Monday, December 31, 2012

Gifts: Soup in a Jar

A few years ago, I made everyone in my family a gift basket for Christmas. This was the first time I'd ever given my own gifts to extended family, instead of letting my mom put my name on a tag of something she had bought for them. It felt very adult.

I'd originally intended to make my own hot cocoa mix, give it in jars or bags, but I ran out of time to do that myself and bought packets of mix instead. In a basket with paper stuffing (in case of small children or pets), I included baggies of marshmallows, some cookies, and a mug for each person in the house. For the couple people who don't drink cocoa, I gave them tea. I made gifts for 27 people by spending $73, and was very proud of myself.

This year, I wanted to do a reprisal of the hot cocoa baskets, though I was going to skip the mugs this time. I was going to make my own cocoa and perhaps help with the baking of the trays my dad and brother make for everyone in lieu of material gifts. However, looking at all the indulgence of the season, especially the sweets, I wanted to do something a little better for people. But I still liked the idea of a consumable food product that wasn't just going to result in more clutter around the house. It has the benefit of being handmade with love, as well.

That's how, a week before I left on vacation, I found myself looking up recipes for Soup In A Jar. I didn't have time to be testing recipes, so I needed one that seemed like it would work and had been tested and approved by others. Of course, I still ended up tweaking it further.

Soup In A Jar--Pint size or Quart size canning jar
Gather the following in addition to the ingredients listed below:

  • Pint/Quart jars for however many gifts you want to make. Keep in mind that a quart jar will make about a gallon of soup. 
  • EXTRA-large cupcake liners (especially if you're using wide-mouth jars, but even the regular-mouth jars could use larger liners than the standard size--they make lid skirts, you can skip these if you don't want to decorate them)
  • Ribbon
  • Printed cards with the user-directions, listed after the jar assembly directions.

In a Pint Jar, layer the following ingredients in order (for a quart size, double the amounts in each layer):

  • 1 tbls vegetable bouillon powder
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tbls minced dried onion
  • 1 tbls herbs (parsley, italian mix, savory, whatever sounds good)
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 cup split peas
  • 1/4 cup pearled barley
  • 3/4 cup (ish) pasta--smaller size for a pint jar, larger size for a quart jar

Tap the measuring spoon/cup around the outer edges to pour in each layer. Use a funnel if necessary. Tap the jar on the outside with your fingers to even it out, and even gently a few times onto the table to pack each layer in well before you add the next one.

Once the jar is packed full, put the lid on without the ring. Flatten out a decorated cupcake liner, and cover the lid with it. Tie the card onto the ring with ribbon (the contents of the card are below). Secure the lid & cupcake liner with the ring.

User Directions Card:

  1. Soup in a Jar! The contents of this jar are vegetarian.
  2. Add contents of jar to 3 quarts of water (don’t substitute broth!). 
  3. Add vegetables and meat if desired (onion, celery, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, or anything that sounds good).
  4. Simmer until everything is cooked (original recipe says 1 hour, I’m afraid it will be mush by then, so check the pieces closer to 30 minutes and cook to taste from there).
  5. Add seasonings to taste!
I made gifts for 36 people, made 6 quart jars and 12 pints, and spent just under $50! It also took about 3 hours of shopping and assembling. That comes out to:
  • $1.39 and 5 minutes per person
  • $2.08 and 7.5 minutes per pint jar
  • $4.16 and 15 minutes per quart jar
That's a pretty good average! Everyone seemed to be pretty excited about getting them. Though admittedly not as excited as they were about receiving my brother's coffee cake. But I don't take that personally. Sour cream coffee cake versus soup? I'd be all over that coffee cake too. 

If you're less concerned about the presentation, you could spend less time on them and have them for yourself for preparedness storage. My parents are probably going to make their jar for dinner one of these nights before I leave, so I can taste-test the recipe before I go home and make some for our own food stores. And I'm hoping to test some recipes before next year, so I can do the same thing but with a different flavor of soup. This seems like a nice tradition I could start. 
Do you have any gift-giving traditions in your family? Any baked-good trays you look forward to? Do you prefer more individualized gifts? 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dealing with Overindulgence

Mr. Moon and I have been waffling on whether we would spring for gingerbread houses, which is something I've enjoyed doing in the past but wasn't sure we had time to do this year. Eventually we decided just to embrace it, and invited a friend over to join us in making them. She didn't end up being able to make it, and we ended up getting wrapped up in other things, which is how we found ourselves, two days later than we'd planned, sitting down to start decorating at 10pm.

