Friday, May 4, 2012

Time Saving Suggestions

How can I find the time?   I work sixty hours a week. I have to balance school with a job and friends.  I’m a single mother. I have four kids.  I’m an exhausted new mother.   Everyone has a legitimate reason to feel overwhelmed by embracing a diet FUELED BY NATURE void of packaged and processed food, but once you make the commitment to your health good choices will become EASY.  Not lying.  You're going to make the time, because your palate won't be able to handle half the crap you used to crave. 
I am Blessed with the ability to stay home with my children, so admittedly I can be more flexible with my schedule than a woman who juggles a job with her countless other demands.  However, my husband is active duty military.  His position takes him away from the family for extended periods of time, and when he is home the hours he works are very demanding.  Most mornings he leaves before the children awake and barely makes it home to kiss them goodnight.  Ask many military spouses- we are single parents, often nowhere near our families to offer additional support. My husband will be transferring to a new position next month.  (We’re moving again!  Our third in three years! ) This new position will actually require quite a few hours of volunteer work from me.  Raising three strong-willed children ages six and under combined with studying for my personal training certification, researching for my blog, and preparing for my volunteer work keeps me busy enough!  So, like all of you, I still experience the stress of juggling numerous priority boxes.
Embracing a predominately all natural diet can feel overwhelming, because it requires so much planning, preparation and precious time.  Take it one step at a time.  Adopt healthy changes at your pace.  Here are some of my favorite time-saving techniques. 
1.     I plan my menu for the week, so that I have the proper amount of meat and vegetables ordered or purchased (I order a lot online and haunt farmers markets; I'll share some of my favorite websites soon).  Having a weekly menu also makes trips to the grocery store more efficient.   
2.      I’m not partial to dedicating a large portion of one day to cooking, but many of my successfully fit friends swear by this approach.  They prepare large amounts of meat (grill, roast), slice vegetables and fruits, bake, etc. for the week on one day.  Many of the women I have observed taking this approach who are on a fat loss or weight loss journey divide their portions on this day as well.  I prefer to make my homemade mayo (super easy with a blender), prepare marinades and sauces, and bake paleo desserts for the babies on my prep day, using my other time saving techniques throughout the week.   
3.      If I’m making chili or marinara sauce I double the recipe and freeze the second portion.  If I’m making coconut flour waffles or pancakes I double the batch and pop them in the freezer to be heated in the toaster upon request.  Same goes for other paleo treats- that way I am able to offer homemade desserts throughout the week without stress.  
4.      Maybe you don’t have time to prepare a homemade breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Quite often I put leftover meat in my son’s lunch.  People always pack cold turkey or cold roast beef sandwiches… what’s the difference???  It’s the same thing minus the insulin spiking wheat and potentially destructive gluten!  Leftovers also make delicious breakfasts.  Get over the fact you’re eating last night’s stir fry at 7:00 am!  If you have left over grilled chicken take a few minutes before cleaning up the kitchen for the night and prepare a yummy chicken salad with your paleo mayo and a little curry.  Recipes for both at the bottom of the post.  When I was single I rarely cooked, because I thought I'd waste half of the food.  Embrace the leftovers and reconstitute the ingredients. 
5.   I came across this website and was really impressed with this easy and cost efficient lunch solution.  Salad in a Jar!  Pre-made salads in mason jars! Chop veggies, layer in a mason jar, store in fridge, shake and toss when ready to consume!  Genius! 
6.     When I’m chopping vegetables for dinner I always cut enough for breakfast omelets.  In the past the thought of eating sweet potatoes in the morning or early afternoon was wicked unappetizing, but do you have any idea how delicious sweet potatoes are sauteed with some chicken sausage, a little bit of apple and a couple eggs?  Oh my!  What a perfect post work out meal- protein and healthy carbs! My children are addicted to sweet potato fries, jicama fries, etc.  Knowing this, when chopping up these veggies, I prep enough to use for a second meal. Why not save time?  The cutting board is already out and knife already dirty!
7.     Perhaps you’re trying to spend more quality time with your family and the thought of all this preparation seems daunting.  Turn your kiddos into mini sous chefs!  Brenden, Brielle and Bridget feel so empowered using the hand mixer, pouring ingredients into bowls, or stirring with wooden spoons.  I also let them make suggestions - like: adding chocolate chips to our waffle batter.   The Bs are far more open to eating new dishes if they have had a hand in the preparation!
8.     Keep your pantry stocked with the basics.  Always.  Coconut milk, organic canned tomatoes and curry can create a myriad of quick and easy meals.

