mom who works

the joys and challenges of being a working mom trying to find "balance"

On being a humaneitarian July 26, 2013

Filed under: family,food — Deborah @ 11:13 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Photo of pig by titanium22.

Photo by titanium22. Used under Creative Commons License.

Sometimes the paths we take are a winding road.

I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater. I even experimented once with vegetarianism in college, but in those days (pre-internet) it wasn’t easy to find information on how to make that work well so it didn’t take.

When our daughter was about 6 months old and ready to start eating solid foods, my husband and I decided to go organic with the food we prepared at home. We are lucky because one of the best organic food co-ops in the country is right here in our neighborhood – Outpost Natural Foods.

One of the things that Outpost does really well is to educate you about your food choices. I started to learn more about where the meat we ate came from, and the challenges family farms have (and conversely, the damage factory farms cause). I read books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and saw films like Vegucated. And once you start educating yourself about the food you eat, you find quickly there is a lot we take for granted in the US that is just plain wrong. How we treat farm animals in this country, to enable us to have “cheap” meat, is one if them.

When you start considering the REAL cost of this “inexpensive” protein, in terms of the toll on the environment, the animals, and the bodies and souls of the humans who process it, you start to look askance at deals that seem too good to be true.

I had a bit of a dilemma. We’re meat eaters. We LOVE our meat. But I also have a conscience, and learning about how mass produced meat and eggs are really produced makes you not want to support that business model. And when I realized that becoming a vegan isn’t going to be able to move the needle, because it’s too challenging of a lifestyle to ever reach mass acceptance and ultimately kill factory farming, I decided that I would instead have to find another way to put my money – literally – where my mouth is.

If you, like me, are lucky enough to have discretionary income – enough money that you can go out to eat at restaurants occasionally, buy some $3 cup of coffee at the local coffee shop every morning before work, and have high-speed internet access at your house, then you have enough money to have the luxury of making REAL choices about the food you eat. You can afford to speak for the animals, if you so choose, and that is certainly the choice I and my family have made.

Only recently did I learn that my choices had a name – humaneitarianism. The premise is simple – only eat meat when you know that the meat has been humanely raised and processed (the Humaneitarian.org web site has great information on what that means, and help for you to determine what that means for you), and if you don’t know that the meat has been humanely raised and processed, then forego meat for that meal. Spend more per pound on the meat you choose to eat (you will have to to support the local, family farms that raise and process animals humanely), but just eat less meat overall. In the end, if more people chose to be humaneitarian, the better our health would be, the better our environment would be, and the better our communities would be. Isn’t that worth it?

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Meal planning made MUCH easier! March 1, 2012

Filed under: food,organization & productivity — Deborah @ 5:23 pm
Tags: , ,

PlanToEat.comI’ve been on a quest to try to simplify meal planning, as it is critical for getting my family to eat healthier (otherwise it’s burgers and pizzas all week kids!). There are tons and tons of resources out there, but one that has been really useful for me is this great web site – PlanToEat.com.

Add or upload your recipes. Then select what you want to eat that week (or 3 days, or month!) and the site automatically generates a shopping list from your ingredients. Now I know there are plenty of software programs that do just that (I think I have 2 or 3 of them on my Mac at home right now), but what is GENIUS about PlanToEat is that it’s cloud-based, so you have access to your recipes, planner and shopping list from ANYWHERE. At the store and there’s a great sale on eggplant? Pull up your smartphone and search “eggplant” and get a list of your recipes that include that ingredient, then select the recipe you want and voila! The ingredients are added to your on-the-fly shopping list.

Another great feature is the “Save Recipe” plug in (I have it for Firefox, not sure if it’s available for other browsers). Find an interesting new recipe on a site like allrecipes.com or epicurious.com? Just hit the Save Recipe link on your bookmark bar and PTE automatically loads it into your recipe database. Like I said, GENIUS, and it works really really well. I’ve been using it now for about 6 months and I have to say that I am a permanent re-subscriber. Just the amount of money I save from the unplanned restaurant trips (because there’s nothing at home for dinner) more than pays for the $39 annual subscription (or $4.95/month).

PlanToEat.com has a 30-day free trial so you’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a whirl. I’m all about making it easy for the peeps out there … plan away!

I am not sponsored by PlanToEat.com (or anyone else for that matter), and received no compensation whatsoever for this post. PlanToEat doesn’t even know who I am!

 

5 Tips for Healthful Meal Planning March 14, 2011

In continuing the theme from my previous post on Eating Healthfully, I’m posting 5 more TIPS for HEALTHFUL MEAL PLANNING, especially for other busy Moms Who Work.