But this post isn't truly about the gingerbread houses, as much as it is about dealing with the overindulgence of the season. As is to be expected, decorating candy houses includes a bit of sampling, eating the ugly pieces, quality control, eating the oopsies, and guilt-free snacking. On candy. For someone who hasn't eaten that much sugar in YEARS, suffice it to say by the end I wasn't feeling so hot. By the time we finished cleaning up, I was already dreading the sleeplessness and morning after effects, if the mild headache and sickeningly sweet taste in my mouth was any indication of the hours to come.

Usually my Seasonal Splurges are limited to a cookie here and there and a few sweeter cocktails than I'd normally consume, and that's plenty to satisfy my desire to participate in traditions, enjoy my treats, and still maintain some healthy boundaries with my food.

For once, such an activity didn't include overindulging in alcohol to add insult to injury, thanks to a little bit of forethought. And I was hoping that the proximity to having just eaten dinner would be helpful. Still, I realized I had to do something to try to minimize the impact of the overindulgence. But I wasn't really sure what. So I just kind of guessed.

  • I've been taking cinnamon pills to stabilize blood sugar anyway, but I usually take them in the morning. I took an extra couple pills (after midnight no less) for good measure. My evening supplements include a probiotic anyway, so I figured that could only help as well. 
  • Around 1am, I ate a grapefruit to get the sickly sweet flavor off my tongue, and to cut the richness a bit. Not sure why, but the sour flavor was really calling to me. I almost wanted to suck on a lemon.
  • I brushed my teeth really well to help minimize the impact on my teeth and the cravings that typically come when that sweet flavor goes sour--you want more sweet to cover it up! 
  • Right around midnight and again before bed (2am! speaking of indulgences), I drank a nice, big bottle of water, to try to flush everything through. If you do nothing else, I think this is the most important thing to do. 

Ultimately, a little self-care was all I could do for myself. I don't feel guilty for the fun I had, and I certainly enjoyed myself, but I don't want to make it a habit or allow this to spiral into a chain of indulgences that last the whole season. A cookie here and there is one thing, but I'm certain I ate at least a pound of sugar.

Believe it or not, just after eating the grapefruit I actually felt like I'd gotten rid of the headache. And when morning came, I felt a little lethargic, but not as cruddy as I'd expected. So I must have done something right!
What are your home remedies for over-indulgence? Any particular times you struggle to stay healthy, or give yourself a little extra leeway?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Menu Plan: December 9-January 6, Monthly for January

Next week I embark on a three week vacation. I feel like we are completely on track for preparing for this, all the laundry is done (or is getting finished tonight) and most is even folded and put away. I'll be packing my suitcase tomorrow so I can't accidentally wear something I want to take with me--and subsequently if it does happen to be currently dirty, we have plenty of time to wash it.

I finished the to-do list for projects Mr. Moon can work on while I'm gone, all prioritized and everything. There's a menu plan for each of the three weeks I'm gone.

We're hoping after I get back to do a monthly menu plan system (at least as far as most of the grocery shopping is concerned), though we will still have to plan which meals are on which days weekly due to the nature of flexible scheduling.

Week of Dec 9-16:
Breakfasts: Cottage cheese & pineapple, smoothies, bagels with cream cheese.
Lunches: Grilled cheese, Bacon Chicken Cheddar Ranch pasta salad.
Sunday Brunch: Tamale Casserole

Monday: Cottage Pie (like Shepherd's pie but with beef instead of sheep). Made an extra one for while I'm gone. [casserole; meat; freezer; batch]

Tuesday: On Your Own--Mum and Pops want salad, Mr. Moon and I will be munching down on leftovers. [OYO]

Wednesday: Broccoli Mac--Make 3! One for now, one for vacation, one for later. [pasta; vegetarian; batch]

Thursday: White fish with wild rice and carrots. [freezer; fish; rice]

Friday: Portobello Mushroom Burgers, marinated in balsamic vinegar, topped with swiss cheese, caramelized onions, tomato and clover sprouts; side of cous cous. [vegetarian]

Saturday: Spanish Rice Soup--freeze extra for vacation [crockpot; vegetarian; batch]

Sunday: On Your Own; Mr. Moon and I aren't actually planning for there to be much in the way of leftovers by Sunday, so we'll probably end up with chicken alfredo.

