650-303-8728 | teresa@teresa4changes.com

Meal Planning When You Have Limited Time

Versatility is one of the beautiful aspects of food. It can be a creative outlet and it is the way we nourish ourselves. Food, when shared, is a gift to others. It is heart food. What we put into it as we make it shows in the end result. Our energy and our thinking is in our food. That’s why slowing down to cook and think healthful thoughts while cooking is of utmost importance. Creating a time to cook allows you to fill your food with love, even when you are cooking in a hurry.

Despite food being so wonderful and nourishing for ourselves and our little ones, it can be a real challenge to stay on top of meal planning and preparation. The question may be asked: how can we talk about the soul and heart in food when we barely have time to get food on the table? Or another question might be: how can we talk about the heart and soul of food if food isn’t a passion? I hear you! Not everyone loves food the way I do, and so many of us really do have limited time, especially parents who work in and/or outside of the home.

Cook in Big Batches

My advice is to keep the food simple and as fresh as possible. I have found it to be very effective to choose one day each week to make one big meal that will last at least a few days of the week. Bonus if you make enough for 5 meals. That way you can freeze some and rotate it into some other weeks. You can pull together something different for the other nights, or mix in takeout options and homemade yum for a complete meal.

Soup is an excellent option for the make ahead plan. Make a big pot of soup and eat it for a few days and freeze the rest. A soup recipe I created for this purpose is below. This will help get you started. You can also find some delicious options online or in your favorite cookbook. One of my favorite cookbooks for soup is the classic and always perfect Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Make sure you add plenty of veggies and some beans or some meat and a good grain, such as brown rice or quinoa. That way you will have a complete meal. If you can, make a salad as an accompaniment. That way you’ll be nourished and content.

Adapting What You’re Eating for Baby

That takes care of moms and dads and older babies and tots, but what about a just beginning to eat little baby? Well, baby, depending on age, can have some of the soup ingredients as well. Simply customize the ingredients to be baby and tot friendly. Using my recipe as an example, leave out the gassy foods, if baby is really little. That means skip the beans and no Brussels sprouts, or at least don’t feed them to baby. Maybe you will add a little chicken or a high-protein grain instead. Or save my recipe for the older baby and tot, and instead make a delicious soup of butternut and kabocha squash for the younger baby. 

By making meals that include baby-friendly foods, you can work in stages. You can pull out what baby can eat and then continue adding in what you like and want to eat. No need to make separate meals. Build your time-saving meal while creating nourishing and healthful food for all of you.

I hope you enjoy my soup recipe and find a passion for food along the way. I’ll share more recipes and food advice in the future, until then, happy cooking!

Teresa’s Vegetable Soup

Serves 4
If possible, buy organic. Begin by washing and prepping your vegetables. Measure your rice or quinoa so they are ready to add as you make the soup. Assemble any other ingredients, as well, before beginning your cooking.


  • 1 – 2 tablespoons mild oil of your choice (canola, avocado, grape seed — do not use coconut oil or ghee for this recipe)
  • 1 cup each celery, onion and carrot, chopped (Make the chop small but not minced. Example, a little slice of celery might be chopped 3 times. A carrot round might be cut into 4 sections.)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice or quinoa
  • 6 – 8 cups of water (I use filtered water)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup each of the following vegetables:
    • chopped green beans (perfect for baby!)
    • cut across the pea sugar snap peas (perfect for baby!)
    • halved or quartered Brussels sprouts
    • chopped zucchini
    • chopped red, orange, or yellow bell pepper
  • 28-ounce can or jar of crushed or diced tomatoes (I prefer the crushed, but diced work okay as well)
  • 15-ounce can of drained and thoroughly rinsed garbanzo or black beans
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • ¾ Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly chopped garlic (about 3 – 5 cloves)


  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot.
  2. On medium to high heat, sauté celery, onion, and carrot until onion is just getting translucent.
  3. Add the rice and mix it around until you smell a little toasty smell, or for about 5 minutes.
  4. Then add the water, let the rice cook for about 20 minutes before adding the Brussels sprouts. Allow Brussels sprouts to cook for about 5 minutes and then add all vegetables except the zucchini.
  5. Let the veggies cook for about 15 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes, herbs, and beans. 
  7. Let cook about 10 – 15 minutes.
  8. Test the veggies. When they are still just a tad crunchy, add the zucchini. 
  9. Let the zucchini cook fully and then enjoy your soup.

It is even better the next day or two. Happy eating!

650-303-8728 | teresa@teresa4changes.com