“The Why”

Hi. How’s it going?

Oh me? Not bad, not bad.

What’s that you say…? Three years… that can’t be right…

(flips page)

(mumbles incoherently)

Huh.

Well, let’s get back on track, shall we?

2019, where’d you come from?

When I started this blog in 2016, I had a vague notion of what I wanted to do. That fell to the wayside when I became pregnant for the second time.

That’s right, I now have two munchkins, but that’s now…

So it’s 2016 and I’m working 40-plus hours a week, trying to feed my growing family healthy, home-cooked meals. And volunteer. And keep a blog. And deal with morning sickness.

Stressing out about one little munchkin under foot, and another in the oven… Something had to give and, sad to say, it was my blog-a-doo.

But no longer!

You see, I’ve had a bit of time since then to think through this whole “blog” thing, to reflect on why I put so much work into what was ostensibly a leisure activity. I’ve been reflecting on what I was doing and why I felt the need to write about family and food and all that jazz.

I’ve determined what it was that I hadn’t realized before. To sustain any project long-term, I need a good reason. I need to find “The Why”.

After almost three years away, I’m finding the desire and energy to continue. Before I can be successful, though, I need to understand my “why” so when things get hard (and with two growing girls, “hard” comes in crushing waves of insanity, to be sure), I can remember why I’m taking time, energy, and mental real estate to put “e”-pen to keyboard.

Much like another blogging family whose work I admire (when you’re done here, consider going to check them out…) if I’m going to put in the work, I need a darn good reason.

Enter “The Why”.

Initially, I had a nebulous notion (like my alliteration there?) of “keeping track of family recipes”, but I wanted this space to be more than that.

I mean, I’m not a chef, so I can’t expect my own self to come up with super-duper-famous recipes that take the world by storm.

I don’t have a dozen staff (or bots) scraping recipes from the internet 24/7 and pumping out whatever I think “the algorithm” will want today, and I’m not just looking for “clicks” (but those are nice), so I can’t make my “why” be about making sure I have “all the content”.

So my why? It’s a tripod:

1 – My family

It may be somewhat hokey, but: my family really is the center of my world. I push myself hard at work and in life because they deserve the best I can provide, whether that’s a few extra sprinkles on the proverbial cake, or a standing firm against the maelström that is Temper-Tantrum.

So why is my family a motivation for me to push forward when a storm’s a-brewin’? Because by keeping track of our family journey (food being a prominent part of that), I have something to look to other than the “here and now”. This place offers a “snapshot”, if you will, of what things were like “back in the olden days of 2019”.

2 – Myself

I’m an introvert by nature and, frankly, writing is the best way I know to compose my thoughts. Even if all my words don’t make it to the web, the whole process is valuable to me.

Plus, even when I don’t realize it, writing makes me a better-tempered parent, and a more well-rounded human person. Sometimes, you have to be selfish.

And Human.

3 – My community

I’m not alone. I’m surrounded by a wonderful support network of friends and family, which I’d like to grow as my family needs change.

By thinking of my community, I can use that as a bit of a helping hand when my kids are stinky and I’m petulant about self care.

Now that I have “the why”, how ’bout that “what”?

Simply put, I’m looking to document the things that makes my family tick, what make us “us”.

So what does that mean for 2019?

Similar to before, I intend to keep a regular update schedule. But unlike before, I won’t be holding myself to an impossible (for now) standard of three posts a week.

I’m aiming for two posts a week – Mondays something food-related, and Fridays something… else. That’s not me being cagey, I simply don’t know what Fridays are going to be like until the day. What I can say is that you can look forward to everything from random parenting reflections to colouring sheets to Girl Guide, er… guides. I’ve been known to experiment and for now I’ll let the “why” keep me moving forward, and the “what” will get filled in as I go.

Like I said before, though, I’m not going to hold my feet to the fire. Life happens, and I gotta go with the flow. That may mean a missed post here or there, but rest assured, it’s for a good reason!

Now, before I go, here’s a twist on an old adage (yes, the puns are mighty here today):

Where there’s a why, there’s a way.

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Free Printable: Monthly Meal Planning Step-by-Step Worksheet

Start meal planning today with this free printable step-by-step worksheet!

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Need some help getting organized? Try meal planning! Use this easy step-by-step worksheet to guide you through meal planning for a whole month of family meals.