Week of Dec 17-23
Broccoli Mac
Sloppy Joe
Meat Loaf
Baked Potato Soup
OYO x 2

Week of Dec 24-30
Split Pea Soup
Mushroom Barley Soup
Corned Beef & Cabbage
Sloppy Joe
Ham Dinner (Christmas)
OYO x 2

Week of Dec 31-Jan 6
Broccoli Chicken & Rice casserole (Jan 5 or 6)
Cottage Pie
Meat Loaf
Spanish Rice Soup

Rest of January (there is actually a few extra meals here, bear with me):
Beef/Pork: Beef & Broccoli stir fry; corned beef?

Bird: Roast Turkey; Turkey Stew & Dumplings; Chicken Cordon Bleu; Orange Rosemary Chicken; White Bean Chicken Chili

Fish: Pan Fried White; baked casserole with rice; salmon burgers; pesto shrimp Alfredo?

Vegetarian: Tortilla soup; Split pea soup; Lasagna; Black Bean Burgers; Spaghetti; Lentil soup; Broccoli mac; Mushroom stroganoff; African peanut soup; french onion soup

OYO ideas for me: Ribs; chicken wings; zucchini meatball sub; barbacoa tacos; chicken alfredo; thai curry chicken; stuffed peppers (with quinoa and barbacoa); gyros (with lots of leftovers for lunches). 

That's actually 21 meals and 8 OYO days, but when I made 31 meals I forgot that 6 were already accounted for in my vacation plan (although 2 of the meals WERE accounted for in my plan?). So we will have a few extras that just get bumped to February when we get there. 

The only grocery shopping that should need to be done while I'm gone is to pick up more sandwich bread, milk, and a few fresh fruits and veggies, lunch stuff. But no major shops, so Pops should be able to keep up with that stuff. 
Whew! I'm all planned out, and ready for vacation, how about you?!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Making Our Own Pickles

My sister in law sent me on my move to Seattle with some spicy pickled cucumbers from her own garden. Three weeks before, the day I decided I was moving, I had been pigging out on pickled zucchini at a brewery in my hometown. Over the course of time, Mr. Moon came to learn of my love for all things briny, and one of our favorite snacks is what we call a "pickle plate." Thus dubbed because the only consistent thing is pickles.

Pickle plates usually have, besides pickled cucumbers, cheese and/or meat of some kind. Sometimes it's tinned herring, sometimes it's creamy Greek caviar (from the bargain bin at the discount store, isn't it always there that you find some of your favorite foods you'll never find again?), sometimes it's peppered salami. Sharp cheddar, a good gouda, any kind of cheese spread, you name it. Usually, though not always, it involves crackers of some kind. And recently more often than not, it's also included some other kind of pickled vegetables.

This is the second or third time I made pickled zucchini, and I'm still working out the kinks. But here's the low down:

First, we save any and all pickle juice that's leftover from commercially processed pickled anything (cucumbers and garlic, mostly). Some of that does get dumped into bloody marys, but not all of it.

Next we cut zucchini into spears. Rounds is fine too, and would probably be a good idea, because I do love me some pickles on my sandwiches. And I especially love pickled zucchini, because it has a firmer texture than cucumber if you don't pickle it too long. I made pickled carrot once, it didn't turn out well. I clearly need to do a different pickling process for that.

I do add stuff to the pickle juice to boost the flavor a bit. Pickling spices, dill weed, celery seed, garlic, whatever strikes my fancy. Then pack 'em in and let 'em soak for about a week. Unfortunately for me, we made so many this time that they're going to over-pickle before I'm done with them. So I may need to make something that can use a relish of some kind with them.

In this instance, I had four jars of spears and only two jars of liquid. So the other two I added some salt and vinegar to them, along with some other spices, and figured I'd see what would happen.

Drum roll please...
Left to right:

  • Mustard and Celery seed with rock salt, and 50/50 white and cider vinegar
  • Dilly garlic: Leftover pickled garlic juice, dill, pickling spice, and a splash of apple cider vinegar to cover the tops
  • Spicy Jalapeño: Leftover jalapeño and dill pickle juices, pickling spice, and a couple actual slices of jalapeño
  • Spicy pepper: crushed red pepper, rock salt, 50/50 vinegar mix. 

The ones with rock salt and vinegar were way too briny. I probably should have picked one or the other, and still diluted the vinegar with water a bit. Most home pickling recipes call for heating the vinegar, but for throwing these in the fridge I don't do that. I just dump the veggies in and let them soak. But for carrots, I think I'd prefer to simmer them in the brine for a little while before cold packing them.

