April 26, 2016

Day Seven: How I Plan My Meals

In the past, I hardly ever planned my meals. What is there to plan, really, when you eat frozen pizza and lasagna every night? The only decision I ever had to make was which box to pull out of the freezer each night. There wasn't much, if any, planning involved. At all. Ever.

So the hardest thing about starting the Whole30 and cooking everything I ate from scratch was that I actually had to sit down and decide what I was going to eat for the week. The entire week! At once! Who has time for that sort of thing? Truth be told, I do. And I found that I actually really enjoy sitting down with the grocery ads and deciding what I am going to eat for the week. The entire week. At once. Really the hardest thing about it is getting my cat off my lap so I can actually see what I am doing.

Now, each week I get excited on Tuesdays, because that is when the new grocery ads come out. I can see what's on sale, and start dreaming of the things I am going to eat the following week. Meal planning for me starts the day the ads come out, even though I won't go shopping until Saturday. I take Tuesday through Friday evenings to scour Pinterest for recipes based on what is on sale. Dairy-free, recipes, to boot. By Friday, I have a pretty good idea of what is out there, and I sit down to actually plan out what I am going to eat the following week.

I try to make recipes that will serve 2-4 people. I eat an abundance of leftovers, so I keep that in mind when choosing recipes. How long will this feed me for? Will it be TOO long, do I need to half the recipe? I plan lunches and dinners accordingly, usually planning super simple things like hot dogs and steamed veggies on nights when I have things to do, like my workouts or after work appointments or anything like that. I'll make extras on those nights so I have something to take for lunch the next day, but will usually end up having to cook dinner again the next night.

Breakfast is the easiest thing to plan. I eat the exact same thing every day, except weekends. I love the breakfast sausages that I was making for my Whole30, so I have kept making those for breakfast 6 days a week. I also like to have a banana with every breakfast. During the week I try to find something portable (like this week's pumpkin spice muffins) since I don't actually eat breakfast until my first break at work. I'm so excited that I can eat baked goods now! Breakfast was the worst part of Whole30 for me, because I hate savory breakfasts, I hate eggs, and I couldn't whip some muffins together with compliant ingredients because it is against the rules. Even now these recipes are hard to find for me. A lot of the dairy-free baked goods are also gluten-free, paleo, etc, and make excessive use of coconut flour/oil/milk. I will pretend to be allergic to coconut if I have to, so great is my loathing for it. I would rather make full-dairy versions and deal with the consequences than ingest coconut. So it takes a while to find recipes, but I'm doing my best. For weekend breakfasts I try to plan something a little more involved, like a smoothie. Maybe next week I'll even go for some French toast!

Hopefully all of that made sense? In the future I'd like to make a more detailed, specific, even photo-filled post about the process, but since it's still sort of new to me, I'm still figuring things out.