage salad, with leftover veggies and two proteins.  If this is your meal I believe that an avocado and TWO proteins is a necessity.  My favorite salad dressing at the moment is just Bragg's ACV and some EVOO and himalayan sea salt and pepper.  Throw in any leftover veggies you have, and some jarred veggies like artichokes, peppers, and capers, and you have a great salad in under a minute.
  • Chicken sausages and roasted veggies.  The sausages are pre-cooked so don't need to cook for ages in the oven.  Put your sausages on a sheet, and cauli or broccoli on another with some salt, garlic powder, and olive oil, and roast everything at 425 for 25 minutes and you are good to go.
  • Smoked oysters and avocado.  Slice your avocado, throw in your smoked oysters (or trout) and you have a filling meal in just seconds.  
  • Organic, uncured hot dogs have saved the day on more than one occasion
  • Tuna in olive oil is a great protein to have on hand- open the can and toss with greens, a squeeze of lemon, some capers, and maybe some defrosted green beans and you again, have an easy salad in no time.
  • Organic chicken thighs and mashed cauli.  Drizzle raw chicken thighs with some balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and bake at 425 for 20 minutes or so.  While the chicken is cooking throw some steam-in-a-bag cauli in the microwave and cook until tender.  Use your stick blender and toss in some kerrygold and you have mashed cauli in less time than it takes to cook the chicken.  
  • Organic, grassfed burgers from the freezer section are so great to have on hand.  Add a slice of tomato and a pickle and you're done!  
  • Cooked shrimp in the freezer only needs to be submerged in a bowl of cold water to thaw.  Shrimp is super versatile- you can throw it on a salad, some zucchini noodles, gluten free pasta if that's your thing, or just enjoy on their own with a side of veggies.  
  • I always always always have a large stash of frozen veggies on hand.  A package of fire roasted peppers in the frozen and some ground meat and seasonings and you have a meal in no time- with hardly any dirty dishes to boot!  Cook your ground meat, throw in your still frozen peppers, and you are done in 15 minutes.
  • Eggs. Bacon.  Duh.  If you are feeling adventurous add some spinach or asparagus (from the freezer of course) and you've got a fancy breakfast-for-dinner.  
While this certainly isn't an exhaustive list, it is good starting place.  The single most important part is having a well-stocked freezer.  I've said time and time again, yes, fresh is always better.  But in a pinch, if you have some good proteins waiting for you in the freezer, and you can think ahead and have them defrosted, you will have a good meal at your fingertips any night of the week.  I am not super into meal planning or menu planning- we've all seen the instagram pics of people's precious menus for the week written in chalk on their darling little chalkboard walls, that's just not me.  But if you can take two seconds on Sundays and throw some proteins into a defrost bowl in the fridge, you'll be so glad you did.  

I sure hope this is helpful!  Just remember to stock your kitchen with some basics, avocados, canned tuna and oysters, some basic proteins, and plenty of frozen veggies and you have an almost endless variety of quick meals.  No, they aren't the most creative, but they are tasty and healthy.  Enjoy!

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