Prepping Food with a Ridiculous Schedule

Brief catch-up:

I tried a new recipe a week in January, and continued it into February! A few good ones below:

20140316-221710.jpgThyme-Rubbed Salmon with Shallots & Cauliflower “Risotto”//Beer Brined Paprika Chicken//Carb-Buster Breakfast//Cheddar Stout Chicken Pot Pie//Baked Brie with Amber Ale-Caramelized Apple and Pancetta//Brown Sugar Rosemary Pork Chop with Brussel Sprout, Onion, & Apple Slaw

Can you tell I’m obsessed with The Beeroness?  Also she just moved to Seattle…I want to be best friends with her and soak in all her abilities and beer knowledge.

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The Seahawks won the Superbowl, and we closed Les Miz.  It was an emotional week.

//End catch up.

Guys.  I am literally overbooked.  I’m working at two different pizza restaurants, and I have an internship at the 5th Avenue Theatre.  Here’s my schedule:
M – Pizza PH 11-3, Pizza BO 5-10
T – Pizza PH 11-3, Pizza BO 5-10
W – 5th 10-3, Pizza BO 5-9
Th – 5th 10-3, Pizza BO 5-9
F – 5th 10-3, Pizza PH 4-8:30
Sat – Pizza PH whenever they need me
Sun – Pizza PH whenever they need me

See why I’ve been absent?

Also I haven’t worked out in…forever…

It should be noted that Pizza BO is in Bothell, WA…a solid 30-45 minute drive from my house.  So all that in between time is generally spent commuting.  Holiness.

Look how behind I am on Bloglovin’!  Although it should be noted my recent time-waster is definitely Tinder…don’t judge…

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So because I’ve been unable to schedule in a work out (I know, I could just wake up early, buuuuuut that sounds gross), I’ve been trying to be really conscious about what I’m putting into my body.  I have Saturday and Sunday nights after my shifts generally free, so I’ve been using Saturdays to chill and Sundays to prep food.

Cooking for one is hard.  The usual complaint.  Taking boyfriend application.

I had a friend ask me about what I do, so I thought I’d share on here what I did for this week.  It changes up week to week, but the general outline stays pretty much the same:

5 breakfast items
5-6 main meals (usually 2 different options)
5 veggie snacks
5 fruit snacks
Kind bars

A not great photo of my half of the fridge post-prep:

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Calorie Count:

Breakfast Raspberry Mango Green Tea Smoothie 174 cals
Snack #1 Veggies & Guac, String Cheese, GF Crackers 336 cals
Lunch/Dinner Thai Peanut Chicken Quinoa Bowl 457 cals
Snack #2 Apple Slices & PB&H Yogurt Dip 202 cals
Dessert/Second Shift Fuel KIND Bar 200 cals
Total: 1,369 cals

I know it doesn’t look like a lot of calories, but it’s low enough that I can eat that messed-up pizza slice or a small plate of nachos when I get home without feeling guilty. It’s also one of the reasons I’ve taken to picking a quinoa-based lunch/dinner (literally, I eat it at like 3pm, it’s definitely a lunch/dinner). It keeps me full, tastes good cold, and goes with everything. I’ve been trying to incorporate more meatless days in my eating schedule, as it’s cheaper, and requires me to incorporate more fruits & veggies to get to my caloric intake requirement, but this week I was hardcore craving chicken thighs.

(Recipe swaps in the Thai Quinoa Bowls: Subbed six brussel sprouts for the coleslaw mix, no peanuts, added 1C frozen veggie mix, no egg, only 1/2 lb chicken thighs, because that’s what I had/wanted)

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I also made Quinoa with Caramelized Butternut Squash & Roasted Brussel Sprouts (464 cals, swapped 1 tbs almond slivers for the pepitas, and used 1/4 C parm cheese because that’s what I had) for my other Lunch/Dinner.  Made the full recipes of each, and divided between three.  I honestly couldn’t believe how low the calorie counts were for both…I expected them to be so much higher!  Win.

