Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fuel for Life: My Meal Plan for the Week

A bowl full of fresh tomatoes and herbs at my parents' farm in Iowa. (Photo taken last August.)

I've been playing around with applying the 80/20 concept in my life: the idea that 20% of your input yields 80% of the results (in work and in life). As I began experimenting with with this idea, I've realized that meal planning is part of my 20%. It doesn't take a major time investment up front (maybe an hour at most), but the results are widespread and significant. It's the difference between eating nourishing home-cooked meals or a week (thus properly fueling all the other areas of my life) or a week of last-minute (usually less healthy) decisions.

Meal planning can be a wonderful ritual unto itself. I like to turn on some music and sip my cup of coffee while browsing through my favorite cookbooks and food blogs, then map out my plan and accompanying grocery list.

Since I always love hearing about other peoples' meal plans, I thought I'd share mine. Here's a little glimpse into what I'll be cooking and eating in the days ahead.

**I hope to make these meal planning posts a regular feature on this blog. Since this is the first meal planning post, I included some notes on my general approach.**

Sunday: Paleo Buffalo Chicken Soup.
There is something so cozy about making soup on a Sunday, then settling in to watch football with my husband. This zesty soup, with its nod to the flavors of hot wings, looks like just the ticket for tomorrow's Broncos / Chargers game. I may try this as a slow cooker recipe (because all soups are better in the slow cooker, right?). I'll make enough to have leftovers to enjoy later in the week.

Monday: Thai Coconut Curry with Zucchini "Noodles."
I picked up some coconut aminos on a whim the other day, and have been looking for a recipe to try it (or is it "them"?) out. This curry looks super flavorful and I love the use of zucchini as noodles.

Tuesday: Leftover Buffalo Chicken Soup
I have a work event that will last into early evening, so I probably won't want to cook from scratch. Leftover soup sounds like a perfect solution to me.

Wednesday: Seared Salmon Over Salad
No recipe needed for this one because it's so simple. I coat a big piece of salmon in a mix of tamari, toasted sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar, then sear it in a hot pan till it's cooked on the outside, but not all the way through. Serve over mixed greens with avocado slices and a sprinkle of fresh chives. It's a delicious and healthful meal that couldn't be easier to throw together on a week night.

Thursday: Leftover Thai Coconut Curry with Zucchini "Noodles"
I am big on leftovers because they're easy and economical. Typically at least 1-2 of my weeknight meals involve leftovers of a meal I cooked earlier in the week.

Friday: Out to Eat
My husband and I usually take the opportunity to go out to eat on Fridays. It doesn't have to be anything fancy (and usually isn't). Even if we're simply enjoying burrito bowls from Chipotle, it's a break from the ordinary and gives us a chance to connect, talk about our weeks, and make our plans for the weekend. Sometimes, if we're beat, we'll get take-out and eat it while watching a movie at home.

Saturday: Greek Gyro Burgers
Our Saturday meals tend to vary with our weekend plans. Sometimes we're in the mountains, out with friends, or we'll decide last-minute to have friends over for dinner. For that reason, I tend to plan Saturday meals a little bit loosely. If we're around, I'll make these Greek Gyro Burgers for dinner. If not, I'll re-purpose the ingredients for the following day's meal.

We don't really do any kind of formal desserts when we're at home. If I'm craving sweetness after a meal, I'll break into the chocolate stash for a few squares of dark chocolate with sea salt. A spoonful of chocolate hazelnut butter will also do the trick.

Breakfast is almost always some variation on eggs (scrambled, poached, sunny side up) with vegetables (mushrooms, onions, leeks, tomatoes, spinach, kale...really anything we have on hand). Maybe once or twice a week I'll cook up a little local bacon or chicken sausage to go with our eggs. Eggs have been my go-to breakfast for about the last year (prior to that, it was oatmeal or toast), and I find that for the first time ever I am consistently full until lunchtime.

Speaking of lunch, I try to brown bag it as often as possible. I make sure to have protein and fat (usually half an avocado) and I go easy on the carbs to avoid the dreaded mid-afternoon crash. Sometimes lunch is leftovers from the previous night's dinner. Occasionally, I'll run to the local grocery store (luckily only a couple blocks from my office) and grab some soup or salad from the fresh bar.

I don't actually snack that often, but when I do, I find myself reaching for a piece of fruit and/or some almonds or macadamia nuts. If I have time, I'll whip up a quick smoothie with almond or coconut milk, almond butter, and (raw, local) honey.

And with that, I'm off to Whole Foods to get groceries for all this goodness! What are you cooking and eating this week?

No comments:

Post a Comment