Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Starting the year healthy

Recently, my 12 year old son Matty was diagnosed with high cholesterol.  I know it may seem strange and unusual for a doctor to even check a person of that age but it is now recommended to check children who have parents or family history of high cholesterol.  And unfortunately, my children qualify.  Although it is not so high as to require medication, it is high enough to warrant a change of diet for him.   So far, Matty is doing amazing with the changes!  He reads every label, eats Cheerios for breakfast almost every day, and has decreased the number of eggs he eats in a week.  But let us not forget....this is hereditary.

My husband has high cholesterol and my results are usually borderline.  As I have three children, I was happy only one result came back high, but because it is genetic, we are trying to change our FAMILY diet.  Shouldn't we all be eating healthier anyway?   Our family is great with staying active.  All three kids do more than one sport, and Mike and I are fairly active, given our age and time constraints.  :)  But food?  We are not as diligent.  Although we like to eat healthy, we are not great meal planners.  We don't always leave ourselves time to cook a full meal every night.  So we eat alot of quick, boxed meals or take-out.  All of which are now no-nos.

Now I don't know about you but the fall is the busiest time of year for my family.  School starts for 4 of us and we have to get used to a whole new routine!  Between work, school and sports our time at home is REALLY limited.  Healthy meals just don't happen that often.  We tend to eat out or on the go, which means ALOT of hotdogs and mac n cheese (BIG NO-NOs!)   So this year, instead of just preparing my lesson plans for the new school year, I also decided to plan my meals! 

Somewhere I had seen an ad for a website that had recipes for 31 healthy crockpot meals for the freezer.  (Click HERE).   I printed the recipes and grocery list last fall and have been wanting to make them but felt overwhelmed at the idea.  It seemed like a lot of prep work and planning and one really long day. A whole year went by and I did not do it.  When I saw the idea again last week, I couldn't resist sharing the idea on Facebook and asking if anyone wanted to do it with me.  I figured prepping and cooking with a friend would be much more enjoyable.   I was filled with dread and elation when my friend Erica said she wanted to do it too!  Without giving either of us time to change our mind, we chose Monday, August 15th to do it.  This gave us about 5 days to plan and shop.  Someone had shared with us a link for a website with only 20 meals but we decided "Go Big or Go Home."  So we stuck with the 31 meals and I cannot say it was a bad choice. I REALLY like looking in my freezer and seeing 31 meals...done!  

It got real on Saturday, when I started to pull together the spices on the grocery list.  I was up and bored so I did it just to get started and the next thing I knew Erica and I were going through the grocery list via text together.   We figured out what we needed to buy and what we could share.  Note....two people will go through one bottle of cumin and curry seasoning and ALOT of honey.  The grocery list does not really prepare you for this.  :)

Now I think we could have done our pre-planning a little better but we did GREAT for throwing it together so quickly.   One thing I would do differently is preparing my bags ahead of time.  Erica had hers all numbered and ready to go, but I didn't.  So I had to take some time at her house to label my bags.  Labeling your bags is SOOO important!  So make sure to do it ahead of time! Also, make sure you have all of the equipment you need to do the prep work.  And try to have two of everything so you can both work at the same time. 

I don't know what the easiest way to split the work would be, but we decided to work on one recipe at a time, each taking different ingredients and filling each others bags from the supplies.  This way only one person was cutting meat or onions at a time, and we hoped it would help prevent contamination of foods by doing that.  This is what worked for us.  You will figure out your own method by recipe #5. LOL!  We prepped for over 8 hours together.  We finished 27 bags of meals and had to stop at 11pm.  (Note to self:  start earlier in the day next time. )   I ran out of meats because I ended up doubling a few recipes as we were going as I have a larger family.  So at recipe 27, I called it quits for the day and I finished on Tuesday. 

Having finally completed this task, I still think this is a lot of prep work and planning.  And one VERY long day of putting together the meals.  But would I do it again?  Absolutely!  Not only did I have fun with a great friend but I walked away with 31 HEALTHY meals, all ready for the new school year.   I already know the recipes that I would use again and there are a few that I will probably tweek next time.  Some recipes will need to be doubled to feed my family of 5.  But I can positively say this.....Once they are gone, I will do it again.  Of that I have no doubt!

P.S.....I think this will have saved me quite a bit of money but I won't know that until after the one month is up!  :)

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