Shopping list for this week:
Trader Joes:
Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt (2C)- $2.79
Frozen Mango Fruit Chunks (24oz) – $2.69
Frozen Raspberries (12oz/ea x2) – $4.96
Organic Apple Slices – $3.49
Chili Sauce – $1.29
Brussel Sprouts – $2.29
Mini Pearl Tomatoes – $2.29

Whole Foods:
Chicken Thighs (1/2 lb)- $3.18
Frozen Butternut Squash – $2.99
Local Honey – $5.99

Target:
Wholly Guacamole Singles (6-pack) -$3.89
KIND bars (4 pack) – $4.99

Things I already had: Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Sugars, Zucchini, Carrots, Crackers, String Cheese, Quinoa, Frozen Veggies, Green Tea, Peanut Butter, Oils, Almond Slivers, Parm Cheese, 2 KIND bars

This grocery shopping trip was pretty light…usually I end up spending $50-75/week.  Buying less meat has definitely kept it on the lower end, which has been nice.  I’ve also been buying less wine & beer, and I’ve been replacing my night time drink with tea most of the time.  I definitely wined tonight while I prepped, because you gotta.  ;-)  Weekends have become total freebies because they have to be.  Or I’d be sad.

These Ziploc containers are a godsend…the 100-cal packs of guac and hummus fit great in the upper right space.

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I’ll be honest…it gets monotonous.  And some (most) days a pizza looks way better than my cold quinoa.  BUT that’s why I’ve been experimenting with different recipes for my main meal, and stick to snacks I already know I love.  Seriously, that PB&H yogurt dip?  Holy BOMBDOTCOM.  (Are the kids still saying that?  No?)  And I could eat all six of those single serving guacs in one sitting, no prob.  Hence the purchase of the single servings.  ;-)

So that’s my meal prep basics for the week.  If there’s interest, I’d gladly break it down into a step by step and show how I time manage in a small kitchen…I’m not a pro, but I’ve been getting better every week!

Stayed tuned for an announcement later this week about my summer goals.  It definitely involves the following, and not any sort of exercise.

20140316-221735.jpgHasta mañana, Seattle.  Love you.

Resolutions Schmesolutions

“Happy 2014!  WHAT IS YOUR RESOLUTION FOR THE NEW YEAR???”

It’s as bad as “Happy Thanksgiving!  NOW LIST ALL THE THINGS YOU’RE THANKFUL FOR!”

So much stress.  I’m always afraid I’ll give the wrong answer.  Which is stupid, because obviously there is no wrong answer…right?

But just like I feel obligated to come up with a list of all the amazing things I’m thankful for (and ultimately, it’s always a good journaling exercise that makes me cry and actually thankful), I always feel obligated to make resolutions that inevitably I *will* fail at.  Like, I definitely did not work out three times a week for 52 weeks in 2013.  FAIL.

But here’s where I’ve realized I fail: I make year-long, excessive resolutions with no motivations, inspirations, or incentives.  And “Be Healthy” isn’t a resolution, it’s a lifestyle change.  You can work towards being as healthy as possible, but sometimes you’re going to eat that not-so-but-kind-of-don’t-judge-me delicious $2 biscuit & gravy plate at Denny’s at 1am.  And you can’t hate yourself because of it.  “Be Healthy” is always the plan, and it just doesn’t work as fuel for my resolutions anymore.

So here’s my vague resolution for 2014: To Feel Good.

Let’s break this down…what makes me feel good?
-Eating fruits & veggies
-Cooking & eating good food
-Drinking water
-Working out
-Clothes that fit
-Getting 7-8 hrs of sleep
-Waking up before 11am
-Family & friends & love
-Projects & organization
-Not being stressed about money
-Clean room & living spaces
-Good time management & preparedness
-Feeling 100% inside and out (no colds, zits, etc.)
-Not waking up hungover as F&#$
-YouTube videos of babies and animals and baby animals

How can I achieve “To Feel Good”?  Well, I’ve realized I can’t make a specific resolution for an entire year and expect to stick to it.  For example, there are weeks that I am just not going to be able to work out.  It happens.  I shouldn’t completely fail because I didn’t foresee a stressful tech week in November (see what I did there?).

