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singingsarah

For those who hate meal planning..../nontraditional schedule life

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It's possible that MOST people hate meal planning....but I think I'm on another level. This struggle has been the bane of my existence and led to several failed whole30s! The good news is that I think I'm going to make it through this one (on day 15!). The bad news is my lifestyle and personality really struggle with having a game plan for even tomorrow. 

Im a freelance musician/aspiring opera singer. I think, to a certain extent, the artist "personality," I might call it, really gravitates towards some aspect of disorganization. All of my artist friends are this way in some way or another. We are not messy--in fact I consider myself a bit of a clean freak--and we are far from irresponsible. But for me, and I suspect others, routines/planning/detailed organization stress me out. I feel like my brain is constantly working at an alarming rate to sort through everything possibly going on in my life, and having to portion out a few meals worth sends negative vibes through me. 

My lifestyle makes things different, too. Most of my income is from private music lessons, which I commute an hour to get to. On the long days, I'll leave right after lunch and won't be home until 9:30. I may or may not get a break for food, and it may or may not be during a typical meal time hour. Today my break was at 3:30. I work other odd and end jobs so often my mornings are booked; I also work weekends and may or may not have a good time of the day free. Simply put, when I get home so late at night, the last thing I want to do is make food for the next day. In fact, I find myself having to make a super late dinner, which I guess is another problem in itself....

anyway, curious to hear some input from others who have some crazy, random lifestyles and how you deal. And those of you who just can't get on board with planning!! How can we keep on trucking through (and more effectively)??

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Do you have a few hours on the weekend to do a big cook up? I never actively meal plan anymore, I just cook a whole bunch of things on the weekend and then eat them in varying combinations until they're gone - sometimes it works out perfectly and I run out of food on Friday night, sometimes I'm eating eggs for 3 meals a day because I didn't cook enough protein...

That said, I'm not as busy as you, I'm just lazy and my current kitchen isn't conducive to cooking a meal every night!

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I do the intermittent fasting thing, so that helps with irregular meal times.  Also when I've been in phases of odd schedules, travelling, etc., I've always tried to make extra whenever I had the opportunity to prep/cook, and also got comfortable with taking food with me in a cooler-type large lunch box: plastic tupperwear/ziploc containers, ice packs, etc.  Having no-refrigeration-needed items is also good: tinned seafood, canned olives, etc.

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i am right there with you. i struggle with meal planning and prep. my job is crazy and hectic so i am often eating "on the go" which is why fast food and sugar ruled my life. today is officially two weeks into my whole30 but i fear i am failing; not because i am eating anything non-compliant but because i am unable to do the 3 balanced meals a day routine. i don't know if that means i am doing it all wrong and need to start over....

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48 minutes ago, Poppkat said:

i am right there with you. i struggle with meal planning and prep. my job is crazy and hectic so i am often eating "on the go" which is why fast food and sugar ruled my life. today is officially two weeks into my whole30 but i fear i am failing; not because i am eating anything non-compliant but because i am unable to do the 3 balanced meals a day routine. i don't know if that means i am doing it all wrong and need to start over....

It doesn't necessarily mean you need to start over, but the magic of the program is eating 3 meals a day spaced 4-5 hours apart and no snacking.  Going without 1/3 of that food or more is not going to do your body any good and in fact will cause weight gain, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, headaches etc... 

Relying on snacks will mean that your body is not going to become fat adapted.  There are thousands of people who have richly scheduled personal and professional lives and they carve out time to make themselves a priority as far as fueling their body with food.

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Your schedule does sound very frustrating! Rather than elaborate meal planning, perhaps you could try what I fall back on most of the time:

a. cook a week's worth of the simplest protein all at once--for me, that's boneless chicken thighs or breasts and ground beef or turkey. Each takes no more than 10 minutes in a skillet. If it's still frozen, I throw it in my instant pot (a wonderful electric pressure cooker) with some broth, and it's done in about 15 minutes. I cook enough for the week all at once, then store it in the fridge. Protein cooking time: 10-15 minutes total for the week.

b. make a few simple sauces (for the fat and for the tastiness) all at once with an immersion blender in mason jars, then keep them in the fridge for the week. I make an aioli (garlic mayo), a tahini sauce, and a parsley or cilantro pesto. Each takes about a minute max. I also make ghee for the week--(toss a couple sticks of butter in a mason jar, cover, and microwave for 2.5 minutes, then pour off the ghee into another mason jar and feed the leftover bits to the dog). Sauce cooking time: 3 minutes total for the week.

c. And I keep a lot of instant veggies in the fridge and freezer: prewashed baby spinach; prewashed organic mixed salad greens; prewashed kale; prewashed carrots; prewashed sugar snap peas; in the freezer: frozen green beans, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms. Frozen veggies are actually more nutritious than fresh stuff in the supermarket. For starches, you can now buy little sweet potatoes in big bags. They cook in 2 minutes in the microwave! Zap a few at the beginning of the week so they're ready for your quick meals.

Meal time: put a palm-sized of pre-cooked protein on your plate; cover much of the rest of the plate with frozen veggies; stick in the microwave and zap for a few minutes. Then top with a thumb-sized portion of sauce (olive oil is fine if you don't want to mess with making sauces!) and a few of the raw veggies and sweet potatoes if you like them. Eat. Grand total time for meal prep each meal: 3-4 minutes.

For days spent in the car, I put the protein, veggies, and sauce in a tupperware, choosing stuff that tastes fine chilled. I use a little insulated bag so it doesn't go bad. If a microwave is available, I heat before eating (big gas stations usually have one you can use). If not, I eat it cold. 

Good luck! Meals don't have to be fancy and they don't need to take much planning or time. Frozen veggies are awesome, cheap, and perfectly healthy.

 

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You don't need to meal plan in the way the foodies meal plan. All you need to make a meal is a palm or two of protein, a thumb or two of fat, and a plate full of veggies. If you shop to buy protein, fat, and veggies, and include some seasonings that you like, you're good.

Then you cook up your meat, roast your veggies, prep your fat (hello mayonnaise). When it's time to pack up your meals to go teach, sing, or audition, you go to the fridge and portion out what you need for however many meals you're going to be out.

I sing, teach, and conduct. When things get really hectic you'll find me in the dressing room eating roasted cubed potatoes, shredded chicken, and olive oil. Not fancy, but filling and it doesn't make me want to clear my throat on the high notes.

Streamline, simplify, batch cook, and pack what you need. You can do it.

 

Editing to add: also, read Michele Tam's article Surviving the Night Shift (click on the title to go to the article). When we're working on shows and concerts, we're essentially night shift workers, and this article is very helpful in sorting out how to make that work.  

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