Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Sarah: Week 2 of Eat-In May May 5, 2014

Filed under: Eat-In May,Food & Cooking — suburbanpioneers @ 3:36 am
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Week 2: Eat-In May

Week 2: Eat-In May

We aim for a pattern in meal planning: big meal extravaganza on Sunday evening when we’re both home to wrangle our child while chopping veggies and washing dishes.  Usually I make Sunday evening dinner and Keith puts together a crockpot o’ something to cook all day Monday.  Voila!  Two hot meals with leftovers for lunches for the next few days.

Then we plan a quick-and-easy meal for Tuesday.  Wednesday is my day off (I work four tens), so I usually plan something a little more involved (again with leftovers for the next day or two of lunches).  Then on Thursdays, we often have smoothies (use up all that leftover fruit, yogurt, etc.).  It doesn’t sound very hearty, but kids LOVE that dinner and then you can pair it with cheese toast or crackers and cheese for quick additional oomph.

And then…sometimes nothing goes according to plan (such as tonight when we both forgot to make the crockpot).  No worries.  You just switch around as needed.  No need to stress.  As long as you have all your ingredients, it’s no big deal to move things around.

 

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Sarah: Eat-In May Preparation May 1, 2014

Filed under: Eat-In May — suburbanpioneers @ 3:33 am
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Leave that restaurant table empty!  You've got a date with some fruits and veggies.

Leave that restaurant table empty! You’ve got a date with some fruits and veggies.

I feel the need to establish a little credibility, first.  I’m not one of those win-the-lottery type individuals paid for blogging and cooking.  I work forty hours a week and have a kid and a house to keep up with, so I wouldn’t say I have an abundance of spare time.  I’m also a fairly lazy person and much prefer reading to doing things around the house.

So…now that you know that, you can believe me when I say that, if I can do 7 home-cooked meals a week, you definitely can, too.  It really takes no special skills, just a little planning (which, by the way, I hate, but I’ve found to be necessary…I’ve mentioned that Keith’s in grad school, right?  A tight budget is a reality, so I’ve learned to be a planner).

The beauty is that once I do the planning and shopping, I’m done.  No special, last-minute trips to the store to get that one thing I don’t have to make the meal I just decided to make.  No standing in front of the refrigerator wondering what to make with the hamburger buns and two eggs inside (not that that’s ever happened to me).  I hate the planning process, but it’s kind of a pay-it-forward deal for a week with low stress.  So…on to the plan for the rest of the week.

And no, there’s nothing gourmet on here.  I aim for fast but healthy on weeknights, and I always make enough for leftover lunches the next day.  Here’s the menu, and if you scroll down, there are pictures of tonight’s meal (since it becomes tomorrow’s lunch):

MealPlan Week1

Tonight’s meal: Vegetarian Korma with Rice (we aren’t really vegetarians, but we try to only eat meat about once a week…for health, financial, and environmental reasons).

 

Ingredients:  rice 2 Tbsp olive oil 1/2-1 onion 2 sweet potatoes, peeled 1 jar Korma or Tikka Masala sauce 1/3 package of frozen peas or peas & carrot mix spinach a dash of extra yellow curry powder pepper to taste

Ingredients:
1 c. Jasmine rice in 1 & 1/2 c. water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2-1 onion
2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 jar Korma or Tikka Masala sauce
1/3 package of frozen peas or peas & carrot mix
spinach
a dash of extra yellow curry powder
pepper to taste

To prepare:

2. Add chopped sweet potatoes and sautee for a few more minutes

2. Add chopped sweet potatoes and sautee for a few more minutes

1. Sautee onions in olive oil until translucent.

1. Sautee onions in olive oil until translucent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Add jar of korma or tikka masala + a half jar of water for a little extra moisture (I like the Seeds of Change brand because it's as good as anything I can make at home, much faster to prepare than from scratch, and has no high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated yuckiness in it).

3. Add jar of korma or tikka masala + a half jar of water for a little extra moisture (I like the Seeds of Change brand because it’s as good as anything I can make at home, much faster to prepare than from scratch, and has no high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated yuckiness in it).

