Friday, June 08, 2007

Meal Planning

Given that I have remarkably little to do at work today, I spent some time this morning planning this evening's grocery shopping so that I'll be set for next week.

The thing I've learned in the experiment so far is that planning is key--if I wake up without a sense of what I'm going to eat for lunch, I will end up buying something (either that or end up with a hunger headache). Prepping the night before is ideal, but even just an idea helps. The thing I really need to keep in mind is my schedule: how many meals do I need for a given day? How late am I going to be out? Am I going to have access to a refrigerator? The other big thing, the thing I need to focus even harder on, is making sure that each of my meals hits the carbohydrate-protein-fat trifecta. A meal that has all three is the best for filling you up and providing lasting energy, and my meals are often lacking protein altogether and are occasionally too low in fat. I need to work on this, and also on packing snacks.

This week, breakfasts are going to be the usual (protein, fat, carbohydrates--ding!--and lots of fiber as well). I'm going to make a big pasta salad with chicken and vegetables (protein, carbohydrates--I'll do a dressing or add some cheese or avocado for fat) that should deal with my lunches for the four days next week I'll need to pack lunches. For the dinners that I need to be able to eat quickly before GRE prep, I'm going to make little wraps, with some sliced ham or turkey and cheese with spinach and honey mustard on a tortilla or wrap (trifecta? check), and maybe some dried cranberries or avocado in there if I want to get fancy. I'm also going to make sure to get some good snacks (things that are filling and easily packable): string cheese, applesauce, carrots & hummus, and avocados are all on my list. Maybe some granola bars, too. And eggs, for hardboiling.

Basically, I don't have room in my head for thinking about this with all the rest of the stuff that's going on right now. If I can plan, shop, and batch-cook on the weekends (Friday afternoon counts as the weekend!), I can save myself a lot of energy that I really don't have to spend right now. Not to mention money--I can save that, too.

I'm loving the whole lunch-packing experiment, though. I genuinely feel like I'm changing my habits (financial habits and planning habits) for the better, and of course I like the resultant savings. The only problem so far? It makes me want this really bad. In teal!


Anonymous said...

To tell you the truth, if it inspires you to keep on making your lunch (and thereby saving money), I would say it would be worth buying.


Strange Bird said...

I agree with Meadow. Target, though, has some more low-cost alternatives you might consider.

Strange Bird said...

Oh, and a good lunch box/bag with an ice pack will help when you might not have access to a fridge. When I was teaching, I could keep my lunch cold in my classroom all day (since I never had time to actually eat at lunchtime!).

~~Midnight Raider~~ said...

Not affliated, but this is a fun lunch blog: It has a lot of great ideas for creative lunches.

GradGirl said...

The lunch bag is adorable!

Kim said...

Um, could we eat more similar food? I don't think so.

I made my own lunch bag (see photos on my blog), but, aside from the "cool factor" of having made it myself, it's not any better than a bag you could buy for $8 bucks. And the yarn cost me $6 or $7, plus time, plus it's a little too small (damn, you felting!). But I did make it myself, and it's totally unique, which is always nice.

SF Money Musings said...

I have a similar problem with my meal planning - too low in fat and not enough protein!

Beans and soy don't provide nearly enough protein. I'm going to try eating some bacon in the mornings, it's low in calories and provides enough protein to keep my full through the morning.