Meal planning, because eating grilled chicken with steamed vegetables for every meal does not a happy Hillary maketh

recipes

My box of recipes collected from Cooking Light and other sundry sources…I am planning on organizing them into a binder this week. I like paper copies of recipes, okay? Cooking with my computer or phone near me just seems like a *recipe* for disaster. Yes, the pun was intentional.

 

When I am not on summer break (I’m a public school teacher), I plan my meals for the week on Friday and go grocery shopping on Saturday morning or *early* afternoon. I absolutely hate grocery shopping in a crowded store. I get hives just thinking about it. So rolling up to Whole Foods at 3 pm on a Sunday is out of the question for me (unless someone has slipped me a Xanax). Yes, I am a Whole Foods devotee. Judge me all you want. My husband thinks it’s mostly a waste of money, but he does agree their produce is better than our local Giant (Giant is like a Kroger). I prefer to buy organic produce as much as possible. Pesticides freak me out. I know we can’t completely avoid our exposure to pesticides (or to phthalates).

I could devote a separate post to my opinions on chemical exposure, but for now I will stick to the topic of meal planning. In all honesty, meal planning is very difficult when you are planning for two people (one of whom is not subscribing to my new healthy eating style). Yes, I am referring to my wonderful husband. He actually eats healthy by default, but he doesn’t need to count calories or weigh/measure his portions exactly. This stresses me out, because I plan on having food around for more than one day to eat left overs. Luis will often eat double or triple the portion that I eat which tends to cause food scarcity. We are continuing to work on this in a way that allows me to do what I need to do and allows him to not as he would argue “starve to death.” Luckily, he is a professional sous chef and can whip himself up his own food easily. Keep in mind my food planning is different in the summer than it is in the school year. It might also change more when Luis and I move to Chicago. We are going to live with my parents. My mother was just diagnosed in April with stage 4 colon cancer and as if that is not bad enough, a separate, unrelated lung cancer of indeterminate stage. We are going to help take care of her and help my father out around the house since he is still working full time. I have come to realize that leading a healthy lifestyle requires SO MUCH PLANNING. It also requires SO MUCH FLEXIBILITY. If you want to actually change your habits, you have to be super flexible about achieving your goals and constructively handling stress. Meal planning is soothing for me, because it is something I can control. However, I have learned that sometimes you have to relax your grip on your meal plan when you get to the store and the ingredients you need for the recipe are not available. This really used to throw me for a loop. I use Cooking Light recipes as the basis for my meals. Sometimes Cooking Light recipes require oddball ingredients like “3/4 cup drained and chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers.” That is literally pulled from a recipe I am planning on making this week. I’m not buying bottled roasted red bell peppers. They are expensive and what will I do with what is left in the bottle? That’s way too darn specific.

I’m relatively new to cooking, and I used to have a hard time substituting ingredients or eliminating ingredients that actually sound gross in a recipe. Fish sauce anyone? Expensive and stinky and in my opinion best left for use by an actual chef. This week, I am planning on making beef and broccoli stuffed sweet potatoes. I was also thinking about making glazed salmon bowls with brown rice, but I don’t know if I want to buy beef and salmon in the same grocery trip. It seems pricey to me. Right now I am stuck on looking for a recipe for chicken that is not boring and weird tasting. I made a really good ground turkey recipe last week that tasted great stored as left overs even 3 days later. It was kind of like Sloppy Joes, but not quite. I used a can of tomato sauce, ground turkey breast, some brown sugar, chili powder, onions and garlic. I put it over brown rice and added some roasted broccoli. I would list the exact recipe, but it is from Cooking Light, and I think that might violate some copyright laws. Judging by what Zillow just tried to do to a blogger, I think I should avoid any possible violations/theft of intellectual property.

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