Hiiiiii!!!! I’m super excited! Can you tell????
I tried meal planning before, so this is attempt number two. Here are some fun things I learned during my first attempt:
- I need variety and options. I can’t eat the same thing for 7 days straight.
- Prepping food for 7 days is obnoxious for me.
- I panic and have a tendency to buy food for the nonexistent three people I live with. *facepalm*
- My meals are best inspired by things I’ve eaten recently and fallen in love with instead of cute pictures on Pinterest with ingredients I’m not entirely sure go together. I tried to make a chickpea buddha bowl with a bunch of random foods I don’t usually eat. Needless to say, it just sat in my fridge and became a middle school science experiment.
Without further adieu, we have arrived at the successes of this week!
In a random adventure to Downtown Orlando, I tried a new restaurant. I don’t like new restaurants because I like consistency when it isn’t coming from my kitchen. Anyway, Greenbeat makes amazing salads that are huge!
I could only eat half of it and had to save the rest for later. I chose kale and the basil quinoa, added some corn, portobello mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, green bell pepper, parmesan cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, cilantro and basil. MIND. BLOWN. Naturally . . . I decided to make my own with some improvements because that is the type of person I am. I only got the parmesan cheese because I panicked and added something familiar. A good excuse doesn’t exist, so for my version it is completely vegan and plant based. Lemme just say that it was amazing and I’m sad that I’m about to run out of kale and peppers.
Shall we move along to the second dinner option? It was non-vegan, regular Black parent approved. The only critique was to add little more salt but I’ve been intentionally reducing how much salt I cook with. I made a copycat recipe of Panera’s black bean soup by combining a few different recipes and ignoring most of them. Fun fact: I view recipes as more of a rough guideline because most of the time I only follow a few of the steps. I use recipes for cook times and then still make adjustments because that is just who I am as a person. I trust my instinct and the ancestors more than anything else when I cook. I present black bean soup and cilantro lime rice. Beans and rice isn’t a staple for nothing. Bay leaves and cumin might be my new favorite spices. They’re going in everything!! Okay, maybe not everything, but you understand what I mean.
In theory, I would have a better photo, but I was hungry and couldn’t wait to start eating.
**I got really excited and wrote this slightly out of order, my bad.**
So as you may know, I drink green smoothies but those get monotonous after awhile so another option is steel cut oatmeal. If somebody could find a steel cut oatmeal tycoon for me to marry, that would be spectacular because your girl loves oatmeal. It should have an independent food group. On hand, I usually have enough things to mix into my oatmeal so I don’t get bored. I have some green apples I diced and froze, usually walnuts or almonds are around, dates, bananas, brown sugar, cinnamon, are usually in my kitchen. I’m currently in the process of reworking how I make my smoothies, I’ll update you on the success or failure of that venture. Just trying something new with measuring and such.
Lunch gets tricky with me because sometimes I’m home for lunch and other times I’m working, so lunch usually ends up being a dinner item or something at work.
- Aldi is amazing. I get my nuts from there unless another has nuts on clearance because they can get expensive. They are usually the same price or cheaper than other grocery stores, including Wally World. They sell smaller packs so if you discover that you do not like hazelnuts, you only spent $3-4 and shouldn’t feel bad about not liking them.
- My freezer is my best friend. Florida humidity is produce’s worst enemy and I hate when my produce spoils since I have a tendency to buy in bulk. I take a day and chop/dice my vegetables like onions and celery so I have them later. Sometimes you want to make a soup that needs two stalks of celery but buying the entire pack is more cost effective. Chop what you need for the recipe, then chop the rest and freeze it. I also freeze my spinach for green smoothies. Check out the rest of my green smoothie prep here! Having things ready in the freezer reduces the stress of a time crunch later. I have carrots in there from a month or two ago, specifically prepped for another soup or another random purpose. **Update, I used some of them in a carrot cake smoothie, it was delicious.
- Spend a morning chopping a bunch of veggies and then freeze them. Green beans, collards, bell pepper, onions, carrots, celery, and most other things. Future you will thank you.
- Figure out your personal pantry, the essential items you need and keep on hand. A few of mine are steel cut oatmeal, bananas (frozen into chunks), almond butter, brown rice and frozen kale or spinach.
- Transitioning to a more plant based diet is less stressful than you would imagine. You might have a good starter list in your pantry right now! Keep a good variety of herbs and spices. The grocery store has packs of herbs and such for about $1. Use those to discover new flavors without spending $12 on a bottle of something.
- For my friends who can’t cook . . . You can, with practice. Cooking is a learned skill. Nobody is born being able to make a five course Thanksgiving dinner. If babies can learn to walk, you can learn to not burn a pot of rice. The timer on my phone, oven and microwave are a life saver for my easily distracted self. I’d suggest making foods you already love from restaurants. You may love the Zuppa Toscana soup from Olive Garden, like I do. Find a copycat recipe online, try it and see what you like and don’t like. Soups are very forgiving, crepes are not.
Unfortunately we have reached the end of this post. I hope this was helpful and I hope you enjoyed it! Also, thanks for riding this ride with me, it really means the world.