Sunday, March 6, 2011

meals & such

During my walk in snow flurries this afternoon I was thinking about how much I'm enjoying how I've been planning meals for the past five or so months. I discovered how preparing a meal is meditative for me about ten years ago when I was following a strict Weight Watchers program. Cooking really became a passion for me.

I know this plan isn't novel and many people probably follow something similar. My rationale for doing this covers a few objectives:
- it's more economical for me
- ease on Monday - Friday
- I make better eating choices. I work on a university campus and have tons of great food options just a few blocks away from my office. But that means spending more cash and not making wise choices all the time.

For me, right now, it's easiest to make 2-3 meal options on Sunday. These pretty much last me throughout the week. Here's what this looks like most often:

1. A hot entree. Soup, a pasta or grain dish or a cooked meat. I eat this for both lunches and dinners. I usually get 4-5 servings from what I make. For soups, I usually freeze at least one serving right after I make the recipe for the future. I like to do this on the front-end because I'm less likely to toss it at the end of the week because I'm tired of eating the dish. Needlessly wasting food is a top pet peeve for me.

2. Something that's served cold. Vegetable, pasta/grain or fruit. Vegetables usually take the form of salads. Grains/pastas are typically salads too, with chopped vegetables, a seasoned dressing to hold everything together and a protein (cheese, meat, egg or nuts). I combine fruit quite a bit with yogurt or cottage cheese. The old standby of a PB&J or meat/cheese/spread sandwich fits into this category too. This usually is a 4-5 serving option too.

3. A baked good. This is more of a recent thing for me. I've been making muffins or quick bread weekly for about a month. I'd rather have these goodies around the house than a full-on dessert on a regular basis. They make for a quick breakfast if I'm running late and they save me from picking something up at a coffee shop during the day. And I know what I've made them with.

4. Extras (for when I get bored with something, or if the weekend is too busy to get two options completed). I rely on my freezer mostly for extras. Portions of hot entrees I've frozen. Matthew's burritos. Amy's low-sodium frozen meals. Frozen vegetables. Frozen fruit for smoothies. Trader Joe's naan. Trader Joe's cucumber wontons (this is a regular go-to on Wednesdays when I tutor after work and eat around 8:30 or so). Eggs for an omelet or hard-boiled. Target Simply Balanced pizza (you can take the girl out of college, but you can't take college out of the girl). Friday is usually the day I'll buy lunch around campus. I do keep a few dessert sweets on hand. Usually ice cream, frozen fruit bars and/or cookies in the freezer.

This week looks like this: my version of veggie chili, hard-boiled eggs in the fridge, a quinoa tuna salad I made up and cornbread muffins.

I keep a notepad on my fridge and write down entree ideas there. It's right next to the notepad I use to make grocery lists, so it's easy for me to glance over and jog my memory about what I'd like to eat. Right now, this is a great plan for me.


  1. Ahh, the food options around campus are often too plentiful! I'm having lunch out 3 times this week (but it is break so I'm catching up with colleagues/friends).

  2. This post sounded really happy/content.

  3. You're right, this sounds simple, but I know it's not. I need to learn from your example. It's too easy to eat while on the run!