But I can foresee that the month of January isn’t looking so terrible.  Right now, I just have Les Miz, a concert, maybe an audition, and a few shifts at the pizza place.  That’s plenty of time to get things done.

So here’s the plan for 2014: to revisit my “To Feel Good” resolution at the beginning of each month, determine what I am capable of & what I need To Feel Good, and make a new list of goals.  Resolutions.  Whatever.

Cuppatea

The ladies are helping me make goals

So HERE WE GO!

January 2014 Goals

-Eat more fruits & veggies, and drink 64oz of water a day

-Try one new recipe a week

-Do Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred everyday

-Fix my sleep schedule!  (Aiming for 1:30am bedtime, 9:30am wake-up by the end of the month…currently at 3-4am bedtime, 11-12pm wake-up)

-Organization Goal of the Month: Bathroom

-Make my bed every morning, and hang up/put away my clothes every night

-Learn more about skincare

-More tea, less alcohol

-Make and USE my new planner to schedule, budget, organize receipts, meal plan track food & exercise, and note-take

See?  Tangible goals.  I’m not even making blog goals this month, although I anticipate you’ll be seeing a little more of me on here these coming weeks.  Especially with the work I’m doing on the planner.  I am just so excited.  I went to Staples.

So that’s my bit of 2014 resolution advice from me to you.  Break it down month by month and focus on the NOW.  If you need, do it weekly instead of monthly.  Journal it out.  Post it on your wall.  Write it in your planner.  Whatever you need to do to make positive changes, because that’s what a new year is for, right? #getit

P.S.  I do have TWO traditional full-year 2014 resolutions:
1) Save.my.receipts so I stop kicking myself every tax season
2) Find a guy that can put up with my crazy because my stuffed bear just doesn’t cut it for cuddling and conversation.  Taking resumes via email or in person.

Love you, Buffo!

Love you, Buffo!


Hey there, 2014

Christmas was great. It was so nice to be home for a few days and hang out with my sisser and parents. We really missed Natey, BUT we got to Skype with him for the first time since he’s been deployed!!! It was great to see his face, but hard to see him so homesick. We miss you, Natey! Come home soon!

We hit the movie theatre on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
Saving Mr. Banks. GO. NOW. It was so not what I was expecting, but I was extremely happily surprised. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks of course were brilliant, but Colin Farrell’s character was really what caught me off guard. I didn’t particularly care for him as an actor before, but this movie really showcased his ability and his beautifully heartbreaking performance deserves him an Oscar nod. And if you don’t cry during “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” then you have no soul.
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I fell asleep numerous times.  Partially because I’ve fallen so far behind on sleep, partially because the LOTR & Hobbit celtic soundtracks just put me out, and partially because I just didn’t care for the film.  It was too long, I wanted more stuff to happen.  I’ve read the book, and I felt like I didn’t remember anything that was happening in the film.  Whatever.  I’ll watch it again when it comes out on DVD.  Although I could listen to Benedict Cumberbatch speak all day.  What a killer voice.  Someone please tell me he sings.

I got hooked up on Christmas.  A couple new cookbooks, a meat grinder, and a Polar FT60!!20140101-163259.jpg
I already made something from The Craft Beer Cookbook…Cheddar & Stout Chicken Pot Pie!!!

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In other news, I now watch Doctor Who.  I just started in on Season 4 (Donna!), and I made this for one of my Secret Santa gifts!

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And we had a fire alarm go off during a show…in the middle of Paris…in my least-covering costume…

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And commence the New Years Eve resoluting.  I’ll be posting my 2014 goals tomorrow, but here’s a preview.

20140101-163209.jpgLove you guys.  Happy 2014!!

The cost of eating healthy

This NPR article was making the rounds on Facebook last week, and I just wanted to share it and my thoughts with you.

