Friday Professional Group


Rae Made Meals - Challenge Update

When I survey the landscape of last week’s Meals Challenge, I actually think I maybe came out ahead. Let’s have a look at what I said I was going to do, and what actually ended up happening….

 

For breakfasts, I said I was going to a) make some truly ‘grab-and-go’ breakfast items and b) actually grab them on the way out of the house. I linked to some sites with great ideas – you can see them if you look at last week’s blog – and while I still think all those ideas were great…I ended up making none of them. For me, it turned out, it was enough of a challenge to eat two boiled eggs with a glass of water on the way out of the house and then follow up with tea or coffee at work. I’m counting this as a win, because I did eat breakfast all five days last week – also, one morning was a Kind Plus cranberry-almond bar. That’s not homemade, but it is different than eggs! I discovered this article, as well, which at least validates my breakfast choice for busy mornings. (I also discovered, much to my delight, that I am far from the only person in the world that eats her boiled eggs with a touch of buffalo wing sauce. Thanks, Twitter!)

In terms of what I could learn from this, I think I’m going to try and make space on my weekends to put together a few more options for breakfasts. I definitely noticed that starting the day with something in my stomach made it easier to make it to lunch without getting crabby. The Kind Plus bar day was a good one, and since I know myself, I know that stocking up on those will be a more likely happening than me making granola bars for myself. The best part about having breakfast every day was that I really did notice a different in my mood and work – I had gotten used to being achingly hungry by 10:30 AM. I liked just being “normal hungry” by the time my lunch rolled around at 11:30.

 

I was hoping to get out of the “using-up-the-expensive-gluten-free-bread” trap for lunches, and I did…not bad. I loved reading the links I provided in last week’s blog, especially the “16 non-sandwich options”…but again, my planning skills and time got away from me and I didn’t end up making any of them. I actually did utilize the bounty of my fridge – leftovers from dinners made frequent appearances (turkey and feta burgers were a particular highlight), as well as lots of apples, oranges and yogurt. I did bring a sandwich on two of the five days, but was happy to have a) managed to bring a lunch and b) gone a bit easier on the pricey bread. Again, I feel like having a day on the weekend to do a bit of supplementary grocery shopping and meal planning would be a good idea for me. In the near future, I think I’m going to whip up this and the tomato and almond salad here, and bring those as “leftovers” like I did this week with whatever we had had for supper the night before. Continuing on from what I realized about breakfast, by lunchtime I was hungry, but “normal hungry” – and eating my healthier lunches was very satisfying. I had noticed that on days when I didn’t eat breakfast, I was more tempted to make unhealthy lunchtime choices. (Mexi-Fries, anyone?) I found my leftovers or sandwiches and fruit very tasty and filling, and combined with my Coke Zero (a vice, I know, but a caffeine addiction is not kicked in a week), a huge help to get me through the afternoon happy and focused.

 

Speaking of suppers, this is the one I was most proud of! I challenged myself to make one supper for my family (for this particular Thursday night, that meant my parents, my fiancé, and my brother and his girlfriend), which needed to be healthy, gluten-free, and delicious; and also ready in time for my dad and me to leave for choir at 6:45. My very patient father stood behind me and directed me through making a stir-fry of chicken thighs, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and onions with rice vermicelli and a Korean-inspired sauce. I noticed my cooking skills have deteriorated steadily since I’ve been living somewhere where I don’t have to cook every day (or really at all). The vegetable prep took the longest – the cutting board looked like I’d had a fight with the cauliflower – but by the end of the cooking process it was like my brain had gotten back into the rhythm. I get the feeling stir-fries for six people don’t usually take more experienced cooks an hour and fifteen minutes to finish, but it did turn out deliciously and gave me a little bump of self-confidence. I struck a deal with my dad that I’m going to hang out in the kitchen with him one night a week so he can help me gain more assuredness in the kitchen and help me try out some of the recipes I’ve been reading! (That buffalo chicken salad is still looking really appealing, I’ll be honest). It also made a great lunch on Friday!

 

So, I’m going to give myself a 6/10 for the meals challenge. I did expend effort in making sure I lived up to the letter of the challenge – I ate breakfast and brought lunch all five days, plus made a family dinner – but I think I can do better on the spirit of the challenge – finding ways to make breakfast and lunch easier, healthier and more interesting. I think I’ll see how I can do on these ideas on my own and maybe run the challenge again in March or April once I’ve had an opportunity to make some of these thoughts habits. In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be talking more about snacks, food and food’s role in the workplace – if you have any thoughts, send me an email!

 

-Rae, First Impressions Coordinator

 

Do you have any secrets to good meal planning or some good tips or gluten-free recipes for me? Send me an email at friday@friday.ca!

Photo: My mise-en-place for Thursday’s dinner. Not pictured: chicken thighs – they were still in the sink defrosting.

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