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Freedom of Meal

The schools are closed today due to poor road conditions in some areas and all of my days are beginning to blend together. Good thing Lifetime Fitness has a lovely kids club.
Since it is Monday, it is technically the start of another week of routine. Another week of school, work, responsibilities, extra curricular activities and constantly being on the go.

I read about a lot of different ways to meal plan for the week. I don’t know about you but I don’t like the concept of true meal planning. I don’t like deciding on Sunday what we have to eat each day of the week ahead.

I am the same way with my work outs. I don’t have a weekly “plan”. I go with how I feel on any given day. And I try to handle my meal “planning” the same way.

What if I don’t want the dinner I planned on Sunday as my meal on Tuesday?

Heck some days I don’t know what I want for breakfast or lunch until it is time to make it.

Sure, there are some weeks where I prepare big meals (such as chili or baked pasta dishes) that provides leftovers for a few days.

That’s why we have freezers.

I hate the feeling of, “I have to eat this because it is leftover and I don’t want to waste it” or  “I can’t eat what I am really in the mood for because it wasn’t planned and prepared for today”.

That only leads me to an unhappy meal or craving, which only leads me unsatisfied.

I am the type of girl who looks forward to my next meal. Such a shame to eat and not enjoy, right?

I have found a method that works very well for me that allows me to plan without planning. It leaves a little wiggle room in terms of what we might be in the mood for yet is easy to prepare at the last minute.

I will let you in on my secret.

I tend to buy a bunch of items that can be mixed and matched, ready to be thrown together into a variety of meals.

Each week I take inventory of my pantry, refrigerator and freezer and make sure to have the following (including but not limited to of course):

A selection of protein sources:

  • Organic cans of chick peas, black beans, kidney beans and great northern beans
  • A variety of low-fat cheeses from Trader Joe’s such as Muenster, Parmesan, Ricotta, Mozzarella and Feta
  • Boneless, skinless, hormone free chicken breast or tenderloins
  • Chicken nuggets from Applegate and/or Bell and Evans
  • Meatless  and Organic products from Dr. Praeger, Trader Joe’s and Amy’s
  • (obviously peanut butter, we all know this)
  • Organic skim milk, Stonyfield’s greek yogurt and kid’s yogurt

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A selection of complex carbohydrates:

  • Trade Joe’s  Organic Brown Rice Medley
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Baking potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Whole Grain Pasta
  • Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
  • Ezekial Bread

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Fruits and Vegetables (variety really depends on season and pricing):

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Spinach leaves
  • Carrots
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Frozen veggies
  • Avocado

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Pantry Items and Condiments:

  • Low Sodium Soups
  • Tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, sauce
  • Trader Joe’s BBQ sauces
  • Island Soyaki
  • Panko Crumbs
  • Seasonings

From the above list of foods, you really can play a fun little game of mix and match and see how many different meal combinations you can make.

It’s kinda what I do!

The only advanced prep I do is wash and cut up the fresh fruits and vegetables when I buy them. I roast the butternut squash and have it ready to be added into whatever I end up making during the week such as salads, stir fry dishes, on top of pizzas etc.

I will do a separate post that goes into further detail of the meals I tend to throw together for the little  boy and myself. I am a vegetarian so some nights I am creating 2 different meals – so quick and easy though!

I will leave you this morning with a glimpse of last night’s Freedom of Meal:

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A delicious bowl of:

  • roasted sweet potato wedges
  • black beans
  • veggie mix of spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, snap peas and broccoli
  • topped with avocado
  • seasoned with BBQ sauce

Question:

Do you meal plan or do you tend to wing it every week?

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