What Separates A Healthy And An Unhealthy Diet?  Just $1.50 A Day

My first response to this was YES.  This is awesome, spot on, totally true.  I have absolutely made the excuse before that a box of Kraft mac & cheese is cheaper than a full dinner of a protein, veggie, and starch, so I eat the unhealthy option instead of actually thinking about the fact that I usually end up throwing half a bag of shredded cheddar into said mac & cheese, maybe some lil smokies, and dipping it into my side of applesauce (hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it), which adds $$$ and calories and nasty processed crap.

Overall, the article raises a good point.  But the *one* part that I found to be frustrating was this suggestion:
“Another key tip: When comparing two items, focus on the price per unit rather than the total price.”

Truth be told, this is the first time in my life I have had to actually sit down and create a budget.  The thing is, sometimes I have enough in my budget to buy that $10 value pack of chicken parts.  But there have definitely been times where I’ve had to look at what I have and settle on the fact that I can only afford a $3 pack of two.  I GET that it is ultimately cheaper to buy the value pack.  I absolutely get that, and I will always buy in bulk when I can.  But it’s just sometimes not possible, especially when I am only cooking for one person and I have limited freezer and fridge space.

For some reason, that tip really rubbed me the wrong way.  Maybe because I hate budgeting and it makes me cranky.  Maybe because things like Mario Batali’s food stamp experiment prove that surviving on a tight budget can make eating healthy seem like a luxury or an inconvenience.  Regardless, the overall point that is made is good.  But an extra $45 a month is a lot, especially for people working minimum wage jobs.

(It should be noted that even though I’m having to budget, I’m doing fine.  I have been extremely blessed in the past to have a fluffy enough bank account to get me through minimal-work-hour times.  And I am extremely blessed and thankful to have a job doing what I love that does pay the bills plus a little extra.  This is what I signed up for, and I could be a lot worse off.  So just me doing my strong feelings soapbox thing.)

Knitting Projects Update!

Hey guys, guess what.

I’m bad at secrets.

Whoops…that was a secret…

 :-)

SCARVES AND HATS FOR EVERYONE FOR CHRISTMAS!

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Natey is getting a Cougar colored hat for Christmas.  Gotta ship this off to Afghanistan ASAP!!!  I loved the solid colors with the mixed color pattern.  Not exactly what I wanted in the end, but it was a valiant try, and it looks fine.  I used Cascade Sport 220 yarn and found the pattern in their book I checked out from the library.  But these last few hats have definitely proved why I need to use smaller needles for the brim.  It flares out otherwise.

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Sisser is getting an owl hat!!!  I’m going to add buttons for eyes, but seriously, this hat was so easy and turned out so freaking cute!!!  It’s a basic cable, and took me only a couple days to complete.  Fabulous.

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I’m in process on this lace panel scarf for Mom for Christmas.  It will be done, but it’s kind of a frustrating pattern.  I keep skipping yarn-overs, but it’s coming along.

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I bought size 35 needles and I’m obsessed.  I’ve been using Michael’s Loops & Threads Charisma yarn doubled up in different colors to make a basic infinity scarf and I can’t stop.  I can make a scarf in a day.  It’s so fast, and it was exactly what I was going for.  I’m going to make a couple matching-ish hats with the leftover yarns, but with smaller needles and a solid color.  LOVE.  Like, love them enough to model them for you.  Slash pretend to be surprised when you receive any of these in the mail.

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(photo cred: Beth Devries)

We have a club.  Or something.  Knitters on the barricade.  There are 11-12 of us who all knit or crochet in the cast and we love it so much.  Rachel even made us all knitting bags!!  So awesome.

Viva la revolución.  Or something.  In French.

More projects to come!!  I had to take a break from Ari’s gift cuz it was long, but

Meal Prep…Tuesday

I spend a lot of money eating out when I don’t meal prep.  Also I eat terribly.  But bllllerrrrrrgh if I don’t love the street tacos and tasty mango tequila beverages at Las Margaritas.

So my pledge to you this week.  I WILL NOT BUY MORE FOOD UNTIL MONDAY.  Which is my birthday celebration night.  So YAY!  (Also, my parents are coming into town, so there’s that meal on Saturday.  Sssh.)

