Avoid, embrace meal planning: success!

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I am sold on this meal-planning gig. Not only did I successfully make three meals last week — counting last night in last week because one of the meals was postponed — but I brought snacks to work every single day.

I did not, however, manage to get my tea-making system set up at work yet. I plan to this week.

The verdict on the recipes: the meatloaf was great, as usual. The Indonesian peanut butter chicken did not have enough flavor but I think that is because I used regular-sized drumsticks instead of drumettes. Note to self and to you if you are also making this recipe: drumettes are key. The Indian curry was pretty good but, again, did not have enough flavor. I felt like it should be sweeter. FunkyPlaid suggested raisins and I think he’s onto something.

Quinoa was the real winner this week. It is significantly easier to cook than rice, and I prefer the taste.

The big loser this week? Hard-boiled eggs. I ate just two of the seven I cooked. Day three those eggs looked at me and I looked at those eggs and there was just no way. I guess I don’t like them as much as I thought I did.

My next big hurdle is eating leftovers without a microwave to reheat them. It is a weird thing to be lazy about, I know, but I really, really miss my microwave. It was perfect for reheating small portions. And thawing things sans microwave is a real pain in the ass, so freezing leftovers is the equivalent of a death sentence in our house. I have perfectly good homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer right now. (Thanks, StillTasty, for confirming its untouchable goodness.)

Eventually I will remember to take photos of food while I make it!

Avoid, embrace meal planning.

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As mentioned in my previous post, I am attempting to exhaustion-proof my kitchen by planning meals out in advance and stocking up on healthy snacks and lunches. I have been resistant to meal-planning because I avoid creating additional structure around my diet so I can act like I still have a little freedom despite the gluten-free stuff. This makes the topic a good candidate for my next “Avoid, Embrace”. So here we go …

There are two main issues to address. The first is that while I often want to cook dinner I am also often rushed and/or exhausted. That also impacts my lunchtime and snacking habits; if I am pressed for time and have nothing on hand, I’ll either not eat (and then gobble too much for dinner later) or eat something unhealthy that I can find on the go.

Yesterday I created a meal plan for the week in Evernote so I can access it on my iPhone while I am at the store. I wrote down the evenings we will be at home together around dinnertime — only three this week — and then paged through some cookbooks for inspiration. I decided on:

I chose Monday’s and Saturday’s meals because I hadn’t tried the recipes before and I adore my slow-cooker. Also, on Saturday night we need something quick to eat before we head out to our friend’s party, so this will be all ready to go when FunkyPlaid gets home from work. Friday’s meal is an old stand-by, my mom’s recipe for meatloaf that is an occasional indulgence of ours.

After adding the ingredients for the week’s meals to my grocery list, I then added some items for my healthy snacks and lunches this week: carrots, grapes, bananas, almonds, eggs (to hard-boil), hummus, yogurt, Pamela’s gluten-free bread mix, and curry kale chips. This last snack blew my mind a little bit. I had eaten kale chips before, but not ones that made me want to make my own.

Last night, I hard-boiled some eggs and made a loaf of bread. I also packed my lunch before going to bed, a trick I had known since I was old enough to pack a lunch, but had somehow forgotten along the way, causing every morning to be a sad little rumble around the kitchen, opening and shutting cupboards ineffectually, leaving with a protein bar in my hand that is somehow magically supposed to turn into two meals.

Some progress has been made. The next step is to kill my Starbucks habit, because I have been pretending that a green tea latte counts as breakfast. Tomorrow I will bring my tea set to work!

Avoiding, embracing email: one week later

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Here is my one-week check-in for my Avoid, Embrace project on email. So far, the biggest change I have made is in filtering out forwards into their own folder. In Gmail, I used this filter to do the trick:

from:(email address of forwarder | email address of another forwarder)
to:(-my email address)
Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label "SA/Forwards"

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Avoid, embrace the email situation.

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Next up in my Avoid, Embrace project: the email situation.

Step one: write about something I have been avoiding.

My email is now not a tool but a situation. I have ActiveInbox chugging along, filing things away merrily so that I have Inbox Zero. This is nice.

What is not nice is the 132 emails that need some sort of attention on my part. (That number increased to 137 just since I started writing this. Yikes.) I look at these emails in their pretty little categories that make sense, but I don’t do anything with them.
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Avoid, Embrace: Not an epiphany.

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The result of my first Avoid, Embrace exercise was not the epiphany I wanted. No great photos were taken. I am only posting this one because it is heavily post-processed.

I rushed through this, I admit. I didn’t take any great photos because I didn’t linger. But something good did happen: I didn’t feel bad while I was there. Initially I felt kind of awkward, hyper-aware of people glancing at my camera, but that isn’t neighborhood-specific; I always feel awkward with a big camera.

Not feeling bad is a good first step, I think.