Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You’ve finally done it. You planned, you’re prepared!
...and life throws you a curveball.
SO many times I planned to make recipe...
Even went shopping for the ingredients to make the recipe…
Had *every intention* to cook when I got home…
But then a crisis happened at the office
Or there was some other “emergency” that needed my attention after work…
THAT scenario happened so frequently that I started cooking meals on the weekend.
Being able to “reheat” whatever time I finally got home was the only “insurance” I had; the ONLY way I could guarantee groceries wouldn't go to waste, I’d eat food I prepared myself, and I would not eat out again.
As a control freak, it was very difficult for me to accept that I had a lot less control over my schedule and circumstances than I thought.
Sadly I can’t cook on the weekends anymore because of personal commitments :(
Initially, I enjoyed cooking after work. It gave me a chance to “unwind”
Then there was another big shift in my life:
My long-time assistant of four years moved on and I decided not to replace her. It was a difficult decision, but one I still think is right, even though a lot more is on my plate now. (There was also a big medical scare in the mix that really shook things up too! Oh, life!)
I’m starting to get the hang of things, and while I love it, I’m mentally exhausted by 6pm…
Like you, I’m pooped… I can’t stand the thought of cooking… I wish food could just be THERE, but it’s not and I still need to eat…
A few workarounds for how I manage:
1. I try to cook at least two meals at once on the nights I do cook, so I have something ready for the following night too.
Even if you’re not a great cook (yet) you can usually boil a pot of water to make pasta while you prepare something else.
2. I keep frozen mixed vegetables, frozen rice, canned beans, salsa, marinara sauce, tofu, and potatoes on hand. Sometimes “dinner” is whatever healthy thing I can microwave in a few minutes.
"MINIMALIST" VEGAN MEALS -- AKA EAT LIKE A COLLEGE KID
I used to think every meal had to be elaborate or something really pleasurable and Instagram-worthy… now I find great pleasure in microwaving a potato while opening a can of refried beans!
TBH, sometimes I wish I had two microwaves so I could microwave my potato while simultaneously microwaving my frozen spinach. LOL
If I have too many nights of this I start to get a little defiant (I admit) so I try to add salsa or marinara or teriyaki sauce to make it feel more like a “meal” when that happens.
Some of my favorite “throw-together” meals are frozen stir-fry vegetables with microwave rice… with or without pineapple (sometimes I have pineapple in my freezer or canned in my pantry) with “teriyaki sauce” (equal parts soy sauce and sugar) or drizzled with worcestershire sauce.
Photo shared by Elizabeth K.
Scott loves microwave rice with Trader Joe’s roasted red pepper mix, sriracha tofu, and extra Sriracha. I also like to make frozen bell peppers with taco or fajita seasoning and put it into tortillas (“Fajitas”) or over rice with or without beans or corn from the freezer.
Photo shared by Christy M.
Another favorite is polenta from a tube (I chop it into slices) topped with bottled marinara sauce, salsa, or enchilada sauce that I warm in the microwave… with or without any canned beans I have.
Shared by Jennifer P.
I’m also a huge fan of potatoes or sweet potatoes with microwaved greens… I’ll put balsamic on top, or hummus if I happen have any… I’ve also used mustard. I love mustard! (Microwaved green beans with Dijon mustard is my absolute favorite thing to eat. Sometimes I’ll get fancy and sprinkle Italian seasoning on top.)
Photo shared by Christine F.
The basics of microwave rice (or quinoa) with whatever vegetable I have in the freezer is my starting point. Then I add whatever other healthy things I have around.
There’s also no shortage of easy “throw together” and “takes 5-minutes at most” recipes on the meal plans that I can rely on and turn to.
PLUS those recipes utilize ingredients I always have on hand or I can make simple substitutions with what I do have on hand because they're flexible recipes. (If you’ve ever watched my live streaming videos when I make dinner you see just how often I do this!)
3. I usually have at least one meal in my freezer. I usually have an emergency soup or chili in the freezer for surprise guests but sometimes that soup is needed when life happens too.
Anytime I make a soup we really like I tend to double it (8 servings) so I can put half in the freezer.
Overall I’m not a huge fan of stacking the freezer with meals. I know some people love doing that but I find in my family, the freezer is where food goes to die.
One reason why I encourage customers to keep their prepared meals (from the meal plans) in the fridge is because we “forget” about things that are in the freezer and even if we don’t forget, we don’t choose them because defrosting and reheating takes too long and you don’t have that kind of patience when you want food NOW. When you’re hungry your brain isn’t reasonable. It thinks “PIZZA!” even though pizza delivery takes longer than reheating.
Any time there is an interruption in my schedule I’m at risk for totally wandering off path and into the weeds.
The only way I can combat that is to set myself up for success, which includes having a weekly meal plan and minimalist meals as a backup.
Having simple (15-minute recipes) show up in your inbox every week (with a shopping list) reduces a lot of hurdles and frictions (aka excuses) you give yourself.
The shopping list will make sure you have good food on hand too.
I joke that any time I have a plan, the universe laughs at me saying “aw, you’re cute! Watch this!”
If this is your story too, you are not alone.
This happens to a lot of us, even us “planners” and OCD types.
Take a 20 minutes today (don’t wait until the weekend, you won’t do it… do it today!) to make a “backup” quick meal to either throw together or thaw out. Write a reminder it exists and paste it on your freezer or pantry door.
This is the only way I’ve been able to “eat right” instead of eat the not so healthy stuff that feels easier and more convenient.