Also I’m tired of bad photos.  I’m going to do some research and find some tips on how to make my iPhone photos better.

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Top Left: Roasted Zucchini Black Bean Goat Cheese Enchiladas (Meatless!) (4 portions)Top Right: Smoothies!  Mango-Raspberry-Coconut Water-Spinach-Vanilla Protein Powder (3)/Kale-Kiwi-Green Grape-Coconut Water-Coconut Oil (3)/Coconut Water-Chia Seed-Lemon Juice-Maple Syrup (4)
Bottom Left: Greek Risotto Stuffed Peppers (Beef, green olives, sauteed cherry tomatoes, basic risotto, feta…a few other random things) (2)
Bottom Center: Bacon Cheeseburger Zucchini Boats (recipe to come if I like them lots!) (2)
Bottom Right: Megan’s Mom’s Soup (I made this meatless, too!) (6)

My plan is pink & chia seed smoothies for breakfast, soup for lunch, green smoothies for snack, and one of the entrees for dinner.  I’ll have to make more smoothies in a few days, but everything else should last me through Sunday.  I have two extra entreés in case I find myself super hungry.

But seriously…I’m pleased with this plan.  It was very do-able.  I did all the cooking/prep in about 3 hours.  It’s healthy for the most part.  And all of this was sans-list.  I just knew what I had in the freezer, and headed to Trader Joe’s right after my shift.  Kind of scary.  So for next week (well, it’s birthday week…so maybe in two weeks, let’s be honest) I’m thinking:
-Smoothies
-Stuffed zucchini and/or peppers
-Casserole (like the enchiladas)
-Soup
-Rice or Pasta dish
-Cut up apples and carrots, portion out some nuts or popcorn

I think sometimes I just get overwhelmed with the amount of things I want to make, or I make a lot of food I dislike and get bored with (plain chicken breast with veggies and brown rice…blech) and then I don’t eat it, but this week I think I’m good…there’s enough variety for new recipes in case I’m not a fan, but I *love* the soup, so no worries there!  YAY!  Meal prep, here I come.

That one time I did Les Miz…

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(photo cred: Mark & Tracy Photography, and then I zoomed in to post on Instagram…which is why the colors are odd…just to clarify.)

Yup.  That’s me.  Whore #1/Drinker #3/Young Prostitute/Girl infatuated enough with Feuilly to support the revolution who then decides to sleep with Legles at the barricade after a few too many drinks.

Third time I’ve opened this show in the last 10 years.

And it’s fucking AWESOME.

Guys, there’s nothing more amazing than doing what you love, getting paid for it, and still crying at the end of every show.  Because that little old lady in the front row sobbing is adorable.

I am so blessed and grateful to be a part of this production.  It is brilliant.  The people are so unbelievably professional and talented.  Get your tickets.  And watch this sizzle reel.

Back to blogging.  For reals.  I’m super great at making promises I can’t keep in regards to blogging.

And I’m constantly inspired to take the blog in a different direction and then I get overwhelmed and I decide to just not touch the blog for a while and then I eat out a lot.

So I’m hopefully back for a little bit.  I have a couple posts lined up this week, one for meal prep, and one for knitting projects I’ve been working on.

But for now…THANKSGIVING!!

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Stop and drop everything you’re doing right now and go buy the Black Truffle flavored Olive Oil from Trader Joe’s because it is literally the best thing you will ever eat in your whole entire life!!!  I made brussel sprouts for Les Miz Friendsgiving and I was quite proud.  I used TJ’s Truffle Cheese as well.  Aaaaand BOOM goes the dynamite.

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This.  Yum.  Drink lots.  Also their Vanilla Milk Stout is really good, too!

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One of my contributions to Thanksgiving this year was a pumpkin bread pudding with a homemade caramel sauce.  You can find it on Epicurious.  It was a HIT and will probably show up occasionally for other things.  I also want to try and health-ify it.  Lots of cream and sugar.

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I got to spend lots of time with sisser and her boyfriend.  She got the leg of the turkey.

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We took a post-dinner nap.  Standing up.