Stuck on what recipes to use? See my family-approved Recipes for ideas.

Not sure how to meal plan? Follow along with my Meal Plans to see how I’ve done it.

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

An Open Letter to Costco

I’ve only got two hands…

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Costco was sent the following letter and informed up front that it would be posted publicly.

Dear Costco,

Most of the time, I love you, I really do. You help me stay on budget, you help provide my toddler with healthy snack options and warm socks. (Her favourite article of clothing is her blue owl house-coat. She knows the word for housecoat and most of her vocabulary is dedicated to food and ponies… that’s a lot!)

My parents had a membership and when I finally had the opportunity to purchase my own, I jumped at the chance. You’ve sincerely helped my family grow in the short months since we signed up.

But…

…are you familiar with the saying “You’re only as good as your last success”? With a corporate goal to “exceed member expectations” I would think so. Sadly, you have not exceeded my expectations today, in point of fact, I feel like you’ve forgotten that I had any expectations to begin with.

Here’s why…

After spending $502, I needed an extra few seconds of time from your checkout staff to get my things in my cart.

Instead:

  • …I was asked if I’d mind pushing two carts to my car (I was alone and politely said as much).

  • …I was told “no, that won’t fit there” when items were unnecessarily moved from one cart (all tightly nestled with bar-codes exposed) to another smaller/deformed cart – where they, of course “wouldn’t fit”.

  • …I was checked out around so that the next customer had to excuse his way past me while I struggled to jam packages into some semblance of how they had been in my previous cart.

Now, I’m no Costco newbie. I know to:

  • …put the light stuff on the conveyor.

  • …leave the bulky/heavy stuff in the cart – bar-codes visible and accessible by the hand-scanner.

  • …pack the conveyor neatly but compactly so your staff can get all their items per minute (or whatever the metric-de-jour might be).

  • …have my card ready for the cashier so he/she can start scanning quickly.

  • …smile warmly and make polite conversation so your busy cashier knows he/she doesn’t have to worry about me, the customer, being impatient.

And yet, your staff – I assume in an effort to be more efficient (it wasn’t, by the way) – made me feel like my purchase ($502, remember) was an inconvenience rather than providing income for Costco (and, by extension, for themselves as Costco employees).

I have some suggestions: next time, help your customer unload the cart onto the conveyor instead of starting a new cart where moving heavy/bulky things is needed; Wait until your customer is at least somewhat close to being settled away before scanning the next person’s items through; Above all, have a little empathy for the lone customer with a full cart and a single pair of hands.

I’m not calling for action against the employees involved. Neither of them were rude or abrasive; they were simply rushed. And frankly, they must be receiving direction from above that this sort of “rush ’em through” behaviour is deemed okay. But rest assured, my experience today makes it clear that sometimes speed is not the same as efficiency.

I do my Costco shopping on Frantic-Fridays and Squashed-like-Sardines-Saturdays because of the value your products add to my life and the life of my family. Kirkland No-Salt-Added Tomatoes are a mainstay in my kitchen. Kirkland-brand toilet paper never runs out…

…but no “great deal” is worth feeling like a burden over.

Perhaps you could remind your employees (and the management team who drives their behaviour), that when “there are plenty of shopping alternatives”, it’s service that’ll keep your customers walking through your doors.

With Regards,
Crystal
Costco member since 2015

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Dealing With Stress

No, I’m not a fire-fighter…

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

No, I haven’t changed careers to fire-fighter (although it seems like I could be a stunt-double these days), but I am dealing with some hectic work-type things for the next few days. Who’d have thunk that real-world-paying job would take priority over super-fun-but-time-consuming hobby-blog? (Who has two thumbs and knew it all along? Two hints: Starts with “M”; ends with “E”).

Alas, this means during my crunch-time at work, I’m going to have to cut back on the number of posts I do for the next week or so.

Not to fear, though, I’ve got plenty in store for March, including a bunch of recipes I’ve been working on, of the low-carb, all carb, and just plain sinful varieties. Family-approved food, and a little less frenetic posting…

Not to leave you completely empty-handed, I’ll end with a few words of wisdom on dealing with stress.

