Meal Planning & Going Out

The story goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  That is so true when it comes to me and the kitchen, and it’s always been that way.  I will freely admit I’m not the best at planning my week, and I’ve thrown away my fair share of rotten veggies…big old sad face if they came from Whole Foods and/or were organic.  I don’t mind paying extra, but you gotta use what you buy.

When I lived in Seattle with Jason and Ben, I got a great lesson on meal planning.  Every week, Jason would sit down with his pad of paper and plan our lunches and dinners for the week, and then derive the grocery list from there.  When we were all in town and work wasn’t crazy (never often enough!), we had an excellent system down.  Monday was grocery night, and we almost always had tacos – super quick for a tight week day schedule.  Jason would cook while I would sit at the breakfast counter with wine (and whine.)  Ben and I had clean-up duty, which usually meant Ben was scrubbing and I was packing lunches.  We all got to do the things we liked best, or at least tolerated the most.

BTW, Ben – I’m sorry.  I leave dishes in my sink, sometimes overnight.  I didn’t do it while we lived together, but I’ve gone back to my bad ways  Bad single girl behaviour is real.  I’m ashamed and will look to find ways to improve this terrible, lazy habit of mine.

At any rate, I’ve adopted Jason’s method for meal planning for myself. Lunches on the left, dinners on the right.  Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, but if it’s something too messy or random to pack for work, I’ll just keep it for dinners.  I even tossed Chipotle on here – I knew I would be running errands all day yesterday. Their allergen menu is fantastic!

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The key to success for me is prep work. By the time I get home, I’m just fried and don’t feel like cooking.  If I’ve already done the work, great!  Prep for lunches this week was easy – chicken sausage with veggies.  The sausage is pre-cooked, so all I have to do is make the veggies, dump it into a container and call it a day.  I keep single serve hummus on hand, so I bundle that up with carrots and celery, bag up some hard-boiled eggs for snacks, divvy out fresh fruit for fruit salad, and all week it’s grab and go.

BTW, why do sausages look so dirty?  I had to laugh when I took this pic.  I know, I know.  I have the mentality of a fifteen year old boy and I’ll admit to it.

Aidells Chicken & Apple sausage paired with sweet potatoes and a kale/quinoa mix:

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No big deal to eat this for three days.  Tonight I’m making tacos (ground beef, Trader Joe’s taco seasoning, a can of rotel) and I’ll rotate between tacos and taco salad the rest of the week.  I’m already planning dinner out on Thursday night, and I know I’ll screw up one night and be off my schedule.  I stock soup for those nights, or I’ll have a Daiya frozen pizza.  I’ve mapped out my other activities as well, so I’ll have an idea of what’s going on when I’m grocery shopping.

The party planned for Saturday is a bit trickier, because I adore the couple hosting and a little one’s birthday party could likely turn into an all day event.  It’s a Saturday, we’ll have great company, cocktails may be poured.  Just saying.  I’ve shown up to Susie and Charlie’s with my own cooler of beer to watch football, but this time it’ll likely be a mix of booze and healthy snacks to help keep my face out of the birthday cake.

Eating outside of my house isn’t necessarily hard, but it requires the same amount of planning on my part.  House parties are the trickiest, though usually I can dig up some fruit and veggies and I almost always have almonds or beef jerky with me in a pinch.  And let’s be honest – I’m not going to starve.  I’ve got some reserves, kind of like a hibernating bear.

Local friends – I promise I can still go out!  I like going out!  I like going to dinner and I love going to brunch!  If you want to go out, let’s go out.  I can always find something, I promise.  PROMISE.  I’ll do the research ahead of time and I’ve gotten the hang of ordering.  Big ups to Anna and Colleen in particular for vetting restaurants and being patient with me in the beginning when I had a hard time figuring it out.  Tito’s Vodka is everywhere and if all else fails, there’s salad 🙂

I am super thankful to have friends and family that are way supportive of my admittedly somewhat restrictive diet, but I know some of y’all worry.  Thank you!  The best comparison I can make is that if you think of me as being on Paleo, or low carb, or whatever whole food diet is out there – it’ll cover 90% of the stuff I can’t eat.  No biggie.

XO

Surviving New Year’s – Boozy Treats, College Football, and Cooking

Happy New Year, everyone!

This might be the first year I haven’t made any resolutions – I made all the bad behavior changes I cared to make in October.  For 2015, I resolve to give up beer!  Lasagna!  Bubbles and cheese plates!  Oh wait…already did all of that.  I will keep working towards my goal of getting healthy and feeling better, though, and I definitely need to bank more time at the gym.  I’ll probably find myself at the complex gym by the end of the day, because it is way too nasty to venture outside.  I purposely dressed in gym clothes today, all the way down to my kicks and sports bra, so no excuse to not go.  And hey…no hangover!

