Get me OUT of the Eating Out Rut

This morning I travelled back in time with my blender.  Deja’Vu struck as I blended spinach, fresh tomatoes, and garbanzo beans to add to my crock-pot meat sauce.  I know I sound ‘like so 2 years ago’ when Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious launched, but sometimes a little adventure back in time is necessary.

We are all busy whether we are stay-at-home moms, working moms, or work-at-home moms, blah, blah, blah.  Plain and simple, fitting in healthy choices that our kids will actually eat in between all of our commitments is nearly impossible.  As women and moms, we gawk at those that claim to do it, and secretly wish that we could figure out how to do it, too.

I have tween boys.  Big, Growing, Athletic, Active, On-the-Move Boys who keep me in the business of going to the grocery store.  When I cook, I need to cook!  There is no just making a little salad in my house.  We have homework, basketball, orthodontist appointments, football, piano, and more basketball, and it is so tempting to just grab ANYTHING or go out.

Let’s face it, just prepping and providing healthy snacks is a full-time gig.  There are smoothies, veggies and dip, apples and peanut butter, yogurt parfaits, protein bars, peanut butter and nana sandwiches, and 100 calorie packs of everything under the sun.  After all the rushing and all the snack duty, preparing a healthy nutritious meal is the last thing that I want to do, and then like magic, I hear my boys singing the ‘Five Dollar Footlong’ jingle in the background.

This could go on night after night.  Subs one night, pizza the next, Chinese Food from around the corner, steak tacos and a margarita (for me only) at our favorite Mexican Place until you wake up one morning and feel lousy.  I cycle through this phenomenon a few times a year, and I always come back to the conclusion: our family needs, craves, yearns for healthier choices.  Period. End of Story.

Do NOT get me wrong, I love to eat out and enjoy everything from cheeseburgers and fries to a gourmet meal, AND so do my kids.  For a moment, forget how expensive all this really is, and think about how we advocate for healthier school meals and all the aforementioned snack business.  It seems as though when it comes to dinner, we let all this fly right out the window in the name of time.

We have tired kids in America (we know this) and if we combine being tired with being hungry for what really counts, you know what that equals?  Cranky, moody, and irrational kids.  We have high expectations for our children when it comes to education and extracurriculars.  If we do not give them the fuel to meet or exceed expectations, we are failing them.

Yes, we should still eat out!  We always need to celebrate birthdays, try the new place that opened, or just down right need a night off of cooking.  What we really need to do is break the habit of grabbing.

As usual, I recently recommitted myself to NO GRABBING.  Hence, the blender full of veggies, the crock-pot, and a GIANT grocery run yesterday.

Here are some time-saving tips that I FIND make sharing a healthy choice as a family a REALITY:

You plan everything else, plan your meals. Before going to the grocery store (no matter what day of the week you go), think ahead for the next 5 days, and jot down a few meals that you want to make.  Make sure to get all the necessary ingredients. If the ingredients are in your house, you will have less of an excuse!

Teamwork, Teamwork. It always works better to have one lead cook and one lead clean up person.  If your kids are toddlers and up, assign them to a ‘team’ and give them a task.  A task is as simple as stirring some ingredients in a non-breakable bowl to drying a plastic bowl after dinner, or more challenging for the older crew like measuring ingredients or clean up duty.

Double Up.  Try making a double portion of sauces or meats.  You can either have a second meal later in the week, leftovers for a few lunches, or something to freeze.

Set for Success.  One pot, Crock-pot, and casserole dishes make healthy meals more simple and realistic.  Do Not attempt GOURMET on a Wednesday night, it will just lead to disaster.

Savor the Special.  Decide with your family or your spouse (or all by yourself) where you REALLY want to eat out.  Make a list of a few places, and this way when you need a cooking break or it is time to celebrate, you do not just grab anything from anywhere, but really go where you want to go!

My house is smelling yummy already from my sauce, there is enough for tonight and tomorrow night, and all I have to do is boil some whole wheat pasta at dinner time. Oh yeh, and I am not on clean up duty tonight!

Do you find yourself in a time crunch when it comes to dinner?

We should share recipes – What are your favorite healthy go-tos?


{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Andrea Land November 14, 2011, 9:12 AM

    I’m a Holistic Health Coach so I love that you are encouraging people to eat at home. One of the ways I keep home cooking easy but not boring during Fall is roasting vegetables. Most vegetables take on a sweeter and richer flavor when roasted. Quick Brussel Sprouts, cut off stem, slice in half, layer in baking dish, add 3 chopped cloves garlic on top, drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 350 for 30 to 60 minutes. Check at 15 minute intervals for tenderness. Cover for softer veggies, uncover for crispy. My kids LOVE these. Acorn, spaghetti and butternut squashes are some other great choices. Remove cooked spaghetti squash from hull in strings with a fork and toss with parmesan and pepper or your favorite pasta sauce. Enjoy!
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    • Rachel Blaufeld November 14, 2011, 12:09 PM

      Thanks Andrea – it is a challenge to make healthy meals and get to everything else that we want to get to…..I love the squash suggestion! Thanks, Rachel
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  • Rachel Blaufeld November 14, 2011, 4:33 PM

    Some great choices from FB: turkey chili (I make this a lot), salmon with pesto pasta, and chicken meatballs….KEEP EM COMING
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  • Laura November 14, 2011, 9:53 PM

    We had salmon, pasta with pesto, steamed broccoli & cauliflower. My younger 2 refused the salmon, so they had scrambled eggs, that they helped make. My kids will not even try roasted veges. Crazy!

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  • Nicole Fende November 15, 2011, 8:27 AM

    Ah yes the neverending struggle to provide healthy food without being a full time chef. Thanks for some great ideas Rachel. I am the cook in our house by default, not for any desire. Yet I know it is important to instill those good habits while my daughter is young.
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  • another jennifer November 15, 2011, 9:15 AM

    These are some great tips. We have two younger boys, and they eat like crazy. I can’t imagine what they’ll be like when they are teens. We have the crock pot going today as well. We’re trying to be better at planning our meals for the week. It really does help to meal plan, saving us time and money!
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    • Rachel Blaufeld November 21, 2011, 6:42 AM

      Cooking healthy meals at home is what I call a gut and budget buster 🙂

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  • Brett's mom November 15, 2011, 10:30 AM

    Last night we planned our meals through Sunday- was completely motivated by this entry- grocery shopping tonight for everything we need to have a healthier home. Thank you!

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  • DawnV November 21, 2011, 6:38 AM

    Loved this Rachel… we all need to be brought out of the “grabbing” rut that we often find ourselves in! Also loved Andrea’s suggestion of roasting veggies this time of year. Thanks!

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    • Rachel Blaufeld November 21, 2011, 6:43 AM

      Last week, I had one day of no planning and I swear I ate nothing but junk and 5000 calories — preparation is best!

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