Not that I’m an expert…

While I’ve had a rough couple of weeks at work, I’ve found that taking a step back has really helped. Specifically, for the first 15 minutes of my day, I jot down what didn’t get accomplished the day before (if it still needs to be done today), followed by a quick numbering of what’s most important. Finally, I mark what could be pushed into another day and save that for the very end, just in case I don’t get to it.

There’s always something to do, and while I’m able to do anything, I can’t do everything. Prioritizing the tasks at hand can really help keep the noise down.

Perspective: it’s hard to achieve in the middle of a rushing blaze, so taking the first 15 minutes before the fires start raging has helped me gain a little ground. Follow it up with a deep breath and I can battle anything that comes my way.

Just make sure there’s coffee ready, ’cause sometimes the rest of the day is a doozy.

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

What’s in your pantry?

Keeping the essentials on hand can help your family eat in more often. Don’t be caught flatfooted, keep the necessities in your pantry!

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Whether it’s in my meal plans or not, there are some non-perishable items I always keep handy “just in case”. These basics allow my family some flexibility, for example, if I can’t cook due to an unexpected bout of overtime, or if I spontaneously need a batch of cookies in the house. They also let me explore different recipes on the weekends without taking away from those meals that are part of my well-thought-out family meal plan.

My main goal for having a well-stocked pantry is cost. Sure, it may cost a little bit more each trip to include items that aren’t on my meal plan. However, that small cost is well worth not paying for takeout due to “food boredom”.

There are plenty of thoughts on just what would be good to keep around. One that I’ve personally referred to over the past few years has come from CBC. Back in 2013, CBC had its own assessment of the basics as part of their “Live Right Now” program. (side note, “Live Right Now” seems to have died on the vine, but this reference sheet is pretty timeless).

external_cbc

Now, I’m not suggesting that the list above is the be-all and end-all of pantry lists. For example, I bought a small bag of couscous back in 2013 and I’m pretty sure it’s still in my cupboard… I’ve made my own personal list that meshes well with the types of meals and snacks my family consistently make.

Bare basics

These bare basics are things I never let run out, or else the ground will swallow me whole:

  • Raisins – This is the perfect snack-food for my daughter. Never mess with a hungry toddler.

  • Peanut butter – Another one that’s purely driven by my toddler. She asks for this specifically; a pretty large feat considering her toddler-level vocabulary.

  • Flour – I bake most of the bread in my home ($0.70 a loaf as opposed to $2.50), plus it’s used in a lot of recipes and sauces. I usually keep whole wheat, but if that runs out, there’s always another type of flour (white, pastry, or bread) to make due until the next grocery visit.

  • Sugar – Baking, cooking, or just in tea. This is a must-have, although we have been using less and less as our daughter grows. Looks like the little tyke is a good influence.

  • Spices – Without these, food would probably make me cry.

    whats-in-your-pantry-alt-1
    • Salt – if you’re cooking from scratch, salt is a must to bring out flavours.

    • Pepper – Added at the table, pepper helps Gord and me spice things up while our daughter has a milder version of whatever we’re cooking.

    • Cumin – I don’t know why, but just a dash of this stuff brings out the flavours of whatever I’m cooking.

    • Garlic Powder – Used in a lot of my dishes, I always have a big 500g bottle of this in my cupboard.

    • Chili Powder – I cook a lot of tex-mex style foods. ‘Nuf said.

    • Cinnamon – Gord does breakfast most of the time, so this is his critical spice. Pancakes, french toast, random baking endeavours… this stuff is pretty tasty.

  • Canned Tomatoes – Tomatoes are used in practically everything I cook. I ran out of these once. There was a riot… Now I make sure there are at least 6 extra cans over and above my month-long meal plans.

    With all the tex-mex style cooking and curries, I use tomatoes probably 3-4 times a week. Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with heartburn…

  • Beans – Canned and dried beans are always in my cupboard, at minimum chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans. A few times, we’ve had a lazy Saturday with baked beans and toast for lunch.

    Lazy beans are the best, Yum!

  • Pasta – Need something quick? Tomoatoes + Beans + Spices + Pasta = quick, easy and tasty meal.

  • Rice – Whole grain rice (I use basmati a lot) is a must in our household. Take the same ingredients you’d use on a pasta dish, add rice instead, and you’ve got something brand new!

  • Canola Oil – Baking or cooking, we use a moderate amount of this in most of our meals.

