Monday, April 4, 2011

Food, Glorious Food!

As part of the pantry clean out, I’ve decided to take a closer look at what and how we’re eating and set goals accordingly. My first reaction to changing how we eat is to toss everything and start over new, but I also know that is not realistic—and it is tough to maintain. Instead I came up with three food goals for us to work towards during the month of April. I figure this is the best way to take baby steps towards eating the way I want us too.
Now, before we get to the food goals, I think it is important to note that food poses a particular challenge in our household, so dealing with eating habits is always a sticky wicket.
You see, I’m a pseudo-vegetarian. I hate the taste of beef, pork, lamb and your sundry woodland creatures. I hate the taste of dark meat poultry and only really eat the white meat. In all honesty, I could easily live without poultry too.  I like most fish and shellfish. I LOVE beans in all their forms. Green beans are my ultimate favorite vegetable. I am a total carbovore and have been known to eat cereal all 3 meals of the day; however, I want my bread, pasta and rice in their whole grain form.
Diesel, on the other hand, once expressed a desire to someday own a large chest freezer just so he could buy a side of cow. The man would easily eat steak 3x a day.  He hates beans. All beans and anything remotely bean like (so far as to hate coffee and chocolate, which come from beans).  It is tragic, really. He also hates fish, but loves shellfish.  Cereal is NEVER filling enough and he complains heartily when presented with anything other than his beloved white rice and enriched white pasta. His preferred form of bread is sourdough, which is delicious, but super white!  His preferred form of chicken is the deep fried, skin on, drumstick.
Little Man is almost three, which means that on any given day, getting him to eat ANYTHING is a crapshoot. It is the cold hard truth that I don’t figure his preferences into our food planning. If I did, we’d be eating “cheese hambingers,” plain “noonoos” (noodles) and/or bacon every night of the week. 
So this is the framework around which I have to try to structure meals each week.  Let me tell you, it ain’t fun.  In fact, although I know that it is the best way for me to only purchase what we need at the grocery AND it keeps us from eating out more than we should, I often skip weekly meal planning all together because it is such a pain. I look to Sunday afternoon with dread, knowing I have to lug out all the cookbooks, pick meals, write lists, check the pantry/fridge/freezer and revise said lists, all before going to the actual grocery store.  It seems like the minute I have a plan set up, time fast-forwards and it is another Sunday afternoon and I’m trying to do it all over again.
This brings me to my first food goal for the month of April:

Plan meals monthly

A month of meals just for us!
And plan I did! I photocopied our family calendar, so I could cross-reference meals to our schedule and selected approximately 20 different meals for the month of April. I worked in some leftovers nights; bean heavy, meatless meals on the nights Diesel is in school; easy to make, occasionally out of a package meals for nights I have to work late and Diesel is in charge of dinner; and even a few nights when Diesel  can get his red meat fix by throwing a piece of cow on the sizzling grill (I refuse to cook beef in my kitchen, so it only shows up when we’re grilling outside).
Food goal number two for the month of April actually added a challenge to selecting meals for the month:

Buy only seasonal produce and buy local produce as much as possible

A VERY Southern CA Farmer's market
I’ve begun the eye-opening “reading” of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I’m listening to the audio book on my commute) and am saddened at my own ignorance of food.  Being a typical American consumer, coupled with dwelling in the eternally temperate Southern California, I am woefully uninformed as to what is and is not seasonal when it comes to my produce. Heck, we barely have seasons here behind the Orange Curtain, so how am I to know what is and is not seasonal?  
Before I could proceed any further, I had to cull the ‘net for information on the topic.  I found that the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), based in San Francisco, had a wealth of information and even some handy-dandy charts for learning about seasonal fruits and veggies.  I printed out both the veggie and fruit charts for my use throughout the year and made myself an April “cheat sheet” out of the “Seasonal Produce for April” list that CUESA provides on their website.  I realize that “seasonally” speaking, San Francisco is different than Southern California, however this at least gave me a good point of reference for my shopping.
Armed with my list of seasonal produce, I pounced upon my cookbooks with reckless abandon! Many of my favorite recipes had to fall by the wayside because they featured out of season produce, but I see this only as an opportunity to try new recipes.  Once the planning was done, it was off to the Farmer’s market and Whole Foods, where we purchased seasonally and locally… with the exception of some organic apples at Whole Foods, at Little Man’s insistence that he “NEEDED” them.  Apples aren’t in season right now (so I’m told by my chart), but I figure they’re organic and local, so that makes it okay, right???

Little Man enjoying the bounty of our trip to the Farmer's Market, located in the marina
Now my third and final food goal for April is:

Think outside the (cereal) box for breakfast

I ain't bluffin' with these muffins!
As I mentioned earlier, I LOVE cereal. LOOOOOVE it. I’ve unintentionally passed this love on to Little Man, who will often ask for cereal for dinner.  About a year ago, Diesel introduced Little Man to the Pop Tart, which has also become a staple in our home. Once upon a time, my child only ate unsweetened organic cereals. Now he eats a bowl of frosted flakes almost every morning. I hate this, so we’re changing it.
I went to my cookbooks in search of some breakfast foods we could make ahead of time. My underutilized Food to Live By and Organic Baby and Toddler cookbooks  proved to be the most useful in this endeavor. Last night I whipped out some Apple-Pear Bran Muffins, some Strawberry-Banana muffins (which have only a tablespoon of honey for sweetening in them) and a batch of homemade granola. Tonight I’ll be making an egg casserole that should keep very nicely throughout the week and will hopefully be filling enough for Diesel.
Today for breakfast Little Man and I had a smoothie and a muffin. Yummy! In the presence of strawberry-banana “breakfast cupcakes,” his usual “frosting flakes” made nary a blip on his breakfast radar.
So there you have our three food goals for April. I'm hoping this serves as a permanent change in our household and encourages you to look at what and how you're eating and make some changes too!


  1. "Nary" AND a celeb that the Farmer's Market in/near Belmont Shore?

  2. Yep. LB Marina Farmer's Market!! :)

  3. Yay! I secretly love sitting around and planning out meals for the week. But my three year old also killed that passion. My cousin (super in shape, frugal, mama of two, pilates instructor in Malibu) gave me the lowdown on her kitchen habits, as they try to do the whole foods thing. She has a weekly menu and occasionally changes it. So- Monday is meatball night, Tuesday is portabello mushrooms, Wednesday is burrito night and so on based on the five or six meals everyone will eat.

  4. I thought that was my town! Let me know next time you venture this way and we could meet up :)

  5. @Queen-- I think a regular set meal schedule would be too boring for my ADD self! I actually find the FINISHED meal plan super satisfying, jsut hate the work. The monthly gives me the high of being organized with the relief of knowing the month is planned-- you should definitely try it!
    @Love-- Will do! We're hoping to be there every Sunday, but we'll see!

  6. Have you been to Schooner or Later just around the corner? AMAZING breakfast and a darn good 7 am bloody mary if I do say so...

  7. No I have not, but you KNOW how I feel about breakfast... :)


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