4 Steps to Sanity At Dinner Time For Busy Moms

Byline: Heather Rampolla

4STEPSTOSANITYATDINNERTIMEI’ve noticed that most moms struggle at dinner time. It makes sense. When dinner time rolls around your brain is likely fried after working all day. Having to decide “what’s for dinner?” (once again) can create a lot of stress.

Add to it the struggle of picky eaters, it’s no wonder that we often revert to something convenient versus something healthy.

Follow these 4 steps to keep your sanity and eat healthy during dinner time.

4 Steps to Sanity At Dinner Time For Busy Moms

Step 1: Have A Simple Plan

Remember that phrase, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly)? This applies to creating meal plans, too.

Some of us have an aversion to being in the kitchen. If this is you, it’s okay! Having a meal plan doesn’t require you to be a Martha Stewart type. Rather, having a plan is super smart if you don’t favor being in the kitchen.

I like to keep things ultra simple for this never ending chore of making dinner. Having a simple meal plan allows me to spend more time with those I love or doing something I enjoy.

Amy Wright, creator of The Mom CEO Sanity Renewal System, and mother of four, recommends a great resource to her busy clients:

“If you can’t hire a personal chef, then use emeals.com

Meal plans start at $5 per month and offer weekly plans according to your eating preferences, including paleo, clean eating, or vegetarian.

Step 2: Be In The Moment

The truth is that you spend more time preparing your food than you do sitting together at the table eating it. If you’re not aware, you often finish eating before you have the opportunity to enjoy this precious time (and then it’s off to the next task – clean up!).

As a busy mom, you’re going so fast… and our job is never really done. But this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the moments together as a family.

I love the suggestion from Nina Manolson, Holistic Health Coach,  and mother of two:

“Create a 2 minute ritual to pause in silent meditation before eating.”

This simple ritual creates the intention of, “this is family dinner time” and reminds us that this is a sacred space of nourishment.

Step 3: Put The Veggies Out

When I help moms, they often express to me their desire to eat healthy and also the guilt they struggle with for not serving healthy options. Here’s the dealio… put the veggies out and stop beating yourself up about not being a good parent!

Be prepared that the family might not be excited about change. Change can be scary, right? Let them know veggies at dinner is the new norm, but also reassure them that this doesn’t mean the end to the foods they know and love.

And mom, make sure to be consistent with adding in new veggies. If you haven’t been consistent in the past, expect the family to rebel. This negative behavior has served them previously because it got you to cave in on these healthy changes.  Stay consistent and soon they will stop with any complaints.

Step 4: Don’t Take it Personally

Presenting dinner is often done as act of service for those we love. Kids (and partners) usually aren’t aware of the thought and effort that goes into planning and preparing meals.

If the family is not hungry or doesn’t like the options served that night, remember not to force them to finish it all. No one likes to be forced or controlled… doing so only leads to rebellion. Remain calm if the family doesn’t finish the meal you prepared, knowing this isn’t a reflection of their love for you.

In fact, it really is okay if they don’t eat it all. After all, you want them to learn to listen to their body – when they’re full or hungry.

These 4 Steps: Have a plan, be present, put the veggies out, & don’t take it personal, are foundational steps to keeping your sanity at dinner time.

 

HeatherRampollaHeather Rampolla is an author, blogger, healthy eating coach, and host of Fresh Eats Radio for moms with a full plate.  Want more help balancing it all without sacrificing your health? Click here to discover the 3 Steps To Get Out Of Your FUNK & Stop Eating JUNK!

3 Ways To Cut Your Kitchen Time In Half

cut your kitchen timeByline: Ashley Srokosz showing us how to cut your kitchen time!

If you’re on the healthy eating bandwagon, you probably know that there are about a billion different “diets” or ways of eating that all seem to have their own specific benefits.

  • There’s paleo for the auto-immune crowd.
  • There’s vegan for the disease fighting and anti-eating-animals crowd.
  • There’s gluten free for the gluten intolerant and celiac crowd.
  • There’s GAPS or SCD diet for the intestinally challenged crowd.

The frustrating part, even as a holistic nutritionist, is figuring out what way of eating your body performs best on. For example, even though I know that being vegan has huge health benefits, I feel dizzy, unfocused, and flighty when I eat it too many days in a row. My body does best with some locally, organically, and ethically raised meat at least once every few days.

I’ve heard it said that there are 7 billion diets for 7 billion people … but there’s one thing that they all have in common:

Eating minimally processed, whole foods that are prepared and eaten in the most nutrient dense way possible.

What does that mean?

You’re going to be spending a whole lot of time cooking and doing dishes.

Even though I love cooking, and consider it my own form of meditation as it’s one of the few things that forces me to focus (for no other reason than I want all 10 of my fingers), I don’t want to spend every waking moment thinking about my next meal.

In my former DINK life (dual income, no kids), I had oodles of time to spend making the most beautiful and tasty gluten-free vegan cupcakes, and it didn’t matter what time dinner was. I ate when I was hungry.

Then I had a baby, and my whole life changed. Now that 18-month old toddler has a penchant for pulling my chef knife off of the kitchen counter, and dismantling my extensive cookbook collection in a matter of minutes. I had to get creative and find ways to cut my cooking time in the kitchen, since most nights I’m making dinner solo while my hubby is still working, and my son is too hungry to wait until he gets home to eat.

These time-saving kitchen hacks can be used for any busy person, parent or not, who knows that they want to eat healthier, they just don’t know how to make it fit into their busy schedules.