  • Onion – When cooking from scratch, onions are the base to most of my home cooked meals.

  • Eggs – Breakfast, baking and the occasional lunch, I always have a backup carton of eggs on hand.

Over and above what meshes with the CBC list, I also have a few family “must haves”:

veg-butter-chicken-1
  • Frozen home-made dinners – Grab-and-go frozen lunches are a must-have when you have two working parents. Sometimes lunch doesn’t get made in time for work, so these frozen lunches keep us from buying fast food. Plus, it’s nice to have a home cooked lunch in the middle of a work day.

  • Chocolate Chips – CBC’s list says “Dark chocolate chips”, probably because of the sugar. But really, if you’re going to bake cookies, the chocolate chips aren’t what’ll break the sugar bank…

  • Onion Soup Mix – I actually use Onion Soup Mix more than I use bullion. I use neither that much, but I do use them enough to have some of each in the pantry.

  • Gravy Browning – If you’re from Newfoundland, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I always have this handy.

  • Bottled Butter Chicken Sauce – Gord’s all-time favourite meal is butter chicken. I would be doing him a disservice if I didn’t have one of these handy at all times.

More ‘miss’ than ‘hit’

So, while the above list showcases my essentials, and I do take most of my pantry items from the CBC list, there are a few things on that list that I disagree with.

I suggest, like anything on the internet, that you take this list with a grain of salt. Assess what’s right for your family and be willing to experiment, but also know your own limits.

The following have made it to my, nuh-uh, “what were they thinking” list:

  • Wheat Bran/Wheatgerm – I bake with whole wheat flour and have never, ever needed just wheat bran or wheatgerm.

  • Dried Pears or Apples – I have never needed these dried fruit in the history of ever. Plus, I’ve never even found these items other than in one particular bulk store. Although, that possibly has something to do with the fact that I haven’t been looking too hard…

  • Agave Nector – This is one of those trendy “superfood” items that’s also “super expensive”. For the low amount of sugar we use, it’s not worth having a sugar substitute like this around. Honey is much more accessible.

  • Pumpkin seeds – I don’t know why this is on a list of “Staples”. I wish they had explained the items (like I’m doing here) to justify this one…

  • Flax Seed Oil – While I’m sure flax seed oil has some pretty neat-o properties, I’ve never been inclined to use anything other than canola and olive oils.

  • Fresh Beets – Gord won’t eat beats, and they go bad too quickly compared to potatoes. I buy these once in a blue moon, but they don’t make it to my “must have” pantry list.

  • Frozen tortillas and pitas – I’ve never had a frozen tortilla. Maybe I’ll add a few to my list next time and see what this one’s about. Maybe…

  • Sardines – Big fat fluffy nope!

  • Kale – I tried, I really did. I had eight kale plants growing in my garden. I tried it in a stir-fry (it took about 2 hours to become edible) and it was tough and unpleasant, and I tried it baked as desiccated kale chips. Neither one were worth the effort.

    If you are about to say “smoothie”, I refuse to try a kale smoothie. After how aweful my other two experiences with kale were, that just sounds gross (I was vegetarian for two years; I’m no stranger to trying new things and still, the thought of kale smoothies grosses me out).

  • Swiss Chard – Another one that’s off the mark for me. While I’m sure it’s a perfectly lovely green, it doesn’t make it to my family’s “must have” list.

  • Couscous – While I’m sure the writer’s heart was in the right place, I’ve literally used couscous twice. And only because it was in my cupboard from this list. Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy there. Quinoa, on the other hand? I use that all the time.

So that’s my list and my anti-list.

What about you? What’s in your pantry?

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

2016 Calendars – Free Printable

Use these 2016 calendars to plan meals, organize your month or track savings goals, whatever fits your needs.

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

A little late, but here they are: Calendars for the year. Below is a link to my 2016 monthly calendars, plus year-at-a-glance. I hope they help you stay organized in 2016!

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eating Healthy-ish… The Infographic

See this infographic for an easily “digestible” perspective (get it? get it? ah?) of Eating Healthy-ish.

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

See my post on Eating Healthy…ish for a less… um… unintelligible abstract version of my take on this topic.

infographic-eating-healthy-ish

Most of the icons used above were provided for free by icons8.com. (All I had to do was post this link!). The other graphical elements… they’re all me!

