With the kids back in school, it’s tempting to sacrifice health for convenience. But with hectic schedules there is no better time than now to be planning ahead when it comes to your real food meals. Studies show the fastest path to a healthy family food culture is planning! So today, I’m sharing a fantastic resource (that I know many of you already use and love) to help you along the way.
photo by www.trentlanz.com
The Fresh 20, started by my friend (and fellow mother) Melissa, is a meal planning service that helps take the guesswork out of what to have for dinner. You’ll love that it’s based around just 20 fresh ingredients, ensuring that there is not a lot of waste or unused items. Each Friday you’ll receive a meal plan via email along with a shopping list and prep ahead tips for 5 dinner recipes. You shop and chop and prepare to whatever extent you desire – our team member Kiran recently did a review of the service and ended up preparing 2 meals during the weekend since she knew she’d have very busy days in the beginning of the week. Or you can just do each day’s “prep work” (which is pretty minimal) as needed. The Fresh 20 is very much in line with our real food “rules,” and has been a long-time partner of ours. Continue Reading »
It’s no surprise we are fans of meal planning services. And that’s because one of the biggest challenges of eating real food is being prepared and planning ahead – so why not have someone else do the planning work for you?
Having a set meal plan for the week along with a coordinating (printable) shopping list can make eating real food a possibility for everyone, regardless of how busy you are. So we are excited to introduce our sponsor Cook Smarts, which at the core, is a meal planning service, but also one who provides valuable cooking information that can educate you and empower you in the kitchen along the way.
Their service provides what you would expect – a weekly meal plan and shopping list. But what’s really unique about Cook Smarts is that they truly want to teach you how to cook as well. Their website is loaded with cooking tutorials (including videos), which for many of us can be really helpful! Like this Produce Prep Cooking Guide (pictured to the right). Who knew that microwaving a butternut squash 3 to 5 minutes would soften the skin – or that you could do this a ahead of time?!
As you gear up for new school schedules, it’s a great time to get organized in the real food department as well. So we have some fun offers for you today from my friend – the very talented Carrie Vitt with Deliciously Organic! She’s offering our readers two very special deals – one is on her beautiful cookbook (that uses only unprocessed ingredients) combined with 6 months of meal plans, the other is on her weeknight “Real Food, Real Fast” meal plan combined with some fall recipes and holiday menus. The details on the two different packages are below…
There is no doubt that the key to sticking to a real food diet is planning ahead. I like to call it “making your own convenience food.” Just imagine all those busy weeknights out at a late dance class or nighttime soccer practice and not having to worry about dinner (or resorting to the drive through) because you planned ahead. That’s what it’s all about!
So today I am here to introduce you to the Once a Month Mom (OAMM) website, which has taken planning ahead to a whole new level. OAMM offers meal plans where you can literally spend one day a month cooking and have enough food for weeks to come. We didn’t want to just take their word for it though so Kiran from our 100 Days of Real Food Team – who has 4 kids ages 9 and under by the way! – agreed to put the OAMM plan to the test for this sponsored post today. So I am super excited to share with you everything you could ever want to know from our very own first-hand “freezer cooking” experience!
By Kiran Dodeja Smith, 100 Days of Real Food Team
When Once a Month Mom was introduced to me, I was intrigued, to say the least. Cook just once a month and have your meals freezer ready for 4 weeks? It sounded too good to be true.
After signing up for a month, I watched this video in hopes that it would give me some insight as to how I would proceed. I then chose between 7 different plans; my choice was Whole Foods (not to be confused with the store – no correlation, actually, it’s just a plan with whole foods incorporated within).
How It Works
The directions seemed fairly straightforward: You get Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner recipes to last throughout the month. When it’s all said and done, I’d have 6-10 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 14 dinners. Sure; still sounded good to me. But what about the cooking part?
I started by looking at the menu for the month I was signed up for. In all honesty, while I’m open to new recipes, my kids are somewhat creatures of nature. Knowing them, I know that I can get away with different breakfast foods on the weekend but serving up something completely different during the week may not fly for them. So I opted to slightly tailor the menu by making the suggested Quinoa Carrot Breakfast Bars (a breakfast dish) to send to school in their lunches. I also made the Sun-dried Tomato and Sausage Egg Cupcakes (a breakfast) for use as lunch as opposed to the Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole Cups (a lunch). And last I decided not to make one of the suggested breakfasts (Slow Cooker Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats). For me, tailoring it to what I think will work for us and also trying to add some newness is key. To sum it up, with my changes I had 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch (I opted out of 3 others), 6 dinners and 5 “Add Ons” on the forefront to cook all in one day. Yikes.
Next I dove into some of the incredibly organized resources on OAMM by going over to the Recipe Cards. Members can adjust servings per meal (needed in my case) and also get directions for freezing (also needed for me).
The directions are outstanding. You are told exactly what to do the day before (chopping), if meat is needed to be cooked/thawed, etc. But never having done this before I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was feeling so overwhelmed with what was up and coming. Continue Reading »
“Real Food” Meal Plan #5 is finally finished! This particular meal plan utilizes fall produce that’s available at some farmers’ markets this time of year. The first four meal plans – including spring and summer – are available on our facebook page, but I’ve decided to make this one available to email subscribers only (see instructions below). These meals plans are incredibly detailed so I’ve only been able to crank out a new one every few months or so. But if you’re looking for some inspiration on a more regular basis then be sure to check out our sponsor, The Fresh 20. They offer new dinner meal plans weekly including vegetarian and gluten-free options!
As always, this is what you’ll find with my meal plans:
One 7-day practical “real food” menu plan designed for busy families
Complete meals listed each day for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner with leftovers incorporated Continue Reading »
You asked and I listened…here’s yet another free “real food” meal plan! This one utilizes produce that’s typically in-season during the summer months, and since so many of you have your own garden you have yet another cost-saving opportunity when stocking up for this meal plan. Creating these plans is rather labor-intensive though so I can only do it every so often. If you’d love to get some guidance on a more regular basis please check our sponsor, The Fresh 20, who cranks out new and creative meal plans on a weekly basis (including vegetarian and gluten-free options)!
As always, this is what you’ll find with the “100 Days of Real Food” meal plans:
One 7-day practical “real food” menu plan designed for busy families
Complete meals listed each day for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner with leftovers incorporated
Food quantities calculated for a family of four
Corresponding grocery list showing what to buy in order of the store and actual cost for each item (as opposed to the price per serving) with seasonal ingredients highlighted so they can be purchased from the local farmers’ market if desired