12-step Resolutions: Food

I have a lot of things I want to tackle this year. Due to all the spheres of influence I’ve been thinking about, I decided to break it up and share my plans for 2015 over the course of the month of January. Here is part 1: Food.

Doesn’t food always come first? It tends to be a thing I think about a lot. Obsess really. How to eat better. How to enjoy it. How to enjoy cooking it.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of things we’ve cut out of our kitchen over the past several years (MSG, HFCS, trans fats, caffeine, most carrageenan). Find posts here and here about all that. Plus I did most of the 22-day Clean out the Kitchen Challenge from Don’t Waste the Crumbs in October. But I’m not really a steady person as far as sticking to healthy eating. One thing I’m going to try to remember with my meal plans is to build in some lazy days (and yes, maybe even some fast food days). I love to cook, but it has to keep being something I’m choosing to do. Not just another chore.

Credit: Thinkstock
Credit: Thinkstock
Here’s some things overall that I dedicate to doing:
  • Clip coupons and browse sale ads on Sunday or Monday each week.
  • Grocery shop on Friday before work for the things we need for the following week or for things that have hit a “stock-up” sale price. Consult the meal plan before every shopping trip.
  • Go to Eastern Market on Saturday before work.
  • Cook and freeze at least one meal a week for a future date or to exchange with someone.
And here are my overall meal plan goals:
  • Protein + Starch + Fruit/Veggie(x2)
  • One vegetarian day per week (Eggs as protein)
  • One gluten-free day per week
  • One frozen meal per week
  • Try out coconut and sesame oil in lieu of margarine for frying
  • Also try different rices and cauliflower “rice”
Finally, here’s the breakdown of my plan for the year:

January is a free for all. We are eating as much as we can of what’s in the fridge/pantry before we go and buy all new food for the new house. I have however, begun prepping a meal plan for February and March, and I’ll start making an freezing things as soon as we get into the new house. Anything we don’t eat that doesn’t fit our food rules will be packed up and given to a food pantry. Until now, I haven’t been able to let myself part with food we could eat. But when the same box of junk has been sitting there through 3 moves … well, it’s time to go. It’s been good to do this because I’m finding the things that I’ve been missing that don’t make me feel very good. I don’t think I will feel as bad about parting with them going forward.

I still don’t drink any caffeinated beverages, but I’ve been drinking a lot of sugary pop and Kool-aid. I’m weaning myself off the Sprite and Faygo, backing off to (watered down) Kool-aid, tea and water. The plan is no pop whatsoever after Jan. 31. We’ll also be in a place where the plumbing actually works so T may be able to go back to drinking coffee regularly rather than Coca-Cola.

I’ve already hit four of my goals for this month: Brown all the ground beef in the freezer and plan what to do with it before we move (We made tacos and I have some meat left over for burgers next week). Check. Cook up a stew from food T’s mom sent us home with. Check. Take stock of what’s at the new house and talk about what we’d all like to be eating. Check. Find a good source for whole chickens: EASTERN MARKET $2.89/lb (About $15-$18 each). Check.

I still want to:
– Scout for the best prices on ground beef and other cuts of meat. We’re currently shopping at either Mejier or a meat shop in Eastern Market. When we move, I’ll check out any meat shops near our new home.
– Keep snacks in the car at all times. This one is an important stop-gap against the drive-thru temptation. We have a bin full of crackers, pretzels, nuts and more in our pantry for the little one. We need something similar in the car.
– Plan out the February meals and start prep.

February will be our first full month in the new house. And Feb. 1 will be my cut off for the no-holds-barred eating. I’m already starting to feel it. I was debating doing a Whole 30 in February (extending into March because, well, 30). I’ve concluded that I don’t want to go that extreme, but I do want to formulate a plan for what we’re going to eat in the new house. There are a few things I’m going to cut out completely, but I’ll get into that in the February post. I’ve also decided to cut out alcohol for a number of months this year, because T is pregnant and solidarity and stuff.

