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Menu planning 
24th-Nov-2010 06:36 pm
Hi, I'm a new FlyBaby, and I was hoping to get some help with menu planning.

I live with my boyfriend, we're childless. It used to be that I did not eat beef or pork whatsoever (I was vegetarian for 7 years, and when I decided to go back to meat, beef and pork were still too harsh on my stomach), but I'm thinking I may incorporate it once every week or two. My boyfriend eats any meat set in front of him at any time.

I love healthy foods. I could eat beans, rice, and veggies every night very happily.

My boyfriend, however, is a junk food junkie and hates monotony. (And I can be unfortunately compliant with his junk food wishes, so in the first year that we lived together, I gained back 40 pounds that I had lost before we moved in!)

We're also on food stamps, so our food budget is limited to about 200/mo. It's often enough for two people, IF I plan carefully... which is why I need help! I'm not good at planning this stuff.

Also, I have fibromyalgia and severe depression, so it can be difficult for me to make meals that require a lot of work...

Does anyone have a situation similar to mine, and have you hashed out a menu plan that makes your whole family happy?

I'd love to just get outlines of a bunch of people's menus. Maybe it could give me ideas for setting up my own plan. :) Thanks for any help!
25th-Nov-2010 02:41 am (UTC)
Consider imitating some of your favorite junk food meals at home, where you can make them healthier and maybe incorporate a fruit or veggie side (or at least not feel pressure to drink a quart of soft drink). That can help fight the urge.
25th-Nov-2010 02:48 am (UTC)
I don't really have the urge for junk, myself. Only during that time of the month! I just kind of end up getting whatever crap he wants because it's easier than arguing and trying to get him to eat the stuff I like. I guess I just need a happy medium between his tastes and mine... more often lately, I've been giving him frozen burritos or something while I eat a salad! lol
25th-Nov-2010 04:38 am (UTC)
Do you have a slow cooker?

I have a small slow cooker. I use it 2-5 times a week.

check out crockpot365.blogspot.com.

It's great because you just set it up and walk away, and you can make some pretty cheap meals with it. I have made gluten free granola with it (hurray controlling the levels of sugar!) and i've done chili in it, made baked beans, and tomorrow i'm going to make peanut soup.

I've done beef burgundy a bunch of times too.

If you have the new style with teh lift out stoneware crock, they're much eaiser to clean. but I scoop everything out of my crock pot, add water, and put it on low to help melt off any food that might be stuck.

I find it's great for me because it's just prep. I don't have to stand there and flip things over or have to spend half an hour to an hour standing and cooking - perhaps fifteen minutes of prep. I usually do it while I'm brewing my coffee in the morning, and I literally ignore it until dinnertime.

I've also done things like bought bulk dried beans, and cooked them in the slow cooker with just water, and then drained them and poured out 1 cup measures of cooked beans into freezer bags and frozen them up. or prepped a batch of chili in a big bowl (my slow cooker is too small to hold much, it's 1.5 liters) and then filled a 1l ziploc storage container with a batch and frozen it, then I just stick it in the fridge, let it thaw out, and then drop it in the cooker.

you can also make yogurt. I haven't tried that yet. I'm going to, though. I love yogurt and I HATE most yogurt available in the grocery store, all full of sugar and gelatin and stuff. I want to make rose lassi and good stuff.
25th-Nov-2010 05:10 am (UTC)
I... had no idea you could do that much with a crock pot, LOL. Now I feel silly for ignoring mine all the time! Thank you!
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25th-Nov-2010 05:09 am (UTC)
Great ideas, thanks! I love stir fry, I don't know why I didn't think of making it more often.
25th-Nov-2010 04:50 am (UTC)
I'm in the same position, to an extent, with my husband. In the end, I kind of had to tell my husband that I was cooking for myself, and if he didn't like it, he could find something else to eat. I also try to have something simple for him to put together on nights I know I'm making something he might not like (ie: he'll eat scrambled eggs or a bowl of cereal, no problem.)

I also have depression, and while I'm not currently working, I've found that I don't mind applying the fly principals to cooking a meal. If something involves a lot of chopping veggies, I might chop up the bell pepper with breakfast, the onion at lunch, etc. If something looks like it has a lot of steps that can be done ahead of time, I try to do them through out the day.

Also, you may want to consider making extra portions of your meals and freezing them for days you really feel down.

Cooking for two, I've found that at least one to two nights a week, you can count on having enough food for a left over night.

Typically, I pick five meals that I want to prepare for a week and keep that list on the fridge and I scratch off a meal once I've made it. It gives me a lot of flexibility in what I make when.

Sorry if this letter isn't really coherent. Holiday stress.
25th-Nov-2010 05:07 am (UTC)
Coherent or not, I think this is the best advice so far. ;) Thanks! I have never once thought of spreading out chopping veggies and stuff. Doing it kills my hands, spreading it out would help a lot!
25th-Nov-2010 07:48 am (UTC)
Just be sure to keep the veggies in a plastic container with a bit of water or they'll dry out. Not that I've dried out a ton of veggies doing that or something..... ;-)
25th-Nov-2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
I've been posting my weekly menus on my lj for the past couple of years and I'm happy to help with yours, but I'm about to leave for our Thanksgiving feast. I'll check back in!
7th-Dec-2010 11:51 pm (UTC)
Good luck, I hope you have been able to make progress. I also have problems getting the hang of menu planning, because it just doesn't come naturally for me to plan far ahead of time.

Buying stuff in season & locally will help keep expenses down. My sister-in-law does her grocery shopping once a week at the farmer's market. I've gotten almost a week's worth of food there for me & my husband for around $50. I guess it depends if you live near a FM.

For your bf I would look up recipes for kids, like this: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_eating_kids

I've found good easy recipes at http://simplyrecipes.com/. My husband loves the classic baked chicken - http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/classic_baked_chicken/. Tastes like fried chicken but juicier and less greasy. He also loves breakfast chops pan fried with some oil, salt, & pepper. It only takes about 5 mins or so since they are thinly sliced.

If you can afford it, you can stock up on dried spices you like. They last a while and are good for changing up the flavor of dishes you make frequently so they don't always taste the same to your bf.

Edited at 2010-12-07 11:52 pm (UTC)
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