One of these days I'm going to get the chance to lacto-ferment some veggies. Sounds like a project to add to next year's goals list.
What do you do with your leftover pickle juice? Drink it? Re-use it? Or throw it away when the pickles get a funny layer of scum on the top? Are you working on making a list of goals for next year?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Planning Ahead: How a little prep work before a big event can make it run more smoothly

My mom is a list-maker. She doesn't have any special paper that she uses, although more often than not her lists could be found on the backs of used envelopes. She makes lists for everything from a quick trip to the grocery store, to a 3-week cross-country vacation. Clothing to take, food to prepare, things to do before she leaves... These lists don't have any special place they live, either, we'd just find them lying around randomly and have no idea whether they were being used currently or not. But she always knew.

So when I say I'm a list-maker, you know I come by it honestly. I have gone through two notebooks that were specifically set aside for packing lists, and countless memo pads, blank sheets out of college notebooks, and yes even the backs of used envelopes. I definitely prefer the method I've perfected, using memo pads for grocery lists and a notebook in my planner for prepping for trips, everything from an overnight out of town to the three-week bender I've got planned over Christmas.

As a chef and a party planner, I learned that communication with other people on your team is crucial, and even just taking the time to organize your thoughts before a big event can make everything run more smoothly. With how quickly my physical condition can oscillate between Type-A-Rarin'-To-Go to Stuck On The Couch Don't Talk Too Loud, planning ahead and communication becomes even more crucial.

Thanksgiving is a great example of how I plan for a party:

  • The week before, we set the menu and figured quantities based on the number of people we'd be having for dinner. 
  • I made a shopping list with ALL ingredients, and over the course of the week we gathered the ones we had already into one place, so we could find them later and so they didn't get accidentally used for something else. 
  • Once our weekly shopping trip came around, I added the remaining items from that list onto my shopping list at the appropriate stores. 
  • Three days before, I made a prep list with what we needed to do for every item from the menu, and even printed off the menu to ensure that every item made it to the table. That prep list included everything we could do the day before, and everything that needed to be done the day of, including all times and temperatures. See here:
  • Once I had figured out the timing of everything (which I couldn't do until I figured out what time we wanted dinner and how big my roast was), I wrote those times into those blank lines. Voila! Now Mr. Moon could pick up wherever I left off with very few questions needing asked, and we could work through an easy division of labor. 
When I was working as a chef with staff, I would have something similar printed off complete with recipes for each menu item, available for all staff members ahead of time. But even working as the only staff for a home-catered party, this is pretty much the same format I used to make sure that everything my client and I had agreed to was covered and done right on time. This also meant that everything hit the Thanksgiving table this year, hot and ready to go. 

The only thing missing from this list is the serving dishes. As an in-home caterer, I never knew what to expect for dishes ahead of time, and usually had a small stash with me in case there wasn't anything perfectly suitable for a particular dish, like not enough platters or bowls. For parties in my own home, I usually take the time during that day-before prepping food to figure out what I'm putting everything on or into, and stack them together with sticky notes on each of them to say what goes where. It's also very helpful to grab all the serving utensils, especially in the event that some of your cooking utensils typically do double-duty--this Thanksgiving I stalled on pulling the utensils, and some of my favorite tongs for serving had been used in cooking and were not available when dinner hit the table. 

Planning the menu, making a shopping list, and even typing up that prep list only took me an grand total of about 30 minutes, though I'm fairly practiced at it. Give yourself an hour, but you don't need to worry about it all at once. A few minutes here or there on the back of an envelope will do you just fine. 

Speaking of which, I have a trip coming up soon, and it's time to start planning packing lists to make sure everything in clean before I start packing. But first, tonight is date night and I'm going to enjoy some dinner and movie night with my mister!
What do you do to plan for big gatherings and trips? Do you have special paper you enjoy using to organize your thoughts, or do you prefer to recycle the backs of other items? 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chalica celebrations

This is my first year celebrating Chalica. I'd heard about it in 2008 in its second year, and been "meaning to" "get around to" celebrating since. When I first heard of it, I was so excited that my faith now has a holiday we can call our own!

I know a lot of my lackluster commitment has been related to this crisis of faith through which I've been suffering for years. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to include anything about my faith here in this blog, because I don't want to push anyone away. I decided that I'd rather dip into this a little bit occasionally than try to ignore it altogether. My faith is so much a part of why I started down the path of urban homesteading that it feels wrong not to honor that place in the process. But that's a topic for another day. Today I want to celebrate, in all its imperfection, my first year celebrating Chalica. 

