Search This Blog

Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu planning- save your health and your budget

If you read a blog about saving money your likely to hear how important menu planning is.  The same holds true for eating healthy.  If you "wing it" day after day, your more likely to eat what is easy and not stick to healthy choices.  Our family has tried menu planning and failed several times.  Well, we are trying it again!

We are determined to cut our food expenses down and continue to eat a mostly Paleo diet.  As for our kids, they are getting pickier and pickier and I believe in part it comes from not always having a plan for their meals and just throwing together something easy. I don't expect them to eat how we do right now but they definitely need some healthy fat and calories to get some meat on their bones.  Our casein and gluten free attempt did not go too well in part because it cost more and in part because it made an already picky eater even pickier.

This week we did quite well by coming up with a menu and staying in budget shopping for it. I thought I would share our menu with you. I can't promise I will do this weekly but I can promise to make that effort.  I'll try to put some links to recipes if I use them but I'm really a "fly by the seat of your pants" type of cook.

Lunch each day for me, my husband and Beaner is left overs. For the other two, it is still whatever I can come up with but always produce and yogurt.  I have also been making Rooster hot chocolate with Thai coconut milk and a tempered egg in it.  I plan to bake spinach brownies and animal crackers.

Here is our dinner menu:

Monday:  Bison (me) and Beef (hubbie) burgers, sweet potato fries, broccoli, Manhatten clam chowder, pizza for kids

**paleo buns:

Tuesday:  Pork Chops, cauliflower stir fry, salad  (ravioli for kids)

**The cauliflower is shredded and then fried with soy sauce, eggs, peas, garlic, onion

Wednesday: Brats (nitrate free from Whole Foods), Rutabega and Turnip fries, broccoli, silly noodle soup (kids)

**My silly noodle soup is character noodles (whatever Whole foods has) added to chicken broth with a little chicken. Just like chicken noodle.

Thursday:  Grilled chicken, shredded brussel sprouts, quinoa (grilled cheese for kids)

**I shred the brussel sprouts and then cook them with some coconut oil or butter and spices in a skillet. It brings out the sweetness of them

Friday: Meatloaf (I use Betty Crocker's recipe), whipped cauliflower, roasted veggies, veggie soup

**For whipped cauliflower, you cook them just like potatoes and whip like mashed potatoes

Saturday: This is our declared comfort food day- mom's homemade lasagna (she will be visiting)

Sunday: Out with my hubby for my birthday!

So what do you think of our menu? Did it give you any new ideas? Do you have any favorite dishes you want me to try to convert to Paleo style?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Days 17-21 End of transformation

First I have to apologize for leaving you hanging for a week! Some times it feels like the days disappear before they appear. You know what I mean?
Anyway, I finished up the 21 day transformation.  I won't be featured on Mark's Daily Apple's Friday success story anytime soon as my results were nothing to speak about. I didn't really follow the plan as it pertains to the exercise as it just did not work for me.  My biggest accomplishment was totally eliminating pop.  That nasty yet yummy liquid that gobbles up your daily calorie allotment in one sitting.  It was hard. I won't kid you.  There were days when I really craved it.  In fact, one day, after visiting vital records for a birth certificate (as if that won't push someone to drink), I craved it so bad I had to stop by Starbucks for an overpriced latte.  A girl has to do what a girl has to do.

Another accomplishment was a fairly decent change in my eating habits.  For example, tonight we had spaghetti because my mom spoils me every Christmas with jars and jars of her homemade sauce.  It is wonderful, but pasta is not.  Not paleo. Not good. Not needed.  So, I used spaghetti squash instead of noodles and I was in taste bud heaven!  You have to give that one a try.  Another favorite substitute I discovered was using cauliflower as if it was rice.  You stick a whole head of it in your food processor and it suddenly looks rice like.  I stir fried it with soy sauce, peas (although not paleo), onions, red peppers, garlic and an egg.  My husband agreed this was so much better than rice.  We served it with chicken and a salad.

My final accomplishment was making it to the gym.  A dear friend of mine has been sending me motivational quotes for exercise and they have really helped.  I have found that my only struggle is actually getting to the gym. Once I'm there, the atmosphere transforms my mind into exercise mode.  I've decided to head to the gym every Saturday, Sunday and one weekday to start.  Even if I only do 10 minutes (which I always do more), it is better than not going at all.

The 21 day transformation ends with a few more fasts. I'm not a huge fan of starving but I have found that I can wait much later in the morning to eat if all I'm doing is hanging around the house.  Although there were no earth shattering before and after pictures, I'm confident if I continue to eat 80% paleo and work toward strengthening my muscles, that photo will be in my future!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Days 14-17

Day 14: As I mentioned before, this was an exercise rest day. I played with the kids most of the day and did house work so no resting here!  I'm trying not to think about tomorrow's morning fast.

Day 15: This morning your suppose to fast and see how long it takes until you get hungry. I did this on this day and Day 16 and found that anywhere between 9:30-10am is my "so hungry now" time. Coffee in the morning seems to tide me over for quite some time.

