When I talk about cooking in batches so that my family can avoid fast food and eat well even when our schedule is out of control, I often get the same response:
“Oh, I couldn’t do that. I can’t eat the same thing 2 days in a row.”
Really? My first reaction is “Sheesh. Picky much?”
Not me. In fact, back when my relationship with food was, well, less than healthy, I ate the same exact thing for 12 weeks straight.
Yup, every day, the same food. I figured out the calories, and in my mind, I couldn’t go wrong. Here was my menu (I don’t think I’ll ever forget it):
- Breakfast: One double fiber English muffin with one Morningstar Farms meatless sausage patty
- Lunch: One frozen diet entree (approx. 300 calories)
- Dinner: 3 oz tilapia and one bag of Steamfresh broccoli
That was it, for 12 weeks straight. It worked, too – I lost a good 25 pounds!
Since then, however, I’ve learned that such monotony is no way to live, and that kind of restriction and deprivation aren’t healthy for my body, mind or spirit. Losing the processed foods and experimenting with more whole ingredients reminded me of the wide world of beautiful food out there that I was missing, and I’ve been on a new, much more balanced path ever since…
But, one aspect of the diet stuck with me: How EASY it was! Admittedly, it was no way to achieve and maintain good health, but knowing exactly what I needed at the store, and exactly what I would be cooking each night, took a ton of weight off my shoulders!
So, now that my schedule is beyond maxed out, I’m calling on the better parts of my old diet plan to help me stay on target! Those prepared, processed and even “drive-thru” foods look SO good on nights when it’s late and I’m tired, but they sure don’t make me feel good at all (and now that little man is eating with us, I have to plan meals with as many natural and organic ingredients that he can enjoy, too.) So my new mission is to write up a menu when I get a little time during the week, shop on Sunday, and prepare as much as possible in advance to help my weekday self out!
Last week’s plan? I roasted a chicken on Sunday and served it with homemade gravy, smashed potatoes and spinach from our winter garden.
On Monday, shredded chicken was tucked into tortillas with a touch of cheese to make quesadillas. We paired them with some fresh organic salsa, guacamole, hummus and a touch of plain Greek yogurt (all of Little Man’s favorites! You should have seen him chow down!
On Tuesday, the small amount of remaining chicken was sauteed in a skillet with some garlic, then layered in a bowl with black beans and the remainder of the salsa, guac, and yogurt.
By Wednesday, we were ready for something different, so we had easy baked salmon, leftover black beans and steamed veggies (an extra salmon filet doubled as lunch at Grammie’s house for 2 extra days!)
Thursday? Pizza piled high with mushrooms and diced veggies from our summer garden harvest. For Little Man, some lentil veggie blend that we had on hand for him (no pizza for him just yet!)
(Sure, you could argue that chicken 3 nights in a row is a lot, but to make a chicken stretch that far, the actual portion sizes need to be really small. We do a lot of meatless nights, but when we do eat meat, we try to make sure it is only a small component in the meal.)
Bonus? There was almost nothing last week that my husband couldn’t help prepare! There wasn’t one night all week that either of us spent more than 10 minutes preparing dinner!
This week? A turkey! I’m thinking sandwiches, followed by soup with lots of fresh veggies!
As a blogger and admitted foodie, I’d much rather be preparing interesting meals off the cuff each night, based on what’s fresh and seasonal and what “food mood” I might be in at that particular moment, but right now it just isn’t an option, and I have to be realistic. There have been too many nights when the day’s gotten away from me and we wind up with no plan for dinner, and that’s when unhealthy foods infiltrate my kitchen. I have a responsibility not only to my family, but to myself as well, to make good, real food a priority.
And to those who say “No” to eating the same thing a few days in a row, I would just say that I’m very thankful to have the choice!
Do you ever cook in batches, or plan your meals in advance? I’d love to hear your ideas!