Before going away for more than a day or so, there is always the challenge to clean out the refrigerator. Mister and I are going down to South Carolina to visit his parents [snowbirds, not permanent residents] and to celebrate his upcoming birthday – which means its time to clear out the remnants of meals past and planned.
For dinner last night I googled a few ingredients from the fridge to see what I could muster and turkey meatballs came up and sounded like a nice change of pace. I didn’t have any spinach on hand, and wasn’t about to add anything to the stockpile, so I made up my own recipe.
1 lb ground turkey
half cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
two whole eggs
zest of one whole lemon
juice of half lemon
about 1/2 to 1 cup of feta cheese crumbles
Penzy’s Greek seasoning
Mix. Ball. Bake on a foil lined tray sprayed with non -stick cooking spray.
While these were baking at about 400 degrees for 20 ish minutes – I put together some pasta salad. Leftover pasta, cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced pepper, the other half of that lemon juiced, balsamic vinegar dressing that was nearly empty, the rest of the feta cheese.
And dinner was served in about 30 minutes. I’m even having the leftovers for lunch today, so we’re doing pretty good on the fridge situation.
I’ll be honesty – I’m pretty hooked on these meatballs. Like I might’ve eaten a handful more before packing them up. Will definitely be making these for lunches in the future, since it was super easy and I feel like a pretty healthy options [maybe minus the feta and add some spinach].
I’m officially in the habit of prepping all of my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks on Sunday for the upcoming week. In the past I would do it if I had time, or really felt like cooking a particular dish but it wasn’t a true habit.
This past weekend, however, Sunday night came around and Mister and I were tired, busy, and I only had a few hours left before I had to head to bead early in preparation for my 4am wakeup call Monday morning.
Friday after work, I got in to Albany at about 8pm. Monday afternoon, Mister and I drove to Binghamton to visit with his family. We drove to Saratoga to meet with our wedding Rabbi on Sunday, then had to drive to pick my car up from being worked on, then finally arrived back to Mister’s apartment in Albany at about 5pm. I cooked like a crazy lady to get everything squared away (there was a cutting board casualty) and this morning when I piled all my prepped meals into my work fridge I was finally able to relax.
Option 1:Full fat pineapple cottage cheese
Option 2: Granola and almond milk
Option 3: oatmeal (I always have oatmeal and almond butter on hand as an alternative or addition to anything)
option 1: salmon (broiled with Trader Joes vidalia onion/bacon vinagrette) over broccoli slaw with green pepper slices and oven roasted portabella mushrooms
option 2: baked teriyaki ginger tofu with stir fried vegetables (shredded cabbage, carrots, snow peas, portabella mushrooms) and rice
Hillshire small plates
Sargento balanced breaks
sugar snap peas
On any given work day, I’m in and out of my car or running around Manhattan via subway. I like to have a stash of snacks on hand for between appointments, or when I have to run out last minute but I’m verging on hangry. Having lunches cooked and ready is great, but when I can’t get back to the office on time to keep my stomach from grumbling, having a Kind bar or a bag of snap peas in my tote can keep me from buying the first Snickers bar I see.
used veggie pasta shredder thing to make zucchini noodles
On the menu for this week:
egg muffins for breakfast with either Puffin cereal, some berries, or oatmeal.
Lunch/Dinner options: taco salad (ground turkey, romaine, Trader Joes super 8 chop, guacamole, pico de gallo), or zucchini noodles with turkey tomato sauce.
I’ve got a few bags of frozen veggies or burgers in the freezer to mix into the rotation too, just in case. I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s (frozen) grilled, marinated eggplant and zucchini slices. They’re an easy meal base, or addition to simple sandwich. I also try to always keep some Trader Joe’s frozen, sliced, fire roasted peppers on hand; they are way more flavorful then plain frozen peppers, and are perfect for omelettes, salads, stir fry etc.
Trader Joes is fantastic in every way, so much so that I’m willing to overlook some of their errors [i.e. cookie butter fiasco ]. They are also very gracious about accepting returns if its something you’ve only partially consumed and really couldn’t handle.
