Shopping and Meal Planning: Part Two – Meal Planning
As I mentioned in part one, I don’t meal plan in the conventional way. By that I mean I don’t plan what I am going to make for the week and then set out to shop for these ingredients. But this doesn’t mean I never preplan to eat. I am always thinking about my next meal. Let me explain what I do.
I will start with breakfast. Let me first say that I only have to prepare breakfast for myself. I don’t have any children and my husband prepares his own breakfast. I usually make some sort of breakfast skillet thing.
It always starts with a meat. In part one, I mentioned that I keep a well-stocked freezer. I keep the following ground meats: beef, bison, pork, lamb and goat. So I pull a pound of one of those out and start to fry it with onion and garlic. I then add whatever veggies I want or have on hand. When I haven’t had a lot of fresh vegetables to choose from I have used frozen broccoli, cauliflower and artichoke hearts. I’ve thrown in a can of black olives; whatever. I also add chopped kale and dandelion greens in at the end, cover the skillet, and let them wilt. The amount that I make at one time fills a 14-inch skillet and makes four breakfasts. I then have to only make breakfast two times a week with this “meal planning”. Sometimes I will see that I will come up short on a day that I won’t have time to cook. In these instances, I will cook again before I am out of breakfasts. Right now, I have two breakfasts in my freezer. Just. In. Case. Did I mention that I love glass Snap Ware?
Lunch is a different matter. I work 12 hour shifts, 3 days a week, from 11 am to 11 pm. On those days I take a lunch (and a dinner) to work. I meal plan for these days in different ways. One way is that I cook home dinners with leftovers in mind. These go directly in to a container and into the freezer. I make soups and stews in the slow cooker. I fill that sucker up so that there are lots of leftovers for myself and my husband. I also buy organic chicken tenders and cook them on the grill with whatever is being grilled for dinner. After dinner I divide these into storage containers and add frozen vegetables. Then into the freezer they go. I also freeze some of the chicken separately; divided into servings in baggies and then placed in a freezer storage bag. I use these for meat in salads. There have still been times when I have been empty handed in the am. This is when having a well-stocked cupboard and freezer is handy. A little creativity is also helpful. I made this dish recently, an example of throwing things together from the freezer and cupboard. Lunch when I’m at home can be anything from a salad with smoked salmon to leftovers to quickly thawed seafood. A few frozen shrimp, chopped veggies and kelp noodles fry up in a pan very quickly…no recipe needed.
I also take dinner to work 3 days a week. I almost always take a spinach salad. I mix it up by varying the veggies and meat that I add. It might be chicken, shrimp or salmon; or for meat emergencies I keep a can of sardines at all times in my lunch box. I keep a couple more in my cupboard. There is a lot of space in my cupboards since I quit filling them with cereal, bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, etc. I already mentioned in part one that Tuesdays are #filettuesday. The other nights I cook mostly simple meats, a vegetable and a starchy vegetable. I just take some meat out of the freezer in the morning and based on the vegetables that I have, that’s what we eat. When it comes to the end of the (shopping) week, I make a fridge cleanup meal. It will be on either the Sunday or the Monday that I have off. I will pull a hunk of meat out for the slow cooker or something for stir-fry and then use up all, or nearly all, the veggies that are left. Occasionally I will want to make a specific recipe that I have seen. If I don’t have all the exact ingredients, I wing it. If it is more specific and I can’t wing it, I add the ingredients that I need to my shopping list app and plan to make it sometime in the next week. I almost never run to the store for an ingredient that I don’t have.
So what about snacks and having to eat on the go? Part of what caused me to start thinking about my meal planning was the comment from Angie Alt that perhaps I should add a “min. of planning & prep at least, to help you deal w/ the moments when you are hungry, too tired, have to travel, etc., but are in full elimination phase of AIP & can’t easily just “pick something up.”” I guess I have also prepared for these circumstances, in my own way. I eat and apple or an orange as a snack. They are portable and don’t require refrigeration. I have taken these many times in my backpack during Search and Rescue trainings and missions. Funny thing; eating an apple or an orange was what my mom used to tell me I could have to eat when I was hungry between meals. I have turned into my mother! 😮 I also have a box of Epic bars in my cupboard. There is only one that is AIP approved so I bought a whole box through Thrive Market. An apple and an Epic bar is exactly what I brought with me this past Saturday for Search and Rescue Training. My husband and I were both teaching parts of the training and didn’t have a chance to eat. While driving home, we discussed how in previous times we would be stopping at In ‘n Out Burger for some protein style burgers. I told him it was fine for him to stop but I wouldn’t order anything. When we got home he ate his burger and fries and I ate my apple and Epic bar. I also made a quick little side salad. I have also eaten canned seafood, quickly thawed frozen seafood and dried fruit all on an emergency basis. I never assume when I leave for a function that I will be able to eat the food there. For that reason, I am always packin’.