Simple Real Food Meals for Summer and Busy Seasons

Photo Credit

Busy seasons will come and go. There will beĀ  seasons of life with greater suffering and trials to endure. Babies, morning sickness, moving, and the like. How can we pursue feeding our families nutritionally during these times? I honestly have been struggling with maintaining a real food from scratch diet in our home over the last year while enduring insomnia and caring for two lively little munchkins in our home. It simply has not been possible.

It was extremely refreshing to here from Stephanie at Keeper of the Home her post Even Real Food Bloggers Get the Blues about her own struggles with maintaining a real food diet in a busy season. Please check it out for some wonderful encouragement and suggestions. I was thankful to hear that I am not the only one.

During this season, I have been trying to slim down and stick to the basics. I do a simple natural housecleaning routine.

I currently buy sprouted bread, tortillas and the like. I am not baking much, partly due to being summer. My priority has been to maintain simplicity and maximum nutrition. I continue to make my own kefir for the wonderful antibiotics and as a great base for all of our smoothies, and kombucha (a refreshing summer beverage with lots of probiotics). These are easy and frugal at the same time.

Here are some of our simple summer meal ideas for this season:

Simple Meals at Our Home

Breakfast -we stick to the same breakfast routine at our house, rotating between oatmeal, smoothies, and eggs. Lately we have been eating a lot more green smoothies, because they are easy to prepare, the kids love them (and we don’t have to deal with picky eaters!), and you can throw practically anything in them for increased nutrition. They make an easy simple lunch or dinner as well. We add coconut oil or coconut cream for good fats and flax seeds as well. Stephanie recommended the addition of Green Foods Magna Plus Powder to increase the greens and veggie content. Great suggestion that I will be starting!

I also make a large batch of homemade granola for a simple breakfast or over top of fruit salad and yogurt, but also buy organic cereal for the enjoyment of my husband! This is one thing he really likes for me to buy on occasion. It sure is nice to have on hand for those busy Sunday mornings before church.

Hamburgers – yes, hamburgers are wonderfully delicious made from grass-fed meat. We serve with raw cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and such on a sprouted bun. Utilizing the husband and the BBQ is wonderful. He loves learning a new skill while mommy gets a break. I appreciate this immensely! Another favorite is chicken thighs with some natural Montreal steak seasoning.
Pasta Presto - a simple meal that takes 20 minutes to prepare! Add chopped zucchini, onions and carrots for increased veggie content if you don’t have the energy for a side salad. During busy seasons I often prefer to stick with one main dish to maintain my energy.
Hummus & Pita – a wonderful simple lunch with quality protein! Make a hummus platter for a light dinner.
Salmon Melts - I keep my pantry stocked with cans of wild salmon to make these easy sandwiches that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Makes a nutritious lunch or dinner.
Burritos - a seven layer burrito style is simple and nutritious with the addition of brown rice, black beans, grass fed beef or pastured chicken and your favorite toppings. Use canned beans if you need to!
Salmon – Trader Joe’s sells this marinated wild salmon soaked in olive oil and spices that takes 15 minutes to bake in the oven. It is delicious and easy to side with some potato wedges and a simple green salad.
Fish Tacos – I purchased some packs of Frontiers Organic Fish Taco Seasoning mix and what a delicious simple meal they make! I combine wild cod with the seasoning mix and fry it up. I use this mayo/lime juice mixture over cabbage, sliced avacados and tomatoes and serve over corn tortillas. Yum!
Baked Potato Bar - grad some chili (a can of chili if necessary) and serve over baked potatoes with an array of toppings – cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, bacon bites, etc. Along these lines we have also done nachos for a quick easy meal.
Cobb Salad- this yummy salad has been a regular lately! Make your own ranch dressing with my recipe. Taco Salad or Chicken Ceasar Salad are also simple main dish salads, perfect for warm summer days.
Grilled Veggie Sandwiches – these are simple and delicious!
Roast in the Crockpot - another easy meal is to throw a pork or chuck roast into the crockpot with natural BBQ sauce and allow to cook on low all day. Nice way to get dinner out of the way in the morning.

