Sometimes our eating habits need an overhaul. This is when meal planning becomes your biggest ally.
These past few months we have had to change the way the family eats. I have always cooked fairly healthy, low GI meals but now we have had to introduce carbohydrate free dinners. This has meant that I have had to rethink our entire meal plan.
Meat free Mondays no longer contain pasta or challenge me to make gnocchi. Now it includes things like Frittata’s and salad.
Mincemeat Tuesdays can’t contain spaghetti bolognaise, sloppy Joe’s or even taco’s anymore. Shepard’s pie and cottage pie now either feature cauliflower mash or mashed turnips instead of potatoes.
Wednesday night fish has also become a new adventure, tuna lasagne made with zucchini slices instead of lasagne sheets.
Thursday there is no roast potato with the chicken and beef stew is now filled with patty pans, baby marrow, onions and carrots, there is no rice in sight, unless it’s cauliflower rice!
Friday night is a big night for dinner; we start with soup, then salad and main course and occasionally desert. With it being winter here in South Africa and my family really liking soup, I am having to look up new recipes, the family favourites of potato and leek soup, curried butternut soup are needing an overhaul too, so besides the standard chicken soup, we are now having baby marrow soup, carrot soup, leek soup and a bell pepper soup! I do admit to serving some carbs in the form of couscous or brown rice on a Friday night.
Saturday and Sunday night have always been about leftovers so the meal plan stands unchanged.
No matter who you are a meal plan is essential when changing your lifestyle, I had forgotten how important it is to have a template when planning for your new eating habits. I am not partial to the low carb high fat (banting) mostly because I like my carbs, my breads and pasta’s.
Now lunches include healthy carbs and spaghetti bolognaise is made with zucchini spaghetti. I at least enjoy the challenge of new recipes and cooking challenges.
Have you changed your eating habits recently? Gone on a new diet? How did you make the change?
Dear family, friends, newsletter subscribers, Facebook friends and acquaintances and most especially, followers.
Some exciting news…. I now only work part time and am focusing on building my side business into a full time business.
For those who have been following me, you will know that 2 years ago I started a meal planning business called Kashering Your Life. I help people plan their meals according to their dietary requirements and draw up their shopping lists. This helps reduce,not only the grocery budget, but also the amount of food being wasted in households. My grocery spend is down 20% from 3 years ago when I started meal planning for myself and we waste a lot less food. While I cannot guarantee a savings of 20% I can guarantee that you will save money.
I have been on Chai FM radio with Alan Bender and The Yad Aharon show, as well as being interviewed for an article in People magazine South Africa. I have written guest articles for blogs such as anniemation.co.za. and beingme.co.za. I am a volunteer ambassador for the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which aims to fight obesity and food wastage worldwide.
I plan to hold workshops every 4 months on meal and menu planning including how to successfully use online grocery shopping. I have been working on my first new paid workshop which will be hosted as a private Facebook group and will run over 12 weeks. This will include a free 20 minute Skype session before and after the course, as well as live and recorded tutorials, workbooks and resource tools to help you.
18 months ago I started “We’re getting Sorted” a Facebook group to help me get my home more organised. This group is over 460 people strong, all with the aim to take control of their homes. I am now incorporating it into my business. I do not come into people’s homes and re organise or declutter; what I am doing is giving support for you to do it yourself, while holding myself accountable, by working on my home alongside the members of the group. As this group grows, I hope to invite experts in decluttering to give us advice and help, as well as hold competitions.
For 45 years being a nurse was my passion. I was 5 when I decided on my career path. Now my passion is helping people who would like to take control of their health and that of their family through meal planning.
With our rand in junk status, now more than ever, we need to find ways to make our money stretch. I am looking to help as many people as possible. If you are interested in working with me, or know of someone who could benefit from either a course or one on one sessions with me, please feel free to forward them my contact details.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
An important aspect of successful meal planning is timing. When you draw up your meal plan one of the main components you need to keep in mind is your daily routine and how much time you have to make that particular meal.