It’s been ages since I went “out” for NYE.  I’ve spent the last few years hiding out from drunks and crazies with Jason and Ben or hanging out with friends at their annual house party.  The party skipped a year, thanks to an out of town wedding, but luckily for me, Jason and Ben extended their Dallas visit and were in town!  Yay!  And with the doggies too, which is such a treat!!!  Love them.  Anyhoot, if I’m remembering last year correctly, Jason made homemade alfredo sauce, oodles of pasta and ridiculously good rosemary bread, and we no doubt drank many bottles of wine and other boozy treats.  None of that for me this year, but fortunately the boys were totally on board with my plan for steak, brussels sprouts with bacon and potatoes.

I rarely cook meat unless it’s in a slow cooker or warming up pre-cooked chicken sausage  (Aidells!  I’m addicted. Thank you for selling in bulk at Costco.)   Maybe I’m just paranoid because of my overly sensitive stomach, but I’m always afraid I’ll poison myself.  Cooking classes definitely need to be added to my developing list of hobbies.  My knife skills are atrocious.  Ask anyone who has spent thirty seconds in the kitchen with me.  I’ve been playing around with a new cast iron skillet, though, and thanks to my growing adoration of The Pioneer Woman, I made perfectly done steaks!  SO GOOD!

Cooking shows, what?  I know, I know…why torture myself with food porn?  It’s a fun new game where I try to redo every single recipe with foods I can actually eat.  The jury is permanently out on macaroni and cheese.  I’ve found excellent gluten free pasta, and the Daiya cheese is okay for certain things, but it’s just not the same, will never be the same, and I remind myself that I always felt like hell after eating it anyway.  So there.

You know what doesn’t make me feel like hell?  Bacon grease, at least in moderation.  Have I mentioned that the foods I can eat aren’t necessarily healthy?  And I swear I’ve consumed more salt in the past two months than I did all year.  That’s why I’m using the food tracker too – I love that I can see every detail and track what I’m really taking in for the sneaky things like sodium, iron, calcium, cholesterol, etc.  Frying bacon was an excellent way to continue seasoning my skillet, and it made for even more delicious brussels sprouts.  Sure, I should have roasted them, and I normally would (thanks for teaching me how, J!!) but what a nice treat!  Set those aside, sear the steaks for 90 seconds on each side and toss that skillet in the oven to finish.  Thanks again, Pioneer Woman!  I can’t just read a recipe, apparently, I have to watch it happen too.

So that was my NYE meal, and I’ve had excellent leftovers for football watching today, but where do the boozy treats come in?  College football without beer?  Toasting the new year without champagne?  Madness!  As for as liquor goes, distilling supposedly removes all gluten.  The Celiac foundation doesn’t agree, though, and I just don’t want to risk it.  Reading other blogs about gluten intolerances over the past couple of months has made me very leery.  Surrendering my beautiful bottle of Grey Goose L’Orange was painful, but it’s good in the long run.  Besides, I’m sure I can stock up on potato vodka next time I’m in Idaho, and I can even support (sort of) local business and drink Tito’s Vodka and Deep Eddy Vodka.  Win!

I’ve been a fan of Deep Eddy Grapefruit for ages now, and though I had to quit Deep Eddy Cranberry thanks to my sensitivity issue, finding substitutes has been no problem.  I was even fortunate enough to find two 99% corn distilled bourbons when I went to Nickel and Rye last month.  Such a good treat!  That said…alcohol is a well known inflammatory aggravator.  It’s a stomach and intestine irritant and increases gastric acid.  I already have enough issues with bad belly, nausea and throwing up, so I have to be very cautious about my consumption level.  Club soda is a good friend, though, and alternating a vodka/soda with a soda/soda keeps it pretty level.

Beer wasn’t a major loss, though I will miss going to breweries and trying craft. Oh, that chocolate stout at Icicle Brewery in Leavenworth! And a Guinness beef stew! For every day boozing, though, I’ve always preferred hard cider – generally gluten free.  Yay!  It’s packed full of sugar and will murder some calories, though.  Woo.  Other than the occasional Summer Shandy or Blue Moon, though, I haven’t had much beer in ages.  All of the Seattle sports teams sold cider in their stadiums and most bars have at least one on tap.  Easy breezy.

Speaking of sports…tough day for my Baylor Bear friends and a beautiful day for my Michigan State fans, but what an exciting game of college football!   I love a good come back against all odds, except when Baylor did it to TCU.  Bah.  At any rate, I’ll admit that quilting and drinking water at home isn’t quite as fun as watching at Buffalo Wild Wings with friends, but I certainly feel pretty good.  (And by the way, at BWW, have the naked tenders with mild or medium sauce with fries.  Not a “healthy” choice but gluten, soy and dairy free!)

Signing off for now – over the next week I’ll check in on cooking shows and substitution games, madness at the gym, dating adventures and of course, any more progress towards getting into my grad school clothes.  They’re in my closet in a plastic tote, just waiting for me to fetch them!

(p.s. – made another lucky stars quilt square today!  Showed Jason how to paper piece last night and I can’t wait to get to Urban Spools and use the gift card they bought me for Christmas on a new project.  I was so spoiled for Christmas!!!)

Cheers!