Saturday, 23 June 2012

Food for thought (and body).

I'm going to continue moving towards healthier/more paleo options. This requires planning and forethought, since this stuff, while it does grow on trees amongst other things, isn't typically found in packages on the supermarket shelves. Of course, I also have the dearly beloved to cater for - he does get breakfast and lunch at work however, so that makes it easier. I need to provide myself with breakfast and lunch each day, plus dinner for two 5 nights a week.

The next few dinners involve steak, lamb shanks, and lamb chops. And vegetables, of course. I have a turnip, some carrots, some potatoes, and a head of broccoli to use up. Fortunately, I get a new vege box on Tuesday, so I should just about have enough to go until then. With the healthier eating I've been doing, hopefully I'll be wasting less, and throwing less away in future weeks (damn vegetables and their short shelf life). Looking at the incoming box, I've got Charlotte new potatoes, Pak Choi, and red pepper coming, along with three mystery vegetables. There's almost always carrots in the box, so I can count on those. I think I might swap out the potatoes for something else, though - I still have quite a few new potatoes still on my bench, I much prefer ones of a size I can bake or mash.

I'll note here that whilst I am highly aware that eating this way - fresh, organic ingredients, nothing from a packet - is infinitely better for me in the long term, it is incredibly difficult for me to actually do. Especially on days like today, where making a cup of tea is a major expenditure of available energy. Still, I will persevere, and attempt to set up some kind of production-line cooking where I can do a bunch of prep on a good day, and assemble meals later in the week with a minimum of fuss. The tricky bit is getting up the energy to work out what to prep for which purposes, so I need two good days. I'll get there. Eventually.

This ramble, while informative, doesn't actually fit very well with the characteristics of a good plan: that is, measurable, timely deliverables. Most of the list are things I'm already doing haphazardly.

Therefore:
  • Gluten no more frequently than twice in any four days.
  • Grains other than gluten no more frequently than once any two days, averaged over a week.
  • Refined sugar products (such as softdrink or biscuits) no more than twice every seven days.
  • Honey in tea is allowable during illness, or very occasionally otherwise.
  • Calories to be kept to around 1200 a day, plus an allowance for exercise on days of greater activity. Going over is preferable to going under, especially on low-activity days. I will track this every day.
  • Aim for a daily macronutrient breakdown of approximately 100g of protein, 50-100g of carbohydrate, the remainder being healthy fats.
  • Aim to drink at least 2L of water a day, plus more during periods of activity or high liver load.
  • Potatoes are allowed for now.

Going with the 'If it isn't there, I won't eat it' theory, I had a look in my pantry and fridge to see what needed to get lost. There's not much to purge, honestly. There's some chocolate chip gluten and dairy free cookies which I'm going to feed to the dearly beloved. Some dairy free icecream in the freezer which has water, pecans, maple syrup, cashews, and coconut in it (arguably paleo). Some of my gravy mix isn't grain-free (or at least, I'm pretty sure some of it is from grains originally, just not wheat). The peanut oil isn't paleo, but is probably better than the random vegetable oil until I get some macadamia oil. Some frozen fingers with a glutenised crust. Kosher cocktail viennas which contain numbers. Soy sauce. Fresh gnocchi. Some pork sausages in the freezer. HP BBQ sauce. My self raising gluten free flour. A bunch of rice. Some gluten free pasta. Rolled oats. Oat cream. I ran out of mayo and have a paleo recipe for DIY.

That covers it, I think. It helps having lived a dairy free and low-gluten diet for a long time, although some of the substitutes are non-paleo.

Things I need to find paleo alternatives for:
  • Kosher cocktail viennas and frozen fish fingers: these are my protein-heavy, only heating required lunches.
  • Soy sauce: where the heck do I find coconut aminos in London?
  • Gnocchi: needs to be fridge-stable for a couple of weeks, ideally. And fairly easy to make. It forms the substrate for our designated lazy meal - meat ragu or chicken with pesto.
  • Oat cream: savoury replacement for cream. Coconut cream is too sweet for applications such as scrambled eggs.

On to the actual Plan(TM).

I need the following meals for myself alone: 5x breakfast, 5x lunch, 1x dinner.
For both my husband and myself: 2x breakfast, 2x lunch, 5x dinner.

Considerations:
  • I need as many zero-effort breakfasts and lunches as possible; I often run low on energy.
  • I need at least two dinners my husband feels confident in preparing, in case I have bad days.
  •  We are travelling on Saturday 30th to Florence for a week, so any food remaining has to be shelf stable until we return, or freezable.
  • Between my husband and I, we are picky eaters. No salad, no fruit, very little seafood, very little chilli or black pepper (and besides, thai tastes funny without coconut rice, and indian just isn't right without naan, raita and saffron rice).
  • Energy is a prime consideration. This bears repeating. Frequently. In any given week, I may or may not be able to do an hour of prep.
  • Dinners need to vary somewhat.
  • Breakfasts the same every day is fine, although on bad days, if it isn't heat'n'eat, it won't happen. 
  • Lunches are okay to switch between two or three different things, but may not get eaten so need to be freezable, have a long life in the fridge, or be a suitable breakfast substitute.

Breakfast for two or one: Fried eggs, unsmoked organic grass fed bacon or lean ham, rosti.
Weekday lunch: Savoury mince or stew.
Weekend lunch: ?
Saturday dinner: Leftover Roast Beef cottage pie.
Sunday dinner: Rump steak and mashed potatoes.
Monday dinner: Lamb shanks with carrots and turnips. Freeze bones for stock.
Tuesday dinner: Lamb chops with mashed potatoes. Freeze bones for stock.
Wednesday dinner: Meat ragu with gnocchi.
Thursday dinner: ?
Friday dinner: Roast chicken dinner with roasted vegetables.
Saturday dinner: Roast chicken leftovers - probably warmed through in pan with garlic and onion, served with vegan pesto over gnocchi. Bones frozen for stock.

After some thought, I will attempt to make myself a big batch of bolognase/savoury mince to have for lunches, and a second batch of stew. These both freeze well; however, I still need a carbohydrate substrate. Cauliflower mash keeps reasonably well, although the carbohydrate content isn't high. I might add a Nakd fruit and nut bar on days when I'm going to be working out to make sure I have sufficient carbohydrate stores to not fall over. Things may also change slightly when the vege box arrives on Tuesday.


So, I have a plan. Will it work? Well, maybe. I guess time will tell.