This was only a small bump in the long road of previous goodness; Trader Joes Pumpkin Soup.
Its sold in a small carton (sorry I threw it out before taking a picture), two servings to the carton. I picked it up a few weeks ago and it had been sitting in my office kitchen, waiting to be consumed as a backup meal.
That day finally came and I was excited for some warmth and spice…the carton definitely said something about ginger and maybe even cinnamon?
Popped the whole two servings into a glass bowl, microwaved for 2 minutes and thirty seconds and then carefully carried it to my desk.
Its bland. Really thin. And I’m pretty sure someone snuck coffee grounds in here.
You know that feeling when you hit the bottom of a bad cup of coffee (or the kuerig hasn’t been cleaned in a while) and there’s that little swirl of coffee grounds? I’m pretty sure that’s whats hiding in my soup. TJ will probably claim its those illusive spices, but they’re tiny little crunchy nibs of junk. I don’t like this one Mister Trader Joes.
Fortunately, their pumpkin season is almost over and we’re approaching Peppermint everything in the store. I do appreciate how the store commits to a seasonal theme and really runs with it.
Some days, I rush around the city between appointments.
Monday was one of those days.
I realized that I don’t often value my time as much as I do of others; for example, if I have an appointment I do my best to get there early, or at least on time. But when I’m looking forward to the gym and something comes up, well no gym time for me. When did we stop valuing our own time?
So while I was running from appointment back to the office, I stopped. I sat on a park bench and I ate my lunch. I didn’t look at my phone, I didn’t read a magazine. I just ate. It was about 15 minutes of pure relaxation.
The less I cook, the less I want to be bothered with big meals or complicated recipes. I know I’ll enjoy it when I throw myself back into it, but for now I’ve fallen off the planning, prepping, preparing bandwagon of enjoying my meals. There’s the new job, staying in someone else’s house, and the new routine; for right now, cooking just isn’t part of it.
The thing that gets me though, is I always got excited about meals I prepared. When someone else is constantly cooking for you, or you eat out more often; food loses some of its appeal in a sense. Lately I crave things like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, toast with a fried egg; things that are easy and basic.
Do you eat more when you cook for yourself? Does cooking make you want to cook more?
Chicken breasts, salsa verde, crockpot. These cooked while I was at work and will be used for lunches throughout the week. Over rice, with veggies, maybe in a tortilla.
Minimal effort was required to shred the chicken; two forks and less than two minutes. It was juicy and tender. I tossed it with a bit more seasoning and plan on topping it with salsa throughout the week. So easy.
And check out these beautiful strawberries I picked up at the CoOp this week.
Planning makes things easier. But sometimes the planning to plan is where things fall apart. You can buy the right foods, but then you’re tired after work and you cobble together dinner, forgetting the plan, leave no time to make lunch and continue to scramble for a week.
I find it easiest to grocery shop with specific, but flexible meals in mind (pick one or two proteins, that can be paired with either of the two vegetables you choose for the week). Once the groceries are safely in the kitchen, prepare several portions of a meal. This provides lunches, or dinners. This saves you from the scrambling, the cobbling, the failing. At least for me.
I’m down just over two pants sizes, and about 11 lbs since everything started to click for me. I enjoy the gym every morning. I feel pride in my meal preps.
This week I put together six containers of proportioned spaghetti squash paired with a ground turkey meat sauce. This took about 30 mins start to finish.
Pop the spaghetti squash in the toaster oven at 350°, until the exterior can be easily pierced. While that was baking I browned (a family pack) of ground turkey with some generic Italian seasonings.
Once the spaghetti squash is cooked, I slice it in half, scoop out the seeds and shred with a fork. A cup of spaghetti squash goes into each of my six containers, topped by a cup or so of ground turkey, and half a cup of Trader Joes Three Cheese Pasta Sauce.
I could’ve made the sauce. I could’ve added fresh garlic or onions. But I didn’t, because I don’t want to stress myself out, I want to do what I can, when I can, to create a functional healthy lifestyle which will facilitate my goals. Whew. That was a mouthful.