Saturday, December 28, 2013

Feeding Your Families Healthy Meals When You Have Little Time to Spare

Our guest blogger is Mallory Crain from A Beautiful Surrender. Read on for some great tips on how even the busiest of families can still eat healthy!

Feeding Your Families Healthy Meals When You Have Little Time to Spare 

No matter what stage of parenting you are in, chances are getting healthy food into your kids amidst busy schedules is tough. Whether you are busy surviving with a newborn or driving kids to and from school and sports you just don’t have time to get elaborate meals onto the table. How many of us, in a moment of panic as your three year old is shouting that he is hungry, run to the nearest fast food joint or packaged product? I think most of us would raise our hands.

Guess what?

Not only is it possible for you to give your kids (and you!) healthy foods even when your schedule is crazy, but you can totally ROCK it without giving up too much of your precious time.

Don’t get me wrong. You will have to use up a bit of time, but with a bit of planning you will feel so much more ready to conquer your days.

Let’s start from the beginning. PLANNING MAKES PERFECT. You can choose how much time to put into planning, but start thinking of healthy foods that your child will eat. I know this may be hard for some children, so you may have to get creative, but just start making a list. This includes packaged items (i.e. protein bars or string cheese). It will also be helpful to have snack sized plastic bags and/or various sizes of storage containers.

Next you will need to go grocery shopping for your items and then prepare any food that you have purchased. Prepping it early makes it so much easier to grab the healthy stuff versus the packaged cookies in the cabinet. Trust me. Take your vegetables and slice them and put them into snack size portions into your plastic bags. Portion out your fruit. I found a plastic storage bin in my house and then just lined all of the baggies in there. Then, when I need to grab a snack for the kids, I just open up the fridge and grab a bag. If I had to take the time to cut them as I am running out the door I would have given in to the cookies. See where I am going there? Yes, it may take you 10 minutes to prep everything, but quickly you’ll see how much time it saves later on!

Speaking of plastic bins, I have a second one in my fridge that saves me SO MUCH TIME. It is my sandwich making basket. In it I have our meat, cheese, peanut butter, jelly, mustard, and mayonnaise. Yours may or may not look the same depending on what kind of sandwiches your family likes to eat. When it is time to make lunches, I just pull the one basket out, grab the bread, and throw together sandwiches. I used to despise making sandwiches because it felt like it took forever to pull everything out and put it away. Not anymore. You can also make a snack basket (you could also combine this with the basket full of veggies I spoke of earlier). Cut up slices of cheese or add in string cheese or any other snack item that your kids love that can easily be found when needing a quick healthy snack.

Many packaged foods are not all that healthy. Convenient, yes, but not always the best choice. So, in order to ensure my kids are eating healthy I do make some of their foods. The cost savings are a big bonus too! This is our favorite protein bar to make. It is so simple. I was so intimidated to try it at first, but I have found that even my daughter loves to help make them. So, on a day where we aren't quite as busy, her and I grab the ingredients and make them together. It gives us some quality time, teaches her a little more about cooking, and helps me accomplish getting a healthy snack made. I know cooking with kids can feel daunting, but as soon as your child is old enough, try it. Eventually you both will be working alongside each other and making delicious meals.

What about dinner? The meal that always seems to be so tough to get on the table. Why is it that children seem to choose that time to have complete meltdowns? They must have a secret code. I bet you know what I am already going to say. Planning and prep! Meal planning. It is a lifesaver on those busy nights. Just look at the calendar and see what you had already planned out. No thinking involved. Making the meal plan may not be your favorite activity (or maybe it is), but find a time where the kids are quiet….feel free to laugh at me…and just start writing out your favorite meals. Let your family members weigh in on their favorites and add them in as well. I also love making freezer meals. It is time consuming, but oh how I love it on those busy days. Also, let me profess my undying love for my crockpot. It still amazes me that I can throw some ingredients into a pot and then not think about it until dinner time and VOILA! Dinner for the family that is delicious and I can pretend like I spent hours cooking it. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.

Okay, so repeat after me…

PLANNING and PREPARATION are worth my time in order to save time and stress later!

Now go rock those healthy meals! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grand Finale

I have learned that with a newborn and a toddler the nights feel long but the days go by so fast! I cannot believe that Paisley has been a part of our family for over a month now. Not only do I feel proud of myself for surviving this first month with two kids but also for jumping right in with cloth from the very beginning; and it wasn’t hard at all!

Now that I can officially say I have cloth diapered a newborn, I am surprised by how many people wait until their babies are a bit older to start. As I mentioned in a previous post, the reason for waiting with Parker was mainly because our “one-size” diapers we had at the time did not fit his 7 lb 4 oz little body until he was much bigger (about 8 or 9 weeks later is when we started) and we didn’t want to spend the extra money to have a newborn stash of diapers when I had no idea just how long he would actually use them. I am thrilled that this time around, we found a true one-size diaper with Rock-a-Bums and even more thrilled that those same diapers also fit my 29 lb toddler

I think diapering a newborn is sort of like a how a Rock Star feels just moments before hitting the stage—a bit intimidated by all the people in the audience; or, in our case, intimidated by the amount of diapers a newborn goes through. I bet Rock Stars are a bit nervous about messing up on stage;  for us, we get nervous about having leaks and blow outs because “there is no way a diaper that fits my toddler can also fit my newborn.” Ha! I was SO wrong! But once they get on the stage and start performing, they quickly get in their groove and have a great show and I can honestly say it has been the same for us!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Clean Up!

The biggest adjustment with cloth diapering both a newborn and a toddler has been the amount of laundry I am doing. Clothes, towels, sheets, etc. for our family have obviously increased, and now, with two in diapers, I went from washing about every 2-3 days to at least every other day and sometimes every day. It’s a good thing I have a little helper! ;-)

Let’s talk poop… Parker is 18 months now, so it has obviously been awhile since I have dealt with newborn poop and I have to say, newborn poop is AWESOME and a million times better then toddler poop. Since Paisley is breastfed, I don’t have to spray the diaper that she poops in; I can just throw it in the diaper pail or wet bag and then toss it in the wash with the other diapers because breastfed poop is water soluble! As for Parker’s poopy diapers, we have to spray the poop off of those before sticking it into the wet bag or diaper pail. Although spraying a diaper is not as messy or as gross as many people would think, toddler poop smells absolutely disgusting compared to newborn poop but luckily, nine times out of ten, the poop is “plop-able” so it is a quick and easy task.

Pee diapers are the easiest because there is no thinking needed and it literally takes two seconds to take care of. Just take the diaper off and put insert into the wet bag or diaper pail and you can reuse the cover. Piece of cake!
I also have to mention that I have an AMAZING husband, who not only is on board with cloth diapering and has been since I first showed him the numbers about how much money you can save, but he also does not mind changing the kids’ diapers AND he even helps out with the laundry every now and then.  I created a little “cheat sheet” for him that is taped to our washing machine with instructions on how to wash our diapers. He also knows to ONLY use the detergent we have and to never use fabric softener because that is a big cloth “no-no”.

Here is how we store our clean diapers. I know many people have more creative ways to store their diapers but this works for us and it is so quick and easy to throw the covers and inserts into one bin.

Between our clothes, sheets, towels and diapers, I felt like I was doing laundry ALL the time at first but it has quickly became part of my daily routine and now, it does not seem overwhelming at all.