Can you believe it’s been over a year since my last Write Naked Eats post? Well, I’m making up for it with a week’s worth of food in lieu of a year.
Last Sunday, I created a meal plan for the week. It was the first time I ever carefully planned every meal. Usually I’m just focused on what main ingredients I need for dinners, but this time I knew exactly what I was making for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week.
A few years ago I realized I don’t need to reserve cooking for dinner time. Fellow poet-friend Chris Abbate (whose debut poetry book releases next month and you can pre-order it at the prior link) has been working from home (IT job) far longer than I have been. One night at our poetry critique group, we talked about cooking and he started describing a bunch of tempting meals, and he made them for lunch!
It hadn’t occurred to me that, yes, I could just cook my lunches too. For years I had been stuck in the same lunch zone that I used to be in when I was in an office. Peanut butter sandwiches, cold cuts, canned tuna, carrot sticks, grapes–not all at once, of course! Two years ago when I had attempted Whole30, I started cooking more during lunch time. I realized it didn’t take much time, the meals were more satisfying, and I had more variety. (I don’t like eating the same thing everyday!)
This week my love was away on a business trip Monday-Friday, so I took that as an opportunity where I could plan all the meals around my own tastes. (More veggies!) While I watched the finale of “Big Little Lies” on Sunday, I flipped through my favorite cookbooks by Ali Maffucci, Inspiralized and Inspiralize Everything. Sometime in the next year I will add her next book to the mix! I picked out a few favorite recipes, plus several I had not made before. I plotted out a meal plan and shopping list, and then filled the cart at the grocery store.
Aside from the curiosity of whether a meal plan would make my writing time more productive, I also had another goal for the week: Not to leave the house. Earlier this month I had what may have been the busiest week ever, that could easily rival my last busiest week ever. That week had been so packed, I didn’t get a chance to sit down and eat lunch until Thursday. I really wanted to decompress from a busy month, focus entirely on client work and creative writing, and not have to go anywhere. The only time I got in my car this week was to go to Bartholomew Barker’s book launch party.
What My Meal Plan Looked Like
I’m marking the Inspiralized recipes with an I, and a I* for those that I modified based on recipes in the books.
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs and banana, vanilla rooibos
Lunch – salad
Dinner – Tabouleh and tzatziki (I) and cauliflower steaks (The tabouleh was made from cauliflower ‘rice.’)
Dessert – Date truffles (3 kinds: Chocolate, coconut, mint chocolate)
B – Everything “Bagel” Buns (I)
L – Veggie fritatta and leftover tabouleh
D – Chicken pesto sandwich and sweet potato fries at Radius Pizza in Hillsborough, just before Bart’s book party.
DD – Truffles at Matthew’s Chocolates at Bart’s party!
B – Leftover “Bagels” and Counter Culture coffee (I skipped our traditional doughnut day since my love was out of town.)
L – Chicken and broccoli noodles (I*)
D – Teriyaki salmon and ginger-pineapple ‘rice’ (I*) (The rice was made from sweet potatoes.)
DD – Apple Ambrosia Fruit Salad (I)
B – Smoothie
L – Chicken and cauliflower fried ‘rice’
D – Chicken and veggie soup
DD – Leftover ambrosia
B – Pear
L – Leftover chicken soup
DD – Yes, dessert first. Enjoyed leftover date truffles!
D – Chipotle salad with chicken and avocado. Met my love after he got off the plane before I headed out on an unofficial business retreat weekend with new writer friends.
Impact on Writing Time
Not only do I want to use a meal plan again, I also want to plan regular weeks entirely at home. Organized meals cut down on a lot of time I normally spend during the week looking for recipes, or planning to make something and realizing I don’t have all the ingredients to do it. My morning creative writing time increased from what ranges from 10-60 minutes, to 30-90 minutes. That’s feasibly hours of extra writing time per week for about 20-30 minutes of advance planning. I wrote several new poems and worked more on a short story. Also, curating a week of healthy, veggie-ful (mainly gluten-free and sugar-free) meals energized me to tackle month-end deadlines.
Most days I feel like the White Rabbit rushing hither and thither. Sometimes I need to skip meals to get work done. Being at home completely removed the feeling of being rushed!
I know some folks who make all their meals in advance. That seems like MVP-level food prep and I’m not there just yet. One step and spiralizer at a time.