Day 16: On this day your suppose to go buy some local foods from the Farmer's Market.  Not practical for winter here plus I took the kids downtown to the children's museum. We had fun just being "kids".

Day 17: Today I was suppose to wake up and expose myself to sunlight right away.  Well, I woke up to gusting winds and dark clouds!  There was a patch of sun briefly and it did feel good to stare at it.  This day encourages you to eat out all day and try to stay primal aligned.  Although I didn't feel the need to do this, I'm confident that I easily could.

A brief update on the kids.  The transition has been slow but I think I've made good progress on eliminating gluten from their diets. I made gluten free cauliflower cookies that they loved and gluten free dark chocolate chip muffins.  Rooster is really the only carbo maniac of the kids and he appears to like the gluten free products.  I have also successfully diluted their milk with coconut milk and they haven't noticed a bit.  Next is an attempt at a super sneaky veggie cookie!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Days 11-13

Day 11: So my primal recipe was very basic. I took some polish sausage, sweet potato, parsnips, and sauwercraut (how the heck do you spell that?) and threw it into a pan for an hour.  It was very good!

Day 12: Tells you to repeat your recipe if it wasn't perfect but since mine was, I made Chicken no noodle soup.  I boiled a whole chicken with onion and celery to make a bunch of broth. Froze parts of it and returned the rest to the pot.  I added zucchini, yellow squash, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, spinach, and carrots. This soup was very yummy and tasted like a mix between chicken noodle and vegetable soup.  Sisson also encourages you to go "coco" with coconut products on this day. Since I use these daily already, I didn't feel a need to do this.

Day 13: Today Sisson challenges you to acquire food ranked at the top of the spectrum in each food category. Again, not a practical challenge due to the expense involved. I already try to do this as much as our budget allows.  He also stressed the importance of sunlight and Vitamin D.  Given how cloudy it has been lately, I think I'll take a Vitamin D supplement.  Tomorrow Sisson finally puts in a rest day from exercise.  Since I haven't been following his exercise regime, I won't be resting!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Days 8-10

Day 8, which was Monday, encourages you to take a No Label challenge. This means avoiding any foods that have a label on them.  I actually found this incredibly easy as I have struggled to find any prepackaged primal foods.  I made more primal muffins and actually made my own almond flour this time and the rest of the ingredients were bulk or produce.  Your also suppose to try to go barefoot today.  This was also easy for me as I do that often anyway.  I also have some nice new Merrell glove shoes that are very close to being barefoot.  I managed to get outside some today but still lacking in the exercise discipline.

Day 9: On this day, your suppose to track your macronutrient intake.  I for one am not a tracker. If I have to think that hard about what I eat all day, it drives me crazy.  That is why I just don't do diets.  So I didn't complete this exercise although I thought it would be interesting.  I also decided on this date I was going to take the 20% non-primal indulgence that Sisson talks about.  I've been so drained and hungry that I really can't continue this way.  My kids had a school function at Gattitown.  I did well with a huge salad and soup but also took a few nibbles of pizza.  Earlier in the I ate a homemade chocolate chip cookie that I had made for the kids. Actually I ate two.  Honestly?  Well, three.  Actually who counted?

Day 10: I am actually feeling a bit better now that I gave myself that 20%.  I had two bites of the Beaner's Gluten free oatmeal, Pankos in the meatloaf, and a few crackers.  Sisson recommends slowing down your eating today which is really hard to do when a one year old is fighting for every bite of your eggs.  It doesn't matter how many I scramble, that kid can eat them!  Me and the Beaner did some Wii Nickelodean Fit today which was fun!  Tomorrow I'm suppose to create a primal recipe.  Since I haven't decided what to make for dinner yet, I might have to get creative.  I'll let you know!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Days 4-6- 21 day transformation

Day 4: On this day your suppose to eat when hungry and stop when full, rather than an empty plate.  Like many people in my generation, I was always told to finish my plate.  Through the years I have learned to take smaller portions and go for seconds if I want more.  So on this day, I tried to eat smaller portions and only when hungry and it went pretty well.  I also did the primal workout routine with the Beaner and we both had fun doing it.

Day 5: On this day, Sisson suggests dining out for a meal and seeing how well you stay primal aligned.  We ordered carry out on Day 6 instead and it was tough. We ordered Asian from our favorite Asian restaurant but it definitely wasn't primal aligned. Even the side of extra veggies I ordered came covered in some mystery sauce.  On Day 7 you get to eat a non primal food so I counted this as that.  Your suppose to note how you feel after eating it.  Frankly, my stomach hurt but I was full much longer.

Day 6: We had a great exercise this day.  It was suppose to be the primal feast so as noted above, we ordered out.  It was a beautiful day so we ran outside with the kids for hours in addition to a trip to the gym.  Victory day for me.

Day 7: Today was suppose to be an anything goes type of day to see how you feel.  Since we did the Asian food last night, I stuck to primal foods today.