1. Use a food processor:

I have a few fave, veggie heavy recipes that can take 20 minutes of chopping, slicing, and dicing. With the help of my food processor plus the slicing and grating attachment, I can reduce prep time to less than 2 minutes.

2. Do batch cooking:

Along with meal planning, which I never understood the need for before having a baby, batch cooking is the #1 thing that has reduced my overall stress and helps our weeks to feel easy and calm instead of rushed. Sundays are when I know my husband never works, so I try and spend 1 or 2 hours in the kitchen (with a super fun playlist so it feels more like a dance party than slaving away over the stove) while he watches our son.

I cook as much as possible that can be made in advance without the taste or quality suffering. I chop all the veggies and assemble crockpot meals for the week (you can also do this for an entire month, too!), which get put into a large Ziploc bag. If I’m making it in less than 2 days, it can stay in the fridge. If it’s being cooked more than 2 days away, I put it in the freezer and put a reminder in my calendar to thaw it in the fridge the day before.

I make a batch of muffins or raw vegan energy balls, and always double the recipe and freeze the extra. I make a huge batch of quinoa or brown rice that can be eaten over the next 3-5 days (re-heat them in a pot with a teaspoon or two of water, and it’ll come back to it’s freshly cooked texture).

There’s nothing better than knowing that on Friday, when I’m exhausted after the work week and know that I’ll be tempted to eat crappy fast food, I just have to open a bag in the morning, throw it in the crockpot, and voila! Dinner accomplished before my make-up is even done. A healthy, homemade dinner can be made in less than 5 minutes!

3. Use your freezer:

I hate throwing out good food, and if I keep leftovers in the fridge for too long, I inevitably forget them and have to throw out the fuzzy remnants 2 weeks later. Instead I started freezing the leftovers, but in single serving containers so that I could eat them for lunch when I’m home with the baby by myself, when my husband is working late, or when I just don’t feel like cooking. It works so well that I double or triple batches of soup, anything that goes in the crockpot, or large casseroles. Just re-heat in a 375°F oven for 30-45 minutes, or on the stovetop over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until bubbling and hot. Add a side salad or fresh herbs for added nutrients, digestion power, and a flavor lift.

These tips can save you hours in the kitchen each week, so you can stop stressing about supper and start turning cooking time into a party in the pantry.

Cheers smallAshley Srokosz is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, meal planning mediator, and founder of lovewhatyoueat.ca, who helps busy mamas avoid spontaneous combustion by solving the never-ending “what’s for dinner?” debate.

Click here to get your free guide “6 Steps to a Stress-Free Supper”, complete with a 3-day whole foods meal plan, weekly planner, and done-for-you grocery list PLUS a booty-shaking Party in Your Pantry playlist.

What’s Your Word for 2010?

Resolutions… New Year’s Resolutions… Doesn’t that just bring up weird emotions like guilt, resentment, and so on? Yuck, no thanks.

bye-bye-2009

This year I’ve decided to just pick one word to guide me in 2010 (inspired by Goddess Leonie!). If I had to pick a word for last year, it would probably be the word: growing.

I grew a bountiful garden, grew my raw food business, and planted some roots in my new home in Toronto, Canada.

Word for 2010: Confidence

One thing that has been monumental in all of these endeavors was confidence. As a Virgo, I tend to let things affect my self-confidence, even though I know better intellectually.

Growing a garden takes confidence because you need to trust that the seeds you plant will grow into delicious food for you and your family. You also need to have confidence that the squirrels and bugs won’t get all of it before you do.

Growing a business definitely takes confidence. I spent far too much time second guessing myself and my business decisions last year. No more. I know what needs to be done, how to make things happen, and how to serve people. I just need to trust in my ability to do it, without doubting myself.

Moving to Toronto didn’t take that much thought, I mean it was the logical step. However I let myself get sucked into the uncertainty that we might not be living in Toronto for a long time and that derailed me. Now I say live in the moment and don’t worry, because 90% of worries never materialize anyways.

Things to Let Go Of

Along with a word and theme for 2010, I’m also making a list of things that I am ready to let go of. I’m giving myself permission to release these things.

  • My need to constantly be on the look-out for the next best thing, the next best idea, etc. (This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop learning, but that I will learn in a more intentional way instead.)
  • My crazy “fire hose in mouth” absorption of non-fiction books. Giving myself permission to read fiction for the fun of it.
  • Guilt trips over not exercising enough.
  • The need to always have everything under control. It’s not possible, and it would be too much to handle even if it was.
  • All those “shoulds” that I hang over myself.
  • My overbearing perfectionism. Good is good enough.
  • Friends or acquaintances that no longer serve or nurture me.
  • Trying to be uber-indepedent do-it-yourself superwoman all the time. I’m going to ask for help when I need it, and humbly receive it.
  • Worry. No more worrying, it’s just bad mojo.

Now It’s Your Turn

I encourage you to come up with a word for 2010. It’s also a very empowering exercise to let go of things that no longer serve you.

If you’d like a little help to make this process more magickal, my dear friend Goddess Leonie has put together a delicious workbook and planner. Take a look!

Plan Your Year & Make Magick Happen in 2010

2010-goddess

2010: Creating My Goddess Year workbook & planner is Goddess Leonie’s latest masterpiece! It’s filled with 40 pages of worksheets to help you dream, manifest, set your intentions, plan & cultivate your amazing new year.

It’s handwritten & illustrated… perfect for you to print out, soak up the rainbow colors of, and make 2010 your gorgeous goddess year.

This makes the best self-nurturing gift for all of you busy-ladies who have a hard time to take time for yourself. (That includes me!) Check out the beautifulness. :)

May Your 2010 Be Truly Magickal!

Love, Nathalie