Beating The Food Blues

I have found recently that I have become rather bored with the food I have been eating. It’s always the same routine of regular meals and that has resulted in us diverging from my meal plans more often than not. While we have been getting through a lot of the food in the freezer, it just gets replaced with the same things. We have also somehow managed to fill the freezers with bits and bobs that don’t seem to have a place in many meals. What can I say … I’m a sucker for a special offer on a party nibble platter.

This week I’m trying to find a way to make the weeks meals more …captivating

In addition to this I have put on a few more pounds than I am comfortable with over the last few months and I need to do something about that before it gets too out of hand. So … I’m trying a week of meatless meals to see if I can work healthy alternatives in to our diet.

Here is the plan for this week …

Monday: Quorn escallops with home made potato wedges and veg (peas and sweetcorn are my absolute favorite with this … definitely need to add some colour)

Tuesday: Brocolli and cheese quiche with salad (yes, I know quiche is far from a health food but it is a firm favorite for a quick meal)

Wednesday: Veggie bolognese with zoodles/courgetti

Thursday: Fajita vegetable flatbread with salad (kind of a take on a pizza)

Friday: Takeaway/fakeaway

Hopefully this will allow us to have a bit of a break from the mundane.

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First Time For Everything

There has to be a first time for everything and in my case, yesterday was my first time ever cooking roast beef.

It’s not much of a life achievement, I know, but as someone who stopped eating roast beef in her teens it was undoubtedly uncharted territory. I always found roast beef to be rather dry and leathery, which was a shame as I love the taste of beef but ended up having it drowned out by flavor of mashed potato and gravy just to combat the dryness.

Last week Hubby requested roast beef for diner one night. He doesn’t normally make direct requests as he is happy to let me run the food budget and set meal plans so I was more than happy to try my hand at it.

My instincts said that slow roasting it would be best so I searched out a recipe and managed to find one that seemed to be fairly fool proof. Believe me, this I need!

I am pleased to say that, despite my use of dried mixed herbs instead of the fresh rosemary and thyme the recipe called for, it was a wonderful success! the meat was still pink in the middle and was lovely and tender! It was even yummy on our sandwiches this morning too!

Here’s to one more feather in my cap!

However … I forgot to take any photos … AGAIN! *rolls eyes*

Forgetful With Success

I am quite familiar with having to ‘wing it’ as far as cooking goes, normally to my lack of preparation when it comes to ingredients. Last week I pulled a gammon joint out of the freezer and set it defrosting in the fridge however I promptly forgot about it until the day I had planned to make it.

When I saw “slow-cooked gammon” on my kitchen chalk board (The only way I can actually stick to a meal-plan) I rolled my eyes at myself as at 4pm on a Sunday with the shops shut there was no time to amend a recipe let alone actually use the 8 hour cooking recipe I had intended (add gammon to slow cooker, pour in contents of can of chopped pineapple and let it have at it).

So, with the need to cook the darn thing anyway I popped it into a pot of water and decided to settle for boiled ham. This particular joint didn’t have any skin to make crackling, neither did we have any honey for a glaze … *sigh*

Once it was cooked and I began on the other accompaniments, the Husbat flowed into the kitchen as some kind of culinary savior and started rummaging in the fridge and pulled out … a jar of sweet chili jam!

Yes, sweet chili JAM!

(Well … it is described as jelly but the seems to be to cater to international visitors … for me jelly goes with ice cream, not gammon)

I had purchased this from a National Trust gift shop at a castle we went to on a trip down south last summer (which I still need to post about here at some point!) but had completely forgotten about it, as with so many other things I buy. It was very nice and I am pleased that it can be purchased online from the National Trust web-shop.

Hubby then proceeds to score the top of the joint, grab a spoon from the drawer and empty half of the jar onto the unsuspecting lump of gammon! Needless to say I was bit surprised. My husband, while able to follow a recipe to the letter to create really nice meals, is not normally comfortable when I go off spec so this was something very new!

Into the oven it went for 20 or so minutes while I finished the rest of the meal. After removing the meat and letting it rest we took a tentative sample of the sweet chili glazed gammon … and it is quite possibly the nicest piece of gammon I have ever tried in my life!

The saltiness of the meat took away countered just enough of the sweetness in the chili so that it wasn’t overpowering and the slight heat from the chili worked amazingly well. Add in top a couple of slices of seared pineapple and it was quite possibly one of the best meals we have ever come up with! We at the whole thing between the two of us (which meant I have no leftovers for my lunch today, but oh well)!

The problem …

I forgot to take a photo.

*sigh*

 

 

The Last Of The Freezer Meals!

