Family Meal Planning for the Non-Planner October 05 2016

Susan Kracklauer portraitA Guest Post by Susan Kracklauer, a longtime (4 years!) BBK supporter, customer, and holistic nutritionist of Zest Family Nutrition:

When I talk to my friends about what’s for dinner they are always shocked to find out I don’t sit down weekly and make a plan. Why is that? Aren’t Nutritionists supposed to be experts at that? Probably, but it’s just not me. It’s not that I am not in favor of meal planning…I even recommend it to my clients.

You may wonder how I still manage to get a whole-foods based healthy meal on the dinner table for my family 9 out of every 10 nights?

Well, I have a few tricks up my sleeve: Back to Basics Kitchen, my freezer, my garden and my staples.

First, I am so grateful to have Back to Basics Kitchen nearby so I can stock up on healthy and hearty family favorites. Are there any boys on the planet who wouldn’t love their Grassfed Beef Picadillo? Doubtful.

frozen healthy mealsSo when that dish or other favorites come on the menu, I order 3 or 4 jars. Then I spoon it into glass casserole dishes and freeze it. It is an amazing meal to take to the mountains for after a hard day skiing, and a heck of a lot cheaper than dining out with the family at a ski resort!

Portioning makes it easy to pull out one at a time. And the glass dishes can be briefly dunked in hot water to easily slide out of the dish for a quick heat in a pot. Then there are those delicious Back to Basics Soups. It was a soup sample at the Farmers’ Market that lured me to BBK to begin with. Delicious and SO NUTRITIOUS!

I love that they make their broths from scratch, the veggies are organic and usually local, the herbs and spices are fresh and the meats are local, sustainably and pasture-raised. I stock up and freeze soups too. Again- I switch to small glass containers so the jars don’t break, and it’s easy to semi-thaw and slip into a pot. Great for kids lunches too.

So you are probably getting the idea of my freezer use. I also stock the freezer with wild Alaskan salmon and halibut and free range and grass fed meats from the farmer’s markets including some delicious locally made sausage.

Often when I cook I make soups, meatballs, sauces or even bone broths in bulk so I can add some to my freezer stock. My version of meal planning is buying whatever organic veggies look the best at the store and then “planning” the main course by pulling a protein out of my freezer the night before.

My choices of side dishes are made based on what’s looking good in the garden or local markets, including farmer’s markets. I love to eat seasonally and as locally as possible. I don’t enjoy food that’s been on a truck for 4 days nearly as much as the food that was picked that morning nearby. Steaming broccoli, sautéing greens, roasting sweet potatoes and other root veggies, and also roasting cauliflower, carrots, squash—lots of options all simple and delicious. I just change up the seasonings to expand the variety. I base my veggie decisions on what is available organic, most seasonally appropriate and looking the best in the store. If you don’t want to hassle with veggies, BBK has that covered too.

The last menu components are my staples. We eat totally gluten and dairy free, mostly paleo—with occasional whole grains and legumes. Products that make busy days easy for me include the amazing pastas from Cappello’s (sold through BBK) topped with their Bolognese Sauce—or my walnut pesto from my home-grown basil (I always have extra of both in my freezer).

BBK’s nut butters are great for adding healthy and satisfying fats to the breakfast plate.

Lastly, my pantry has assorted pre-sprouted dried lentils and quinoa, whole grain rice pilaf, coconut milk and canned organic pumpkin, raw nuts and seeds and gut healing, probiotic rich ferments. I also have paleo-friendly coconut and almond flour so I can make paleo pancakes or muffins when there’s a gap in my schedule. Paleo pancakes also freeze excellently and toast up quickly for last minute morning breakfasts. Of course there are a few of those in the freezer from BBK too, especially with their recently expanded Paleo Bakery options.

Preparing meals at home and including Back to Basics Kitchen foods for my family is a priority because restaurant meals are tainted with pesticide-laden cheap ingredients that can contribute to so many health issues. We save money by not eating out all the time—so when we do eat out we can go to a healthy restaurant with similar food principals to mine for a fancy night out.

As you can tell, I don’t spend a lot of time writing lists or making plans for our meals ahead of time.

I usually check my fridge and pull whatever I need out of the freezer the night before the next day.

But I always spend a few minutes Sunday night checking out the BBK menu for items to make the week or month easier. It is a lifesaver for this Mom and a menu planning cheat I can feel good about!   

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Susan Kracklauer, MNT is a Master Certified Nutrition Therapist and owner of Zest Family Nutrition in Lafayette, Colorado. Her practice focuses on family health, particularly in helping kids with learning disabilities, ADHD and food allergies. Find her at www.zestfamilynutriton.com or www.facebook.com/zestfamilynutrition/