Menu Planning for An On-The-Run Week!

Do you ever find yourself running through the grocery store buying the same items you buy each week - with no idea as to what you are going to make for dinner during the week, much less an idea if you are even going to make dinner? This happens to everyone these days especially when we are on the run with too much to do and especially now that school has started again.

I find that it is much easier to come home and cook when you know what you are going to cook and you have the ingredients on hand.

Breakfast is easy - we keep the same staples on hand like oatmeal and whole grain cereal with skim milk and fruit. Snacks are also from staples like cereal, baked potatoes, whole grain low-fat crackers, yogurt and fruit. Lunch is low-fat sandwiches and leftovers from dinner.

For dinners, I plan at least 5 meals I can make during the week. Sometimes that is on paper before I shop and sometimes it is in my head while standing in the produce aisle - stuffed baked potato, fresh veggies for pasta, stir fry veggies, fresh veggies to go with fish or chicken, baked sweet potatoes, etc.

We have been making a shift here with regards to really eating on the run. This is because we are at football practice for 2.5 hours every night. I am sure I am not the only one who is spending a lot more time outside the house so I thought I would share what is working for us and our kitchen in this circumstance.

Here are a few things we are doing to cope:
1) dinner at 3:30PM - that is right - when we come home from school - dinner is ready very soon after we get in the door. I figure this way we can refuel then have a few hours for our meal to digest before being on the field - and why not fill up with quality food instead of expensive and not-really-healthy snack food like chips.

2) make lunch for the next day when we come home from school - it is too late at the end of the night and we are too scrambled the next morning so we get ahead - I believe that the lunch we pack always trumps the school lunch choices that are way too high in sodium and fat

3) my workouts are being done while he is practicing - I am not sitting in the stands

4) the second dinner when we come home is right after practice - that is usually something left over or even a fun breakfast food like waffles with fresh fruit. It has to be fast and light because we have to be in bed to get up at 5:30AM for class the next day.

To keep the meals interesting and to maintain enthusiasm, I am asking for input from my son. Here are some of the things he came up with that I used for menu planning:

  • Roasted turkey tenderloins with mashed potatoes and veggies
  • BBQ chicken wings with salad (he loves these and I am going to work on making a healthier version)
  • Soft tacos with salad
  • Chili with chips, fresh salsa, rice and salad
  • Grilled cheese on whole wheat toast and tomato soup - we are working on finding the least unhealthy cheese and on making the soup low in sodium otherwise this meal would be way out there with the salt!
  • Turkey burger and oven fries with slaw (I have been microwaving the burgers for weekday speed)
  • Split pea soup with salad
  • Low-fat ravioli, broccoli, salad
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