When I was a kid, my mother would make lists. There were lists for everything – grocery lists, cleaning lists, to do lists, and the ever elaborate camping list. For Christmas and birthdays we were even in charge of creating a wish list complete with pricing and store availability.

As a mother myself now, I understand the necessity of lists. I have a weekly white board calendar that tracks my work hours and the dinner menu. On the side is a running list of groceries or other needs. This has helped organize our household. We can best coordinate on hand groceries and when to use them.

Since returning to work from a recent maternity leave, I have been far more coordinated in prepping food for my work days. As a breastfeeding mom, it is important to continue to eat for two. As baby is getting all of his nutrition from me still it is especially important to eat well.

I’m a longtime vegetarian with a slight dairy and soy protein intolerance who continues to have a growing interest in eating healthier. Over the last few months we have cut out most processed foods from our grocery list and have been cooking “cleaner” foods. 

It has been a very gradual process that has brought us to eating cleaner. The whole thing did not start out conscious. We learned of my son’s allergy to tree nuts when he was about 14 months old. We began avoiding foods that were processed with tree nuts. So many foods are exposed to nuts – breads, frozen treats, candies, baked goods, etc. Thus began more cooking from scratch. 

I began finding recipes that were written for cleaner eating. They reduce refined sugars and refined grains. There is focus on increasing natural whole foods and reducing processed items. Fats, salt and sugar are things to steer away from; they are often extra ingredients in processed foods. Focusing on whole foods will also result in less of these items showing up in your diet.

I have enjoyed the piece of mind and peace in the GI tract as a result of cleaner eating. It has been my goal to continue to avoid processed groceries even upon my return to work. This has meant preparing freezer meals and selecting portable snack options.

Here are a few snack and meal options I’ve been toting to work this week.

Honey peach muffins from Amy’s Healthy Baking recipe

Greek yogurt topped with raisins – stored separately and them assembled at snack time

Overnight oats from Cooking Stoned

Freezer meal quiche based on Taste of Home’s Farm Fresh Quiche recipe – cooked for dinner at home one night with the left overs packed for subsequent meals at work

Popcorn popped in a stovetop pan and salted to taste

Cheese and fruit kabobs assembled on toothpicks

Melon pieces

Oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip snack bar cookies – pro-lactation ingredients based on Love From the Oven recipe

Whole apple or clementines

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