Keeping It Really Real... Clean Eating is Hard

Okay, so we're what, 4 months into this clean eating thing now,
and the last few weeks have been SO hard.
Like, "I want to quit so badly hard."

  But I haven't -- so don't panic.

In fact, today I made this lovely
Thai Crunch Salad for lunch
(and wasted way too much time doing so)
and it was quite delicious and I'd make it again.

The hard part over the last few weeks really boils down to three things:

1. I'm not a huge fan of the kitchen and the grocery store to begin with and I'm spending a LOT of time in both the kitchen and the grocery store. 

In the past, I could whip out a meal in no time and be done with it.
I had my go-to meals at the ready, as well as ingredients at the ready.
Not so any more.
While I do have a few recipes that we could do every couple of weeks,
there are none that I'm thinking, "Oh, I must have that every week."

Even the things I'm getting stellar at -- like homemade guacamole and chips -- 
still take time.
More time than grabbing the bag of Wavy Lay's Potato Chips.

So I'm trying to have a grand attitude about this,
knowing that it IS work and it IS worth every extra effort I put into it.
It really is.
( I know I sound like a broken record but I must keep telling myself this
or I will give up. I know myself too well.)

2. We're sick of chicken.
Like, really sick of chicken.
And chicken is easy and fast and cheaper. Not cheap. But cheaper.
So when you're sick of easy and fast and cheaper,
well, that leaves you wanting to bang your head against the wall.
3.  I had a string of rough recipes a couple weeks ago.
And oh MY, when you work SO hard on something and it takes SO long
and then it tastes like CRAP.
Makes me not want to cook.

And so that really added to my frustration and stress level,
just making me want to throw it all out the window.

Now the good news is that I have landed on 3 or 4 good recipes in the past few days,
so I'm feeling a wee bit more encouraged.

But there for awhile.
Oh mercy.
Shoot me in the head please.

As for meal planning,
definitely getting better at that.
But THAT takes a tonne of time, too.
Like a couple of hours.
And you have to know that I am SPEEDY in EVERYTHING.
So when something takes me a long time, I get SUPER frustrated.
So trying to find recipes that sound remotely decent
and then finding sides that sound remotely decent
and then finding veggies that sound remotely decent.
It takes FOREVER.

Now there are always the lovely eggs and toast duo as a good fallback option.
(which is what we had for supper, just a few minutes ago).

So, my dear friend Kat came to the rescue a few weeks ago
because she knew me well enough to say to her husband,
"Alysa's gonna fail at this if she doesn't get an easier system."
She was OH-SO-RIGHT.
See, isn't it nice to know you're known?
I love that she knew that about me.

So, with just a wee bit of adjusting of Kat's system, 
here's my system, 
which is still a work in progress.
All credit goes to Kat. This is her brainchild.
I simply copy.

Here's what works for me:

1. Find a binder and make it cute.
( I have yet to make mine cute, but it's on the docket for Spring Break,
which starts in two days. The front of my binder has a pocket on it
so I'll be designing something to slip into the pocket so that the front
of my binder makes me WANT to cook.
If you're a visual person, you'll understand.
If you're not. Just nod and say, "Yes dear. I understand.")

2. Get some regular tab dividers.

3. Get some pocket dividers 
To save yourself the frustration of things falling out. 
Speaking from experience.
4.  Make yourself the following sections
in your binder:
Better yet, figure out what your sections should be and make those. 
My guess is you might not have the same sections as I do
because, for example, I hate fish/seafood, so I don't have that category,
but if you were a good human being, you'd have that category,
because I hear fish is quite tasty and good for you.
And how's THAT for a lengthy sentence?

Here are my TABS just so you get the idea:

a) MENU for the week tab

While we're talking about the menu for the week, 
you could make yours super pretty but I needed to go 'functional'
or I knew I wouldn't maintain it.
So each week, I grab a blank piece of paper and write the days
of the week and put a box around them.
And then I go through and look online and in my menu folder on my computer
and in my Against All Grain recipe book for recipes to make that week.
(which is AMAZING and you need to buy it if you don't own it.)
I also have my calendar out beside me so that I can sort of plan
the meals according to if it's a busy or light 'after-school' day that week.
So you pick a main dish, a side dish, a veggie dish and if you're feeling lucky,
a dessert of some healthy sort.

I also put a little section on the bottom of that page for ideas to have on hand -- like if I make up some pesto ahead of time, then I can add that to things for lunches.
Or hummus or guacamole.
And the reason I put it on here is so that I can remember to check to see if I need
any of those ingredients.

b) A pocket folder tab 
  that has the recipes for the week right there at the ready 
so you're not scrounging around for the recipes at the last minute.

THEN, once I have the meals planned,
I take out another piece of paper and make my grocery list.
On the spot.
And then I figure out what I have already and what groceries I need to buy.

The other tabs in my binder with recipes behind the tabs:
c) MAIN meals tab
d) SIDES tab
f) VEGGIES tab

i) DESSERT tab

j) PAST MENUS tab (a pocket folder works well)
(Here's the brilliant part -- keep your past menus so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel each week. Steal some things from one week that went together 
and make your life easier.)

I'm so ALL about making my life easier.

l) Meal ideas tab
( For example, yesterday we had mini meatloaves in muffin tins and roasted red potatoes and a nice green salad on the side. And those three together tasted SO lovely. 
So the next time I am looking for a 'red meat' meal, I can go to my 'red meat' section behind this 'meal ideas' tab and I'll see meatloaf 
and I'll have my whole meal planned for that night 
because I've already figured out what goes well together. 

Kat's brilliant idea. 
Cyber space HIGH FIVE, Kat.

 And so the reality is that over time, 
I will have different categories and I'll already have what goes well together figured out, so I'll be able to just say, 
"Alright, this week I'll do red meat twice, chicken once, pork once, and eggs."
And then I'll go to those sections and my sides will already be taken care of me. 

Because let's face it, it's easy to come up with one thing 
for a meal -- like the meat we're going to have -- but 
then figuring out what side and what veggie we're going to pair with that. 
Well that just puts us over the edge and makes us want to 
drink hard liquor and lots of it. 

 So, I just continue on this journey,
sometimes wanting to give up.
And sometimes being totally inspired to keep at it.

I continue to be amazed at how much better I feel.
And when, from time to time I eat gluten or dairy,
OH MERCY, I pay for it.
And that's actually grand news because that does help in keeping me
motivated to stick with it.

So there you have it.
The latest in my clean eating journey.
The good, the bad, the ugly.

PS. Coco says howdy


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