4. While the sauce and veggies simmer, start a pot of rice (Jasmine rice cooks fast, so you don't want to do this too early).  For extra nutrients, use brown rice, but I'd start it before you start any veggies because it takes longer to cook.  Combine the rice and water in a pan, bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer.  Let set ~15 min. for Jasmine rice, more like a half hour or 45 min. for brown.

4. While the sauce and veggies simmer, start a pot of rice (Jasmine rice cooks fast, so you don’t want to do this too early). For extra nutrients, use brown rice, but I’d start it before you start any veggies because it takes longer to cook. Combine the rice and water in a pan, bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer. Let set ~15 min. for Jasmine rice, more like a half hour or 45 min. for brown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Add in as many frozen peas and carrots as you like.  I used about 1/3 a package.

5. Add in as many frozen peas and carrots as you like. I used about 1/3 a package.  Allow all to simmer until sweet potatoes are soft and peas are warm.

6.  Tear up and add in fresh spinach (I always keep a bag of spinach on hand--makes any dish healthier!)

6. Tear up and add in fresh spinach (I always keep a bag of spinach on hand–makes any dish healthier!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Cover the pan, let the spinach wilt just a little, and then serve over rice.

 

Total time:

30-45 minutes (depending on how fast you chop–I’m notoriously slow at it).

Total cost: $1.79 per meal!
$7.15 total divided by 4 meals–two adult dinners + 2 lunches…and a toddler-sized dinner, too)

1/2 onion: 50 cents
2 sweet potatoes: 66 cents
1 jar Korma: $3.99
1/2 bag rice: $1.50
1/3 bag peas & carrots: 33 cents
1/12 bag spinach: 17 cents

 

Sarah: Eat-In May! April 29, 2014

Filed under: Eat-In May,Food & Cooking — suburbanpioneers @ 4:07 am
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Leave that restaurant table empty!  You've got a date with some fruits and veggies.

Leave that restaurant table empty! You’ve got a date with some fruits and veggies.

I just wanted to add my voice? pen? computer? to Lauren’s to ask you to join us for Eat-In May!  She shared some pretty crazy statistics about how much Americans eat out.

I’ll add my two-cents in.  When we started thinking about this project, I remembered reading somewhere–maybe in Fast Food Nation–that Americans consume one-third of their calories away from home.  I looked it up, and found research from the USDA that confirms this:

 

* In 2005-2008 Americans consumed 32% of their calories away from home.   (USDA Economic Research Service) I wonder how that compares to the past 3 years?

* Furthermore, the USDA determined that food away from home was higher in saturated fat and sodium but lower in dietary fiber.  This seems like it should be obvious.  But still, in case you needed the reminder, there it is.

* It seems that 30% of American calories come from desserts, sugary drinks, alcohol, and salty snacks, with the top five food items that contribute calories to our diets being: soft drinks, pastries/desserts, hamburgers, pizza, and potato chips (UC Berkley News).  Notice these are all items we more frequently eat away from home.

* And my favorite quote from Berkley Professor of Health and Nutrition, Gladys Block: “…such healthy foods as vegetables and fruit make up only 10 percent of the caloric intake in the U.S. diet. A large proportion of Americans are undernourished in terms of vitamins and minerals. You can actually be obese and still be undernourished with regard to important nutrients. We shouldn’t be telling people to eat less, we should be telling people to eat differently.” (UC Berkley News)

 

Hear, hear, Gladys!  I’m all about not eating less…but yes, I’ll admit that I need to “eat differently.”  And to kickstart ourselves to eat differently, we’re launching Eat-In May.  Join us!

 

Don’t worry.  I’m creating my own two exceptions (because the point is to change habit and lifestyle, not to make things impossible).  Maybe you have one or two exceptions, too, but the point is to nix the casual coffee stop and the “I-don’t-know-what-to-make-so-we’ll just-pick-up-pizza” moments.  My exceptions:

  1. family birthdays/anniversaries–because I like my in-laws and would like to stay on good terms with them.
  2. travel–we rarely go away for the weekend, but there was this killer Groupon deal…well, you know how it goes.  While I’ll reduce our eating out by packing food for some meals, it’s a bit stressful to go away for a weekend without eating out once (and the stress of packing all meals might mitigate the relaxation of a weekend away…which would be a waste of a perfectly good Groupon).

 

So there.  Exceptions notwithstanding, WHO’S WITH US????

 

 
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