Anyone else tired of chopping?

Not a good sign that we’re in week 2 of the challenge and I’m getting tired of chopping.  The benefits are outstanding – when I can quickly drop some veggies in a pan, in lunch containers or in the oven to roast.  We are eating well and it’s easy.  Lots of colours, lots of greens. Couldn’t be happier with the nutrition the kids are getting every day.

I tend to think of myself as a good cook.  A great cook?  But my knife skills are rudimentary – there’s no subtlety in my chopping.  If I had ninja knife skills it might be a different story, as it’s always more fun to do things when you’re proficient (or at least it’s more efficient when you have skills).

My friends think it’s not about the chopping – it’s about being a mom who is keeping it all together. I see the other moms and dads out there — rest assure if I see your kiddo having a meltdown in Tim Horton’s or if I overhear you snap when your munchkin gets a case of the ‘gimme’s’ at the checkout line.  There’s no judgement from me – only relief that I’m in the company of other imperfect but well intentioned parents – just like me.

But it if it is about the chopping –  I guess I’ll simply try to find a new Netflix habbit to turn on in the kitchen Sundays and Wednesdays while I’m prepping away.

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Prepping for 21 meals a week

So I’ve figured out that when you are dairy-free, gluten/grain-free, legume free, and low sugar…what you are really doing is following a Paleo diet.  I like that frame of mind because it’s about what we are doing vs a list of things we aren’t doing.

Regardless of what you call it, there is a ton of meal prep involved.  We’re too new in the process to have the kids self-sufficient for breakfast – so that means mom is planning for 21 meals (ok maybe 20) a week. Of course Nom-Nom Paleo has a brilliant schedule worked out for meal prep.  Can you find this kind of time?  Not me.  Containers

That said , you can’t just start chopping veggies on a Sunday night – you need to plan to plan.  Without it you have cranky kids in the AM or when they get home from school and no one’s day gets better with that:

  • What kitchen tools do you need? Because I’m living in a furnished rental 6 months, I’ve been quick to identify what’s an absolute must have to get started with Paleo.  All the equipment here is complete rubbish – here’s the short list of what I’ve bought to make the 6 months manageable:
    • Baking Sheet & muffin tins
    • Vitamix
    • Cast iron pan
    • Chef’s knife
    • Sturdy cutting board
    • Kitchen grill – this was probably not necessary, but it’s fun
    • More glass containers than you ever thought you would buy

Stupid Easy Paleo – Meal Planning has some good tips on how to structure your time to the through week, so you aren’t cooking every day.  She also recommends a slowcooker as a must have.  I don’t think so – I’m making due with the oven.  When we were still eating beans – the slow cooker was huge.

  • When do you have time to grocery shop, that is followed by time to prep?  For me that’s usually Saturday shopping and Sunday afternoon prep.  I don’t schedule anything for Sundays – we get home from Church and the kids have free time until dinner.  I try to have some relax time, some time walking the dogs and my afternoons are spent getting the lunches, breakfasts and 1-2 dinners organized.  If you don’t have a specific list of what you need for the week, Paleo Leap has a great set of all purpose suggestions for things to get ready, so you’re not scrambling every day.  Of course, you can’t chop everything on Sunday or it gets squishy.  I try to carve out a little time Wednesday to get through what’s required for Thursday and Friday.  And Saturday’s is simply cobbling together the odds and end we didn’t get to or didn’t quite finish.

Don’t underestimate the value of your containers.  It’s an investment – but there’s value to being able to put together 10 little packs of olives, 10 little packs of chia pudding, and other additions to packed lunches in advance.

 

 

Amazon Fresh vs CSA?

Updating this post — now that we have had a chance to trial a couple of services. First — I love, love, love Amazon Fresh:

  • Service is great — drivers courteous, always on time, super neat
  • It’s beyond convenient — I can order from my phone or PC; arrange for groceries to be delivered while I’m away from work (so DH doesn’t have to run out for fruit/yogurt/whatever mid-week), or when I’m headed home from vacation;
  • Quality is good — very happy with the produce

So why update the post?  Well…we’re not made of money.  After 3 months of Amazon Fresh, my grocery bill was 1.5x my usual bill.  The theory that I wouldn’t buy any “extras” and that would even out the price…. did not come true at all.  There are all kinds of “extras” to buy on Amazon, and the price delta didn’t help. So other options:

  • Milk Delivery (and cheese, and other dairy) : Not a great fit for us, I’m not trying to increase our dairy intake…
  • Full Circle Produce Delivery — used for 3 months.  Closer to a traditional CSA, when you get a “box of produce” and the choice is based on size of box, not content of the box.  Easy to use website; flexible — easy to start and stop.  Produce was good (not great, but better than Safeway).  Price was reasonable.
    • It wasn’t “local” the fruit was mostly from California.  That was good because I didn’t get stuck with a bunch of root vegetables all fall.  At the same time, if I’m not supporting local business, then I kind of want my pick of produce.

