Need some Busy Mama tips to stay on plan? Have you ever felt too frazzled and hurried to even think about food? A little too busy to think about things like eating, showering, and sleeping? I hear you, and I totally get where you’re at. But I promise that staying on plan with Trim Healthy Mama is totally do-able and worth it for even the most frazzled and busy Mamas. Today’s Trim Healthy Tuesday post is all about making Trim Healthy Mama eating *convenient*.
I’m a big believer in convenience food, but not at the expense of my health & happiness. Unlike junk ‘convenience’ foods, THM foods won’t surge your insulin, pad your tummy & hips, and sap your energy levels.
I’ve not only recovered from a memory and energy sapping illness in the past year, but I’ve become busier than EVER before in my life. Over the course of this year, I was able to lose 50 pounds and stick to plan…so I’ve felt better and better as the year has progressed. If I can do it, so can you…it’s TOTALLY worth it to eat your way back to health! Come with me, busy Mama…we can do this together.
I invite you to read through this list, and just pick ONE thing to start with this week…don’t try to make all of the changes at once. Go at your own pace, as you implement helpful changes. It’s way more fun and inspiring to build on your successes than to fizzle out in ‘failure’ from trying to do things all at once.
TOP 10 Busy Mama TIPS for Success:
- Make your own restaurant style menu. Wouldn’t you just LOVE it if someone would just give you great meal ideas each day? Guess what…you can give this gift to yourself. It’s a GIFT of not having to re-invent the wheel each time you are trying to think of what to eat.
Your menu doesn’t have to be fancy…just jot it onto a piece of notebook paper and tape it inside your cabinet door. Or make a file on your computer that you can add to. This is my preference, since I can easily alter and print it. Collect simple, tried & true ideas for breakfasts, snacks, dinners, and desserts that YOU enjoy. And you can even list beverage ideas too.
I would offer to help, but I think your list is more powerful if it’s truly *your* favorites. So make it your goal this week to get started on your list. These are just ideas…not full recipes. Shoot for 5-8 ideas in each category to start. I really love to eat ‘seasonal’ foods, and in the winter, I love soups & stews. So start right in the season that you’re in, and start jotting. You can always add a ‘Summer Favorites’ category down the road.
Need to jog your memory a bit? Enlist other family members for ideas. Check out my Recipe Index, browse through a favorite cookbook or head over to the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook group, or THM Pinterest pages. Keep adding to your menu as you discover new favorites, or see new ideas pop up over on the THM Facebook group.
During the weight loss stage of the game, your snack and breakfast list may look decidedly different than your kids, and that’s OK. Add a ‘Children’s Menu’ to your master list if needed. DO keep dinners family-friendly. I found it fairly easy to alter former family favorite dinner recipes to work on plan for me, and usually will add a side dish or condiment for the kids so that they are getting growth supporting crossovers.
Your menu will be SUCH a fantastic resource for when you’re hungry and need a snack idea, or even for filling in dinner ideas on the calendar. Use it JUST like you would a menu to your favorite restaurant: to choose what you want to eat!
- Keep breakfast simple. Our family loves a big breakfast feast on Saturday mornings, but for the weekday, stick to grab & go or crock pot meals for the whole family.
I love the convenience of making up a big batch of Luscious Lemon Yogurt, the Lemon Poppyseed Muffin in a Mug Master Mix. A quick omlette, Cottage Style or Mozzarella Turkey Toast (Morning Meals chapter, p. 239), 0% Greek yogurt parfaits with stir-in fruit are other fast favorite here.
Weekends can be more fun. I usually bake something on Friday mornings, and we enjoy a fast Sunday breakfast with the leftovers. Our favorite is [S] “Bunny Cake” or German Oven Pancakes, [E] Berry Breakfast Cake or Banana Cream Cake are all great time savers here, as they last for more than one meal. On Saturdays, we usually enjoy a big pancake spread that my husband and I make together.
- Lunch loves leftovers. Our dinners are always THM friendly, so while the kids may have sandwiches or nachos, this Trim Healthy Mama usually enjoys leftovers from earlier in the week. My husband loves to take leftovers to work with him as well. I also keep prewashed salad on hand at all times (tacos become taco salad on day 2) and low carb wraps & low fat lunchmeat on hand for a quick roll up anytime.
- Alternate Meal Types for Dinners. Let’s face it: S meals are easy to love, and easier to figure out. How do you get enough of the energy and metabolism revving E meals? Your busy brain & body really need those E’s…they’re a critical part of THM! Here’s a technique that really works for me-
This is not inscribed in stone, but the best way I’ve found to get enough E meals in is to make sure I’m making E dinners a few times a week. That translates into E lunches the next day.
My favorite E dinners:
-Lime chicken soft tacos served with black beans and 0% Greek Yogurt ‘sour cream’
-Stir fry with brown rice & either rinsed ground beef or teriyaki chicken.