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eating Healthy…ish

It seems there’s a trend afoot. One that says “I’ve worked hard; I deserve a treat after a long day at the office… but I don’t want to lose momentum for all that hard work!” That trend is Eating “Healthy…ish”.

What, you might ask, is healthy-ish eating, exactly?

Well… let me start by filling you in on my vision of “healthy”.

Swaths of green, purple, orange and red veggies, as far as the eye can see… Tender beans, lentils, peas, corn and fish replace those fatty fillets of beef and pork… starches and processed grains are banished, replaced by whole grains and hearty pasta… Hydrogenated and animal fats are avoided, replaced by their kinder, gentler cousins Canola and Olive.

That’s “Healthy”.

Throw a little cheese on top…

That’s “ish”.

Welcome to the world of healthy-ish eating!

In general, I like to feed my family wholesome foods that nourish the body in the long run rather than something just “quick and dirty” to fill the void. I feel confident that these foods will provide a great foundation for future growth.

One small hitch: wholesome foods only work if they’re eaten.

Enter “Ish”

Cooking “Healthy-ish” lets me add a moderate amount of cheese on that veggie whole-wheat-pasta casserole. It lets me add a smidgen extra olive oil to those colourful sautéed veggies in my scrambled eggs.

Thanks to “Ish”, I can rest assured that while, yes, my toddler will eat a bit more cheese that I would like, more importantly, she’ll also get her veggies.

Now, I’m not advocating Doritos for breakfast, but a little flavour (and let’s be honest, “flavour” usually means “bad”) carefully added to an otherwise a-okay meal can help keep me and my family eating the greens along with that tasty, tasty cheese.

But how?

There are two approaches that work for my family, the goal being “Make good food that’s edible”. One: find a healthy recipe and tweak it until it tastes good. Two: take an indulgent recipe and strip out some of the badness. Let’s take a look at these two approaches.

Good food… but who’ll eat it?

First, find a recipe that your family is willing to try (say my One Pot Pasta Recipe). Sometimes, (like the pasta) it just works. Great! Other times (steamed veggies and rice, for example) there’s just something missing.

Well, when something’s too plain, I find a few of these “secret weapons” work:

  • Add salt. One draw-back of “all fresh” meals, is that it can lack that something to bring out the flavours. A little salt goes a long way (just a pinch can be enough), so add a dash, taste, and repeat until it’s yummy!

  • Add oil – but only the “good” kind (olive oil and canola oil have good reputations). Usually a Tablespoon in a large family meal will be enough to enhance any natural flavours. This is good for anything sautéed (lightly fried), as well as most sauces.

  • Add complementary seasonings. This one’s a bit tricky. A lot of recipes online are click-bait, meant to draw you into some site that has a bunch of recipes and lets you muddle through what’s good or not. Other sites (like one of my favourites: Oh She Glows) have carefully crafted their recipes and only present their best and most flavourful.

    When a recipe is missing that tender love and care, Cumin or garlic may be what you need.

  • Add cheese – just a little, though. To make sure you’re not obliterating the healthiness of your choice, carefully measure the cheese, say a shredded tablespoon per portion. You’re going for a hint of indulgence, not “ooey-gooey”.

  • Add something bad, but in a carefully controlled portion. Examples of this include adding a single slice of garlic bread with that wholesome pasta dish, or adding a little batter to that baked fish. Use caution, though. It’s a small step from “single slice of garlic bread” to “cheesy-bread-splosion!”.

For the above (as in life) moderation is key. Try a bit, taste, and adjust until you find the right fit.

Oh, and don’t forget to write down what you did so you can do it again! I have a handy organizer, but I’ve been known to keep a notepad on my microwave for cooking notes.

When it’s a matter of texture or appearance instead of flavour (i.e. my toddler won’t eat certain vegetables), try blending, mashing or straining part of the meal (the side vegetable or sauce, for instance). For my One Pot Pasta Recipe example above, I blend the healthy veggies together into a uniform sauce before I cook it. I get all the healthy advantage of the meal, plus my picky eater will, you know, eat it!

