It’s here, 2018!! I don’t know why we get so excited when December rolls over into January but I’m all for a reason to celebrate and remember that each year (or day) is a time to think fresh and new. Let’s carry all the good stuff forward and leave the unwanted back in 2017. And for an extra bonus positive thought, every day now forward until summer brings a few more minutes of daylight for outdoor adventures! Wahoo…
Okay, so what is going on with my meal planning boot camp? I can’t tell you how good it is has felt the last few days to start getting back into my normal routine. When I go back to work tomorrow I am going to be set with yummy, ready to go foods in the fridge and less worry about eating right.
My email on Day 2 had two parts: write a list of my 14 favorite meals to cook (21 if going for extra credit) and take an inventory of my fridge-freezer-pantry to assess what I have to work with for future meals. Cool, let’s start with the favorite meal list.
I do have a few cookbooks but most of my inspiration comes from my Pinterest boards and a large notebook I have filled with copies of recipes I have picked up over the 6 years I have been paleo (this may or may not be a binder I leftover from my son’s middle school days). I haven’t added to it much in the last year because I have a pretty good repertoire of meals but it makes a good reference for spice mixes and baking recipes like paleo pizza crust. For this exercise, I used the books to help me remember some of my favorite meals that I have gotten out of the habit of making.
My list probably looks a little different than some others if you were expecting specific names of meals because I don’t usually follow a recipe unless I am trying something new. I tend to think in terms of meal types that I mix up with what the ingredients I have prepped ahead of time. You will see some of the meals are the same ones I have recipes for here on the blog that work great on trail, too!
Keeping a pantry of items I use consistently is important to me. This means not having to pay more if I have to run out for an item and being prepared for any craving that comes my way. I supplement with fresh items to vary my meals. When I do run out of something, I add it to a running shopping list I carry on my phone, as well.
After making my lists, it was time to assess. I checked the fridge and freezer to see what I already had and what I needed more of. While I was there, I checked out the backpacking meals I have from last summer I didn’t eat because my season was cut short. This way, I’ll know what to stock up on for this next summer and not end up with too many of one meal and not enough of another. As I plan my meals over the winter, I will intentionally cook meals I know work well on trail, like my turkey stroganoff or nightshade free curry.
It appeared I had mostly backpacking meals and summer fruit in the chest freezer, so I was glad to be heading out to Costco for things I use most often. My regular freezer wasn’t doing too bad, frozen individual leftovers and other staples. Looks like it might be time for some banana bread…
We were, then, out the door for a run to Costco. I manage to go about once a month or a little less, that place can really take a ding out of the budget. I don’t sweat it too much, however. I eat everything I buy there and running to the store for lunch every time I fail to have food to cook in the home is even more costly. When I first started to go to Costco there really wasn’t a lot there for me in terms of whole foods but they seem to carry more and more every time. Could be a good or not-so-good thing depending on how you look at it. This trip I scored cauliflower rice!
After putting everything away, I took a little time to prepare some basics like mayonnaise, ranch and hummus that I know I will use all week. Mayo is good for coleslaws and salads I eat with lettuce wraps. Fat laden dips are an excellent way to battle the sugar bug and getting more fat soluble nutrition from our vegetables. I try to always keep them on hand! I, also, cooked up some meat to have with salads and to toss into meals I might make (along with sunflower seeds and nuts they round out my proteins). I figured that the next day or two of boot camp were going to have to do with actually cooking meals so I thought I’d get a jump start!
Today’s email was about making my first actual one-week meal plan. This involved consulting my calendar to know what kind of week I was having before choosing meals. Leave one night for leftovers and know when I won’t be able to cook. I, also, know I won’t be home for my normal prep day of Sunday this next week so I have to factor that in. The directions mentioned allowing for one night to be double batch or freezing-dehydrating worthy, so for this week it looks like this:
You might be wondering about breakfasts and lunches. This week I am having fried eggs with an assortment of cut veggies I will sauté up each day. I have also cooked up some ground pork with sage, garlic and salt I can toss into scrambled eggs or sautéed veggies if I want to. That same ground pork will go into the stir fry dish I listed and maybe the egg muffins at the end of the week. Those are on for Saturday night because I will be away from home Sunday-Monday and will need some food for the road! Lunches will be leftovers and salads, mostly. I do plan to eat a few of the frozen leftover meals I have to rotate through those.
I’m excited to actually have a plan, but not because I’m sure I can strictly follow it. I think it will help with the indecision problem I often run into and help me stick to my goal to be making backpacking meals all year long and not just in the spring time. Well, I’m off to make some orange chicken with cauliflower rice and baby kale to get things started. Wish me luck!