For me, eating well is about 25% creativity and 75% comfortable rhythms. If I don’t keep things simple during the work week, I’m never going to be able to maintain a regimen of mostly home cooked meals. If I never play with my food on weekends or in the evening, I get bored. Knowing what works is one thing and executing it is another. It takes more discipline than I would like to admit to feed myself well during the week when food is the last thing on my mind.
For me, a successful food week starts with weekend shopping and Sunday afternoon prep. I pick a lunch that I could stand eating a week straight and make sure I have ingredients. I do not have the mental energy to concoct an interesting or varied lunch repertoire. It works the best when I pick one thing, plan ahead for it and stick with it. Anything fiddly or that requires prep is done in advance so that I can just grab and go. If I want to eat pistachios and raisins as a mid-afternoon snack, I make enough individual bags to last me through the week. I always feel ridiculous doing this. How long does it take put some raisins and nuts in a bag in the morning? Not long at all. But I know myself. I know what I am like in the mornings. The odds of my snack making it into my lunch bag are exponentially increased if all I have to do it pick up.
Sunday night also means making a big batch of something that will feed me multiple nights for the next week. I usually get bored eating the same thing every night, but it is vital to my sanity to have something that only needs heating up for the inevitably multiple nights per week when I’m either (1) at work longer than expected or (2) have just enough time to eat something before running to choir or a workout. Lentil soup is the obvious no brainer: vegetables, protein and fiber all in one big comforting pot. I also try to keep a couple of veggies and proteins on hand such that I can cook myself a different dinner on the couple of nights a week that I get home early or not terribly hungry.
I can’t get through my morning at work without a good breakfast. My breakfasts during the week are boring, but make me happy and keep me full.
Whole wheat toast with peanut butter has been my default breakfast since I was eleven years old. Lots of nutritious fiber, protein, low GI carbs and fat in one crunchy, creamy piece. Plus I can eat it one handed if I am in a rush. These days, I almost always use Ezekiel bread—I find that it keeps me full longer and I like the crunch when it toasts up. Desafortunadamente, although toast and coffee are all that I really want in the morning, they don’t keep me full until lunch. I’ve had to add more food to my breakfasts in order to make it through to lunch time.
Adding fruit and yogurt or kefir to my breakfast usually does the trick. When my mind rebels against the idea of having to sit down and eat anything with a spoon, I go the smoothie route. I love my bullet blender very much because it is so easy to make single servings of things and is so easy to clean up. From left to right: strawberry-kefir smoothie and blueberry-mango kefir smoothie.
I get very munchy at work when I am just hanging out in the office, so I like to pack things that I can either together or in separate snacks depending on my appetite. This week’s lunch: Turkey and arugula with mustard and mayo on whole wheat, apple, string cheese and a small cookie from the Homeboy bakery (parting gift from last weekend’s dinner).
I do not like sandwiches that taste mostly of bread. Piling the protein high is key. I like to roll my turkey it into loose cylinders before piling it onto my sandwich. It makes the sandwich neater to eat and I like the effect on the overall sandwich texture—it gives the sandwich more heft when you bite into it.
Then when I get home at the end of the day, all I have to do for dinner is heat up my soup, sprinkle on a garnish and grab a piece of fruit or bread to complete the meal. I think lentil soup may be my all time favorite comfort food.
Just two more days until the weekend…