A couple of weeks ago I made a new recipe for the first time, Beef Wellington. I planned it for a Wednesday night. This was not a well thought out idea. The reason I chose Wednesday is that I work half day, so I knew I would have the time to make this meal and there would be no rush. The only clever timing choice about the Wednesday was that it did take me 3 hours to make the Wellingtons. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/my-month-with-gordon/
My timing was a little off. I needed liver pate, being strictly kosher, I can only get this from one or two sources and they only make this for Friday as a Sabbath treat! I was two days too early.
Timing for your menu makes your life easier. If you have a lot of extra murals, you don’t want to plan a meal that is going to take an hour if you will only be home at 7pm.
For moms with children doing extra murals (especially in winter) my suggestion is to use a slow cooker. I love the convenience of chucking everything into one pot in the morning, turning it on low and leaving the house. By 5pm the house smells wonderful and dinner is ready. The other convenience is everyone can help themselves (if they are old enough) according to their times.
Another consideration for timing is finger food. If you are going to be running around during the children’s dinner time, why not plan to make wraps? These can also be made ahead, wrapped and kept in the fridge, for everyone to eat later in the car. Wraps are a healthier alternative to take out and cheaper too.
Give meal planning a try and see how much easier it makes your life.
Gordon Ramsay is my chef hero! I think the reason for this is because his philosophy appears to be the fact that good, tasty, healthy food can be simple and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In February I was gifted his Ultimate Cookery Course cook book.
Being kosher, recipes are often a problem when they are in a celebrity chef’s cook book. I have to substitute a lot of ingredients or the equivalent is unavailable and I have to try and make my own. Also these recipes tend to be long and complicated; it is easier to make up my own.
A client had told me about the TV show and that there was a cookery book out with the recipes shown on the show. I was so excited until I priced the book here. There was a special on Amazon, but they don’t deliver books to South Africa. A very kind soul heard my discussion on the books and how I had seen a few episodes and would love to try them.
Next thing you know I am in possession of the cookery book!
For the month of March I made one recipe a week from the book. I am not being paid to review the book or promote it. I will tell you now that I will be making more recipes from the book! Each one I tried was successful even with having to make the necessary changes for dietary requirements.
Two carcasses picked clean! I double the recipe for stuffed chicken as there were 7 for dinner. I made two large chickens with stuffing. The stuffing recipe was easy to make. Even with the two adaptions I needed to make, the chicken was amazing. Everyone cleared their plates and went back for more.
I messed that recipe up quite well and it was still a hit! Firstly I defrosted the wrong meat and ended up with 10 pieces of rib eye steak. I planned the meal for a Wednesday. I needed liver pate (we call it chopped liver) and the kosher butchers’ only have this available on Thursday night. Then I made the mushroom duxelle with ordinary button mushrooms as I couldn’t find wild mushrooms. For pancetta I used lamb maken. I called the new recipe Beef Waterloo.
The recipe made 10 huge Wellingtons. We ate for 2 days and even with the meat being slightly over cooked on the second day, it was still delicious.
While the maken didn’t have the same flavor of pancetta, the fat kept the beef moist. The duxelle worked out well and was very tasty too.
I do admit I will probably only do this again next year as it took me 3 hours to make.
Sea Bream with Tomato and Herb Salsa
I substituted the Bream with Silverfish and I trusted the fishmonger when he said they were the same. My family are not big fish eaters. This dish was amazing and the family has agreed that I can make it again.
I have since started cooking all fish the way Gordon teaches in his show and the improvement is amazing. Fish is still not the most popular protein in my house, unless it is tinned tuna.
I doubled the recipe and it wasn’t enough! I do think I need to invest in a ricer for this one. Gnocchi is quick and relatively easy to make.
I have made gnocchi before and even though it was nice, it was quite stodgy. This time the gnocchi were almost perfect, light and flavourful, and the one or two lumps didn’t deter anyone and I had to go back and make a second batch.