We are now on week 3 of Operation Use-What-We-Have-In-The-Freezer and the light is finally at the end of the tunnel. Most of the ‘main meal’ type things such as the endless number of chicken goujons, the beef burgers, the dices meats and bags after bags of potato products have all been consumed resulting a lot of nicely usable (and reorganisable) freezer space. The “sides” drawer is still full and the frozen veg has been topped up but pother than that it seems to be a success. On the cards this week is …

Monday:

Yesterday we had roast lamb joint with new potatoes and fine beans with a mint gravy. Now … it seems lamb and I do not get on and it was an over-cooked stringy monstrosity which meant that, as the meal was one of my husbands favorites and was supposed to be a cheer-up-glum-husband meal, it crashed and burned spectacularly. I think in the future I will stick to lamb shanks that you cook in a bag … Oh well.. onward and upwards

Tuesday:

Today I have Zumba class after work so I know I’m not going to have a massive appetite but will still want something to help recover from the energy drain. It may not be the healthiest of summer meals but tonight is a smoked bacon Quiche Loraine with a side salad and crusty bread. I’m avoiding having chips with it this time to try and keep fat levels down even a little bit.

Wednesday:

Time for the last supplies of an all time favorite – IKEA meatballs and mash with lingonberry sauce and IKEA gravy. It goes down perfectly every time and we have just enough in the freezer to feed the two of us and clear more space without it being too big of a meal.

Thursday:

Sweet chili chicken with jasmine rice. These two things have been sitting in the freezer for weeks now, both purchased from the “still fresh” isle at the supermarket where they have all of the reduced items. that would make this meal an absolute bargain for the both of us, I just hope the flavors compliment each other …

Friday:

Wifey’s day off. This is the day where it’s a take-out or bust! Or at a pinch something like a bung-in-the-oven fresh pizza from the local supermarket, something the husband can cook without too much difficulty.

Weekends are normally a bit of a “wing it” affair as it really does depend on what we have had to do that day as to what we feel like having for tea at the end of the day. All in all this has been a success as we have managed to get a lot of the long term stored food eaten and also saved quite a bit of money while doing so! Success all round I think (except for the lamb).

A Successful Week

A few days ago I posted this about how I was going to try my very best to stick to a set meal plan for this week. Well, I am very pleased to say that for the first time since I started planning out the weeks meals, we have actually kept to the menu! This has had the added effect of my not even setting foot in the local supermarket once this week since I did the main food shop which has naturally saved us some money.

Let me tell you, that place is tempting. I my office building is actually directly behind an ASDA Megastore (which regretfully contains a branch of McDonnalds) so I am quite often tempted inside just to see what they have on offer which inevitably ends up in me spending somewhere in the region of an extra £20 or so.

Tonight is my night off from the kitchen so we will be having a takeout of some sort but this gives me the opportunity to formulate a plan for the next weeks meals. for me I find it most useful to start the plan for a Saturday so that I can include Saturday and Sunday’s dinners in my shopping list for the week.

We did have quite a few red meat meals last week so this week is much more poultry based with a couple of healthy options thrown in too.

Saturday: Chicken fajita mix with spiralizes sweet potato.
I’m still trying to get the hand of cooking sweet potato so fingers crossed this one will work out OK.

Sunday: Roast chicken with all the trimmings
I love a good Sunday roast and if we get a whole chicken for the two of us then we will have enough leftovers for a couple of extra meals or lunches out of it too.

Monday: Zucchini & Mushroom pasta with leftover chicken
Another trip out for my spiralizer, I will probably add something a little carby in there too as I find my system doesn’t react very well to zero carb meals.

Tuesday: Sweet chili chicken with jasmine rice
And the chicken week continues!

Wednesday: Individual steak and red wine pie and mash
Nothing beats a bit of comfort food to get you through the middle of the week.

Thursday: Hamwiches with potato wedges and vegetable mountain.
These things are my husbands most favorite food ever! I know they are unhealthy and processed beyond recognition but I do combine it with a load of fresh veg and home made wedges … and seriously, these things are sooooooo good!

Which then brings us up to next weeks take-out night!

Some of the above meals are from recipies I have found on blogs so I will post linkbacks to them when I can track them down again (I keep all of the recipes I like the sound of as print outs in a file in my kitchen).

Also, for some reason I find it quite funny that my spell checker wants to change the word “spiralized” to “liberalize”. America sounds like it needs more spiralizers (it wants to change that to ‘moralizers’) at the moment!