Tasty food… but not so healthy

This one’s easy to find, hard to fix. You have to know what the “problem” is in order to fix it, so let’s break down some of the common sources of badness:

  • Too much fat. The best way to reduce fat is to simply not include it in the first place. Remove chicken skin before cooking (this takes away that top layer of fat). Trim excess fat from fatty cuts of meat or even choose lower-fat cuts. If you’re adding butter, peanut oil or vegetable oil, use canola oil or olive oil instead (hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em).

  • Too much starch. If you’re using potatoes (common here in Newfoundland), try replacing a portion with that wonder-veggie cauliflower. Mix it into mashed potatoes and you hardly notice. If you’re using another source of starch, reduce the portion size and add a side of something green in its place, like steamed green beans.

  • Highly-processed grains (e.g. white flour, white rice, or minute-anything). Replace white pasta with whole wheat, and white bread with whole grain bread. If you’ve got picky eaters who refuse to try something new, there are some brands of bread out there that offer “disguised” versions – whole wheat bread that looks like white bread, or bread with cauliflower dough baked right in.

  • Not enough veggies/too much meat or grains. Reduce the portion size of the meat, pasta or rice and up the amount of veggies. For example, instead of a meal of fried chicken and fries, try a few pieces of chicken on a bit of rice plus a side of steamed veggies. When cooking different kinds of meat, certain veggies go better than others. Some tried and true veggie/meat pairings include: carrots and chicken; green beans and pork; or broccoli and beef.

  • Too “from-a-box”. Let’s be honest, we all love the ease of just throwing something into the oven and walking away for 20 minutes. Ta-da! It’s like magic! Except for all those preservatives, fats, extra carbs and salt.

    But what can we do?

    Never fear! There are plenty of alternatives to work with: Chicken strips can be made from home made ingredients and custom-made seasonings; Home-fries can be baked with a carefully controlled amount of oil or using a low-oil frier; Home-made versions can be whipped up quickly (think home-made quesadillas instead of pre-fried easy-bake mini-tacos, or “do it yourself” side dishes using whole wheat pasta).

    Plus, there are some reputable brands out there. This takes a bit of leg work, but finding a brand you trust for those “easy-peasy” meals can take a bit of strain off the day-to-day meal planning.

One of the keys to successfully reducing the unhealthiness of a dish is in smaller portions. Sometimes, that’s a smaller amount of the indulgent food on your plate. Other times, it’s a smaller amount of “the bad thing” in the dish itself.

Welcome to dinner…

In my ongoing quest for a healthy family, “ish” has made its home here. “Ish” is here to stay.

Thanks for keeping my family well, “Healthy”. And thanks for helping them enjoy it, “Ish”.

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Weekday Vegetarian

Monday through Friday,
just five days a week,
Veggies and lentils,
not one bite of meat.

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

I have a confession to make.

I used to be a vegetarian.

I’m pretty sure I’ve alienated all the non-vegetarians (“she used to be a vegetarian?) and active vegetarians alike (“she used to be a vegetarian?) but I’ll tell you why it works for my family…

When I had only myself to cook for, I was a vegetarian. When Gord (my husband) needed to eat too, that changed.

Now, I’m not one of these women who thinks “its my place” to cook. Quite the opposite, in fact Gord’s been known to try his hand at a recipe or two (and lately he’s made some amazing dinners – so long as the recipe’s clearly outlined). No, back then, I would make myself something vegetarian, only to watch Gord stab, burn, squash or otherwise injure himself in inventive and seemingly-impossible ways as he tried to fend for himself.

It was painful to watch, and I enjoy cooking. So I started cooking for both of us. He gave up all-beef-all-the-time, and I started eating chicken.

Compromise. It keeps the world going ’round.

Re-engage: vegetarian-mode

A couple of years ago, Gord started actively managing his weight (about the time I got pregnant, actually. Coincidence? I think not!).

He’s been doing pretty well with it ever since, but about 6 months ago he hit a plateau. He was managing portion sizes by calorie amounts and had reached the point where he’d hit his goal at the end of the day, but it still wouldn’t be enough.

Simply put, he was hungry!

It was about this time I was also actively managing our household meal plan (we had to keep our budget under control with a growing toddler to feed) plus the planning helped him know what portion size to allocate for his end-of-day meal.

Every now and then, I would throw in a vegetarian experiment – some better than others – but most of the time we had meal with chicken, tuna or beef. The plans worked for the budget side of things, but was getting harder for my husband to maintain due to that recurring hunger.