I now have new recipes to add to my recipe bank and a whole lot more to try.
Who is your favourite celebrity chef and why? What recipes have you made of theirs? Continue reading My month with Gordon
You like winging it in your kitchen. You want to meal plan but you hate recipes! No problem.
Meal planning with no recipe
Meal planning is about more than recipes, it is about a lifestyle change. Simplifying your life and making time for you to spend doing what you prefer. It also saves you money.
In a previous blog post we looked at themed meal plans and that is where not following a recipe will fit in. Dinner Theme Meal Planning
Your meal plan template allows you to go to the store and use your imagination for ingredients.
Using a template
If you step into a store with the idea in mind that your main meal ingredient is chicken, you then can decide while in the store or in your pantry what other ingredients you will be adding to make this into a healthy balanced meal.
You don’t need to only plan your main ingredient; you can even plan your cuisine. An example of this is Mexican + Meat. Now you can go to the store knowing you want to buy meat and spicy/tomato ingredients.
This method allows you to make use of specials, as well as not buying too much and having it sit in your kitchen and go to waste.
While this is a method I do not think I could use successfully in my home I do think that it would be very successful for single people, college/varsity students and possibly stay at home moms (as an excuse to get out of the house possibly?).
For single people meal planning can be a little tedious and most have a fairly fluid social life.
This means if you meal plan for more than a week in advance you will likely have food going to waste. Just having your template can work not only for meal planning, but also for your social life.
For example if you have Fish on your template for a certain night, then you can use this to help decide on a restaurant if you are going out for dinner. It can also be used to decide whether it is canned tuna or perfectly seared tuna steaks, whichever you have time for.
For college/varsity students living either in an apartment with other students or on campus where you only have limited way to prepare foods, then this method will also help with budgeting and saving money.
Having a template and being able to use that to decide on your ingredients will be a big part of your life. Students living in res will usually only have a kettle and microwave and this can to a certain extent limit your options, go online and search for ideas to help you.
Going online to look for microwave recipes will help. Instant noodles are very versatile as a base for some great meals. These can definitely be bought in advance and then dressed up, with ingredients bought fresh on the day.
Choose your flavor of noodle and then add. For example choose a fish flavoured instant noodle meal and add some salmon off cuts and a tablespoon of cream cheese for a delicious supper.
For those sharing, it will definitely help you with your food budgets.
Stay at home moms
Staying at home to raise your children is an amazing thing to be able to do. If you are the type of mom who wants to stay at home, and if your finances allow you this option.
There does come a time, however, when even the most dedicated moms need to get out. Going to the mall and buying your groceries can fulfill this need two fold. The first is retail therapy without feeling guilty for spending money; the second is feeding your family nourishing meals.
Shopping without a recipe can allow you to choose ingredients that are versatile in terms of the ages of each family member.
I love hearing how people go about deciding what’s for dinner, so why not let me know how you decided and what methods work best for you?
Going on a picnic can be both fun and exhausting. Fun as it is great way for family to spend time together. It is exhausting, as you need to organize the food and cold drinks, cutlery and crockery to take with you.
Planning a picnic is quite an undertaking, especially if you have small children.
Venues are important as you want somewhere where the children are safe can have fun running around, riding bikes and enjoying themselves, where you can relax and not worry too much. So avoiding places with large bodies of water might be a consideration.
A great venue with little children and babies, is your back/front yard. Very little traveling is required, you know it’s safe and if you forget anything it is not far to go to fetch it!
Then there is your comfort, beach chairs for those who prefer not to sit on the ground. Ground cover that is large enough for the rest of the picnickers.
Plates, cups and cutlery are also a consideration. Do you have a stock of disposable items to use at the picnic or are you going to use your normal everyday cutlery and crockery?
If you are using disposables, don’t forget the trash bag for your rubbish.
What to eat?
Now for the most important part of picnic, the food. What are you going to be serving at the picnic and how many people are joining you?