Those are some of our simple favorites! I hope you will be encouraged to see that we are all striving to be faithful with the time and energy we have to make whole nutritious food for our families, but the Lord gives grace for these seasons! Making everything from scratch may not be all the realistic for most of us. I am also confident that the Lord is in control of our health and wholeness! It is not worth it to worry and fret over our well-being. Maintaining a peaceful and joyful home is far more of a priority. Remember, the Lord instructs us to not worry about our food or clothing, but rather to “seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto us (Matt. 6:33).” Being faithful but not striving to the stress of our households is key!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

29 Responses to Simple Real Food Meals for Summer and Busy Seasons

  1. Quincy Quinlin July 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    I just bookmarked this site. What an interesting post.

  2. Carrie September 20, 2010 at 12:33 am #

    Lindsay-Thanks for the great suggestions! I don’t have any kids yet, but even I struggle to keep up with it all! I’m hoping that by the time we do have kids that I’ll have some good habits and be used to all the prep and planning that eating real foods calls for, but I also know that it might not be possible, and that’s okay. I pray that I will have discernment and wisdom and patience when that time comes!

    Random thought for you… I was just at Trader Joe’s yesterday and I found their own Super anti-oxidant green’s powder drink mix and it was only $20 for the same amount of servings as the Green Magna mix you listed on this post. I think they are pretty similar! We’ve been using the greens mix from Tropical Traditions for the last 6 months or so and now plan to just stick to TJ’s for simplicity in not having to order (and I think it’s cheaper at TJ’s anyway!) Hope that perhaps helps you save a couple dollars and simplify buying from multiple stores and such :) blessings!

    • Lindsay September 21, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

      Good to know! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Elisheva August 27, 2010 at 5:45 am #

    Hmmm I guess I will need to try green smoothies first before I make any comment (I would have to buy another smoothie maker first), I guess I could juice some vegetables and fruits – but again I am not sure. I am sure there are tons of health benefits but the thought of making smoothies in this way from greens does not sound very appealing so I guess I need to take the bullet by the horns and just go for it.

    Thank you again for your wonderful post.
    Shalom and blessings
    Elisheva

  4. Jessica August 27, 2010 at 4:35 am #

    I really appreciated this post, as well as Stephanie’s video. I LOVE to bake and experiment in the kitchen, but I’m realizing that when I expect myself to make everything from scratch, or have creative meals 3 times a day, I become rather short-tempered with the to-be-expected interruptions of my three children. Throw homeschooling on top of that and its definitely not a peaceful place to be! So I’ve given myself permission to pick up just a few things I could be making at the store. This way, I can give the kids the attention they need and I actually enjoy preparing the things I still do make from scratch. I think the biggest challenge for me is to get over the expectations I put on myself.

  5. Seanna August 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    Hi Lindsay and fellow blog lovers,

    I have been following this blog for quite some time now and have just recently been given the opportunity to write a blog for my company. I have a lot of admiration for your personable tone and will strive to do the same with my new blog. Please feel free to check out our blog since we are neighbors here in the Northwest. It is http://www.myappleaday.com.

    This post was great and I am going to be making the hummus and pita platter for dinner tonight! Great summer dinner idea. I also love the natural cleaning products and schedule. Thank you for the great information as always!

    Thank you!

  6. Rachel August 23, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Lindsay,

    Great ideas! It’s always good to have an idea of something to make in a hurry. I’m in the process of making a collection of monthly meal plans, like you mentioned in your planing retreat post. We live overseas and only can shop once a month, so it’s essential! Thanks for the ideas!

    From Brazil,
    Rachel

  7. michelle collazo August 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    Lindsay,
    Not sure how you seem to know to post just the thing I need to hear…thank you for the ministry that is your website (and you and your family). I work full-time and long to do the homemaking perfectly, as well. But, I always fall short and end up feeling frustrated. I’m learning to place God first and then take it from there(even still, and I’m not new to mothering/working/managing the home). Truly a daily giving-over of my need for order and control and structure.

    On a great side note, the Pasta Presto recipe was just what the family needed for a nourishing meal following church last night…thank you for fantastic suggestions. I appreciate your efforts!