I'd intended to ease myself into it. I put on some Celtic music, because it's the closest thing I have to religious, spiritual music that isn't Christian. I do also have some Christian music that I enjoy, but this felt like an occasion to be conscious of avoiding it. Maybe in future years, that can be incorporated as well. For now, I stuck with my Pagany earthy music. It was time to redecorate the sideboard in the dining room, so I made myself a Chalica altar there, with a mindfulness to do so in such a way that it would be true to my purposes and not offend the Catholics in the house. So, yeah, it's decorated for Christmas, in the secular, red-and-green-and-silver, doesn't-have-any-Jesus-or-Santa-on-it sort of way. 

The seven-slot candelabra is front and center. I have a tray in front for such offerings as feels right, though I'm not sure what I'm supposed to offer to who. We're calling it the Santa Cookie plate for shits and giggles, and I put my flaming chalice necklace on it (not pictured). There's a woodsy-looking piece, to remind me to connect with the outdoors, and of the interconnected web of which we are a part. Same purpose for the wooden bowl at the opposite corner, which is also to collect little things that tend to end up on the bar--its practicality is a grounding agent as well. There's lanterns to light the way through this adventure, with snow flakes to remind me that some parts will be dark and cold, and stars to reach for and to remind me that sometimes life burns hot and bright. There's mirrors to remind me to reflect on the purpose of being here, of the choices we make, to encourage me to grow. There's a trio of garnet goblets to remind me to drink and be merry, and to illustrate the hope for a third little being in this partnership, and to honor the fact that everything has a place even when it doesn't "match" perfectly, to remind me that balance can be found without perfect symmetry. There's a bigger lantern with hearts to remind me to love and cherish everything I hold dear, to balance the roundness of the woodsy piece on the other end, again a reminder that matching and balance don't always go together, that equity doesn't always mean treating people the same. There's a couple of black and white paper ornaments from a friend's wedding, to honor the ballots cast in democracy, yet a reminder that not everything (and certainly not justice) is black and white (which these aren't, they're also glittery!). There's a snuffer to remind myself to be mindful of consequences and responsible in my choices, even when it's only in how I'm putting out candles. Through the glow and scent of candles, I seek peace. 

To the casual observer, it just looks like a nice Christmas season decoration display. That's all it needs to be. These are reminders to me, ways for me to honor and be mindful of the things that are important right now. 

Mr. Moon was in and out of the process doing other things, he thinks it looks nice. Not for the first time, he asked some questions about UUism and now about Chalica, but this time it felt a little more purposeful. Even if he's not considering joining me at church if I ever go, it's nice that he is taking an interest in something that has clearly shaped my life, my personality, and something that's important to me. Of course, in doing so he highlighted a few rusty bits of my religious upbringing, asking questions I'm sure I've discussed and answered before, but the history and the reasons are locked away in a file that's trusty from disuse. I pulled out my copy of Our Chosen Faith, widely regarded as a UU handbook, only to discover that not only does it not give a deeper explanation of the principles by which we form our lives, but it doesn't even list the seven principles in the book. Clearly, I need to go back and read this thing for the first time since eighth grade! But lately it seems like something I WANT to do rather than something I SHOULD do. And that's a big step in the right direction.

All I was going to do this week was light a few candles and think about my spiritual path a bit. And that's all I'm really going to do, because I don't want to put pressure on myself. Maybe next year I'll spend some time blogging about each of the seven principles on their respective days. For now, I'm simply grateful that I'm more interested in pursuing spiritual activities again, because it's something I feel my soul has needed for a long time, but I just couldn't find myself enough to even know where to start. This feels like it's the right way at the right time to get back to my roots and find the salve for the soul for which I've been searching. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Menu Plan: Dec 2-9

In two weeks I will be leaving for the better part of a month, and only half the preparations have been done but I feel right on schedule. This is the week I expect to start freaking out about making sure to-do lists and menu plans are completely taken care of before I leave. I hate to contribute to the stereotypical sexist trope of the man who can't keep the house clean and himself (or his parents) fed without his woman around... But well, in this case it's at least partially true. In this partnership, he keeps me calm and sane and I organize the to-do lists. 

