So last week we talked meal plans. They are key to a healthy lifestyle (at least for me!) because they remove so much of that last minute end of day stress. The question of what to eat for dinner and do I have the ingredients is answered ahead of time.
BUT. What if despite all of that you find yourself in the kitchen at 5pm staring at the refrigerator and glancing at your phone contemplating ordering takeout because you are just too tired. Before you think I am going to guilt you into not ordering out - I am not! Absolutely not! If take out is all you can muster go for it. The fact that you have a healthy meal plan helps keep you on track if you do want to indulge occasionally. I have done that myself on more than one occasion!
There is also another option for you and that is the backup meal. Backup meals can fall into different categories, from the super easy to cook to frozen meals that just need reheating. I am going to share a few of our favorite backup meals that are quick, easy, require little clean up and still pack a decent nutritious punch.
Bacon and eggs with sauteed veggies and a side of fruit. Eggs are a great source of complete protein. Pasture raised is best, but do what you can. Bacon has both protein and fat (which is not the enemy we once thought it was) and can help satiate hunger. Look for bacon without nitrates as a preservative as those can lead to the formation of nitrosamines in your body and increase your risk of cancer. Veggies and fruit always pack a punch with fiber content as well as vitamins and minerals. Make a quick omelet or scramble with some veggies - perfect use for leftover! Add some berries or sliced fruit on the side and voila. A filling meal. As a bonus (and for cool mom factor) make it a smoothie bowl and let your kids add fun toppings like granola, raisins, frozen fruit or even some chocolate chips!
Smoothies. In my opinion, sometimes all you need on a hot summer night is a refreshing filling smoothie. I will do some later posts on smoothie recipes but the basic formula for a good smoothie includes protein, fat, carbs. Some great proteins - collagen which is awesome for gut health, skin and hair. Hemp hearts - filling with fiber, fat and protein. Protein powder - either vegan or animal based. Choose wisely as many can be contaminated with heavy metals. Truvani is one of my favorites and comes in many different flavors. Fats - avocado, nut butters or canned full fat coconut milk add a filling component to your smoothie as well as a richer texture. I choose depending on the flavor I am going for with the overall smoothie Fruits and Veggies. This is where you can get creative. Try out a pina colada flavor and add spinach and pineapple with coconut. Or an orange creamsicle. Or perhaps blueberry chocolate. The combinations are endless and it is so easy to add in some veggies like riced cauliflower, kale, spinach.
Frozen meals. Sometimes when I meal plan and am feeling motivated I make extra one night and freeze it. So when I come face to face with a night that I just don't feel like cooking - boom. Dinner can be done quickly. Casseroles and soups are the quickest to heat up. Meatballs are also great frozen and heat on the stove quickly in an organic sauce. (which you can also make ahead and freeze - or keep a couple jars in the cupboard). Add some noodles and a quick salad or frozen veggies. Speaking of...
Salads. Super easy and quick to toss together! These are great when you have leftovers to use as you can incorporate them into a big salad bowl. Let each family member make it their own. Toss some leftover meat on top or cheese if you eat dairy for an extra protein boost. Get creative with what you have in the fridge, make it a roasted veggie salad or a refreshing summer salad with fruit.
Soups. Soups are actually pretty easy to make and hard to mess up. It is also a great way to use extra veggies laying around. Start with some stock or broth (pantry staple) and add what you have! Frozen veggies are great in this, as are jarred tomatoes or beans (great for fiber!) Soups are great because they don't require much work beyond tossing ingredients in a pot and can pack a huge nutritional punch when crammed with veggies. For some added whimsy toss in some alphabet noodles for the kiddos.
Leftovers. Let's not forget the all-mighty leftover. Those containers that pile up over the week can come in handy on a night when you don't feel like cooking. You already know they are nutritious because you had the meal on your plan! We like to put everything on the counter and let each family member choose.
What is your favorite backup meal? Are you a smoothie person or an egg person?