Salads are usually standard potato salad but what if you want a bean salad or a green salad with dressing? Containers need to suit your salad. Potato salad doesn’t need to be in an airtight container but a salad with a dressing or sauce will need to be properly sealed.
Are you taking cold meats or cold meat sandwiches? Cold meats are easy, you take them as they come packaged. If you prefer sandwiches are you going to prepare them at home or are you taking bread and spread with to make the sandwiches at the picnic?
The bee issue
Sugary drinks attract bees, so if you have anyone with an allergies then cups with lids and bottles that close are better than cans, water is better than either. If you are me though then water is not going to cut it on a picnic.
Serviettes (napkins), I always forget the serviettes! Hand wipes are a good idea for sticky fingers as ablution facilities are not always nearby.
If you plan for your picnic beforehand, not only will it be less stressful on you but you are able to plan a healthier picnic than you would in a last minute dash for the picnic basket.
When was your last picnic? I don’t think my family has been on one in at least 5 years, teenagers with a social life don’t seem to keen!
Meal planning doesn’t only have to be meals made at home. If you are in the type of working environment that requires you to eat out, then put restaurant food on your meal plan. Dinner Theme Meal Planning
How does this work?
If for instance you use a meal planning template, this could help you decide what to eat at the restaurant your business meeting is being held.
Using my home template, it would mean that if you are going out for lunch or dinner at a restaurant you would then either choose vegetarian/vegan restaurants or a vegetarian dish at whichever restaurants you go to. Monday is meat free in my house.
Mince is the main ingredient on my meal plan template for a Tuesday, so Italian restaurants would work well.
Fish on Wednesday’s, there are so many restaurants to choose from for this option. My advice though is to avoid ordering fish in a steakhouse. They cook steaks; fish is not always their forte except at the very upmarket places.
You can see how this would work for you.
There are 5 benefits to this method.
- You can actually stick to an eating plan, by knowing ahead of time what you are going to be ordering. Maybe not the exact dish but an idea
- It gives you an excuse to try out new places and new flavours
- When you draw up you home meal plan you can adjust the size of your meals to suit what you had at lunch or pack a lighter lunch if it is a business dinner.
- It will take you less time to order as you already can cross off certain dishes from your range of choices.
- You don’t have to cook! For those who don’t like cooking, this would probably be the best option.
Once again proof that meal planning is not some rigid regime you have to stick to. It is flexible and can fit in with any lifestyle you live.
If you need help getting your meal plans up and running, why not book a Skype one on one coaching session with me? https://calendly.com/adrienne-2/90-minutes
Planning for 3 meals a day is important when you are trying to follow a healthier eating plan.
Starting off well
Breakfast is purported to be the most important meal of the day as it helps to kick start your metabolism after a 6-8 hour fast (sleep).
One aspect of meal planning is that you are able to plan your meals according to you and your family’s activity levels.
What your first meal of the day should be, depends entirely on what activities you will be doing during the morning.
Fuel for the day
For adults at a desk job, who go straight from home to the office, or go via the schools, you want to plan a meal that is low GI and low carbs as you will not be expending too much energy.
However, you still need to eat something that will keep you feeling satisfied, at least until your tea break.
Eating to exersise
On the other hand, if you are stopping off at the gym for a workout, you will need to plan your breakfast accordingly.
A cardio workout allows you to have a little extra in the carbohydrate department, while a strength workout would require you to take in a little more protein for your first meal of the day.
The midday meal
Lunch should be your biggest meal of the day. However, for most of us it is a hasty meal at our desks. Once again, when planning your lunch meal, you need to take into account what you will be doing in the afternoon.
A daycare worker may require higher energy producing foods than an executive, no matter how busy you are.
What’s for dinner?
The evening meal should be lighter and more easily digested than the midday meal as you will most likely be going to sleep a few hours after you have eaten.
This meal should also be the lowest GI as you want it to keep your blood sugar level fairly constant throughout the night.