All that to say, I’m back shopping at PCC.  Love that 10% members discount every month. Wonder when they will start a delivery service?


Have you had any luck with Amazon Fresh?  What about a full service CSA (that lasts through the winter).  When we first moved, I started a running tally of CSAs in Redmond/Bellevue.  But I never carried through with the research to find someone that fit our requirements.   Here are my working mom’s requirements for a grocery service: 1) You deliver:  I’m doing this to save myself time.  I can’t be driving for 30-45 minutes to go and pick up groceries.   Added to delivery — I’d clarify that you must deliver consistently, don’t charge an arm & leg for delivery & don’t skip weeks 3) You have a wide variety of products:  Alternatively, I’d be happy with a network of CSAs.  If you could also point me to local farmers for milk, eggs, etc.  I could make that work, but to continue to search for one provider for mushrooms, one for lamb, another from root vegetables…well that’s not going to work 4) You operate year round.  I know this cuts out lots of local farmers… but support of local business is only one reason I want to do this.  The other is health ingredients for my family and saving time on the weekends. 5 ) Wide variety of organic produce: it doesn’t have to be 100% organic — but the heavy hitters — peppers, grapes, lettuce, berries, etc.  The produce that has the worst record for holding on to pesticides needs to have an organic option. 6) Now I’m getting picky — but I would prefer the meat, eggs and even produce to come from small family farms.  No factory farm meat for my boys. Does such a thing exist?  Am I going to be doomed to giving money to the machine and order from Amazon Fresh?  Please share your suggestions.

We canceled our CSA service

I was sad to do this.  I was more sad as I was picking through moldy beets at the grocery store, trying to find something edible.  The produce we’ve been getting from Bryson Farms has been outstanding.  It tastes fantastic, it’s colourful, it looks fantastic, it lasts a long time, etc.

Canceling the service is part of our ‘simplification plan’.  The challenge with a basket of produce that gets delivered, is that it arrives mid-week and then I have to plan my meals around what’s in the box.   This is more time consuming that going through my recipe binder and picking out the first  6 meals that look interesting to me.

Always an evolution here at the house.  It will only take a couple of weeks of moldy, wilted produce for me to go back to the CSA.

Menu Plan | October 25

I’ve been back menu planning the past couple of weeks.  It’s still a pain to be cooking the night before, so that things are easy when I get home from work. But it beets trying to get dinner on the table with two hungry boys clinging to me in the kitchen.  Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Sunday:  Roast chicken marinated in indian spices, creamed peas and onions, beet salad
Monday: Broiled salmon on kale, smashed potatoes and sliced cucumber
Tuesday: Croque Monsieur and green salad
Wednesday: Corn Chowder and green salad
Thursday:  edamame spread, miso soup, and still looking for a third element
Friday: Homemade pizza

We’ve been trying to simplify our meals, to make things easier and faster.  We tried two weeks of plain food, i.e. baked chicken with steamed vegetables – no sauce/spices, etc.  Ich. It was terrible.  No one wanted to eat the stuff, no one wanted the left overs.  Now we’re trying either no recipes, but still spices (even if it’s only garlic) or very simple recipes.

This time I think it is only me

Whether you’re a parent or a soon to be parent, one of the lessons you learn is that no matter how bizarre the situation may seem to you, you are not the only one out there going through that experience.  There are likely whole face book communities devoted to what ever your issue/challenge/concern might happen to be. 

 

Usually I find this a comforting thought.  But now, I think I’m out on my own limb.  I find myself saying the following at the dinner table:  you must eat something besides vegetables;  vegetables are good for you, but you need to have something else; no you cannot have dessert, you need to eat something besides vegetables for supper.

 

I am not a mom who makes two meals.  I am a mom who’s one year old picked out his beets and swiss chard out of supper and the yelled because there was no more.  I am a mom who’s three year old eats eat broccoli, peppers and tomatoes like hand fruit.  I am also a mom who is not complaining about the situation.  I just think we’re all a little weird.

Key to health: Just Eat Food

I follow a couple of health blogs and regularly devour the health page in the Globe&Mail.  I am forever reading about some ‘new’ vegetable, bean or berry that will be good for my health.  For years this has simply been interesting information thatI’ve filled away in my little brain.

This summer you’ve no doubt seen the campaign warning us about salt.  It turns out that packaged foods (i.e. the stuff made in a factory by companies trying to make money) have a high sodium content in order to preserve shelf life and camouflage lack of flavour. Duh!  Of course that’s what salt is for.  That’s why Europeans were so excited to start trading for salt and pepper – to improve the flavour of bad or bland food.

As far as I can tell, your best bet is to simply eat food.  Real food, not from a package, not from a factory, just food. It doesn’t have to be complicated food as suggested in the latest ‘enzyme diet’, just regular old fruits, vegetable, whole grains, lean protein.