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Then we wrestled on the floor and napped some more.

It was very sisser-ly.

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Also I’m officially obsessed with Settlers of Catan.  I just really love board games and no one ever plays with me.  Taking applications now for board game friends (in addition to the Spees, obviously) and/or a boyfriend who will put up with my unnecessary shit talking and occasional drunk cheating.

On the games.  Not on the relationship.

Ummm…yeah.  Clarification.

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And then there was this.  One of two reasons I moved to Seattle.

New Voices.

I GOT ASKED TO DO IT!!!!

When Rj talked to me about it, I seriously nerded out and jumped around the room and looked like a dumbass but I am so unbelievably excited and humbled to be asked to be a part of this, it’s not even funny.  I have loved watching the videos for years, going to the concerts these last couple years I’ve been in Seattle, and now I finally get to do it.  I’m singing in a gorgeous group number and I hope you get to come.  Because if it’s like it normally is, you will pee your pants laughing for one song, and then sit there stunned and sobbing for the next.  LURVE IT.  And GET YO TICKETS.

8 days til my birthday.  Don’t forget.

Love and miss you all, and happy merry Christmas!

Make Ahead Mason Jar Omelets

I used to despise eggs.  I remember feeling obligated to eat them at friends’ houses, and I just never understood why people loved them so much.  I always skipped them for extra bacon during breakfast at home.  It wasn’t until college that I actually got back into them, and even still, not generally my favorite thing.  Unless they have a gorgeous runny yolk for me to dip my toast in, or they’re loaded with cheese and other goodies.  So I really REALLY like these, and I love their versatility.  And I also love that all my veggies are pre-prepped, so I can just throw them in a pan and go.  It’s like mason jar salads for breakfast!

I chose to use an egg substitute to see if I liked it…if you’re doing this because you’re going to be in a hurry, or you are legitimately trying to watch your calorie intake or cholesterol, I recommend the egg substitute.  It’s ready to go, in the carton, and the stats are phenom (ingredient list, not so much).  Taste wise, however, I personally prefer real eggs, and I will definitely use those after this carton is done.  If that’s your choice as well, and you know you are going to be in a hurry the next morning, you could easily put two eggs into another jar the night before, shake them up, and they’d be just as ready as the carton.  Just an extra dish.  Ultimately, your preference.

20130910-131334.jpgMake Ahead Mason Jar Omelets

4 jars
Calories: 253 (333)*
Fat: 12.6g (21.6g)*
Carbs: 6.77g
Fiber: 1.55g
Protein: 29.12g

*these stats are for omelets using 2 real eggs

For four jars:
8 oz Turkey Breakfast Sausage (I cooked the whole pound, froze half of the crumbles)
1 zucchini, diced
1 C cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tsp minced garlic, divided
2 C spinach, coarsely chopped

For ONE omelet:
1 tsp EVOO
1/2 C egg substitute or 2 eggs
1/2 oz goat cheese crumbles
Hot sauce (opt)
Salt & Pepper (opt)

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Cook the turkey sausage until just done.  Divide into the bottoms of four jars, let cool for a few minutes while prepping the veggies.  Add the zucchini, tomatoes, 1 tsp garlic, and spinach, all divided evenly.  Seal the jars and refrigerate.

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When you are ready to cook the omelet for breakfast, heat EVOO over medium heat in a nonstick pan.  Add the jar of meat & veggies, and saute until the spinach has cooked down.  (If you don’t like your zucchini still kind of crunchy, I recommend lightly sauteing it previous to putting it into the jars.)  Add the egg, and allow it to cook as an omelet, adding the goat cheese before you fold it over.  You can also cook it up as a scramble with the goat cheese from the beginning if you prefer!

*Tip: I find it easiest to briefly relocate the meat & veggies to my breakfast plate so I can spray the pan with Pam before adding the eggs.

Other combos!