-Beef Stroganoff with brown rice. MAJOR man pleasing meal there, folks.
-Pizza! The fermented fridge dough is the most AMAZING pizza crust. To keep it in E mode, think of your 2 slices as a serving, and just keep the total fat to under 5 grams for your toppings. Some fun ideas are:
- BBQ chicken pizza
- Pizza Marguerite using blended cottage cheese to stand in for fresh mozzarella
- ‘White’ sauce pizza with low fat ricotta ‘sauce’, garlic, sliced fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and a small amount of low fat mozzarella cheese.
- Veggie lovers with low fat mozzarella
- Plan Ahead! This is where you’re really your own best friend. I have times when I pick what to make the day of, and I’m fine with that. But I really love how easy my week is when I take a few minutes and consult my ‘menu’ (see tip number 1) and jot down the dinners that I need to buy for that week. I can see at a glance if I need to brown beef for 2 meals…why not thaw and brown it up all at once? It’s a major time and brain cell saver.
Here is a sample THM weekly Menu, and an all-in-one blank Menu & Shopping List that I designed and love.
Having pretty severe memory impairment has taught me to really be my own best buddy with writing things down when I *know* I won’t remember them. I keep a running grocery list on the fridge at all times, and add things as I become aware of them (I do sort this by store). I also keep convenient THM friendly pantry staples on hand at all times.
My Favorite THM Pantry Staples:
- peanut butter
- low carb tortillas
- pre-washed salad
- low fat lunch meat
- 0% Greek Yogurt (and my berry syrup)
- egg whites- a must for my Frozen Egg Nog recipe!
A few other tips on making your kitchen more convenient & efficient for THM:
- as you print new recipes, stash the favorites all into one notebook with category dividers. This makes finding your recipes SO much easier if they’re all in one place. I jot down notes right on my recipes as I learn, tweak & improve.
- If you are still fuzzy on what is S & E, then label your packages & jars with a sharpie marker to make it easy for yourself to pull together the meals. *This helped me to LEARN the food types!*
- I keep several ingredients in gallon size glass jars…for those, I tape ‘cheat sheets’ into the lid of my jars. This is to remind me quickly what the refill recipe is for that mix, or the water to brown rice ratio for my rice maker.
- If you need to remember the nutrition info, cut that off of the package & slip it right into the jar.
- Make Ahead! (but not necessarily all at one time) Each week, I make a batch of berry syrup to enjoy over pancakes, muffin in a mugs, or yogurt. I also re-make the fridge bread on Fridays when I run out. Fridays are always Pizza night here.
Each week, I may bake 3-4 ‘make ahead’ items.
Some of my Make-Ahead Favorites are:
- berry syrup- I make this weekly.
- skinny chocolate or a dessert that I can freeze
- peanut butter
- muffin in a mug mix
- Low Carb Maple Syrup
- Greek or Ranch Dressing mix
- cookies or a favorite THM dessert
- granola bars for the kids to have for snacks/breakfast
- my favorite drink concentrates
- sweet tea concentrate
- chocolate syrup
- hot cocoa mix
- ketchup- the book recipe is SUPREMELY easy and very tasty!
- beef or chicken broth…you get the idea.
I would never have time to make all of this at once, or even in the same week. But finding time a few minutes to make one ‘extra’ thing here and there through the week isn’t that tough. And you’ll rejoice in the ‘found’ time of having these convenience foods on hand!
After a few weeks, you’ll have a nice stash of homemade ‘convenience’ foods that you can just replenish as they run out.
TIP: Make it EASY to remember the recipe when it’s time to refill your favorite mix by writing the recipe on the inside of the lid, or on a recipe card taped to the inside of the jar lid.
- Make it Special! I am a big believer in the fact that food is more than just fuel, and should be enjoyed. Trim Healthy Mama is not about eating tiny diet meals or denying yourself fod…you get to REALLY enjoy your food! Which is why it blows every other eating plan I’ve ever done out of the water.It was important for me to find special foods to replace things that my family had previously enjoyed…they were part of our family culture. And 99% of what we loved we can still enjoy a THM-ified verison. And often times, we like it BETTER than what we were eating before.So look for recipes for your favorite foods…especially drinks, treats, and desserts that really support what you’re trying to do for your body. This busy season, I am committed to keeping on plan holiday treats ON HAND at all times so that I also get to enjoy social gatherings and special meals and treats…good food is part of celebrating! But it can be good-for-you as well.
- Double & Freeze- Talk about an amazing gift to yourself: this one is surprisingly easy to pull off if you do it a little at a time. The month before I had my surgery, I began to choose 2-3 ‘freezer friendly’ meals and double the amount I usually make and freeze the leftovers in aluminum pans. I had 10-12 full dinners prepped and waiting in my freezer by the time my surgery date rolled around, and it was a huge help in keeping my home running smoothly as I recovered. I felt more at liberty to rest like I should because I had planned ahead.
