Meal Plan Monday: When Time is Short

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French Bread Pizza

We have a lot of things scheduled this week and I may be adding a few more. Our busyness is nothing compared to the craziness we experienced when our big kids were younger and lived with us, especially once we added a baby to the mix. They were all very active in sports and played on three different teams that each practiced twice a week, of course none of the practice locations were near each other or our house. We survived that season of life, you may be there now. I know we will return to it in a few years.

Our little boys love sports. Sometimes I start thinking how much fun it would be to start them playing. I day-dream for a moment them I’m taken back to the craziness of it all and decide to wait, at least a little bit longer.

Your kids may not be busy with sports but there are still plenty of lessons, groups, friends, birthday parties, and let us not forget those projects that are usually forgotten until the night before. That doesn’t include the things parents have going on, work, meetings, ministry, housework, cooking, yard work, and projects that are usually forgotten until the night before. Does any of this sound familiar?

In honor of all of those crazy schedules out there this meal plan will focus on mostly easy and quick meals. If you have to pull through a drive thru for bean burritos I wont judge; and if you happen to get a soda it will be our secret.

Meal Plan

Breakfast will be simple, as it should be, cold cereal, nut butter toast, or oatmeal. Have you tried making oatmeal overnight in the crock pot? The enticing smell may make waking up a little easier in the morning.

Lunch is usually leftovers for my husband and I, my boys like some leftovers but they still get excited over sandwiches, they are little weirdies. You can always take sandwiches to a new level; layer your favorite veggies between two pieces of bread and use humus or avocado for the spread. You still get your veggie but enjoy the portability of a sandwich. Likewise a make a wrap and cover in plastic wrap to keep it all together. When I’m short on time (pretty much everyday) I can eat a sandwich or wrap much quicker than a salad. If you need more volume/calories to keep you fueled add a baked potato or cup of beans as a side. I like eating a baked potato with beans or even leftover soup poured on top.

Snack is simple too, you can’t get much simpler than apples, oranges, or bananas. If your kids are younger you may need to peel or cut them up but it can be done ahead of time. My 2 year old loves raw veggies especially with hummus as a dip. His favorite veggie right now is bell pepper. You may think your kids would never eat raw veggies, so did I, but if it is offered regularly you’d be surprised. If your kids will need some extra fuel before heading to practice give them a nut butter sandwich (or a half) or an apple with nut butter. Granola bars can be a quick snack while on the go too, I keep some in the car at all times.

Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated. Sure, a prep day is helpful but not always available. We had many nights of the kids eating sack dinners on the way to church or other ball games. Don’t stress, ok maybe that isn’t possible, how about just do the best you can. Here are a few suggestions that may work for you.

  • Cook a big pot of beans and a big pot of rice or use canned beans and cooked packaged rice for easy Bean & Grain Bowls adding veggies to customize each meal.
  • Slow Cooker Potato Soup is extremely easy and oh so good. Make a double (or triple) batch.
  • Burritos or Nachos using Unfried Beans if you have the time but if you don’t use canned vegetarian refried beans.
  • Try bagel or french loaf pizzas and let the kids customize their portion. While they are heating up in the oven serve a garden salad or raw veggies with hummus. If everyone is at the table they will probably nibble on the veggies.

These options may cost a little more if you use canned or other convince products. I keep them stocked in my pantry but try to use them as a last resort. When you have time cooking beans and grains and freezing them can be a big time and money saver down the road. I cooked a big pot of beans today. I hope to make bean burritos for the freezer.

Are you in a busy season of life? Do you have any tips to share or favorite meals that work well on a busy night?

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  1. We are in the thick of the busy life and oftentimes we aren’t even all home at the same time for meals (which I hate).

    I spend a bit of time on the weekend pre-cooking a bunch of raw ingredients and then use those during the week to make quick healthy meals.

    I chop and lightly steam a TON of veggies and that usually turns into lunch for me (steamed veggies with hummus most days lately) and the veggie for our dinner meals.

    Spending that time on the weekend makes healthy eating so much easier during the week.

  2. That looks tasty and those are great tips! I always make big pots of food whoever I cool so there is always leftovers to last a few days. Makes life much easier!

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