This Week In Running A Gym - June 15, 2014

So many things I want to write about, it's hard to choose. But before I do, I want to get through one off-topic rant that's been eating away at my brain for a little while. It's when someone uses the phrase, “I feel like God is calling me to...” Their next words are always about something really nice that they want. It's never, “sell everything, give it to the needy, and spend the rest of my life loving and serving others.” It's about moving to Hawaii or avoiding something unpleasant or inconvenient. Own your decisions people and don't use God as a cover for acting in your own self-interest. End rant.

Okay, while getting that off my chest, I figured out what I wanted to write about. Mostly because it makes me look like a great guy.

Lisa was gone for four days last week which left me in charge of feeding myself and kids. Normally Lisa handles all of that, not because I'm some sort of sexist, but because that's the division of labor we agreed on. She gets to take care of our kids, house, shopping, running her photography business, and cooking meals; while I am responsible for doing fun new things like yoga, capoeira, and working out with friends. There might be some stuff I'm glossing over, but anyway, I was back in action in the kitchen last week and it got me thinking about some questions that I had had during the last Clean Eating Challenge.

A summary of those questions is as follows. It's simple enough to select a couple recipes from a book and make a meal plan out of that. But that immediately brings up the question of, when do you make these meals, and how does that fit into your schedule? Do you like those meals? Are they easy to make? How much time are you willing to spend in the kitchen? If you're going to cook big meals and rely on leftovers, how long will those really last? And how do they taste after a day or two? Then in the bigger picture, when should you go shopping? How far ahead do you shop for? And of course, cost is an issue.

Every one of those things became a challenge for me. At first, I started strong, experimenting with new meals, spending lots of time in prep, etc., but as time went on, I found I couldn't maintain that level of effort. Since then, I've been mulling solutions to those problems and here's my hypothesis: if you establish a consistent routine around a small number of meals you'll learn your way around all of those problems. Familiarity with particular recipes means that you'll get better at the process cutting down prep time and you'll learn to make it taste better. You'll learn how much to get and when. And you'll know how far a single meal will go.

After a few days of taking the reins and being the guy responsible for everyone, I realized that it's a more mentally consuming job than I had assumed. I was constantly thinking about what's next, what I need to get, and when I can go get it. I figure if I was feeling the pressure, Lisa would too. So when she got back I offered to be responsible for all meals for the family every other week, when I work mornings. You should have seen her face, it was a mask of blank incomprehension. Like how Dorothy must have looked when Glinda the Good Witch told her she could have left any time with that teleporting footwear she had on. You mean all this time, there was a solution available right here, and you didn't tell me?

This week was the first week of that. I'm figuring it out as I go, I didn't really think too far ahead about this, so I already see some things I can track next time that will help me make better decisions for the time after that. Here's how I'm approaching this, I'm selecting meals mostly for enjoyment, not worrying too much at this point about eating perfectly clean or being super economical. I'm doing one main meal per day, while keeping some sort of grazing option in the fridge. I lost the receipts for my Monday shopping trip, but I remember quantities. I'm keeping track of how far each meal goes so I can adjust quantity in the future. Next time I'll keep all receipts so as to calculate cost per meal. I'll also keep track of time spent cooking and shopping. Then after I get a routine established, one that is relatively easy, economical, and tasty, I'll start to branch out into other meals as I feel so moved.

This is what I did this week.






Saturday and Sunday

You can see a lot of repetition in there and it may not look like the meal plans you typically come across in books or websites, but that simplicity makes things a lot easier. I'm sure we'll tire of these eventually, but I'm already looking forward to my next go-round so I can eat each of them again. You can see how far each meal went and when and where I shopped. Like I said earlier, I already see how I will track things differently next time, but I think this is a good start. I'll share again when I've got a template worked out.

By Morgan on Sunday, June, 15, 2014