TIP 4: SET ASIDE SPECIFIC TIME FOR PLANNING

For me, planning time is in the quiet of Saturday morning before everyone else is up. I usually will do my grocery shopping for the week on Saturday or Sunday morning.

The actual planning process will take some time as you start getting used to the idea of meal planning, so make sure you don’t quit just because it seems to take an hour or so at first. It WILL get easier and faster as you start building up a cache of standby recipes you can recycle over the month. Just find a *mostly* regular time that works for you – plan on an hour as you begin – and try to stick with it as best as your schedule allows.

As an example, when I first started this, I would sit with all my “Eating Clean” cookbooks and flip through pages looking for ideas. Then, as we started trying our new clean meals, I quickly learned what ones were well liked, what ones were okay, and what ones we didn’t want to eat again. I now have about 15 core meals that I rotate every other week, with a few new ones each week thrown in. In addition, I find my grocery list is a bit shorter because I now keep on hand most of the new “clean” staples needed for most of these recipes.

Fridge Meal Planner

Image courtesy of 3kidsandus.com

TIP 5: USE TOOLS THAT FIT YOUR  ORGANIZATIONAL STYLE

I discovered, quite by accident while passing by the clearance rack at Target, a great “meal planning” magnetic whiteboard/grocery list combo that sadly is no longer available. I am searching out suitable replacements and will post here, but so far no luck. This works for me because it’s fits comfortably on my fridge and leaves plenty of room for lunch/dinner and “notes” for all 7 days.

For some, it may make more sense to track on your computer, or a notepad, or paper wall calendar. You could design a form on your computer and print out a new one every week. It doesn’t matter WHAT you use, it just matters that you find a tool that you’re most comfortable with so you’ll USE it.

TIP 6: SPLIT UP PREP WORK ACROSS THE WEEK

This has helped me tremendously. Some advocate doing all your cooking for the week on Sunday. While I do a fair amount of prep and cooking on Sunday (usually in the morning, after I’ve done the shopping), I like to spend some time relaxing too. So to make this work, I will often split up prep across the week.

For example, later this week I’ve planned for a hearty veggie and meat chili. My recipe requires a head of roasted garlic, which I roasted last night at the same time I roasted some sweet potatoes (to be mashed for dinner tonight – more pre-prep). Now tonight, as I am preparing dinner (a simple dinner of pan seared center-cut pork chops with the mashed sweet potatoes and some roasted brussels sprouts), I will also prep the vegetables needed for the chili, and if I have time, even make the chili tonight. In either case, I will either have the chili ready to go for tomorrow night or all the vegetable prep done so it will come together very quickly tomorrow.

None of this would work, however, if I hadn’t planned our meals out for the week (or at least, the work week). See how this all comes together? It’s the only way I’ve found, short of hiring a personal live-in chef, to ensure that you can have healthy, home-cooked meals with a minimum of stress and frustration.

TIP 7: PLAN FOR LEFTOVERS

Whenever you can, purchase as many small, single-serving size food storage containers as your cabinets will hold. I like containers that hold 10-13 ounces, which are small enough for a single serving of lots of things, but still provide room for expansion in the freezer.

Using the chili mentioned above as an example, I will be making a batch that serves 8-10. There are three of us, which means that there will be at least 4 -5 extra servings of chili leftover. Once dinner is finished I will immediately portion out the leftovers into the individual serving sizes, label the contents and date with an Avery Removable label and stick in the freezer. Instant, no-hassle lunch.

This also works with component ingredients, too. For example, I have a recipe for a stuffed pork tenderloin that requires cooked broccoli. If I plan right, I can save some leftover cooked broccoli from a earlier dinner for my pork stuffing later in the week.

TIP 8: KEEP EMERGENCY SNACKS ON HAND

All the planning in the world can sometimes be for naught if life throws you a curveball or two, although hopefully you’ve built in some backup and flexibility to handle those inevitabilities.  Just in case, however, I always like to keep one of the drawers in my office desk stocked with some emergency snacks, including a small container of natural almond or peanut butter, a box of Ry-Vita crackers, a selection of teas, and a small zipper bag or two of raw unsalted almonds or cashews. Dried fruit is also great to keep on hand and lasts well. I also always keep emergency almonds in my purse, and they have come in handy more than once. The Almond Board has cute almond tins for next to nothing that keep your emergency snack fresh.

If you are committed to eating clean, healthful meals, you need to commit to the time to make it work. It’s too easy to slip back into takeout convenience. Plan for your eating clean success and your body will be grateful.