  8. Jessica August 23, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    Great post!!! I have been in a very busy season this summer- 4 little ones!! I have had to allow a lot of things to slide by, simply because there was not enough time, or not enough energy!!! I have pushed myself way too hard to try to make the perfect meals, and I know that is not what my family really needs. They certainly don’t care :)

    I am thankful that you’ve posted your meals, and since the older ones started school today, I plan to begin a decluttering/organizing phase. I would be a better mom if we had less stuff and less of a cooking load :)

    In light of that, I allowed instant oatmeal packets for breakfast, a gift from their Granna :) It sure sped things along for the morning rush!!

  9. Sarah Clifton August 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Hello! Up until several months ago, I could use the recipes from your blog. I’ve been convinced for several years that Traditional diets are the way to go. However, now, I think some people need to start with the GAPS diet before their intestines can tolerate any amount of grains, starches, dairy, etc.. Have you heard of this diet? It may be worth looking into. I read that a woman’s insomnia disappeared on the third day of doing this diet. I’ve been keeping somewhat closely to this diet for a couple months now and have experienced several health improvements that were evading me on the Nourishing Traditions diet.
    Thank you so much for you blog! I’m been very blessed by it and am always eager to share it with friends. :)

  10. Melissa August 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    Thank you for a great post! I have four children all 6 years and under, and I am in a busy season myself. I love how you focus on nutrition, but are able to give yourself a much-needed break at times. Sometimes I wonder if the excess stress of keeping up with nutrition and making things from scratch can override the benefits of healthy eating sometimes! It can be so hard to let some things go, but remembering that God is in control of our lives (and bodies) and trusting Him for his provision is so important. Thanks for the reminder today – This is such a great blog!!
    Melissa

  11. Joy August 21, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    Lindsay,

    This was the perfect encouragement for me today. I woke up at 6:33 this morning and the Lord brought Matt. 6:33 to mind (it’s written on the wall beside my bed so whenever I see 6:33 I automatically think about it). Already God has used that verse for me today in regards to several areas of my life and now food too! This summer our family has made new commitments to Nourishing Traditions style food but it can be such an overwhelming endeavor when you are starting out. Your post makes me feel like it is doable. and affordable. I appreciate your blog so much for the help and also the humble spirit from which you write. Thank you for taking the time to write even in the midst of busy family life and insominia and for keeping Jesus Christ the Savior. Healthy food is wonderful but Chist’s righteousness for my sin is the most satisying and life giving sustenance there is!

  12. Melissa August 21, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    This is super helpful! I have a 20 month old and I am 16 weeks pregnant with our second, so simple meals are a must! I have found myself turning to a lot of conventional convenience food, and I can definitely tell the difference in our health. I will be incorporating some of these ideas into our meal repertoire!

  13. Alison @ Hospitality Haven August 20, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    I like the simplicity of these! Thanks for sharing them. :)

  14. Debbie August 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    sorry to ask – when you have “photo credit” under the photograph – does that mean you have borrowed it from the internet? I have become very confused about using photos on my blog that I haven’t taken. I thought that any photo on the internet could be used EXCEPT where it has a copyright thing embedded on it. I don’t pretend I have taken them! And I am not making money from them. If you could explain your understanding on this I would value it. Thank you!

  15. Dream Mom August 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    Great ideas. I think everyone loves simple meal ideas. I hope you get some sleep soon. I don’t have insomnia however I only get a full night’s sleep twice a month (ex husband takes son two weekends days every other weekend) as I am up with my son a lot (sometimes once an hour, sometimes every two hours) so I constantly have interrupted sleep and it’s very hard. He’s on meds that are given every six hours so I rarely get more than two hours in a row of sleep at one time. It makes it hard to get through the days sometimes. I have learned to be kind to myself and do what I can. I keep it fairly simple; on days when I have more time and feel better, I make more challenging meals. I think everyone likes to think that it’s easier for someone else when in fact, everyone is going through the same things. Sometimes, blogs can be depressing when you only see the “one” side of things and you think everyone else is doing everything “perfect” however it’s good to see and understand the cycle of life-that everyone gets tired and that we all have good days and not so good days:)

  16. Whopper August 20, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    This is perfect! It’s been way too hot to turn the oven on around here.

