Lunch, Menu Planning, and Eating Healthily

17 Mar

Before I make good on the promise I made few days ago, I wanted to point you in the direction of this post by MK. It is an excellent resource to ways you can donate to various charities assisting in the relief effort in Japan. As days go by and the situation becomes even more grim and horrible, all I can do is sniff my daughter’s head as I sadly watch the news. Of course, it feels that way, but it’s not true: I can help by donating. And you can, too.

It’s been nearly a year now since I first discussed my meal planning goal, and meal planning in general is something I still work on and think about several days a week. As a family we are much closer to my ideal of eating a home cooked meal together every night, but we’re not quite there yet.

Weekly meal planning  got me through that time when I was fighting to come out of post-partum depression. I needed a set menu plan to tell me exactly, precisely what to do without any thought on my part. When you’re depressed you need help putting one foot in front of the other to soldier on. While I didn’t stick to the set weekly menu plan for very long, I use ideas and meals from it frequently as a backup plan. When we get busy, or when our plans fall through, it is always there, reliable and easy and comforting.

So I thought, maybe I’m going about this backward? I like variety at dinner, I like to improvise and cook based on mood and energy level. But I eat the same breakfast everyday (oatmeal, coffee) and am content. Lunch is more difficult, since I tend to rely on either leftovers or a soup and a salad.  I’m one of those people who work through lunch unless I have to stop. I enjoy food immensely, obviously, but if my head’s all wrapped up in a project I tend to ignore things like eating or sleeping—you know, the details. I seldom care about variety at lunch; I just want to get fed so I can go back to what I’m doing.  I also noticed that when I go out to eat at lunch I don’t try new things on a menu—I stick to my favorites, what I know I like.

The past few weeks I’ve been making variations on a turkey sandwich, inspired by the delicious sandwiches at Leland Tea Company. My current fave is a turkey and Swiss cheese on whole wheat bread with mayo, honey mustard, arugula greens, alfalfa sprouts, scallions, and thinly sliced tomatoes and pickles.

I realized I could eat essentially the same (with room for variation) breakfast and lunch everyday, and this fit in perfectly with my desire to monitor my calories. I could calculate the calories for lunch and breakfast once and be done with it, giving myself flexibility—and a calorie reserve—at dinner.  The next step is planning four or so different lunch and breakfast items that I love and working out the caloric intake for each so I always have healthy options for the first two meals of the day.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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12 Responses to “Lunch, Menu Planning, and Eating Healthily”

  1. Jen@Dear Mommy Brain... March 17, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Turkey panini with goat cheese and cranberry chutney. So good.

    • LittleBig March 18, 2011 at 9:43 am #

      Yum! The only drawback, of course, is that I hate creating more dishes to wash at lunch. 😉

  2. Sean March 17, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Was looking for the ‘Like’ button. I love having a plan.

    • LittleBig March 18, 2011 at 9:44 am #

      Thank you, Sean! I see a FB “Like” button on my side. Maybe it’s a browser issue?

  3. Anne March 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    I definitely could benefit from some meal planning. I think I’d probably learn to make a wider variety of dishes if I planned ahead, but I just haven’t given myself that kick in the butt yet. That’s mostly thinking about dinner.

    I pretty much eat the same thing for breks every day, and my lunch doesn’t vary much, either. Like you, I can’t be bothered to stop what I’m doing to eat a leisurely lunch, so having portable, quick lunch food is important to me. I actually usually graze throughout the workday, so I never get super-hungry (am prone to low blood sugar moments which come with shaking, sweating, vomitous feeling, etc). Any given day I’ll have a pear or an apple, an orange, and a banana, plus some cheese and crackers and possibly, if I’m feeling extravagant, a serving of swiss cake rolls or nutty bars.

    • LittleBig March 18, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      I tend to graze more when I’m at home. I find it hard to schedule my own breaks and lunch time when I’m not at work, but I really think I need to get better at this for Isobel’s sake.

  4. natalie March 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    this works for me, too. i started doing the calorie counting thing in january, and it’s working really well, partly because my breakfast and lunch are always around 400 calories: raisin bran or oatmeal for breakfast, greek yogurt or soup for lunch. this gives me freedom to eat whatever i want for dinner as long as my portion is moderate, and still stay under 1500 cal per day. i even sneak in a few cookies or a popsicle and come in under 1300, most days.

    i know <1500 cal is extreme for a lot of people, but i have a very sedentary job and have packed on the pounds in the last few years, and this is what i need to do to lose weight. i've been doing the gym thing 3-4 days a week too, am down 20lbs in just over 2 months, and i finally feel like i'm getting back to my old self.

    • LittleBig March 18, 2011 at 9:27 am #

      YES, this is EXACTLY what I need to do. Thanks, Natalie!

  5. purplequark March 17, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    Avocado sandwiches.

    I’m telling you, you’re missing out.

  6. carolyn March 23, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    how did i miss this post last week? and i just realized i posted about meal planning the very next day. wacko.

    i totally agree about taking the need to think about something away so you can continue moving forward. that really resonates with me. mostly because thinking and moving for me do not mix. i fall down a lot.

    • LittleBig March 24, 2011 at 8:43 am #

      Let’s fall down together! I am a Pro at falling down.

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