Pantry Item Staples: Example of what I always have on hand!

~ coconut milk-canned (Native Forest; Thai Kitchen)
~ coconut oil (solid form for hot temps)
~ virgin coconut oil (solid form for hot temps with coconut taste)
~ coconut flakes (no sugar added)
~ flour (almond, coconut)
~ olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil etc. (for dressings and marinades)
~ spices (
~ salt (
Himala Salt)
~ raw nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds)
~ unsweetened cocoa powder
~ troll-pole caught canned tuna
~ canned tomatoes (Muir Glen organic is my fav because I can find it in the commissary)
~ tomato paste (Muir Glen organic)
~ stone ground mustard

9.     Buy a slow cooker or a pressure cooker and splurge on a good blender.  My slow cooker gets a workout at least three or four days a week.  I can purchase tougher (less expensive) cuts of grass-fed beef when I use a slow cooker/pressure cooker, because the method in which it is heated leaves virtually any cut beyond fork tender.  As for my blender. . . My Vitamix. . . I'm so in love.  Every morning I make green smoothies.  Post to follow soon!!!
9.     Next time you roast a whole chicken turn it into an opportunity to make homemade chicken stock/broth.  Put your whole chicken in a slow cooker or pressure cooker; fill with filtered water until your chicken is covered; add a few celery stalks and carrots (no need to peel; you’re not going to be eating these veggies); stuff the chicken with some lemon; add tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and spices.  I also include a fair amount of sea salt.  (Many recipes do not include salt, but I prefer the flavor with some salt).  Strain the liquid in a colander; store in the fridge over night; scrape off the film that forms at the top of your container.  Freeze what you don’t use! 
10.  Always make a shopping list!
       Homemade Mayo Recipe
1 egg from a pasture raised chicken
1-2 T lemon juice
1 cup lightly flavored (not extra virgin) olive oil or macadamia nut oil (which is expensive)
salt and pepper to taste (1/4-1/2 tsp)

I can't recommend this recipe unless you use a pasture egg.  They are considered safe to consume raw.  If you don't feel like reading the article it basically states that the number of cases of Salmonella from pasture eggs is negligible. 
Put egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper in blender/food processor.  SLOWLY add the oil.  Drizzle it in.  This process should take you about 2-3 minutes, so clear out the kitchen if anyone is annoyed by the sound of a blender.  Cover. Refridgerate.  Good for about a week.

Curry Chicken Salad
1-2 cups cooked and diced chicken breast,chicken thigh, etc. (great recipe for leftovers)
1-2 T Homemade mayo (or pick up some organic mayo made with olive oil)
1-1/2 T curry powder
1 handful of sliced raw almonds
salt/pepper to taste
Mix ingredients well

Experiment with a little dried fruit (if you've got some calories/sugar grams to spare).  I have used 1-2 T raisins, a handful of diced dried apricots.
OR.... Fold in some fresh pineapple!  I love the way the curry works with the pineapple.
Serve over a big pile of greens!  Hey you could put it in your "salad jar"!

Check out my Facebook page . . .  Cave Princess  . . . I try to post additional recipes and articles! 


  1. Love the tip to cut veggies for omelets when cutting veggies for other meals. I do that to. :)

  2. Appreciate you stopping by, Tiffany. . . I am a brand new blogger and am learning as I go (as you can probably tell). I really love the feel of your blog and look forward to following you!