One of my major stumbling blocks in losing weight is that I go out to eat—a lot. I’ve found that when I make a meal plan for the week, I tend to not eat out as much. This is good for two reasons: eating out is not cheap—it is very possible to have homemade meals cheaper than anything from McDonald’s—and it’s not particularly healthy.
I don’t usually plan breakfast—my breakfast is too light to have a real plan. For a few months, I ate Nature Valley crunchy granola bars for breakfast. One packages has two bars and 180 calories. Lately, I’ve been eating one-egg mini-omelets with cheese. These add up to about 140 calories (70 calories from each component).
For lunch this week, I’ve planned salads. Salads are quick and easy to make, and they are very easy to change so that I don’t get bored. I have a salad recipe book that I purchased1 for ideas when I’m not feeling particularly creative. This week, I am eating a simple green tuna salad. The ingredients are: a handful of spinach; a handful of arugula; half a small onion, sliced; one can of tuna, drained and rinsed a few times; and some parmesan cheese on top. I make the dressing myself too: 3 parts grapeseed oil (I ran out of Extra Virgin Olive Oil…) to one part white wine vinegar, with a dash of salt and some herbes de provence to kick it up a notch. It’s a very tasty salad, and fills me up very well. Not bad for about 400 calories!
Supper is always the tricky meal. I have the most trouble eating my planned suppers. This week I plan to make a simple chicken stir fry, but I have already managed to not eat it once. The trouble I tend to run into is that I am not home many nights of the week. I won’t be home again until Thursday night, so we’ll see if I actually manage to get to my chicken stir-fry this week.
By keeping my meal plans simple and repeating the items throughout the week, I can buy ingredients once a week and everything averages out to rather low cost. A carton of eggs and a bag of cheese cost maybe $5 together if you buy the good eggs. That’s less than a buck a meal, because the eggs will cover two weeks. A couple of bags of salad greens, a bag of cheese (I’m lazy and grating cheese is a pain.), some onions and 5 cans of tuna cost around $15-$20, which is $3-$4 per meal. Not quite as cheap, but healthy and filling. My chicken stir fry is really cheap. The chicken was $6 for a 3lb bag plus about $3 for veggies. That’s around $2 per meal when you add in the rice and spice costs. Awesome.
1. Twelve Months of Monastery Salads: 200 Divine Recipes for All Seasons. This is a very nice recipe book. Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette has quite a few very nice cook books—I’ve purchased three. Some recipes are duplicated between books, but overall they are all simple and delicious. I try to buy from my local Catholic book store, but they didn’t stock this particular book.