Menu planning vs menu doing

It all starts with a nice solid plan. You know? You take the inspiration from cookbooks, Pinterest, fitness blogs, Facebook, Instagram, or what have you. You put pen to paper, stylus to screen, or fingers to keyboard and you’re off! Meatless Monday,  Tenderloin Tuesday, leftovers Wednesday, chicken Thursday, pizza Friday, tacos Saturday, and Sunday you do it all over again! At least,  that’s the plan. 

This week, I got pretty far, actually. I made the menu, made the corresponding grocery list, bought said groceries, and boiled the eggs. Then,  well. 

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Little Elfkin started getting sick.  Like,  both of us missed work, worked from home, and kept her out of daycare for days kind of sick. I managed to boil a couple eggs, but really, the majority of my time was spent trying to make her comfortable and watch for changes. 

We were supposed to have a paleo breakfast bake for this week’s breakfasts. We ate a lot of cereal and/or bought breakfast on the way to the office while the other parent stayed home. 

Side note: Affogato Strada Espresso is delicious. 

*weak stomach warming, skip this paragraph*

Ohhh Roseola. Not fun.  SO not fun. The thought of cooking goes right out the window when your little one is burning up,  throwing up, and refusing to eat. Her fever got so bad at one point that it caused her to throw up, even though she hadn’t eaten anything.  Poor dear. Poor Jeff, too! She got him completely and stunned him.. that didn’t stop the process, though, so she also got the floor, the changing table, and my foot. All Jeff could say was “it’s HOT.”

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So, off to the ER we went, where they told us that “sometimes, sick kids throw up.” …real insightful. 

All this to say: the menu was planned, but the menu was not done. The thing is, life will always be busy and hectic and in the way. I know how to not go completely off the rails, though! Some of it is planning ahead, yes, but more of it is sticking to my plan even when nothing else does. For example, when we had Jersey Mikes, I got a “sub in a tub,” and saved about 300 calories. When having pizza, I loaded it with veggies and split half with Jeff, even though it’s a personal pizza. At the gas station, I tried to pick snacks and meals that fit into my day by checking it on My Fitness Pal (sn: Aminarra) first and making a decision based on that. 

Now, if you open my refrigerator, you’ll find cherries that have gone soft, avocado that’s seen better days, and iceberg lettuce turning yellow instead of pale green.

This week’s plan is to salvage what I can and go from there. It’s always a bit grating to waste food, so we’ve learned to live with wrinkly peppers and to adjust our expectations. The plan is much simpler this time around. Oatmeal for breakfasts, batch cooked chicken for dinner, and either salad or sandwiches for lunch. I picked up some fruit at the grocery store because whole food is fast food. This is a plan I can stick to even if life goes crazy again. It’s not easy, but is doable. So just do it. 

Paleo Pumpkin Pecan Porridge 

With honey, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins. 

Originally, this was going to be a recipe from Practical Paleo, but then I realized that I was missing some very key ingredients like tahini and coconut, and I had an extra ingredient: pecans. 

I used that recipe as the inspiration for this one and it was lovely. 

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1/4 cup pecans, pulverized
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/4 cup raisins 
  • Honey to taste

Are you ready for the hard part? Put it all in a pot, mix it up, then heat to your desired temperature. Easy as that!

Here, I garnished it with a whole pecan, a cluster of raisins, and a swirl of honey. 

A quick reflection on menu planning

In talking to a friend tonight I realised that,  not only had I not blogged in a while,  but I hadn’t planned a menu in a while either.  We’ve been experimenting, in my house,  with buying meat in bulk but buying produce daily. This has added up to an empty fridge,  frozen meat, and an increase in reliance on fast and processed foods. I think this is because our time always seems pressed during the week.  We’re rushing to work,  rushing to get Little Elfkin from day care,  rushing to get home to feed her, making sure to nourish her mind and her body with story time,  play time, bath time, and bed. Honestly,  by the time she conks out, I’m ready to pass out too! I’m cutting into my sleep time to make this menu and reflect: menu planning would be so much easier if you didn’t also have to make the grocery list, buy the ingredients, and actually cook. 

