Healthy, fast meals and motherhood should go hand in hand, so why do so many of us seem to struggle in this aspect of #momlife? It is my mission today to figure out why it’s so tough and provide you with an action-packed game plan for creating simple, affordable, tasty, and healthy meals for you and your sweet little family.
Before we begin, I’d love to introduce myself. My name is Jennifer Blossom, and I’m a Doctor of Occupational Therapy and the CEO/Founder of blossomingmommyandbaby.com, a motherhood wellness brand giving moms like you the encouragement, tools, and education to create a meaningful motherhood. I love teaching moms how to become the healthiest and happiest version of themselves through simple, holistic lifestyle practices. I’m also a boy-mom and wife to my handsome hubby Brian. I live in a small fishing town just south of Anchorage, Alaska. In my spare time, I love long, snowy trail runs, bubble baths, snuggling with my crew, and whipping up healthy and hearty dishes in my kitchen.
Shall we dive in? I know you’re ready to learn how to make healthy meals, and I’m ready to spill all my secrets!
Why is it so hard to make healthy meals?
There are lots of reasons busy moms don’t make healthy meals. Some common concerns I hear:
1. Healthy is hard. Healthy meals can take a long time to make, have long recipe lists, and contain weird ingredients. With the sleep deprivation most moms experience, healthy cooking can feel impossible.
2. Healthy is expensive. Buying organic and fresh ingredients can be more expensive than buying premade or packaged foods. Fresh ingredients may also go bad before you get a chance to use them.
3. Healthy doesn’t taste good. Healthy meals can be bland, and your family may hate them.
What can moms do to make healthy meals simple, affordable, and tasty?
Mamas, I really understand those concerns! I’m hoping the solutions below will make it easier to integrate more wholesome food into your family’s life.
How to make healthy meals simple
Plan and prep! Take one to two hours each week to plan out all of your family’s meals for the week ahead. In addition, try prepping as much as you can – chopping vegetables and measuring out ingredients – to save you time so you can enjoy stress-free meals throughout your week.
Here are four of my favorite tips for storing prepped ingredients:
1. Prep and cut all vegetables and store them in glass or see-through containers. Make a list of what vegetables you’ll need for all meals during your week and get chopping! From there, place them in containers and keep them in the fridge next to the other veggies you’ll need that night. Use separate containers for each vegetable (e.g., one container for chopped carrots, one container for chopped onions) for easy identification. You can also chop up some extra veggies for grab-and-go snacks.
2. Not all fruit is created equal when it comes to meal prep. Juicy fruits like melons, oranges, grapes, pineapples, mangos, berries, and grapefruits are great to cut and/or prep in advance. Feel free to combine these fruits or store them individually. Use glass or see-through storage containers or a big serving bowl. Bananas, apples, and pears brown quickly, so cut those as you need them throughout the week.
3. Potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and rice are great to measure and prep in advance. These ingredients store well, so you can cook what you need at the beginning of the week and store it in a glass container in the fridge. Heat up as needed and have a simple meal nearly ready to go!
4. Use mason jars.
They’re excellent for storing anything you wish to prep in advance. For salads, be sure to put your dressing on the bottom; layer your greens, putting the softest ingredients in last. For smoothies, simply prep the ingredients, put them in a jar, and freeze it; when you’re ready to drink it, throw the frozen ingredients in the blender with some almond milk and blend away.
Many moms struggle to find healthy recipes. Whether you’re scrolling endlessly on Pinterest or flipping through pages in your recipe books, deciding on healthy and fast recipes that your family will enjoy can be tough, especially if each person likes different foods. Thankfully, there are many services online for you to access the simple, healthy recipes you are looking for. Here are a few of my favorite services for healthy meal planning and recipe building:
1. Blossoming Mommy and Baby’s Abundant Motherhood Club: An online club that provides moms with hundreds of healthy, quick, and easy family recipes! Two new recipes are released each week, and there are hundreds of hearty and healthy recipes to choose from. These recipes are primarily gluten and dairy free and are catered to busy moms, which means quick prep and quick clean up, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time on things that matter. Think of it as an online and ever-growing recipe book for moms.
