This time of year is a little crazy for my family.  Between work commitments, volunteering and other community commitments, and the kids’ crazy schedules with school and sports, we are always on the run.  I’m certain you can relate.  It doesn’t matter who I talk to, people are always running around too busy to take a breath, much less cook a good meal.  And in the winter, cold salads don’t always sound appealing.  That’s a great go-to meal in milder months, but in January, warming foods are better.

How do I serve real food meals to my family during a hectic work week?

  1. Prep and plan in your downtime. Find some time, we all have it! I know, it may mean forgoing Facebook or your favorite show, but we all have it. For us, late afternoon on Sunday seems to work well.
  2. Invest in a pressure cooker. I love cooking beans in mine, it takes literally a fraction of the time it takes to cook in a regular pot (and they taste SO much better than canned). You can make so many dishes in a pressure cooker!  And you don’t need a fancy one, a stove-top model for under $30 works perfectly.

     black beans

    Black Beans from the Pressure Cooker

  3. The slow cooker is back. I’ve seen lots of great recipes for healthy slow cooker meals lately! Everything from soups to chicken to sweet potatoes. Having a meal ready to go when you race in the door on a crazy weeknight sounds pretty fantastic to me.
  4. Roast your veggies. Especially at this time of year! The more food you can put in the oven and walk away from , the more you can get accomplished! I love roasted vegetables anyway, and letting the oven do the work means I don’t have to babysit a pan on the stove. (Bonus, if you pre-chop on the weekend or buy pre-chopped veggies, it’s even faster.)

    roasted brussels sprouts and pecans

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pecans

  5. Keep your freezer stocked. People think of heavy foods like lasagnas or pizza in the freezer, but cooked proteins and grains will freeze too. When you cook beans, chicken, brown rice, etc, cook enough to last you through a couple meals. Throw the leftovers in the freezer, and you can pull them out the following week for a quick meal. I also make muffins and pancakes in large batches to freeze so my kids have healthy treats for snacks, breakfasts and lunches.

Remember, eating a real food diet doesn’t have to be fancy.  Simple foods like roasted veggies, black beans and sweet potatoes are delicious and filling on a cold day.  What are your favorite tips for quick winter meals?

Quinoa pilaf and roasted vegetables

Quinoa Pilaf and Roasted Vegetables