 

The Best Laid Plans

I do really like to plan out the weekly meals that I’m going to cook for myself and my husband each week, especially as it helps to keep a reign on what I buy from the supermarket. I have blogged about meal plans a couple of times but never realized there was a “linky” as I have seen people calling it! I’m a bit of a twitter fiend so naturally I do love a good hashtag and #MealPlanningMonday fulfills that love beautifully!

 My main trouble is sticking with the plan. The hubby is rather indecisive and doesn’t like to sit and plan the weeks meals with me but will wait until that morning before he decides he doesn’t want to have that particular thing for tea. However, this week should be good as he has decided to put a couple of suggestions forwards for things he would like to have, thankfully both of which I like too!

 So, here is what I will hopefully be making to our evening meals this week … *drumroll*

 Monday – Lasagna, garlic baguette and salad

I love lasagna, its simple, warming creamy and it is the perfect partner for garlic bread! This was husband choice no.1

 Tuesday – Rump steak with chips and veg

This is a big treat for us tonight, we hardly ever have steak at home so this should be a really nice hearty meal. As if you couldn’t guess, this was husband choice no.2 in a “man want meat!” moment.

Wednesday – Sausage & mash with veg and onion gravy

I have some really nice reduced fat pork and leak sausages which are just too good to go on a sausage butty at the weekend. The weather is set to be wet and cold so this is a simply yet filling favorite.

Thursday – Chili Con Cane with jacket potato and salad

I love chili but husband and I had Chinese food on Saturday and then the leftovers on Sunday so we didn’t want to have rice again so we decided on a baked potato!

Friday – Takeaway

Friday is this cooks day off 🙂

I plan my meals with Saturday as the start of the week as this works best for my weekly food shop but as we were doing a lot of work around the house and the garden this weekend (to be featured in a future blog post no doubt) we decided a cheeky Chinese takeaway would be a nice reward for some very hard work.

Now, I hope I have done this link thing right so all that remains to say is “happy #MealPlanningMonday weekly meal planners!!!”

Hijacked By Twins

Baby Steps

After the horrors of this last weeks fat-fueled convenience meals and takeaways, I promised myself I would start once again to try and make healthier meals for myself and my husband. I really do need to get a handle on things, especially portion sizes (I tend to over-fill plates) or we will be feeling the consequences. Even after a week or so of ‘binge eating’ I felt podgy and bloated for days afterwards.

One thing I am trying to do is get myself more readily organised. I already have lists of things I have in the freezer but as that list is on the freezer itself, I can’t make up meals while I am at work if I am struggling to think of what to cook. So, I have treated myself to a new zip-up A5 organizer which has the normal two ring binder rings in it (I find the specialist filofax 6 ring things to be too fussy to make my own inserts for) and I have spent some time developing a weekly meal plan and shopping list that fits what I want.

Now, while I am waiting for that to arrive I am also trying one other small thing on the road to healthier meals. Swapping out just one of the components to a healthier one. It’s a small change but it will hopefully help to get us on the right track.

Last nights meal consisted of, admittedly, one of the unhealthiest cuts of meat out there but also one of the nicest … pork belly. I have always found pork too dry to have normally, I like pork in casseroles but I am not a fan of a pork chop. Belly pork however is always very juicy and flavorful which all regretfully stems from it’s high fat content. But still … YUM!

I cooked the strips in the oven on a wire rack to avoid it sitting in it’s own juices but letting the melting fat baste the meat as it cooked. A good rub with some salt also meant a rather naughty treat of crackling for the Husband (I can’t stand the stuff myself). These were served up with (and here is the “healthy” part) some spicy vegetable couscous and a shredded salad comprised of various types of lettuce, cabbage and bell peppers.

The couscous works really well as an alternative to a potato product which I would normally put with pork, and it added much more in flavor too. It went down a storm and didn’t result in either of us feeling that we had over eaten. The carefully dissected pieces of solid fat piled neatly at thew side of my plate helped to ease my conscience over the fattiness of the cut at least a little bit.

That meal then formed a major part of my lunch today which is a very nice change. Normally I’m a white bread sandwich kind of girl but this time I made myself a little box of goodness.

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Leftover spicy vegetable couscous with lambs lettuce and pea shoots with a few mushrooms I kept back from my breakfast omelet. I added the mushrooms as I was worried it would be a bit bland without but to be honest it would be fine just as couscous and salad. The salad added just the right bite to it and lamb’s lettuce is my favorite leafy green to have. I feel like my lunch time hunger has been satisfied but not to the point of feeling too full.

I think we are heading in the right direction. To change the way we eat we need to take baby steps and work on one thing at a time otherwise we will fail just like last time.