This is a continuation of my My Experience with a “7-Day No-Added-Sugar Meal Plan That’s Actually Doable.” Today’s post shall focus on the shopping trip and the meal prep, with my comments throughout.
They recommended that you start the process on either a Saturday or Sunday with the intention of starting the actual meal plan on the following day. Also, they warned you that it would take several hours on that first day of just prep.
This was a completely accurate assessment. I spent well over an hour at the grocery store. This was then immediately followed with several hours in the kitchen creating things that would hopefully make my week “easier.” We shall see.
The Shopping Trip
One of the things I appreciated the most about this particular meal plan was the fact that it came with a printable shopping list. Unfortunately, that shopping list was somewhat incomplete. If you are going to attempt this yourself, note that the snack ingredients are not included.
I added mangoes (which I ended up not using), dates, almond butter, and almonds to the list. I also crossed out items that I had already in my pantry. Oh, and I avoided all cucumber and eggplant. I find those things disgusting. Considering that I am an adult I don’t have to eat them!
Now, I also find kale disgusting. But I was willing to give that another try before I move it into the “never eating again” category. Cucumber and eggplant have already been permanently moved into the “never eating again” category. I am ok with that.
I spent around $100 for everything and by the end of the trip I was extremely fatigued. Although there are many in my disease community that swear by Instacart, I get just as sick putting items in a virtual shopping cart as I do putting items in a physical shopping cart. So when given a choice, I will always prefer venturing to the grocery story. I want to be the one that squeezes my avocados to check their ripeness.
After unloading all groceries (and resting), I was ready to start their recommended “smart prep routine that will make the week ahead even easier.“
The Smart Prep Routine
BuzzFeed recommended that I prepare the following five things:
- Roasted Veggies
- Turkey Meatballs
- Brown Rice
- Two Different Types of Sauces
- Toasted Chickpeas
I thought I was doing well by printing out all recipes as I hate relying on a computer screen while cooking. Well, I almost had a huge oops moment. That printable PDF does not have page numbers! Catastrophe was avoided as I somehow managed to get all 16 pages in the correct order. I immediately numbered the pages following that incident.
While I appreciate that they tried to divide the the entire recipe list into logical sections such as “breakfast,” “lunch,” “dinner,” “veggie,” “sauces,” “protein,” “grain,” “misc,” and “snacks,” I would have much preferred them in order that you cook them. There was a great deal of jumping around (thus my page order incident), and items were not always labeled as I thought logical.
Below is each recipe I tried, along with my notes and modifications.
They want you to do the roasted veggies first, as it takes the longest in the oven and you will be able to move on to other things while they are baking. There is a strong expectation for multitasking throughout the entire week.
Now, I have my own roasted veggie “recipe.” The reason for quotes is for the fact that it is not really a “recipe” with things written down. It is more of a “cook until done and looks good using whatever you have on hand.”
I decided to try to follow their instructions as a growing experience.
In between stirring the veggies in the oven, they want you to prep the meatballs. I was frustrated at this recipe. Near the end, they just casually mention the breadcrumbs that you were supposed to have previously created. NO WHERE DO THEY TELL YOU TO DO THAT!
I had to quickly put the meatball making on hold as I followed their “miscellaneous recipes.” Don’t worry, dear readers. If you plan on following along this adventure for your own benefit, I am updating the instructions.
By this point, I was already around three hours into this cooking adventure. I was growing tired and annoyed. Why did they save this until now? I would have put this as the first thing to do. They also have this “complicated” recipe that did not match the instructions on the bag nor did they match the instructions on my rice cooker.
I decided to ignore all recipies and just cook three cups of rice in my rice cooker. Typically, I add butter and salt into the rice cooker. By this point, I could tell my energy was rapidly fading. I just did water and rice. The beauty of a rice cooker is it was a set and forget cook thing.
Greek Yogurt Tzatziki / Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
Although I paused for dinner after I started the rice cooker, I was growing incredibly fatigued by this point. I knew I was coming up on the end of the prep and I would be thankful when everything was done.
They phrased it as, “While the rice cooks, you’ll whip up two simple sauces for use throughout the week. First? A creamy Greek yogurt tzatziki.” I took one look at that creamy Greek yogurt tzatziki recipe and realized I had no desire to measure or mix anything. I could save it for the follwing morning.
As for the balsamic reduction? This annoyed me. My annoyance probably could have been avoided if I had paid more careful attention to the original shopping list, but I did not. You see, there are two ways you can get a thick balsamic glaze. You can either heat balsamic vinegar on a stove until it thickens. OR, with option two, you just buy the thickened glaze.
With the amount of caprese salad that I make every summer with fresh basil from my garden, I already had the glaze in my pantry! I was not about to stand over the stove to create something I already had.
I guess this section can be succinctly summarized as “Tired Amber did not follow instructions.” Honestly, I debated whether I had the strength to finish the last recipe. After another break, I decided to try to finish it, with slightly modified instructions.
In one section, these are called “grilled chickpeas.” Another place, they are “toasted.” On the website, it’s “roasted.” I guess this is part of the drawback from getting cooking instructions from BuzzFeed. It is only slightly better than Pintrest.
If I were to do this over again, I would split up the shopping trip and the meal prep recipe into two different days. This was too much for me personally to complete in one day. I ended up cutting corners (rice cooker, not making the sauces, subbing ingredients) and being absolutely exhausted.
But they promise me that this hard work will be rewarded! We shall see.
Again, my main goal was to reduce my unhealthy dependence on sugar. This was not a “diet” and I was not manipulating my food intake in order to drop weight. I want to have a healthy life-style, which is so much more than a number on a scale.
I want to remain Clearly Alive.