2. HelloFresh: Premeasured ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. It’s super helpful when shopping, prepping, and cooking aren’t possible. The company also has different plans to choose from like Classic, Veggie, and Family.
3. One Potato: Similar to HelloFresh in that fresh ingredients are delivered to your house for dinner, One Potato has more of an emphasis on kids and family. I like that the company offers kid-size portions and encourages kids to help in the kitchen!
For a simple way to begin meal planning, plan just your dinners for the week ahead; you can tackle breakfast and lunch down the line. You may consider doing a theme like Meatless Monday, Crockpot Tuesday, Soup Wednesday, Chicken Thursday, etc., as this makes it super easy to categorize your meals each week. If that’s too much, try organizing by cuisine (I love doing this) or by asking your family if they have any requests for dinners.
Lastly, some helpful tools for meal prepping (that I use and love) are the immersion blender, hand mixer or KitchenAid, spiralizer, Instant Pot, crockpot, and, of course, glass storage or Tupperware.
How to make healthy meals affordable
I live by three tips when it comes to saving money and eating healthy. First, use coupons. Whether you have paper coupons or digital coupons, be sure to stock up before heading to the store. Second, shop sales. Always take a look through your local store to see what’s on sale before buying your groceries. Lastly, buy in season. Most produce will be on sale when it’s in season.
If you’re making the switch to organic or mostly organic, my rule of thumb is to follow the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. Use this as your guide if you are trying to decide what to purchase organic and what not.
Remember, produce expires quickly. Only purchase produce you know you are going to use for the week, and if you see produce going bad, be sure to use it. Most vegetables go great in sauces, soups, and salads. Fruits can be chopped and stored in the freezer for smoothies.
How to make healthy meals taste good
One of the best ways to make healthy meals taste amazing is to season well. Try different herbs, spices, sauces, and marinades to add incredible flavor and texture to your dishes. Add toppings like cheese, nuts, and dips. Try preparing your food differently (e.g., sautéing or grilling if you usually roast) to get your family on board.
A few of my favorite herbs and spices that add serious flavor and nutrition to dishes include:
1. Basil: Amazing for pasta, soups, salads, and homemade pesto.
2. Cinnamon: A warm, cozy flavor that is great in sweets, smoothies, and even sweet potatoes.
3. Garlic: Adds serious flavor to salad dressings, sauces, meats, and really any main dish you prep.
4. Ginger: Wonderful in stir-fry or with fish.
5. Turmeric: Another warm spice that’s great in veggies, soups, rice, salad dressings, and dips.
Here’s a bonus for you mamas! One of the biggest complaints I hear from moms is the struggle to get kids to eat their veggies, so I’ve got one of my all-time favorite recipes for you, directly from the Abundant Motherhood Club.
Easy and Healthy Oven-Roasted Broccoli
- 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp granulated garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese (of choice)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
- Evenly spread out broccoli florets, then drizzle olive oil, garlic and onion powder, and salt/pepper over the top.
- Bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- After 25 minutes, turn oven off, then turn oven on to a high broil.
- Remove broccoli from oven and sprinkle with cheese.
- Place broccoli back in oven for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
Mamas, modeling healthy eating for your children isn’t about cooking a ten-course meal every night but rather getting down to the basics of what your family likes and finding simple and healthy recipes to make those things. I highly encourage you to involve your kiddos in the kitchen. When your children help you cook nutritious meals, you’re teaching them healthy eating habits and laying the foundation for a positive mindset surrounding nourishment and the body.
Thanks for allowing me to connect with you today! Are there any more questions I can answer for you? If so, please let me know in the comments or over on Instagram @blossomingmommyandbaby.