Eating in a Real Food way, and cooking in a traditional way, at first glance seems very overwhelming and that you would be in the kitchen every day all day.
And if you are Real Food perfectionist, maybe you are in the kitchen all day long. I do a very relaxed verision of Real Food and traditional cooking. Not everything is homemade and homecooked. For example, I know how to cook and ferment ketchup and BBQ sauce, but if I am out and don’t feel like making any more at the moment, I have no problem with buying a store bought organic verision.
Same with yogurt and keifer. I make them all the time, but I am not about to give myself a hard time for buying store bought yogurt and keifer once in a while.
So my first tip, is to give yourself a break. At all times, my mental health and the happiness of my child is what comes first. If I was in the kitchen all afternoon and not spending time with her after school, who cares that she perfect nutrition?
It’s all about keeping it balance.
My other biggest tip is my slow cooker freezer recipes. These recipes are the foundation of my dinner freezer stash. Making a dinner from scratch with fresh ingredients is always best, but freezer meals are a very close second. And a millions better for you than take out, drive through or delivered pizza.
At least 60% of the dinners I serve my family are slow cooker freezer recipes. The other 40% are one dish freezer skillet meals, or meals that I cook like meatloaf, hamburgers, tacos, eggplant parm, etc. When I make those meals I make a double batch and have one meal for dinner that day and one meal to put in my freezer.
This way, I am constantly and systematically filling my freezer so there is ALWAYS a meal for me to grab when I am pinch.
So that also means there are entire weeks where I have no prep or cooking to do for dinner. Those are the weeks that I do other things, like make big batches pesto or tomato sauce when I need to harvest veggies from my garden. Make a special treat like ice cream or baked cookies.
I started meal planning last year and that has also made a huge difference. I write out what meals I am going to pull from the freezer or new meals I will make. On that same sheet, I also write out what extra curricular activities I have to do that week, like soaking nuts, making yogurt, etc. Then I also have my grocery list for the week on the same paper. It really helps me stay organized, on task and that helps me save time. It also keeps me from going to the grocery store 5 million times.
There are a ton of meal planning services out there, I love this one from Real Plans, but since I really like to create my own recipes, I just do my own meal planning. So if you don’t want to mess with a meal plan service, just a simple piece of paper will do you wonders.