How do you save money and time while being healthy and happy? And work? And exercise? And take care of a 3 month old baby? I know I can do better than I’m doing right now. But how? Where do I start? I decided to call on an expert. Aunt Karen. Think Martha Stewart meets G.I. Jane. She has enough positive energy to fuel the sun. She runs a daycare and hikes (or bikes) across country during summer breaks. Everything she does is homemade, healthy, kid-friendly and CHEAP. I convinced her to share her secrets with me.
We decided (so as not to overwhelm the already overwhelmed out-of-shape, sleep-deprived mommy) that we would slowly integrate her healthy, cost-saving methods into my routine through weekly challenges. Here are some examples: how to make your own laundry soap; how to make homemade crackers; how to get along without a dryer; how to put more miles on your bike than your car; and how to use kale puree instead of mayo. Whew! I am so excited!
This week’s challenge is how to make quick healthy meals in 10 minutes or less. The goals are: 1) make meals in 10 minutes are less; 2) never have the same meal twice; 3) use fruits and veggies that are in season; 4) try new veggies. The key to success is planning ahead.
According to Karen, a good puree is a key element to a quick, healthy meal. You can puree kale, lentils, beans, carrots, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, pumpkin, you-name-it. She uses her purees instead of mayo or sauces. They add a lot to a meal, but do not replace the chunky veggies or beans. Those are important for color and texture.
I spent a few hours on Saturday making starches to freeze and refrigerate. I made a large pot of quinoa, divided it up into single night portions and then popped them in the freezer. One meal portion went in the fridge. I also made a large pot of bulgur with some brown rice and froze dinner-size batches. Then, I steamed broccoli and green beans and made puree. One went in the fridge and one in the freezer. I also went shopping and bought rolled oats, bulgur, barley, kale, avocados, bananas, ground turkey meat and chicken to name a few items. Let’s see how the weeknight cooking goes.