In addition to our meal plan, I want to:
– Plant hanging tomatoes
– Buy all meat at the beginning of the month for the meal plan we set. This will keep me from veering off course quite so much.
– Finish planning March meals
– Start planning April meals

March is my birthday month (Yes, I get a whole month. Deal with it.) and we are taking a trip to Florida that month. Some of our meal plan needs to account for cooking at the timeshare, so a grocery list and meal plan is going to be crucial there. T and the little one will be flying down a few days before I drive and then we’ll all drive back together, which means car food and snacks, plus food for the puppy. For obvious reasons, I’m going to allow myself alcohol this month.

Some other things for this month:
– Does buying meat at the beginning of the month help? Should I keep doing it?
– Do we want to introduce any foods back to the menu?
– Finish planning April meals
– Start planning May meals
– I’d really like to find a freezer club to join. Is there one nearby? Do I have the energy to start one?

April is going to be a month to take a breather and plan our next moves. If things aren’t working in the new (long-ish term, but temporary) house we may be looking for a new place again at this point. But at least everything will still be packed.
– Finish planning May meals
– Plan June meals
– No alcohol

May is the last full month of school and feels like the last chance to get anything done without a 6-year-old under foot, despite the fact that school doesn’t end until mid-June. But with year-end stuff I know I need to plan for things to start getting hectic.
– Finish planning June meals (This meal plan needs to account for the moving again in July, if that is how things shake out. It should have a few built in double-batches for make-aheads.)
– Start planning solstice party.
– Start planning July meals
– No alcohol

June 21 was going to be the wedding date, but we’ve decided to push off the wedding until September. However, my mom is planning a 50th wedding anniversary for my grandparents that I’ve offered to help with and we are still going to have a party of some kind to celebrate the solstice. Planning for this will need to begin in May.  (And I will probably drink at some point that weekend, so this isn’t a no-alcohol month.)
– Finish planning July meals
– Plan all of August meals (if we’re moving in July)

July is when we expect the temporary living arrangement to end, although we’re hopeful we can make it work for longer than that. But we may be moving this month, and if so hopefully to a much more permanent situation. This will NOT be a free-for-all month, although I may drink.
– Start planning September meals

August 7 is the baby’s due date. All those freezer meals over the prior few months … yeah … those are what’s going to get us through the first few weeks of baby. August is also a free for all, but I’d like to try to prep and freeze as many meals as possible to get us through the early baby phase rather than eating out a lot.
– Finish planning September meals (Make sure to start lunchbox planning again.)
– Start planning October meals

September 5 is our wedding day! And Sept. 8 is the little one’s first day of school. Meal plans will need to start including packed lunches again. I think meals that can be a cold lunch later are going to have to be on the docket.
– Finish planning October meals
– Start planning November meals

October … this far out, I’m not sure what the year will hold. It’s about this time that my energy is renewed about real food and I redouble my efforts after being lazy all summer and wholly unprepared for school (and lunchboxes) to start up again. I want to say that won’t happen this year. I really, really do. But even just writing about September has me dreading school starting again (and we just got back from Christmas break!). So this will probably be the point where we go, “We had such good intentions! Let’s actually do this!” and then we do.
– Finish planning November meals
– Start planning December meals

November means Thanksgiving and starting on Christmas and, and, and, and … And I am going to take a breath and think realistically about what I want to do this year. T’s family always goes out to a restaurant for the holidays, but we went to see her family on Thanksgiving last year and mine for Christmas, so I don’t know what’s going to happen (or if I’ll be working, like I was this year). I don’t know that my family will come up though, in which case it doesn’t make sense to stay home and cook. Which is a bummer, because I miss spending all day in the kitchen making dessert with my mom.
And typing this out has me thinking about what I want from this, which is the goal. So that’s good. I don’t have answers, but I’m starting to get an idea of what I want.
– Finish planning December meals

December has a lot going on: T’s birthday, Christmas, D’s birthday, Mom and brother come to visit?, Grammy definitely will swing by, maybe my grandmother too? I’m hesitant to plan anything other than the basic survival for this month. In addition, we need to plan for meals in the car while shopping and meals for various parties.
So this month, we’re just going to:
– Take stock. Did it work? Did it still work once the baby was born? What do we keep and what do we do away with?

This series: Part 1: Food | Part 2: Fitness | Part 3: Finances | Part 4: Work and Fun

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