We are a blended family. He has another child, I have other children and then we have ours. All of the co-parenting is done in this insane fashion where there is no schedule. This is doubly true during school breaks. The kids stay longer, stay individually, leave suddenly. Then, there is time for grandparents, aunts and uncles.
School letting out coincided with time for another large shopping trip. UGH!!!! I just was not in the mood. I’m dealing with some medical crap (and in the US, so I’ll probably end up dead because heaven forbid you get healthcare if you aren’t exceptionally well off or very very poor but, fear not, I pay for the privelge to die instead of be well) and, I’m tired of cooking. Its a bad, rare combination. I love playing with food.
So, this time there is a regular flow to the weeks with mostly repeats. GASP! You can still add a bit of variety with seasonings and for some of the sides we are hitting the produce market. I’m a big believer in eating local in season. We are very fortunate to have a year round produce market here that purchases from local farms in season and has great prices. If I spend $50, I fill my trunk.
As you can see, I broke my menu into meals for a full house and meals for the kid light days. I did my big shopping (proteins, toiletries, and breakfast carbs) as if we were all home for the whole month.
We have meatless Mondays, taco Tuesdays, pizza Fridays, pork steaks on Saturdays. How do you balance “regular” meals with your doctor’s prescribed diet or your own desire to eat healthier? Let’s break it down.
These days can be as easy and healthful as picking up you favorite veggies and tossing them in any dressing. It can be a cheat day where you have pancakes and eggs. I picked egg dishes for mine.
Beware. Quiches tend to have a lot of cheese, which equals higher levels of sodium, cholesterol and fat. Do you have to miss out? No. This is not a blog about feeling deprived. If you are doing a traditional low cholesterol diet, simply half the cheese and add that quantity into extra veggies and use 3 egg whites for every 2 whole eggs the recipe calls for. Make sure you always skip the salt. It is very rarely necessary. If you are worried about flavor, toss the veggies in olive oil and roast in the oven before adding to the quiche. This is my favorite trick. Swap salty bacon for small amounts of another protein or skip all together in favor of serving baked fish on top of your egg dish. Whenever you can make a dish fancier, you feel less deprived and more pampered.
I make very little concession for the kids on meatless days. I may just serve bread along with the dish for the rest of the house to make sandwich. These dishes go over really well.
You may have noticed my protein for tacos changes. One of the kids has requested that we not have chicken any more unless we can dunk it in the fryer. Obviously, this means I’m not serving chicken on full house days. Oil for that fryer is $30! That’s equivalent to 10-15 pounds of meat, or 5 meals.
This week we will just do basic meat and cheese tacos. I’ll be using egg whites beaten stiff and baked as my shells, but I bought taco shells for the kids. We will fill with meat and coleslaw one week, I may swap out chicken for yeast coated baked tofu and top with sour cream, green onions, black olives one week. A more traditional taco of protein, cheese, lettuce and tomato will round out our month of taco Tuesdays.
Whatever diet you are rocking, step away from the pre-made seasonings!
Pizza is just as versatile as tacos but with really high nutrient savings for dropping the prepackaged products. You can make it as healthy or unhealthy as you wish.
I kinda take a vote on who wants egg whites and who wants crust and plan accordingly. I make my crust, sauce and outside of pepperoni, I cook my protein. Being low carb and a real kinda anti-sodium nut, the sauce is my biggest change. I use a no salt added tomato sauce and add garlic powder, oregano and basil until it smells like pizza sauce then it is spread thin on my crusts. Four ounces covers 2 sheet pan pizzas. This is great for low carb as the cheese carries the pizza.
For low cholesterol though, the sauce method sucks because you are cutting the cheese way down. Instead, brush your crust lightly with olive oil, top with thin slices of raw tomatoes and sprinkle with garlic oregano and basil. Or, step up you kitchen game with roasted garlic slices, and fresh basil. Add your other toppings and sprinkle lightly with cheese.
Pork Steak Saturdays
If you aren’t from Missouri or, more specifically, St Louis, this is probably a foreign concept to you. Pork steak is usually pork butt cut into steaks but may come from pork shoulder as well. It’s a really fatty cut. If you are doing low cholesterol, may I suggest fish Fridays and pizza Saturdays?? For the low carb, this is a winning meal. You can marinate the steaks however you wish. I’m personally going to up my carbs a bit for this one. I (and most people) grew up with it soaked in beer and Maul’s barbecue sauce then grilled with more of both until the fat was dripping in burnt pieces by guys who finally put on pants to go outside and assert their grill dominance. While I don’t exactly throw back, I will mix a whole bottle of beer and a small amount if a low carb barbecue sauce. Depending on the day, it will either slow cook in the marinade (250° for about 6 hours) or go on the grill over wood fire. You could season it any number of ways though. My second favorite way is a combination of mustard, butter, garlic and lots of dill.
Picnic Food Days
Summer means lazy appearing days outside so there is a good deal of picnic food scheduled. Burgers, sausages, chips. These are not diet abandoned days. Burgers can be made healthier by using ground turkey. Sausages can be replaced by kabobs or chicken strips. Chips can be replaced by fresh veggies.
My kids thought I should add this bit about picnics on the go. Picnics are more often than not, unplanned in our family. This is 110% my doing. These can be as cheap as dollar store picks for after swimming or as nice as a grocery store trip because we want to stay at a park longer or a stop at the produce mart on our way out of town.
This weekend we took the kids to beautiful, educational Mastadon State Park. We went through the museum and took a short hike to the bone bed before the kids decided they wanted to stay out longer. I hit the grocery store and picked up the following:
- 1# mesquite turkey from the deli department
- 8 oz Muenster cheese slices
- 1 package hamburger buns for the kids
- 1 bag pretzels, 1 bag chips, 1 bag pork rinds
- 1 six pack fun size candy bars
- 1 roll paper towels for use as plates and napkins
- 1 six pack large water bottles
Hubs and I ate cheese rolled inside turkey slices and pork rinds plus got dessert. A single fun size candy bar is half a serving. Once you’ve done low carb for a while, trust me, it’s more than enough.
If you’ve never taken your kids to a produce market, I highly encourage this next trick. Take the bottle of ranch out of the fridge and put it in a cooler with water bottles. Pack plastic ware, plates, napkins and a sharp knife On your way to the lake, beach, zoo, amusement park, stop at a produce market. Let the kids pick up their own produce as their lunch. Your picky, chip loving brat becomes a whole different child in this environment. All the sudden they are trying new things and eating without you bitching and sighing. It is crazy. Ward off extra complaints by sticking dinner in the crockpot before you leave. Knowing they will be fed as soon as they get home helps keep the ‘I’m hungry’ and ‘I don’t want to go’ complaints down at the end of your outing.