Summer, the season of savor…
Most of us love this idea but when you’re a busy mom with a bunch of kids running around it can feel like instead of savoring we’re just running around from one task or mess to the next.
I’m not going to say being a mama is easy, but I do know that it is possible to bring in some savor –
- to enjoy moments of deep connection with your family
- to slow down and be in the present moment
- to feel nourished and satisfied
This summer, consider making a small shift in how you plan and prepare meals. Specifically
- stock your kitchen with items that are easy to throw-together
- focus on specific, easy to do preparations of these items, rather than individual recipes
- and, simplify by building these preparations around what’s abundant this season – fruits and veggies!!
So, mama, let’s get you out of the kitchen, and instead running through the sprinklers with your kiddos!
I’ve summarized this article in a handy-dandy refrigerator guide. Just click on the button below!
Since we’re focusing on fruit and veggie rich meals that are less recipe and more throw-together you’ll want to keep the following on hand. Bonus, you get to ditch the grocery list (mostly) and simply focus on restocking these basics with whatever version of that item looks good/is on sale when you go shopping:
Fresh fruit and vegetables: Superpower micronutrients, filling fiber, excellent source of hydration – what’s not to love? Buy extra and freeze; this works especially great with fruits and greens for creating icy cold creamy smoothies.
Nuts and seeds: Add texture and pop. Can be used to add creaminess and as a thickener in smoothies and soups.
Avocados: Magically add creaminess with out the heaviness of actual cream. Bring a satisfaction factor to every meal. Great base for dips and spreads.
Quick proteins: Canned fish, lean meats and fish for marinading and grilling, roasts for the slow cooker, shrimp, rotisserie chicken, deli meats, canned beans (or make a batch from dried in your slow cooker), tempeh.
Starches: Add fiber and satisfaction to each meal with cooked grains, pasta, potatoes (did you know you can cook a bunch of sweet potatoes in the slow cooker? For real!). Most grains can be batch cooked and refrigerated or even frozen.
As much as possible, keep three or four days of throw-together items prepped in the fridge. Think cut-up veggies, sliced fruits, cooked meats, marinading cook quick items, cooked grains or pasta, dressings and sauces. That hour you spend prepping every few days will save you time starting from scratch at each meal – I promise!!!
Super Simple Summer Meals – 6 S’s to Remember
- Salads, Stir-fries or Skewers: Start with a base of veggies. Decide if you want them cooked or raw. Top with some protein, a scoop of something starchy and a spoonful of healthy fat. Add texture and pop like crunchy nuts or sweet dried fruit. Drizzle (ok drench) in a yummy sauce – see #6 below. Or go for a sweet salad – fruit dressed with yogurt, and nuts or granola or coconut flakes (or all three). Got a picky eater that doesn’t like her food touching? Lay the ingredients out and let each person build his or her own bowl. Or, instead of a bowl, thread everything on a skewer (these can even be build-your-own), add some dipping sauce and there you go. (Check out this awesome series on creating meal bowls here.)
- Smoothies: – So perfect for an on-the-go meal or when nobody wants to cook. I like a ratio of 3 cups of watery veggies to 1 cup of fruit because I find that the most refreshing, but play around with that ratio until you find the right level of sweetness. Cucumbers, celery, and baby spinach add a good bit of water without imparting too much flavor. I like to add fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, parsley or basil, flavor boosters like fresh ginger, and something creamy like avocado, nut butter, or canned coconut milk. If your smoothie is going to be your complete meal think about adding some protein so you won’t get hungry too soon – protein powder, collagen powder, silken tofu are all good choices. (I LOVE this easy to follow build-your-own green smoothie chart!)
- Snacks: Keep trays of cut-up veggies and fruit in your refrigerator. Make a yummy dip to go alongside and BAM! you’ve got an easy to grab snack. Little hands can even get it out themselves while you sit on the porch sipping your lemonade… And have you tried frozen veggies and fruits? Nothing better than handing your kiddo a bowl of frozen grapes. Itty bitties need something really big that they can gnaw on – think a big slice of frozen cantaloupe – or very small, like frozen peas, to avoid a choking hazard. And sometimes, on a really hot and busy day, snacks and pile of deli meat/cheesesticks/hard-boiled eggs become dinner (I’m not the only one, right?) You can find a couple of kid-friendly dip ideas here.
- Soups: Think of summer soups like a savory smoothie. Gazpacho made with fresh veggies from your farmer’s market haul, creamy chilled cucumber soup… all super easy to make, in a batch that last a couple of days, no reheating required. Less time in the kitchen, it might be worth a try… (Try this recipe for an easy gazpacho.)
- Spring Rolls: Ok, these take a bit of work to learn how to make but after you figure out how to soften the wrappers you are going to want to make spring rolls everyday. You can fill them with pretty much anything, savory or sweet, you get to dip them, and kids can make them according to their preferences. Yum yum yum. (Fruit spring rolls with chocolate dip? Yes please! Get the recipe here.)
- Sauces: This is the secret to pulling off all of these throw-together, veggie and fruit loaded dishes. Keep a stash of two to three delicious sauces in the fridge and then use them for everything. Kids LOVE to help make jelly jar dressing and they love anything they can dip. Or, just buy some hummus and ranch dressing – whatever works!! (6 dressings to know by heart – here.)
I’ve pinned a bunch of recipes over here. Check out my “Quick and Easy Summer Meals” board for inspiration.
Want this article in your very own refrigerator guide? Click here to download the pdf!
Your turn, mama… what are you favorite simple meals in regular rotation this summer? Share in the comments below!
Enjoy many deep connections with your family over meals you can savor. Blessings, Jennifer
Lisa Grace Byrne, www.wellgroundedlife.com