Monthly Archives: January 2016

To eat a meal, you must have food!

I have always been an organized person, but when I found myself living on my own, I began meal planning. I was shocked at how much food I threw out each week due to rotting. I hated seeing good food go to waste and seeing my money go in the trash. Now, I have seen the eye rolls and heard the “I could never do that” comments, but planning meals is really not as complicated or time consuming as it seems. The money you save by focussing on what you purchase, the satisfaction of not throwing out rotten food, and the ease of weekday dinners is well worth the effort of meal planning. I am going to walk you through how I meal plan in the hopes that it can help especially as you may be looking at meeting certain health and financial goals with your New Year’s resolutions.

I sit down on Thursday evening with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and spend an hour planning my meals from the coming Saturday to the following Saturday. I do my grocery shopping on Friday evening since the sale items are still fully stocked and the grocery store isn’t as busy at 8pm on a Friday night. (I recommend doing your planning the night before your normal grocery trip.) You can go old school and do your meal plan on paper, but I keep everything in my phone and use an app called “Meal Board”. If you choose paper, I recommend making a box for each day of the week and write breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

First, know your pantry. Check your fridge, freezer and cabinets to see if there are any basics that need restocking. I usually add items to my list as I notice we are running low such as milk, eggs, peanut butter; but I do double check when I make my grocery list to ensure I don’t forget anything. Also, check for any items you have that need to be used up and incorporate that into your meal plan. For example, I had goat cheese and cherry tomatoes in the fridge that needed to be used up. So, I added goat cheese to the tossed salads for lunch; and for dinner, mixed cherry tomatoes and onions in a saucepan with beef tortellini. I also had pork chops and diced cooked chicken in the freezer, so I didn’t need to purchase any meat for that week.

Next, know your budget. I check the flyers for my local grocery stores as my Superstore does price match, and I review the points available for certain items to build up my cashback. I plan my meals based on what food stuffs are on sale. For example, Olivieri tortellini was on sale for $4.99 when its normal cost is $7 so I knew that would be a good dinner choice for the week. And since it was the beginning of the month and I wasn’t buying any meat that week, I bought 2 tortellini packages and froze one of them. However, don’t buy something just because it is on sale; buy it because you will use it that week and ensure you aren’t overextending your budget.

Lastly, know yourself. Check your schedule for the week. We had our Bible Study on Wednesday and I had an evening physio appointment on Friday, so I knew I wanted easy leftovers for those days. My husband was going to be off-site at work, so he needed lunches that didn’t require reheating. I do most of my meal prep on the weekend since my baby keeps me busy and won’t always give me time to prepare a proper meal during the week. On Sunday, I cut up the vegetables for salads and stirfrys, roast chickpeas, make the tortellini stirfry, and cook rice. I put the veggies for the stirfry and the cooked rice into the freezer to ensure they stay fresh. In fact, I put most of our end-of-the-week meals into the freezer in case we have more leftovers than I anticipated or we get invited for a meal out with friends. This prevents food from spoiling and stocks my freezer with extra meals.

But most important about knowing yourself and meal planning is knowing what you can handle. During the first couple of weeks with the baby, I could barely find the time to eat much less to plan  meals. We just stocked up on the very basics (bagels, freezer pizzas, pre-cut veggie trays, apples, spaghetti) and replenished as needed. So be forgiving if you’ve had a busy couple of weeks. Also, don’t think that planning meals means you have to try new meals or more complex meals. Your meal plan could have chicken fingers every Thursday for dinner, and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every day. The point of the meal plan is to make less stress for yourself. I feel less stressed when I don’t have to open my cabinet each night and wonder what to make for dinner; and I have found we order less fast food when we have healthy, yummy meals ready to eat in the fridge.

I have included below, a snapshot of my meal plan for the week of January 2 2015 plus the accompanying grocery list on my MealBoard app. Happy planning and happy eating!

 

 

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My favourite books from 2015

I still managed to read 43 books last year even through my haze of pregnancy. So for my first real post in 2016, I thought I would present to you my favourite books of 2015. When I looked back at my reading list, these 5 books were the most memorable.