Mediterannean:
Red onion, cherry tomatoes, spinach, oregano, olives, feta

Mexican:
Soyrizo, peppers, tomatoes, Tapatio, pepperjack, with avocado for serving

Pizza:
Sausage or mini pepperonis, onion, peppers, Italian cheese blend, with pizza sauce for serving

A random delicious one:
Prosciutto, spinach, red onion, garlic, pesto, feta

The mason jar is your oyster.  Create away!

Cookbook for One, Please!

You know something is officially a commitment when you say it out loud to someone else.

So if you fall through, someone is going to be aware of it.

Yesterday, I announced to the roomie, amid an embarrassingly long MasterChef catch-up marathon, that I was going to write a cookbook.

That seems a lot more epic than it’s actually going to be, but still.

I did not cook as much as I should have this summer. I didn’t like sharing a kitchen, using pots & pans that weren’t mine (or big enough), hand washing everything, cooking for just myself, cat hair, etc etc. I ate a lot of chicken nachos, drank a lot of beer, and had a lot of fun. So even though my stomach kind of hit the floor when I stepped on the scale, and saw that I had done a little damage to all the work I’d done leading up to the summer, I can’t regret all the good nights I had and memories I made with some of my favorite people in the whole world. And really, three pounds is very lose-able.

But it got me thinking, it got me talking, and it got me researching. The thinking started here: I’ve been following the progress of Andie’s mom since Day 1, and it’s been a good reminder about portion sizes. Also her detailed account of her mom’s eating reminds me that 1) food journaling and meal planning are where it’s at, and 2) some great, yummy, low-cal meal ideas.

The talking was with my sisser and my dad. Sisser is doing unbelievable things over in Moscow, ID. Working & beauty schooling for 80 hours a week, she’s thinks she’s often too busy for much more than a drive-thru. When she came to visit in Leavenworth, we got to talking, and I offered to send her some healthy crockpot recipes and some ideas on how to meal prep effectively. She seemed open to the idea, which then led me to start thinking about how to go about presenting all the information, and what all I wanted to actually present. I also had a similar conversation with my dad, which led to him asking for the links to Andie’s plan for her mom, and for some of the recipes I’d be sending to Em.

Then I realized I would be needing all of this motivation & all the healthy recipes for myself when I start Les Miserables over in Issaquah next month. (Speaking of, did I ever mention the fact that I was cast in Les Miz at Village Theatre, and last week I was offered the Eponine understudy position as well? I’m kind of not really at all just kidding for sure jumping up and down excited. WAHOO!)

So that’s this month’s project. I am going to compile a Shutterfly cooking booklet for the sisser, the dad, and whoever else wants one. The goals of the booklet:
1) Healthy eating on a budget
2) Meal prep & planning, and how to grocery shop effectively to not over-buy
3) Shopping & cooking for one-two people
4) Having it done by Christmastime so I can give it to them as Christmas gifts.
5) Experimenting more with meatless, gluten free, and dairy free options
6) One-pan meals

The third one is going to be my biggest personal focus. I have a bunch of books on hold at the library right now, but my biggest challenge recently is how to cook healthy for one person. I love leftovers, but besides lasagna, I don’t want to eat the same thing every day for a week. I can make recipes smaller, but a lot of times that means things end up cooking differently. And I still end up buying things in excess only to discover moldy zucchini in my produce drawer. And that is always sad.

The fifth one is because I’ve discovered that meat & dairy are always the most expensive things I end up buying, and I’d like to cut back. I also just feel better when gluten and dairy aren’t the biggest things on my plate.

The sixth is because my biggest laziness as a cook is dishes. I will skip vegetables if I have to prep AND cook them, because I decide making less dirty dishes is better than having a couple servings of veggies with my chicken breast. If it’s all in one pot, I’m 10x more likely to add the veggies. And if I’ve pre-cut them (#2), then there’s no excuse.

So there it is. Shutterfly is going to make this the easiest thing ever, and hopefully I’m going to end up with something I’m decently proud of.  Expect some new recipes these next few months as I experiment, starting tomorrow with my Make-Ahead Mason Jar Omelettes.

Any favorite Cooking for One books you recommend, or major tips/words of advice for this project?

(Also…GO NATASHA GO!!!!!!)