Making Real Food Without Quitting Your Day Job

Making Real Food Without Quitting Your Day Job

You’ve heard it before. “I’m too busy to cook”. Heck, you’ve probably said it a time or two I know I have in my past life. In this mad, mad world where we are constantly up against competing priorities with kiddos’ activities, careers, volunteering commitments, and trying to insert a little fun {and self-care} into the mix, it’s so much easier to just pick up the phone and dial for take-out.

In fact, according to a CBS News Poll, only 43% of American households eat a home-cooked meal 6-7 nights per week. That’s less than half. Not to mention, this data doesn’t take into consideration what “home-cooked” consists of. I’d venture to say that many times, it involves various levels of processed ingredients. That’s no bueno.

Michael Pollan said it best in his recent bestseller, “Cooked”, where he concludes that cooking at home may be the most important part of our diet, and potentially a solution to America’s obesity epidemic:

Cook at home {and} get soda out of your house and obesity is taken care of. The most important thing you can do for your kids’ long-term health is to teach them to cook.  -Michael Pollan, Cooked

Eureka! Ok, maybe it’s not that simple, but it’s a start.

So now that you know {a potential} solution to our nation’s vastly growing waistlines, how in the world do you go from inspiration to real-world implementation, whilst keeping your day job, your kids nourished, your spouse happy, and {most importantly} your sanity?

This is how.

10 Tips to Prepare & Eat Real Food Every Day

1. Consistent meal planning

Once a week, plan out your entire menu for the next 7 days, check your inventory for existing ingredients, make your shopping list, and head to the store. Not sure what to make and when? I’ve got your back. There are tons of meal planning subscription services out there that make this step a breeze and keep you nourished, like my personal favorite from Holistic Squid, that includes weekly real food meal plans, recipes, shopping lists, and more for as low as $6 a month. Priceless, if you ask me. Check it out here. If you’re on the Paleo train, you’re in luck – there’s an option for that too. Check it out here.

2. Hit the store once {and only once} per week

How many times have you had to run to the store for just one ingredient? Or perhaps you’re a frequent flyer every night after work, scrapping random things together for the evening’s meal? What a time suck that is. Plus, when you’re cooking with real, whole ingredients, you only need to go around the periphery of the supermarket, rather than taking time to go up and down the interior aisles where the dead, processed foods lie, shaving more time off of your weekly trip.

Once you’ve crossed step 1 off the list, this is a piece of cake. Make it a point to use those ingredients that will spoil faster {like fresh fish} toward the beginning of your meal prep journey.

3. Chop, shred, prep, repeat…

This is what I like to refer to as the “weekend power hour” {or hours, more likely}. This is when you chop, shred, and prep all of your meals ahead of time so you don’t have to spend any more time throughout the week preparing dinner than you would tossing a frozen pizza in the oven.  In a perfect world, you would do this as soon as you get home from your shopping extravaganza, but alas, real life is not that seamless. Schedule this time in the kitchen as if it’s a meeting you can’t miss.

4. Invest in technology

Get yourself a good quality food processor. I’m a traditional kinda gal, and enjoy chopping and shredding by hand as much as the next one, but most days, when I’m in the kitchen, it is on like Donkey Kong, and every second counts. This is the one that I have and it does it all. Chops, shreds, slices, dices, mixes, and purees. It makes Step 3 a cakewalk.

5. Recruit the troops

Contrary to popular belief, husbands are perfectly capable of assisting with Step 3 {and even taking on a meal or two throughout the week}. So are little people. Depending on their age, small hands can chop, wash, measure, and peel. Plus, it gets kids involved in the kitchen and teaches them a valuable lifelong lesson {cooking + nutrition}. If you’re dealing with picky eaters, chances are, they’re more likely to try something that they helped to prepare. Bonus!

Keeping It Real Without Quitting Your Day Job 10 Tips to Prepare & Eat REAL FOOD Every Day

6. Cook once, eat thrice

I don’t cook dinner every night. I can’t be bothered with that nonsense. Instead, I triple recipes {or quadruple, if I’m really feeling it} during the aforementioned weekend power hour, and reheat the leftovers {in the oven, not the microwave} during the week for another dinner or lunch. Depending on the army you’re feeding, you’ll need to adjust your recipes and shopping lists accordingly, but aim for one meal feeding your crew 2-3 times. Make even more and freeze in individual portions for home-cooked, real food frozen dinners when the week gets really crazy and your power hour is cut short.

7. Batch and freeze

One way I like to save moolah while feeding my family real food is to round out my meat offerings with properly prepared beans and grains, adding bulk without breaking the bank. Because proper preparation takes time and planning, my M.O. is to cook in large batches and freeze in pre-portioned glass mason jars like these so when the mood strikes for a rockin’ chili that uses both, I’ve got beans and grains on deck and all I have to do is thaw and toss in.

8. Deep freeze

Secondary to my D-I-Y yogurt maker, one of the best investments I’ve made that pays dividends is my deep freezer. The sheer ability to store massive amounts of delicious food is a real foodie’s dream. Not only can I purchase large quantities of grass-fed and pastured meat from my local farm at bargain prices and freeze seasonal produce at its peak to enjoy during the winter months, but it gives me extra storage for Steps 5 and 6. Just do it.

9.  Opt for the easy button

The key here is to work smarter, not harder. If you don’t have one already, invest in a slow cooker or Crock Pot, like this one that does the heavy lifting while you bring home the bacon. For under $30, dinner will be on the table in less than 5 after a long day and hellacious commute. It also makes your regular bone broth prep easier than ever. For a body nourishing bone broth “how to”, read this.

10. Lunch on leftovers

Naturally, you’ll have tons of leftovers to eat with reckless abandon for either another dinner or lunch. Prepare your lunches the night before, assembly-line style, so you can grab ‘n go in the midst of outfit negotiations {“no you cannot wear a sundress to school…in February”}, searching for missing homework, and last minute permission slip signing. For things that require a reheat {like soup or chili}, consider reheating on the stovetop in the morning and tossing into a Thermos designed for food like this one to keep it warm until your tummy starts grumbling.

Bonus: There’s also an amazing ecourse that will teach you amazing and practical tips to simplifying your kitchen life for good. Learn more here.

There you have it. You’ve just cracked the code to keeping {real} food on the table and, well…keeping food on the table. You’re welcome.

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Kristen of mixwellness.comKristen Boucher is a registered nurse, healthy living junkie, health & wellness coach, real foodie, full-time working wife and mama of two beautiful girls,, and Founder of MIX | Wellness Solutions For A Balanced Life, where she inspires busy women to eliminate the overwhelm to lose weight, fire up their metabolism, double their energy, and cook delicious, healthy, and family-friendly meals without crazy diets, annoying cravings, countless hours at the gym, or quitting their day job. Kristen can be found at, on Facebook, and on Twitter.


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  1. Pingback: Keeping It Real Without Quitting Your Day Job | MIX | Wellness solutions for a balanced life

  2. jenn s.

    I want to start doing this or really I want to start cooking or putting together whole meals for the entire month but using fresh produce so as to stay away from anything in a can or box that comes from the store so my question is on how to freeze the veggies with each meal. Do they need to be partially cooked prior to freezing or can I just chop toss with whichever meal they go to and freeze? I am fairly new to cooking with only real food and teaching myself so any advice would b appreciated. :)

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