Between the jigs and the reels, Gord realized that on the nights I made vegetarian meals, he felt fuller. He could go to bed after eating within his calorie count and still wake up without wanting to gnaw his arm off.

Now, even though he was more satisfied on nights with the vegetarian meals, he still wasn’t so convinced when I suggested we go weekday vegetarian.

“Meat is delicious,” he argued.

A dilemma, for sure, so I had to up the game a little.

“What if veggies could be delicious too?” I countered. Inside, though, I wasn’t so sure if I could manage five unique vegetarian dishes every week, without repeating them week-in and week-out.

Enter Oh She Glows

So, my mom knows me… she got me this delightful vegetarian cook book and so far every recipe has been astoundingly successful. Like, I’d say these recipes are some of my favourite meals without qualification. That they’re vegetarian just happens to work for my new meal plans.

That book was the first Oh She Glows cookbook. I’d never heard of that blog before, but ever since, that site has been a mainstay of my weekday meal planning. Every recipe in the cookbook has been the best of the best, but even the web-only recipes “just work”.

So I pulled inspiration from there. I experimented. I toiled. I pulled recipes out of the ether (a.k.a. the web) and came up with one week, then two… then three weeks, each with very little repeat and all-vegetarian meals!

Looking at the bottom line, we were also saving on our grocery bill. Meat’s expensive. Beans, chickpeas, lentils? Not so much.

Looking back on it, I think we owe our success in taking small steps over a few months rather than just jumping in headlong.

How to switch to weekday veg

We started small. Planning for one or two vegetarian meals a week, using adaptations of dishes we already loved (spaghetti, chili, burgers, soup).

Once we had a few dishes under our belts, we looked around for interesting meals that we weren’t familiar with (most came from that Oh She Glows cookbook, but there are plenty more on the site). We swapped around our weekly meal plans from “mostly meat with a few veggie meals” to “mostly veggie with a few meaty meals”.

Finally, we took the plunge… All veggie meals during the work week!

And you know what?

It’s working!

My husband has lost (and kept off) 45 pounds in the last 2 years. By limiting portion sizes, and keeping track of his meals, he’s succeeded in his goal. He’s even set new goals for himself.

Our budget is at a manageable level, leaving enough in our pockets for the fun things (like a visit to Polkadot Place).

Best of all? All bellies are full of nutritious home-cooked meals. And really, that’s what matters.

Can’t ask for anything better than that!

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

A Daddy’s perspective on pants

The Dad zone. A guest post by Gord

Before I became a parent, I got several warnings about how hard it was going to be from other parents. They told tales of sleepless nights and of isolation. Now, those things are true, but they get better within the first year (or at least did for me). There was one difficult facet of parenting, however, that I was not warned about.

Boredom.

It’s a very real, very painful, but very necessary part of the parenting process. For instance…yesterday I spend 45 minutes watching my daughter repeatedly try to put on pants.

Yes…I spent the average running time of an episode of The Walking Dead on the floor with her, as she continually put two legs into one leg hole. She would fail, say “oops-i-see” and then remove her pants to try again.

Now, I’ve told stories like that to the uninitiated (i.e. non-parents) before and the reaction is often the same. “Awww, that sounds adorable! I bet it was such a sweet moment!”

No…no it was not. Sure, it was cute for the first three minutes or so, but as it dragged on into minute ten and beyond, it got painful. In those moments, you hear the siren song of higher forms of entertainment. The weight of your phone in your pocket becomes heavier and heavier as you feel your tumblr updates growing in number. Just one little peek wouldn’t hurt, right?

Maybe…but I refuse to abandon my daughter’s excited efforts. Do you know why? Today, she kinda-sorta-almost put on her pants by herself correctly. They were backwards, and she couldn’t pull them up past her bum, but by God it was closer than yesterday!

As a father, that is the service I provide my daughter. While her mother reads to her and teaches her to become a Nobel-prize-winning-novelist-astronaut, I suffer through throngs of boredom while clapping encouragement and smiling so she’ll try putting on her pants again. It will all be worth it, for in the future as she walks up on stage to receive her accolades for curing cancer, I’ll be in the applauding crowd blinking back tears of pride.

Because she’ll be wearing pants.

Share
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •