At 8:53 last night I started putting together this granola, and by 9:04 it was in the oven. I love this recipe is because it’s so quick: stir, spread, bake. It makes your house smell like cinnamon and nutmeg which reminds me of cooler temps and what it’s like to not melt into a puddle of heat anger every time I walk outside. In case nobody noticed, it was almost cool outside this morning, which means fall is coming and I wont feel like murdering someone every time I leave the house because of how oppressively hot it is, and maybe I’ll stop looking up jobs and houses in colder states.
When I was in college, I was in a ‘sorority’ of sorts. I went to a small, private university that made up their own version of the greek system, probably in an attempt to be more wholesome and sober. Instead of sororities, they were called tribes, and my tribe was called Nenamoosha (nee-na-MOO-sha). During my sophomore (junior?) year, we had some t-shirts made to help further distinguish us from our on campus peers, because what is college if it’s not about wearing the same shirt as 87 other females? This happened every year, but this particular semester they were grey V-necks with a screen-printed picture of two Care Bears on the front and the words “Nenamoosha Sisterhood” on red script across the shoulders. I was instantly in love because: V-neck! and oh, grey, my favorite color! And it was long enough because: tall girl problems.
I like a plan. An agenda. A schedule. A timetable. All of these words make me happy. Basically, I feel that way because I like to be in control. I like to know what’s going to happen. I want to know what to plan for and what kind of wardrobe I’m going to need. When I travel, I like to research the restaurants and activities beforehand, to make sure we eat at the most delicious places and see all the cool stuff. I like to know where I’m going, who I’m going with, what time we’re leaving, and oh, you have an itinerary? You shouldn’t have! Welcome to my happy place. Take my schedule away: what’s going on?!? What kind of unit you running around here!?
It’s cool guys, I’m getting help.
I realize that all aspects of life cannot be planned. I haven’t found those aspects yet, but I’m sure they exist. JK guys. Again, I’m getting help. In all reality though, something that we strive to plan for at our house are the meals. This means we can stick to a mostly balanced meal plan and not spend thousands of dollars on take out. Usually on Saturday or Sunday we talk about what we want to eat and look at how much money we have. I make a menu on an index card and then a list of ingredients. And then Aaron does! the! shopping! I’m not sure how I tricked him into going to two different grocery stores and sometimes the farmers market for me, but it works. I still get to choose what we eat and plan the menu, and he gets to exercise some “control” over how much money we spend on food. The love potion I brew must be strong.
Here is what we’re eating this week:
Monday: Spaghetti with meat sauce
Tuesday: Green salads with shredded grilled chicken, croutons, boiled eggs, vinaigrette
Wednesday: Turkey Stew and focaccia
Thursday: Turkey Stew leftovers / Grilled Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Friday: Greek Nachos
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday are gluten free and have options to be dairy free. If you’re into that.
How to prep for this:
Boil your eggs.
If your meat is frozen, make sure it’s thawed and then brown your beef (spaghetti) and grill your chicken (salads)
Chop veggies for stew
Make mayo for tuna salad
Bake focaccia bread for sandwiches/to serve with stew
Our grocery budget for all this was right at $100 and that includes several things like peanut butter, milk, coffee, granola bars, raisins, etc. that aren’t a part of this list. Meal planning can be hard but it’s definitely worth the time and effort: you know what you’re eating and it helps you stick to a budget. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but honestly, we eat the same things all the time in a rotation. If you have a few meals/recipes that you don’t mind eating frequently, you can use those and it’s not much work to get the hang of things.
You got this!
Short, and to the point. Here is what our food life looks like this week, for people who might need some menu inspiration:
Monday: Kale, Quinoa and Chicken Bowls (sautéed kale and garlic, tossed with olive oil, shredded grilled chicken and cooked quinoa, top with hot sauce and parmesan cheese)
Tuesday: Tuna salad + green salads
Wednesday: Cheap and Fancy Mac and Cheese
Thursday: Balsamic glazed chicken and roasted carrots
Friday: Roasted Garlic and Coconut Soup with Focaccia bread (Does anybody know about that coconut soup at Surin of Thailand? This is my attempt to re-create. I’ll let you know how it goes!)
For interested parties, we spent less that $90.00 on food for this week, so file this under budget! Also, M, T, Th meals are gluten free, T&Th are also dairy free. Leave out the cheese and so is Monday.)
How to prep for this (I usually prep on Sundays):
Grill your chicken. I grill mine in olive oil with salt and pepper.
Cook your quinoa. Quinoa cooks just like rice. I use 2 cups of water, 1 cup of quinoa, splash of olive oil and salt.
Make your mayonnaise and then assemble your tuna salad: I add a few spoonful’s of mayo, a little mustard, some pickle relish, and a grated boiled egg
Make sure your salad greens are washed and sorted.
Make your salad dressing. I find a basic combo of olive oil, vinegars and mustard to be a good start. But honestly, we buy lots of this.
Chop the broccoli and carrots for use later this week
The rest I’ll do the day we eat it, but that’s a really good head start if you’re looking to save some time. I work until 5 every day but Friday, so it’s nice to have a few things done so I don’t spend allllll my free time in the kitchen. Cause, you know, gotta live life!
A lot has changed since I originally published this over 2 years ago. While I appreciate the perspective that this gave me, I do not feel comfortable promoting Whole30 or diet culture. I’m leaving this post because its part of my journey and shows how far I’ve come, which is why I’m not taking the post down. If you would like to discuss more of these thoughts with me, feel free to reach out! Also, this is a really yummy curry recipe, regardless of its origins.
Food: we all need it. It’s one of the needs that all humans have in common. It can bring people together in fellowship, be the centerpiece of a holiday gathering, and sustain the soul and body. Depending on what you eat, it can nourish and heal your body, or slowly poison it. I love food! (hello captain obvious) I love the smells, textures, and tastes. I love the preparation and the fascinating way that what you eat can change you, for the better or worse. Our appetites can be complicated and full of emotion, so it’s an area to tread carefully in. I believe in a balanced diet, but I know that means different things for different people. For me, it means we eat lots of fresh produce, meats, dairy and protein, as well as grains and legumes. I also think that balance does not mean restriction or deprivation, but moderation. I understand that some people feel differently about this, and that’s great! This is me. Because I believe in balance and moderation, I’m super hesitant to jump on paleo/whole30/newest diet bandwagons. Everybody’s body and life and schedules are different, and people need different things. But ultimately, I think everyone needs an eating lifestyle that includes as many fruits and vegetables and happy meats, dairy and proteins as possible, and (this is super important to me) it needs to be enjoyed and savored. Since when does this kind of eating need to labeled and branded? Food for thought. (puns. ugh sorry)
I really like pie. A lot. I’ve been in a season of life where I bake a lot of them- salted caramel apple pies, peach and cherry galettes, maple and cinnamon apple hand pies and mushroom pesto pop tarts, all recipes that I’ll share with you one day. A lot of times when I think about pie baking, I picture a pie cooling on the windowsill, fresh from the oven, with a fall breeze and a fluttering curtain. It’s a homey, comforting, old fashioned picture. And the fall breeze thing is mostly because I’m sweating to DEATH right now in Mississippi and I’ve been “forced” to eat lots of these. Send help.
But this is not about pie. Its about crumbles, and I really like crumbles too (crisp? same thing to me, but I’m sure there are nuances I’m not adhering to). Sometimes I feel like crumbles get a bad reputation as being the ugly stepsister of pie. Who would want a crumble, if they could have pie instead? Because: Crust, duh. But! Crumbles have streusel topping! With oats and crunchy bursts of sweetness! And if you have an over abundance of summer fruit and no butter on hand (gasp!), you can still make a crumble.
Two recipe posts in one week mean they both need to be quick and to the point. Kind of like this dinner. Our lives have been full of living lately- but in the best way. That also means that what we eat needs to be quick and easy to make, as well as sustaining. This meal is just that – you only get one pan dirty, it takes 30 minutes or less from start to finish, and it’s packed with protein and delicious flavors, and if you want them: Chips! Another favorite food of mine.
It’s the end of the month. (Where the heck did July go?!) Which means the bank account is dwindling and the monthly budget is looking tight. “Budget” is one of those adult words that wasn’t previously in my vocabulary as a non-adult. Once I got a job and a mortgage and bills and married and “oh look! pretty clothes!” it became a very common vocab word at our house. And then you factor in things like health insurance and trying to exercise and working on the weekends and what the heck is all this about?! None of those things make you an adult, but maybe added together you get adult-like responsibilities, so the title of “adult” is sort of forced on you with no option to abdicate.
When I think about mayonnaise, I think about my childhood. My dad would (still?) smear a generous spoonful on a slice of white bread and top it with a fat piece of ripened tomato. As a child too old for such things, I would stick my index finger in a tub of mayo and lick it clean as if it were brownie batter. I consumed over the years what (I’m sure) has added up to be gallons of mayonnaise laden tuna salad, still a staple at my parents house. My Gran-Gran would make burgers in her tiny kitchen on top of the smallest, greasiest fire-hazard of a gas stove and somehow, mayonnaise seemed to be the main ingredient. I have no idea if she made the condiment herself or bought it at the store, but the pieces of beef were just the things in between the web of mayonnaise. She would serve them on one of those white, store bought buns with a thick piece of tomato (tomato for her, none for me) and it was bizarrely delicious. The beef was charred and a bit caramelized, the mayonnaise adding a burst of tanginess that kept the burger juicy and flavorful. I still do not understand the feat of culinary chemistry that was the mayonnaise burger, but it lives in infamy with all the colorful memories of my grandmother.
We eat a lot at our house. Which I’m sure most people will say about themselves, who have been blessed with access to bountiful funds and modern grocery stores. But for two people who have passed the adolescent growth spurt years, the amount of food consumed on our property is intense. My husband (bless him) has to consume around 3,200 calories a day just to maintain his weight and energy levels. (that’s a lot of calories: generally 3,000 calories = 1 pound of weight on the average person) Feeding him is like a sport. You cook enough for 4 average, reasonably hungry adults, possibly 6 that have restraint. You serve yourself a moderate amount. Then Aaron bats cleanup and the meal that would feed most couples for two, possibly three really skinny days, becomes one. It’s a constant source of amazement for those unaccustomed to his food-vacuum ways.
Which means I cook a lot. Because I’m morally offended (dramatic, I know, chill out already) by fillling the vast calorie expanse with calorically dense/nutritionally void processed and fast food, it means a lot of home cooking. Maybe 4-5 nights of meals where some type of heated food assembly is involved, with 1 night of cobbled together leftovers and 1 night for takeout. And we usually eat the same thing, over and over again. In the fall/winter months, it’s lots of soups and stews with grilled chicken and roasted root vegetables. In the summer, lots of salads, summer veggies and summer fruits like blueberries and peaches and cherries and whatever cheap protein or grain fillers are around.