Yes, strategery. Because that word makes me laugh.
This actually began as a response to a comment on a previous blog entry, but it got so lengthy, I decided just to elaborate here instead….
Today I started a new, informal challenge: to continue sticking with the healthier food habits I’ve been working on for the last few weeks. Even though there is nothing keeping me from eating cheese and bread and pretty much whatever I want, I found myself turning to meals I was eating during the cleanse. This morning I had blackberries sprinkled with shredded coconut and gluten-free oats, with some almond milk. Lunch was a raw kale salad. Except for the trace amounts of milk in the hot chocolate mix I had as a snack (with more almond milk… less calories and more calcium than cow’s milk), I’ve gotten through the day so far on a completely vegan diet. And while I’m debating whether I want to have brown rice or whole wheat pasta with dinner, I don’t really plan on eating any animal products tonight, either.
To keep this going will require some planning and preparation. I need to make sure I have the kitchen well-stocked. My sister suggested planning the week’s dinners on Sunday and grocery shopping for the week. She and her fiance do this over breakfast on Sunday mornings. I think that’s an awesome idea… they are way more organized than Nick and I are. The difficulty for us is that Nick doesn’t always know ahead of time if he is going to be around for dinner. So whenever I happen to stock the fridge with a week’s worth of meals, inevitably things go to waste. Or I get anxious about things going to waste and that results in too many conversations where I’m asking Nick if he is going to be around, or trying to force food on him. I don’t like to be the crazed food pusher.
But I do try to plan ahead to some extent. So, if you have a schedule that is too up-in-the-air to plan the whole week’s dinners, or you’re just too much of a commitment-phobe to decide on Sunday what you’ll want to eat on Thursday, here are some of my suggestions:
- Plan one, two, or three specific dinners, depending on just how much of your week is still TBD. Base them around things that won’t go bad quickly (pastas, legumes…) or things that can be tossed in the freezer if, come Tuesday, you realize you’re not going to be cooking chicken this week.
- If, like me, you have evenings where you’re eating solo, stock up on vegetables that can be easily cooked in small quantities (Brussels sprouts, leafy greens) or make things that will work well as leftovers for lunch (this is probably why I eat a lot of pasta).
- Borrow this rule from clothes-shopping gurus: does this item work with other things you have? Just like you don’t want to buy a pair of shoes that will go with nothing you own, you don’t want to buy a bunch of zucchini, if nothing else in your shopping cart or pantry at home will work well with it. Even if you don’t have a specific recipe, have a couple ideas about what you could do with a particular ingredient.
- Flexibility of perishable items is also key. I like buying leafy greens because I am happy eating them raw as a salad for lunch, or cooked as a part of dinner. I am more conservative in getting vegetables I will only eat raw (cucumbers) or cooked (broccoli) since there are fewer opportunities during the week for me to eat them.
- Be willing to go to the grocery store a second time during the week. It never fails that, even when I have a comprehensive list and plan on only making one trip to the store that week, there is something I either forget or cannot find. So knowing that I’m probably going to be back by Wednesday or Thursday anyway keeps me from being compelled to overbuy.
I think that is all the grocery store wisdom I have for now. And if you have any food shopping organizational/planning ideas, I welcome your suggestions!