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Jojo Moyes “Me Before You”

The first book that came to my mind is not in my picture because it was missing from my bookcase. (If you’re reading this and I lent it to you, please return it to me.) The loss of this book makes me sad because it is definitely one I would read again. Lou becomes the caregiver for Will, a paraplegic, and their professional relationship begins to transform both of their lives as they find themselves connecting in ways unexpected. This book had the right combination of realistic human emotion and fantasy romance situation. The story was easy to place in the real world and yet take you outside of your reality. It is one of the few books I cried while reading, which is what made this book memorable for me. If you enjoyed The Time Traveller’s Wife, you will enjoy this book too. *I also wrote a blog post about this book back in February 2015.

Terry Fallis “Up and Down”

I love Terry Fallis’s books. The writing is clever, hilarious and slightly whimsical. In this book, the Canadian division of a marketing firm is helping the Space Program regain its popularity. They run a contest to put a Canadian and an American civilian into space. The captivating characters, the contest outcome, the PR company drama, and the journey into space result in an interesting plot with lots of funny moments.

Michael Crummey “Galore”

I’m a huge fan of geografiction; literature that treats geography as a character. This is a genre I encountered when reading Aritha Van Herk during my senior year at university. “Galore” is full of unique characters with sharp edges hiding soft hearts, and the Newfoundland coast plays a central role in the formation of the plot. This book details the family feuds, secret passions, and marital intersections of the inhabitants of Paradise Deep. The otherworldly man found alive in the belly of a whale washed up on shore adds another fascinating element to a strange town. Fascinating!

Elizabeth Hay “His Whole Life”

This is another book where the surrounding environment plays a vivid role in the storyline. The wilderness of Ontario’s Muskoka and the busy landscape of New York City shape the character of Jim. The plot follows Jim as he grows from a 10-year old imaginative boy to a teenager dealing with family turmoil and personal loss. Hay enriches this coming-of-age story with her amazing use of language. Her wordsmith skills makes me read her books over and over for the beauty in how she turns a phrase. This novel is another amazing read from Elizabeth Hay.

Louise Erdrich “The Round House”

When his mother is attacked, Joe searches for answers and justice as he navigates the relationship of whites and Ojibwa on his reservation, and struggles to interact with adult issues while still in his budding pubescent stage. Erdrich is an amazing storyteller, and successfully weaves together suspense, humour, tragedy, and love.

Any of these books would be a great addition to your 2016 reading list. Happy reading!

A fresh serving of thoughts for 2016

Hello everyone! It has been a few months since I have blogged and for good reason. Near the end of January 2015, I found out I was pregnant! I dealt with severe nausea throughout the entire 9 months and had a bad case of baby brain, so I took a break from blogging as my day-to-day life took more energy than I had to give already.

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On September 27, we welcomed our daughter Cecilia into the world! It’s a good thing she is so cute, because boy are babies a lot of work!

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Now that she has passed the 3 month mark (the end of the “fourth trimester”), she is starting to nap in her crib and sleep longer through the night. I feel as if I am starting to get some of my brain power back, and I feel the itch to do something more each day than change diapers and sing Pattycake. As 2015 slid into 2016, I contemplated as many people do about what I want to do with a fresh year. Restarting my blog was one of the first ideas that popped into my head, quickly followed by the thought “what’s the point?” Even though I feel self-conscious about my writing style and question how often I’ll even be able to blog with a demanding baby at home (or who will even read what I post), blogging allows me to tap into my creative side and feel as if I am contributing to the conversations going on outside of the four walls of my living room. And so here I go again!

However, finding the time to read a book is currently scarce as Cecilia requires both of my hands and full attention through most of the day. At my current reading rate, I will only be doing a book review once a month. So, I have decided to expand the content of my blog to reflect what consumes my days right now such as meal planning, recipes, and general inspirations I encounter in the blogosphere. I hope you enjoy reading pagesforbreakfast as much as I will enjoy sharing! Happy New Year all!