I’m going to try to find time for:

  • Swirly Crustless Quiche 
  • Pumpkin pancakes
  • Grain free porridge
  • Salmon
  • Mustard glazed chicken thighs
  • Zucchini pancakes
  • Buffalo chicken lettuce wraps
  • Sweet potato and apple soup
  • Sage roasted turkey legs
  • Spaghetti squash bolognese
  • Bacon wrapped smoky chicken
  • Sausage and pepper stew
  • Turkey meatballs and squash

Now,  this is a ton of food, so I will disclaim this: not all of it will be made,  but what is made will be eaten and not wasted. For me,  menu planning is mostly a suggestion,  not a concrete agreement. 

What’s on your menu? Do you have a go-to meal plan?

No Sweat… wait, actually a lot of sweat

I found my new favorite group exercise class!  It’s called “Accumulator” and it stacks exercises up one after the other so that it just grows and grows.

For example:

Burpees

Burpees + Jump Squats

Burpees + Jump Squats + Clean/Press

Burpees + Jump Squats + Clean/Press + Single Arm Lifts

They kept adding up until we were doing burpees, jump squats, clean/press, single arm lifts, reverse flies, high knees, and bent over rows.  THEN! They had an ab-specific portion where they started with plank and added one after the other until we were doing plank, overhead lift, flutter kicks, crunches, reverse crunches, donkey kicks, and Russian twists.

It was INTENSE and I worked up SUCH a good sweat.  The awesome thing, though, is that there were sufficient modifications that I could complete the class at my own level.  For burpees, I had a riser to add an incline. For the plank step-outs I just held a plank or used the riser. For high-knees, I marched when I got too fatigued.  I did 6″ leg raises instead of flutter kicks…. My shirt was soaked, my face was red, I was completely out of breath and I *LOVED* it.

I’m definitely going to carve time out of my schedule for that class.

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When I’m not working out at class, I’m working out with Little Elfkin.  We go for walks and she leads me on a merry chase.  It’s probably good for my back if I remember to keep good form 🙂

I’m still working on getting my diet cleaned up.  I have a sugar fiend that keeps sabotaging my efforts.  Slowly but surely I’ll wean off of that.  Caffeine too.  Eventually.  It’s quite difficult to go from so much sugar and monster + daily to nothing–and I’m not great at quitting cold turkey.  Yesterday I had a doughnut for breakfast, today I had cookies for a snack…. The stuff is entirely too accessible either on my commute or at work.

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Little Elfkin had her check up recently and she’s my little chunky monkey.  She’s proportionate, but she’s proportionately *big*.  The pediatrician basically said that genetically she’ll have a double chin and a little belly because she was shaped that way from the start.  She even had a little double chin when she was a hungry baby before we figured out how to breastfeed or use formula.  Still, though, I want her to have a healthy relationship to food and fitness, so we’re still having our meals together 🙂 she eats what I eat when we’re together and I won’t give her junk, so that cuts down on the junk I have! 🙂 It helps that we got rid of so much of the junk from the pantry.

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She loves spinach, eggs, sweet potato, strawberries, cherries, peaches, pears, carrots, peas, beans, etc. 🙂 She’s an adventurous eater and not picky at all. As more veggies come into season, I’m excited to share more of the flavors with her.

Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

Please forgive any typos, I’m sure to go back and fix them, but this blog is being written from my phone while the Little Miss sleeps on me.
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Pumpkin Soup with Chili and Ginger

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While I’m staying home with BabyGirl, there is a lot of opportunity to watch daytime television.  There’s an unbelievable amount of talk shows on that follow a similar format.  The Talk, The View, The Chew, The Real

I was watching Clinton Kelly (of What Not To Wear fame) on The Chew when he demonstrated a Roasted Curried Pumpkin Soup that I thought sounded scrumptious.  I happened to have everything that it was calling for and happily headed into the kitchen to cobble it together. 
Continue reading “Pumpkin Soup with Chili and Ginger”