I follow along Sweet Phi's blog and she recently gave some great tips to make this go a little easier. My documentation of it isn't quite as pretty, but I've found a few hints that do make things run more smoothly...
1) Veggie Prep:
Salads are easier when the prep is done!If my vegetables are washed, cut and ready to go, I find myself more likely to grab them for snacking and easily throw them into salads and to use in sides. I usually check out the sale flyers and shop Trader Joes for the best bargains but typically, I get carrots, cucumbers, peppers and carrots for raw snacking during the week. When I can't find local (which is pretty impossible this time of year), I buy organic. This is a good guide to choose carefully when it comes to buying organic. I set aside a few hours to wash, peel and prep. I store them in airtight containers or individual packs (you can surprisingly find some inexpensive options that are BPA free at the Dollar Tree) which makes it easier for grab and go snacking. As the seasons change and there are more varieties available at our local farms and farmer's market, then I add in more colorful produce and include more fresh veggies.
2) Lettuce: I wash and dry my lettuce so it's easier to enjoy fresh greens this time of year quickly. The salad spinner helps me dry those leaves. I find that I mix a crunchy romaine lettuce with darker greens like baby kale or spinach to get a bit of everything. I store them separately because the field greens tend to break down a bit quicker.
3) Fruit Prep: Similar to above - I wash my fruits, dry them and store them accordingly for the week. I rotate fruit but this time of year we have a lot of citrus and the girls are still loving apples. I try to include mango, pineapple and kiwi as well. As the weather warms up, I'll buy more strawberries, raspberries and blueberries - especially in the Summer when they're so delicious.
4) Snacks/Treats -
Energy BallsI try to make energy balls weekly and alternate flavors. Here are a couple we love - lemon and peanut butter. My kids love these and I love that I'm in control of the ingredients. I also make muffins weekly. I use honey or maple syrup in a lot of the muffin recipes and my girls enjoy taking these for snacks. I switch around the weekly recipes but I always make something and I feel good about these "from scratch" snacks because obviously they're free from preservatives and icky ingredients.
5) Protein: Lately, I've been cooking chicken so we have it to use in burritos, salads, on top of rice, anything. I also make sure we have hard boiled eggs handy for quick snacks and to throw into salads at lunch time. The protein I make changes weekly, depending on my meal plan but in general, I find it's great to batch cook all my meat at once and use it for a couple of recipes throughout the week. We don't eat a ton of it but when I do buy it, it's local and I know where it's come from.
Batch Chicken Makes for Easy Meals
Chicken Sausage topped rice and veggies makes for an easy quick dinner
What do you do to make your weeknights easier? Do you have any tips or tricks? I'd love to hear!