Some of my favorite freezer meals are:
- My No-Boil Lasagna recipe. (I’ve not blogged this one yet) I freeze it unbaked, and then thaw and reheat it. It’s not ideal for Dreamfields with letting it stay in contact with an acidic sauce in the freezer, but it should work well for pasta alternative recipes like veggie lasagnas.
- Browned ground beef, frozen in 1 pound quart freezer bags (smash flat to make thawing quicker). This makes super fast tacos, sketti sauce, chili, cheeseburger quesadillas, etc.
- Spaghetti Pie: This is really ideal for Dreamfields, as you freeze the pasta separately from the sauce. This freezes really nicely in single serving portions where you can quickly reheat them as individual servings.
- Grilled chicken breasts, sliced. These are so good on salads, or as an add in to Alfredo sauce and noodles. I marinate these in my dry ranch or Greek dressing mix, a bit of balsamic vinegar, and some grapeseed oil over night for best flavor. SO good!
- Mac & Cheese sauce- I just freeze the sauce and make the pasta fresh the day I’ve thawed it to use.
- Spaghetti Sauce- if you have a favorite slow cooked recipe, make ahead and freeze. I confess that I generally just use the frozen ground meat and add it to the jar of Kirkland’s Marinara Sauce in the pantry.
- Rice or quinoa- I made this in *huge* batches in my rice cooker. It takes roughly the same amount of time to make 10 cups of rice as it does to make 2 cups. You may bag up single size portions or do full family sized portions in a gallon bag. It reheats beautifully with a bit of boiling water poured into it.
- Meatloaf! I love to make this recipe in muffin tins because they bake faster and freeze in perfect serving sizes.
- Chili & soups- I freeze these in freezer safe, wide mouth pint jars, or in gallon size freezer bags. I LOVE chilis and soups in the winter, and will keep a jar of fermented dough on hand to add an E focaccia bread to the meal if it’s a low fat soup.
- Par-baked pizza crusts- bake for 10 minutes, then cool & freeze in 2 gallon zippie bags. Top & bake until hot & bubbly. Great for E or crossovers.
- Crock pot beans in large amounts-these are fantastic to freeze, and you can add to soups and other low fat meals to push into E territory.
- Make it a Team Effort: Get your kids and even your spouse involved in the food planning, shopping, prep & clean up as much as possible. Food is an unavoidable, repetitive part of our daily life, but it doesn’t have to be drudgery. There is SO much reward in learning to cook and especially how to use food to support your health. These are fantastic life skills that I can share with my kids. As he head cook, I set the tone and mood for my kitchen ‘staff’, and I try to keep that really positive. Being prepared and knowing what I am making ahead of time helps me keep a cool head even in the midst of dinner crunch time. If I’m winging it, I can get frazzled easily…let’s just say that it may not be pretty.My little ones LOVE to help mix and dump, and are great ingredient grabbers. And the times with my bigger kids in the kitchen are almost always great times to catch up with them and hear what is on their minds & hearts. I love to have my man in the kitchen to chat and catch up while I make dinner, and he leads the clean up crew afterwards.
- Make Your Health a PRIORITY! This one is ”last but not least” for sure. It’s SO easy to fall back into a rut of either ‘rewarding’ myself with junk foods (which totally does nothing for my energy levels, focus & mood), or to push through and just not take care of myself day after day when I’m busy. Mama, NO ONE ELSE can do the job you need to do for your family. And NO ONE ELSE can take care of that body that God gave you. You are THE MOST critical player in deciding what takes priority in your life and what you put into your mouth.Now, I’m not a big proponent of self-focused living, but I can tell you that your body will only take so much before your mind, mood, and metabolism will begin to suffer, and your family will suffer along with you. So even in the face of super busy seasons…ESPECIALLY in the face of super busy seasons in life, make caring for your own health a priority. And as much as you can, embrace the joy of savoring and preparing foods that are going to fuel you through this journey.
PHEW! Can you tell I’m passionate about efficiency & convenience in my kitchen? Hope you find these tips helpful!
And now for LOTS more Trim & Healthy Inspiration…
This is my favorite thing about Tuesdays! I love the creative recipes, the exchange of ideas, meeting new bloggers, hearing inspirational stories and reading all of the comments from you guys. And guess what? Your clicks and comments mean a lot to the bloggers who link up here.
The featured post is the post that received the most clicks from last week, so ‘vote’ away on your favorite posts today, and be sure to leave some comment love for the awesome THM blogging community. ♥
My top 3 picks from last weeks post are:
(click to open them in a new window)Once a Month Shopping Part 3: crockpot freezer meals
The post from last week with the most visits is:
And now for this weeks Trim Healthy Tuesday Posts!
Bloggers: please see updated posting guidelines here.
Thanks so much for joining me on Trim Healthy Tuesdays!