A low GI food is a food that will keep you feeling full for longer as it helps to keep your blood sugars on an even keel.
When your blood sugar drops, you are left feeling hungry and often craving for something sweet. Eating fruit first thing in the morning can keep you going till lunch time but be careful, not all fruit is low GI.
Apples, oranges, peaches, cherries are a good low GI fruit, while watermelon is definitely not! If you are going to the gym then a banana would be good, along with raisins and other melons.
Healthy eating is about conscious eating and meal planning plays an important role in this.
If you are not following any type of eating plan, why not try a little experiment? For two days keep a food diary. Every time you eat anything, write it down. Next, try and create a meal plan just for the following two days and watch your eating habits change.
Remember that meal planning is best done after a meal, so that you are less inclined to put high energy or comfort foods into your plan.
One of the tricks that has got me through meal planners block, is theme nights.
I don’t mean elaborate themes, I just mean creating a template for yourself that will make meal planning, in all aspects, a little less stressful.
What is a theme?
A theme is whatever idea you want it to be. Some of the examples I have used are:
Countries of the world
Jewish dishes from around the world
I love Africa
Cooking shows I love
Success and failure
Some were harder to follow than others. For example, the dinner from Russia was a total disaster! Vareniki- I don’t know what I did wrong, but they were totally inedible.
Others, like my cashew nut chicken, are such a hit that they now appear on my meal plan once a month.
The homemade pasta that I learned to make from watching MasterChef and Gordon Ramsay were another rebounding success.
How to decide
Using current trends to create themes is another easy method. Meat free Monday, Banting and LCHF (low carbohydrate, high fat) recipes are another method. You don’t have to follow the diets themselves, just some of recipes that your family might enjoy.
A basic template can actually be used when changing lifestyle eating habits to control your food choices.
Creating a template for your plans can sometimes be difficult and other times quick and easy. However, once created, the actual meal planning time is cut almost in half. Monthly Menu Planner and Shopping List
Decide what night you will be eating which type of meal. Here is a basic example of a template.
Monday- Meat Free
Tuesday- Mince (any kind)
Thursday – Chicken
Friday – Red Meat
Saturday – eat out
Sunday – pizza
Weekly menu planner and shopping list
Love it or hate it
Whether you love cooking or hate it, whether you are a contender for MasterChef, or you can barely boil water, what a template allows you to do is cook within your preference.
I am one of those people who love cooking. I am also a pretty good cook and love to try new recipes. Thankfully I have a family who like to eat and aren’t too fussy about their food choices.
I use meat free Mondays to make mac and cheese, tuna or vegetable lasagne’s and often to experiment with vegan recipes.
For mince night, I have a standard set of about 10 recipes, some more involved than others, which range from Chilli Con Carne to Sloppy Joes, Taco’s, Bolognaise, Cottage Pie, Shepard’s Pie, Mince Pie, Meatballs, Meatloaf and a few others.
For fish night, I have a few standards that I dare not alter too much. Haddock and Spaghetti, Hake and Basil Pesto, Grilled Fish and Chips, Crumbed Fish Cakes and Crumbed Fillets. There are a few more but I don’t make them often as they are either too expensive or the majority of my family don’t eat it.
Chicken night is another favourite meal and I can use this to try out new recipes.
Red meat night could mean stews or roasts and is another time where I can play with recipes.
As you can see my family are definite carnivores. Saturday and Sunday nights, we eat whatever is going. In a house full of teenagers this means they are mostly all out on Saturday night and we pretty much scrounge in the fridge for left overs or we have eggs or I will make pizza for supper. Sometime it is simply soup and toast.
Find freedom from the stove
Your template does not restrict you, it actually allows you to play around. You don’t need to follow a recipe either. If you know that tonight is mince night, you can take your meat out the freezer, come home and make whatever you want.
Another advantage is, if you have a whole lot of recipes you like, you can plot them for a month or more into your chosen nights.
Why not give it a try and see how easy meal planning can be?