Reader Question-Meal management

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A while ago, I wanted to know what people were wanting to know.  This was my very first question that came back and I LOVE it.  So often, we pretty much know what to do, but the how can seem a bit mysterious and out of our point of reference.  How DO I nourish myself without being chained to the kitchen or grocery store?  For someone as busy as this (and who isn’t in one form or another these days?), I hope that my suggestions are helpful.

 What up Jenny?! I love reading your posts. I have been trying to grapple with time management in regard to meals. I want to eat fresh foods in abundance, but I work like 50 hours a week at least and walk everywhere. I don’t seem to be getting the calories I need because my energy level is kaput when it shouldn’t be.

 Also — f*$king grocery shopping. How to tackle gathering food from huge stores. I am okay in a market, but I can’t always go there. I hate that when I go to a grocery store, I am wandering through aisle of *boxes* and *bags* of food.  I want to emphasize how helpful I find your posts even if I don’t respond. Keep them coming!  -Jimmi

This is a two part question but they do overlap a little so I will do my best to answer them both.  

The first part is about time and meal management.  I am going to run on the assumption that I am writing for anyone who eats at least on the spectrum of ovo-lacto vegetarianism to full-on carnivory.  (For the record, I find veganism too dogmatic and too unhealthy a lifestyle to maintain for any length of time.)

Part One: Meal Management 

1. First to the organized individual who likes charts and graphs and routines, this will be a fun opportunity to get your spreadsheets out.  Plan your meals.  Set aside an hour a week and decide what you will eat that week while keeping an eye on the rest of your schedule.  If Monday you are running from the crack of dawn until the moon stretches into the sky, you will need to plan some portable food.  If you have a little time Wednesday night and want to actually cook, plan for something warm and simple.  

2. Learn to make things portable.  Muffin tins are useful to cook egg “cupcakes”. (Note: the recipe I linked to is a GUIDE. You can mix these puppies up any ol’ way you like.)  Make a batch on Sunday and they are there for the whole week.  Keep some jerky or mixed nuts in your bag.  Make smoothies that you can grab on your way out the door.  Chop up a bunch of veggies at the beginning of the week and keep them in the fridge.  During the week, you can grab some to have on the go with cheese or sliced roasted turkey (check the ingredients at the deli so you don’t get anything not turkey).  Sheets of nori are your new best friend.  Make some tuna salad or egg salad and roll it in the nori for little meals on the go.  These can also be used in anyway that people use tortillas but with no gluten gut.  

3.  Invest or dust off your slow cooker.  There’s NOTHING like dropping a couple chicken thighs, some of your chopped veggies, some spices and a little broth into the cooker in the morning (takes two minutes if you’ve prepped the veggies earlier in the week), turning the dial to “on”, going about your day, and when it’s over and you walk in to your house, there’s a HOT DINNER waiting for you.  (Yes, that sentence ran on and on and on.)  This is something I resisted for a long time but merci me, I LOVE mine now.

4. Boil a bunch of eggs.  Do between a six to a dozen once a week.  Pair it with a fruit and some almonds and fantastic meal on the go! Or make some egg salad.  

5. If you’re uber -organized, take 2 hours one day of the week and prepare breakfasts and lunches for the whole week.  Remember that if you base the meals around proteins and fats, you will feel fuller for longer.  That means that a salad is good but a salad with some leftover roast beef and several glugs of olive oil is much, much better.  Use either ziplocs or little containers that you’ve collected or purchased (salsa jars even work!) and fill them with a meat or egg, some veggies, and some fat.  Spice it to your hearts content and smack it in the fridge.

6. If you are completely disorganized, stock your kitchen.  The pantry should have olives, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, nuts, coconut milk and spices.  Fill your freezer with frozen vegetables and various ground meats.  Your fridge can be stocked with eggs, butter,  some fruit, guacamole (seriously….a staple) and full fat plain yogurt.  In the morning, fry a couple eggs in plenty of butter and eat some fruit.  Or put some fruit and yogurt in a cup and go.  Or make a smoothie with coconut milk, raw egg yolks, and a piece of fruit.  Grab a handful of nuts as you head out the door and some leftovers.  At dinner, do a one skillet meal.  Brown a meat, add a package of frozen vegetables, and some spices.  Make a double portion so you have lunch tomorrow.  

Now for the second part of the question, Part Two: F$&king Grocery Shopping

Let me begin by saying, I am so picking up what you are throwing down!  One can, if not careful, walk in through the sliding doors and emerge hours later bleary-eyed and downtrodden with nothing to show for it but a couple large bags of marshmallows and a frozen pizza.  Yes, I know it’s not delivery, but it’s not really FOOD either.

Any good battle worth its salt has a worthy opponent.  Behold, the mighty grocery store.  And, any great victory requires two things: 1. Know your foe and 2. Have a strategy.

These are the things that you want to know about your nemesis:

1.  The layout.  Here’s the thing.  Anything, with the exception of oils, worth going into your cart and subsequently into your body is found around the edges of the store.  All the produce, dairy, and meats will hug the boxes and bags of “food” that form the bulk of the store.  I NEVER wander the aisles.  There is NOTHING there for me or for you.  (It must be worth noting because I typed in all caps so I’m kind of YELLING those two words.)  I used to have to wander into the aisles to get olives but now just about every store has an olive bar also around the perimeter.  So, I don’t have to get a jar of the same kind of olive nor am I restricted in the quantity.  If I just want two olives, one of garlic stuffed green and one oil cured kalamata, I can do that.  So, back to the layout.  Your individual store may have the really good raw milk cheeses presented in a slightly different place than the crap cheese.  Know this.  Find out where the sale meat is hiding.  All of this stuff will still be the perimeter, but a reconnaissance mission is a good idea.  And, know which row the olive oil is.  Also, if you don’t want to be chopping vegetable in all your free time, know where the frozen vegetables are.  You may have noticed that I didn’t mention spices.  Please, for all that is fiscal, save your pennies to buy spices at a place that sells them in bulk.  They will be better, cheaper, and again, better.

2. When is the store the quietest?  You may not have a whole lot of leeway in your schedule but if you find out that Wednesdays at 2:00 the store is dead, schedule your shopping for then.  Or, do a Tuesday evening run.  This will be highly dependent on your area, but it’s VERY valuable information.  (See those caps?)

Then, the strategy.  Prepare yourself with a list.  Make sure that your list restocks the pantry if you have run out of any of the basics.  Smear some warpaint on your face, gird your loins, stretch your hamstrings.  I promise you that you can be in and out in less than thirty minutes once you know your store and have a plan.  I can walk you through mine.

1. Wearing a ninja costume, I hit the produce first.  (Again a meal plan is so helpful!)  I grab green things, some bright colors, and then something that I haven’t tried before.  (This last category is now so narrow that a regular grocery store can’t fulfill it.)

2. Then, I sneak over to the sale beef.  Then to the meat counter.  If I’m feeling like a high roller, off to the seafood counter.  

3. Then, the dairy.  Eggs (I urge you to always have at least a dozen on hand.  I can go through two dozen in a week, no problem.) and butter and if you do yogurt, grab the full fat plain and some whole milk if you do that.

4.  I swoop up the oil aisle if I need any.

5.  Pay.  If I haven’t spoken to anyone yet today, I go through a regular register.  If I’ve fulfilled my societal quota of small talk, out the self scan I go.  

Done.  Yes, it really is that easy.  I promise.  Thanks so much, Jimmi, for the question.  I really hope this helps!  Nourish yourself into freedom!

If you have any questions or comments, I would LOVE (Jenny…shhhhhhh already.) to hear them below.  Or find me on facebook.

 

 

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