Sunday, September 18, 2011

How I Make Monday Easier

I teach special education.  As a teacher, Mondays are tough.  As a special education teacher, Mondays are typically tougher.  My father and I both can admit we have a mild addiction to fast food breakfast.  The convenience, the flavors, the sodium.  Oh Wendy's how I miss you.  Those days are gone now.  The above sandwich, I actually made in advance, wrapped, and heated in the morning.  Let me explain my thoughts and how they might help you become more efficient and healthy with your dining.

My husband is working on his master's degree in civil engineering.  We are both very active people.  He participates in a slow-pitch softball team on Thursdays.  I do yoga on Mondays and Wednesdays.  We also believe in making our lives as healthy as possible.  To make my life easier, I try to streamline as many meals as possible.  This means planning breakfast, lunch, and dinner in advance and taking the time on the weekends to prepare for meals as well as keep up with other household duties. 

Since late February, I've been on  a gluten-free diet.  This means reading a lot of food labels, thinking twice as hard about eating things that are ambiguous, and more planning.  While it's been a lot of hard work, I've been feeling soooo much better.  I'm not nearly as gassy, my thinking is more clear, I swear my vision is more clear, and my allergies are better. Life gastronomically and allergy speaking are much more comfortable.  Life, however, has changed.  I have to think in advance.  And, sometimes, thinking in advance and preparing in advance means eating the same thing for a few days in a row.  I don't mind it as long as it is good:)

Some tips for preparing weekly meals in advance I suggest require a little planning and chopping, but are well worth your time and money.  First let's start with breakfast!

Since becoming an adult, I've not really liked cereal that much.  Maybe it was an overkill as a kid?  I don't know.  Now, I enjoy quick and easy smoothies, breakfast burritos, and egg casseroles.  The beauty of any of the above is ease of assembly and all I have to do is usually, blend, poor, and go if I am making a smoothie OR bake on Sunday, package, and heat in the morning as I'm getting ready to head out the door if we are talking breakfast burritos or casseroles.  So easy!

Now let's talk lunch.  Lunches usually consist of yogurt, veggie bags I've chopped and packaged on Sunday, and some sort of soup I've made in a large batch and froze the extra portions, or left-overs from the night before.  I usually try to pack my lunch the night before, so I don't have to fumble around with things in the morning. 

Dinner, oh sweet dinner.  One of the great joys for me is planning our weekly menu.  This is a time that I enjoy searching for new recipes, incorporating old favorites, all while trying to stick to some sort of a budget.  For dinner planning, I try to stick to soups, casseroles, and meals I can cook or prep in advance or prepare in a limited amount of time.  This is for weeknight dining.  If at all possible, I will try and pre-assemble and prep dinners in advance on Sundays.  This includes, chopping veggies, marinating meats, and cooking items like soups which always taste better the next day anyway.  We typically eat left-overs a couple nights a week; however, if the left-overs get a thumbs down from the hubster, I don't mind taking them for lunch the next day.  For weekends, we usually plan for social events out, dining out at least one night, and making something a little more extravagant or special for one night.  After all, weekends are for enjoying and relaxing and I love relaxing in the kitchen. 

So, this might seem a lot for some people.  For us it works and I find well worth the little bit of time I spend preparing that I get back in return after a hectic day at work.  Hopefully, it may get you some of your time back too:)