So at this point, I want to be honest. I feel like I'm on a diet which is not how it is suppose to feel. It seems that you have to cook every meal and I just don't have time to cook all day long. I often feel hungry and struggle with what to eat.  I do want to finish the 21 days as I think it will get rid of my constant carb cravings but so far, I still have those strong cravings.  I also have very little energy which was my main purpose for doing this challenge. So let's hope the energy surge begins soon!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 2 and 3- 21 Day Transformation

Well Day 2 shopping went well at Good Foods Co-op and I managed to stay in budget.  The book suggests an all out shopping spree but that is just not my reality.  I failed miserably at the work out portion for yesterday.  I was suppose to do a moderate duration aerobic work out.  Only 20 minutes and it just didn't happen.  Day 2 also suggests a screen curfew (saying good bye to you guys) which I did yesterday.  Sometimes it is my only free time so that one will continue to be a challenge.  I did fair with the eating portion.  Probably 80% but my cravings were torture for me.

Day 3 went much better.  Well, actually I failed the exercise portion again but my cravings weren't as bad.  The book suggests planning a primal celebration dinner for Day 6 or 7.  That too is just not my reality.  I have three kids I can barely figure out what to feed to I'm certainly not going to try to feed my friends this first week.  Maybe me and the hubby will have a celebration meal together.   Day 3 also suggests boycotting industrialized food.  I really don't think this will be too hard as there aren't any fast foods out there that I truly crave.  Today I was suppose to do a full length primal workout.  I've decided to move that to tomorrow as I will be home all day with no car.  I was also suppose to take a spontaneous play break and given that I have a one year old, there were many of those today.

So maybe your wondering what a typical day of primal food looks like?  I thought I'd run down today's menu to give you an idea.

Breakfast: 2 eggs over medium with bacon

Mid morning snack: Veggie surprise - this one I made up as I went. I started by cooking onions in butter and then added broccoli and frozen brussel  sprouts.  I added water at this point as well.  I let that cook for about 8 minutes and then added spinach (cooked another minute), garlic, red pepper (I like it crunchy), tomatoes, kalamato olives, sea salt and a drizzle of vinegar and oil dressing.  I let that cook for about 3 minutes and this is what appeared:

The flavors were heavenly! Even the Beaner couldn't stop eating it.  Yes, that was a snack, I know looks like a meal but I was hungry!

Lunch: A jar of my moms homemade spaghetti sauce.  It is very meaty with little sauce and was like a soup without noodles.  Beaner fought me for this one too.  We also had melon with lunch.

Snack: Apple slices

Dinner: Grilled chicken, California veggie mix, bacon-walnut-cherry salad, and Paleo pumpkin muffins.

I was a little skeptical about the muffins but they were heavenly.  Take a look:

Aren't they beautiful?  They truly tasted like pumpkin pie and there is no flour, wheat or other bad carbs in these!  Who wants the recipe?  Just comment below and I'll add it.

So this is what dinner looked like:

So what do you think?  Looks yummy doesn't it?

Tomorrow's focus will be on exercise so let's hope for a warm motivating day!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 1- 21 day Transformation to Paleo

Well, today is the day I start my transformation and I am as sick as can be with a sinus infection.  This is a good reminder of why I so badly need this change.  This transformation should significantly increase my immune system.

One thing I really like about Sisson's book is that there is no drastic overnight change.  Every step seems reasonable.  I debated whether I could start today given how I felt but then I looked at what I had to do.  Today, I get to do the kitchen and pantry purge.  This is going to be soooo difficult for me!  I was raised not to waste food so to throw a whole bag of sugar and flour in the garbage goes against my "save everything"  mentality.  I have a full bottle of Pepsi to throw away. Oh how I love that stuff but oh how it hates my body.  Farewell to boxes of cereal, cans of beans, granola bars, frozen waffles, popsicles, etc.  My husband told me I really didn't have to get rid of everything but I'm under the mind frame that if I don't, I will eat it.  If the flour is there, muffins will be made.  For the kids, I plan to pick up a few gluten free snacks tomorrow that they can have at school.  I'm trying to increase their produce in their lunches but also want to make sure they have food that will sustain them.  Luckily, Bear likes nuts which is a good source of protein for her but Rooster is another story.

Also on the agenda today are two forms of exercise.  Short and brief.  I decided a shopping trip was a perfect way to get a lot of walking in.  What can I say, I love the after Christmas deals!  My second choice will be to attempt a few pull-ups on my hubbies pull-up bar. 

My final task will be to put together a shopping list for tomorrow's grocery stock up.  I've really thought long and hard about the best approach to this.  For the longest time my goal was to grocery shop once per month as the less your in the stores the less you spend.  This simply won't work for a primal diet.  A primal diet utilizes in season produce and local or organic meats.  For the past year, I have grocery shopped once per week on Fridays.  I found that by Tuesday, we were not only out of food but out of our grocery funds for the week.  My new approach is to split this and shop on Tuesday and Friday.  That way I have a smaller list and fewer days to plan for.  It will also allow me to take advantage of mid week sales.

So thats it for today.  Sounds reasonable doesn't it?