I’ll start this post by saying that our family is very fortunate in that financially we can make real quality food a true priority. While wasting food is never something we take lightly, we can comfortably buy good ingredients when we need them. However, this past week we took on the challenge (partly out of necessity and partly for the sake of a good challenge) to really use what we had on hand!! That’s right, no going to the store and no eating out (not that we do that much anyhow).
Here’s a brief recap of how things went:
I’m a pretty good meal planner. I like having an idea of how the week looks. But, this was an exercise that stretched my planning beyond normalcy! I took a good inventory of what we had, wrote it down and also considered what our calendars looked like. Which days would be best for a crockpot meal? Which days would be best for simple salads and grilled meats? And how can we best ration our fresh veggies throughout the week? What cuts of meat do I need to pull from the freezer? After I had a good plan of attack I also decided that it would be important to place sticky notes on various items in both the fridge and pantry so that my snack monsters (I have three of them in the house) wouldn’t eat important ingredients I was saving for various meals. It worked like a charm.
Inevitably, our meals were a touch simpler than they normally are. HOWEVER, no less delicious! Honestly! This is a great testament to the benefit of using fresh, flavorful foods full of nutrients, color and various textures. Here are a few examples:
1) Grilled garlic sausage links thawed from our 1/2 pig share, roasted asparagus with coconut oil and salt and pepper, and organic grape tomatoes.
2) Burgers (made with ground beef from our 1/2 cow in the deep freezer and mixed with onion and herbs), topped with homemade pesto using basil from our herb garden, served with sautéed beet greens and garlic scapes, along side roasted beets (both from our CSA share).
Over the weekend I attended a CrossFit Course at my local gym. Which put my husband on Daddy duty and food patrol. He generally keeps meals very simple when he is charge, but he was also challenged by visitors. My in-laws were in town for the weekend, which ended up bringing my husband’s family together at our house for Saturday lunch – last minute! Leftover burgers and pesto, celery with almond butter, and leftover paleo pancakes made up the smorgasbord of sustenance. Not my vision of a well-hosted meal, but everyone was happy – my nieces and nephew included. I had packed my lunch to-go (Burger with pesto over greens and a few leftover roasted asparagus spears).
That same evening I had planned shredded pork with BBQ sauce (which had been cooking in the crockpot all day while I was off working out and learning), steamed carrots tossed with olive oil, dried parsley, sea salt and pepper, and sautéed spinach with garlic scapes for dinner. We ended up being joined by one of my brother-in-laws and his wife-to-be, so I added a bowl of organic blueberries and raspberries to the mix and we successfully filled everyone’s belly (at least I hope!). Surprisingly, we were even able to feed the masses spur of the moment with what we had!
On Sunday morning I was responsible for making sure my husband and kids were well equipped with their food contributions for a family pool party before I left the house. I put together a great big salad with mixed greens and fixings I saved from our local farm. Salad greens go very fast in our house, so I knew I had to set them aside and label them well for this very occasion as soon as we picked them up from our CSA. It didn’t seem like much when I pooled together the ingredients we had in the refrigerator, but once everything was tossed and topped with some seeds and dried wild blueberries – Voila – a nice salad!
For myself, I thought “this may be it. I may have to head to Whole Foods during our quick seminar lunch break today” (Sunday). The refrigerator looked really bare! But on second glance, we still had a little arugula, a bit of leftover shredded pork and some fresh figs. So, home I headed and what a good choice. Drizzled with olive oil, it was just what I needed (picture shown above)!
As a bonus, my kids ended up eating really well over the course of the week. They probably had fewer snacks than they get in a typical week, but when it came to meal time, they ate fantastic. Lots of greens, quality meats, healthy fats and clean plates.
My initial thought was “we don’t have much to work with.” But, the week really opened my eyes to how much food we did have and the amazing meals we were able to still throw together. While I enjoy cooking and creating, eating well doesn’t have to be complex.
For some meal ideas that won’t break the bank, check out my Weekly Paleo Diet Meal Plan.
I’m looking forward to stocking up again today! :-)