Breakfasts this week:
Peppered eggs, a la Pinterest
Home fried potatoes and eggs
Smoothies and the last of the zucchini muffins

Roast beef sandwiches
Veggie snacks

Monday: Pork ribs, green beans, and couscous. Testing out making couscous from bulk bins instead of a box with seasoning mix. [meat; freezer; bulk]

Tuesday: Clam Chowder in the crockpot, bumped from last week when the rice & beans for the fush tacos didn't finish cooking in time and we had to make it into a tasteless crappy crockpot soup. [fish; crockpot; comfort food; batch]

Wednesday: On Your Own/Date Night. Mr. Moon and I are going to play some video games and watch a movie, eat some steak and who knows what else. Mum & Pops are having friends over for cards and making pork chops, sweet potatoes and corn. [On Your Own; meat; date]

Thursday: Fish, quinoa and some sort of vegetable. Haven't really picked a flavor profile yet... [fish; bulk]

Friday: Chicken Stew & Dumplings. Mum has been requesting this for 3 weeks now (we only had it 3 weeks ago anyway...) and I didn't feel like I should bump it to next week when we realized that shepher'd's pie, chicken stew and clam chowder were basically the same meal: Meat + potatoes + gravy (so we subbed in sloppy joes for Saturday). [crockpot; comfort; poultry]

Saturday: Sloppy Joe's, made with veggies and lentils and no meat. I need to follow the recipe again because last time I tried to dump-cook it and it came out... just so-so. No idea what to do for sides. [crockpot; vegetarian; batch]

Sunday: On Your Own; Mum requested salad, and I reminded her that things like pork chops with applesauce and salad nights were exactly what the On Your Own nights were for to begin with. Things she wants to cook but Mr. Moon and I are not interested in eating, giving her a chance to cook at least one meal a week and flexibility to have Pops take her out to dinner sometimes. Mr. Moon and I are suffering from the lack of planning and last OYO night I had a pickle-and-cheese plate for dinner, but we also want the flexibility of being able to eat leftovers if necessary. This is where Oh Shit meals come in. Right now our Oh Shit meals are pretty much planned for the time I'm on vacation, but we keep pork ribs and chicken and even steak on hand for times when we planned leftovers and there just aren't any. Or we plan "freezer" meals from these things and eat leftovers instead. [freezer; On Your Own; salad]

So how did we do on our goals?
I... don't even know how to address this. Pops' "vegan" diet is so off track, through no fault of my own, that I feel kind of hopeless. And somehow everything that everyone wanted had meat in it this week and I didn't feel up to fighting over the search for vegetarian recipes. Simply getting Mum & Pops not to say "screw the plan" and eat out when dinner is literally waiting for them, resulting in a lot of wasted food, has been a real chore the last couple weeks. And with Pops' condition and lack of recovery process right now, it seems a little hopeless to worry about things like what he's eating. I mean really, I feel like he's saying, if it gets him an extra day, is it even worth it? 

Of course on top of that, Mum has been diabetic for over 3 years and is STILL not following any single or combined recommended diets for diabetes. Right now, trying to eat healthy or low-carb/sugar while trying to cater to Pops' every whim when every request feels like a Last Supper, probably seems really silly and pointless. Or at least not a priority. Besides and stress-eating that may be going on. 

I'm suffering, as a result. I was pretty low-carb for a good number of years, and moving in here really made it impossible to follow any kind of diet plan when I'm fighting against the requests and demands and temptations of other people. I just don't have the kind of willpower required to keep up with any particular diet/eating plan when the temptations are so easily accessible and I'm not even convinced any of the ideas are "right" to begin with. Plus, without getting graphic, let's just say the PMS cravings have been irresistible for the last year or so. Every 3 weeks, in fact. Ugh. 

I didn't even look at our goals when making the menu this week. It felt so hopeless. 
  • 2 vegetarian dinners: Well, only if you count fish. 
  • 2 freezer meals: Check!
  • 2 batches for the freezer: Check!
  • 2 OYO Days: Check! I could probably take this off the goals list, as it's the first thing I write on the menu these days. 
  • 1 fish day: Check! plus bonus fish day.
  • 1 salad day: Meh, we switched these to OYO nights.
  • 1 crockpot meal: Check! Plus bonus. 
  • 1 meat-based dinner: [buzzer] FAIL. Better luck next time!
Food prep:
We've been doing this for... I guess 3 weeks now? It's working great, actually. No last-minute changes to the menu based on "oh crap we didn't thaw that" sort of things, or "I don't feel like chopping potatoes today." More snacks and lunches available a LITTLE more "on demand" than previously. I know things will get out of whack while I'm on vacation, but I hope not too badly. 
What have you been working on? Making, fulfilling, or failing any goals lately? Starting New Years' Resolution eating plans early? or just making do as best you can and hoping for the best? 

There was an error in this gadget