  17. Christy August 20, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    Here is another breakfast suggestion that may be able to replace your boxed cereal!

    http://thehealthyhomeeconomist.blogspot.com/2010/08/video-healthy-cold-cereal-2.html

  18. Lisa August 20, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    I think your post may well have been the “permission” I needed to loosen up a bit in my food preparation. We have been following an almost militant whole foods diet (a la Sally Fallon) for the past five years, and I’m a very good cook and truly enjoy food planning and preparation. However after having three home-birthed babies in 36 months (the last one four months ago like a previous poster), it has become a burden. I already find myself like the Proverbs 31 women who rises while it is still night and whose light goeth not out by night but still can’t get it all done. I also struggle with food prep getting in the way of mothering. They are both my responsibilities, but how do I do both well. I’m beginning to think that I can’t right now, and mothering is more important. While I can’t really buy some of the things you mentioned because I and my two toddlers are celiacs, I can certainly trim down the process rather than relying on meals like the three-step (sprouting, drying, toasting, scrambling, processing, and baking…okay, that’s six steps!) Kasha Nut Loaf that’s in the works for tomorrow. This was a timely post, and I appreciate it. You inspire me!

  19. tacy @homemakinghabits August 20, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Thank you! I am going to put several of these meals on my plan for next week! I was just wondering what I was going to make… :)

  20. Maria @ Upstate Cali Kitchen Adventures August 20, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    I can relate! This week I’ve found myself at grocery store twice just picking something up for dinner, because I just didn’t have time and energy to cook more than a pound of beans and a gallon of yogurt. These quick dinner ideas will help me plan the shopping list for next week. Thank you!

  21. Sarah August 20, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    That was wonderful. So helpful for me especially since I am about to take on a full time job. My head has been going crazy trying to figure out how to do it all. I appreciate this post emensly. Thank you.

  22. elaine August 20, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    loved this! thanks so much!!

  23. Co August 20, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    Thank you so much for this Lindsay!! The verse at the end was especially encouraging to me.

  24. Lady Kay August 20, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    Well I love this post simply because that exact verse has been on my mind since my husband read it about a week ago. I am just beginning my “real foods” journey and I have found that the more I read, the more I get overwhelmed…and the more time I spend trying to figure out what is both healthy & tasty and not too time consuming etc. the more stressed out I get… and then my husband read this verse and BAM! I realized that I really HAVE been worrying about what I eat, just what Jesus said not to do…I am trying to find a balance between learning how to eat healthy food while not stressing out about it.

  25. Sarah August 20, 2010 at 5:35 am #

    Thank you so much for these ideas. I am in the middle of a tiring, overwhelming season in my life and I really needed these easy, simple recipes! Thank you so much!

  26. Shannon Hazleton August 20, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    I really needed this, Lindsay, thank you for the fresh ideas for easy meals. I don’t know if you guys make chicken and dumplings up there, but I discovered last night how easy and frugal it is. And with all that good chicken broth, so good for you, too.

    Bless you, girl! I’m happy that you are finding a simple and do-able routine that works for your family during this busy season.

    shannon

  27. Sherry August 20, 2010 at 4:26 am #

    Thank you so much for this post! I have cut back in the summer to not baking/cooking as much, because of the heat. I try to do most of it in the morning before noon, if I can. We eat dinner at lunch instead of dinnertime so we don’t heat the kitchen in the afternoon or it takes too long to cool off.

    Looking at that cobb salad! :D YUM!

  28. kristen August 20, 2010 at 3:34 am #

    lindsay, thank you, THANK YOU for this post! you have such a gentle and sweet spirit about you! i have recently (since the homebirth of my second son 4 months ago) gone through a dramatic awakening in regards to our food, which is such a blessing. but you’re right, sometimes it DOES get so very overwhelming. i appreciate the freedom that you allow yourself to be ‘imperfect’ when it comes to making things from scratch. sometimes it’s just not practical. if we were prairie women from 100 years ago, that would be our sole profession (food and babies, right?), but we are modern women in the 21st century trying to live a traditional lifestyle. somtimes it just doesn’t mix! blessings to you and your two little ones today!