Food Log Summer 2017 Week 2
In last week's food log, I did little to no meal planning. It's unhealthy to spend all of your free time planning perfectly controlled portions of meals, but it's also questionable to always eat oatmeal for dinner. When I went to Trader Joe's this week, I made sure to get food to make more balanced meals. As much as I love carbs and peanut butter, it's good to eat more protein and vegetables. Here are some highlights from my week 2 food log:
My grocery priorities were a bit different this week. The groceries still had to be easy to transport and for one person. However, unlike in last week's food log, the food requires more prep because I planned on cooking this week. My goal was to turn my groceries into wholesome and convenient meals and snacks.
To help with meal prep, I bought some pre-packaged products to cut down on cook and prep time. Pre-packaged products get a bad rep for having gross additives and preservatives. This is easy to avoid if you read the ingredients list. For example, the cooked beets I bought have one ingredient: beets.
Pre-packaged products are also more expensive than their unprocessed counterparts. For example, the pre-cooked chicken patties come out to $5.58 a pound ($2.79 for 8 ounces) while Trader Joe's sells ground chicken for $3.49 a pound. However, one advantage is smaller portion size, so I don't have to deal with food waste from bigger packages.
I actually made 2 trips to Trader Joe's this week. The first one was primarily for fruit and snacks. The second one was for cooking a meal: coconut sweet potato curry.
Trader Joe's Trip 1
I bought these groceries a week ago. Here's the eventual outcome of each item and some product reviews:
All consumed: I finished all of the tasty fruit within the week (bananas, nectarines, strawberries, and frozen blueberries) and all of the yogurt. Juicy nectarines and berries go great with creamy yogurt. I don't actually like bananas in yogurt because they make the texture too thick and dry.
Trader Joe's plain cream line whole milk yogurt is excellent. The texture is lighter than that of Greek yogurt, and the taste is milky, creamy, and sweet. It's not that tart, so you don't need to add additional sugar. It's a treat with fruit, and I'll definitely be buying another container this week.
Bad: Unlike the avocado I had last week, these 2 avocados were overripe and stringy. I don't think I'll buy any more avocados this summer. In my experience, they are the most finicky fruit and can go from rock-like to perfect to stringy in the blink of an eye. The pears I bought are underripe rocks. It's stone fruit season, so I'll go for nectarines and plums instead of pears.
Partially consumed: At the start of the week, I sliced the cucumber and 2 bell peppers and packed them into 2 cup Tupperware containers. I added a paper towel to each container to absorb moisture, extend shelf life, and prevent the vegetables from becoming slimy. I finished most of the cucumber and bell peppers. They're not as delicious as fruit, so I find it hard to remember to eat these vegetables as snacks. Putting the vegetables into clear plastic bags helps because I can see their fresh crispness. I'm trying to finish all of the cucumbers first. Leftover bell pepper is less of a problem because you can cook it for meals.
I finished half of the bag of frozen peas. When I have leftover restaurant meals, I generally eat them with a side of peas to balance out the richness and salt. I finished half of the bag of pecans. I eat these with yogurt and snack on them plain. I'm not concerned about the shelf-life of frozen peas or pecans.
The steamed and peeled baby beets are an excellent product. They taste like well-cooked beets, so you will like this product exactly as much as you like beets. The beets have a similar texture to cooked carrot/turnip and taste earthy and sweet. I diced them up, so I could easily eat them with meals as shown below. I like beets a lot, so I don't think I'll have any problem finishing these before they go bad.
Untouched: I have yet to open the chicken burgers or drink a significant amount of coffee. Chicken burgers have a good shelf life because they've been vacuum sealed, so I plan on eating these next week. We have a coffee bar at work, so I've been drinking less instant coffee than usual.
In case you want to buy any of these products, here's the receipt for your information:
Trader Joe's Trip 2
I still had plenty of food at home, but I made a second trip to Trader Joe's after work on Monday because I really wanted a home cooked meal.
I had been eating a lot of oatmeal and yogurt for dinner or salty, rich restaurant foods, so I wanted something lighter. I bought food to cook my favorite meal: coconut sweet potato curry. I used 1 onion, 2 sweet potatoes, 1 can of coconut milk, and 0.7 pounds of fish, and I ended up with 8 cups in total, which is enough to make four 2-cup servings.
For the curry seasoning, instead of using my default, 1 tablespoon of curry powder, I tried Trader Joe's curry simmer sauce. I really don't like this sauce, and it made the stew inedible. The sauce has a strong, tart, tomato flavor. The curry ended up very sour, and it made my stomach hurt. Next time, I'll buy a container of curry powder, which is $2 for 2 ounces at Trader Joe's, and add the spices myself. I'm also not a big fan of the tilapia, which is a bit dry. Next time, I'll go for chicken breast or vegetarian protein, such as edamame or chickpeas.
Originally, I intended to put the spinach in the curry, but I decided against it since the pot of curry was already so full. I've been cooking the spinach for a simple vegetable side dish. Pre-washed, bagged spinach is so much more convenient and less gritty than unprocessed spinach, so I'd highly recommend taking this shortcut.
Besides buying curry ingredients, I bought some staples. Staples are foods that are good to keep around and don't really spoil. I've yet to open the salsa or couscous, but I plan on eating these with the chicken burgers later.
I stocked up on my favorite granola bar, Trader Joe's simply nutty dark chocolate nut bar, so I have backpack snacks. These bars are more expensive than regular granola bars and come out to $1 per bar. I usually eat these at the climbing gym where similar bars cost $3, so I think this is a reasonable investment.
Instead of regular Trader Joe's crunchy peanut butter, I tried Valencia peanut butter, which is $1 more expensive and made with Valencia peanuts. I don't really know what Valencia peanuts are. Compared to the normal brand, the Valencia peanut butter is slightly more runny. When I tried the two types of peanut butter side by side, I do taste a slight taste difference, but it's not significant. In the future, I'll stick with the cheaper, regular TJ's peanut butter.
In case you want to buy any of these products, here's the receipt:
My favorite breakfast this week was yogurt with nuts and berries. I stick with plain, unsweetened yogurt. You can make many variations by varying the nuts and berries. Nuts this week were crunchy peanut butter and pecans. Berries were strawberries or frozen blueberries. I thaw frozen berries by microwaving them for about 40 seconds beforehand. I also like frozen blackberries, but fresh blackberries can be hit or miss.
Another breakfast treat was a cranberry cornmeal scone from Cafe Madeleine and a hot cup of coffee. Baked goods, such as muffins and scones, aren't particularly wholesome for breakfast. However, I'd prefer to savor the full-fat, white flour version on occasion instead of settling for the so-called "healthy" version (which still isn't great for you). The scone was lovely with a buttery crumb, juicy cranberries, and crunchy, coarse sugar.
Although I usually have sweet breakfasts, I'm trying to eat more savory meals with plenty of meat and veggies. I went to Hard Knox Cafe, so I had leftover BBQ spareribs and green beans. This morning, I microwaved the ribs and beets, and I pan-fried the green beans with bell pepper and spinach. I don't normally crave savory foods, but I always feel satisfied after the meal.
I used to be staunchly opposed to spending money on eating out. Now, I consider it a viable option. Depending on what you order, you can often get 2 meals out of it.
One day after climbing, I had palak paneer and beef keema naan at Punjab Kabab House. Later in the week, the leftover palak paneer went great with 2 hard boiled eggs and peas for lunch.
Another day after work, I had a Vietnamese sandwich from Bun Mee for dinner. Normally, I prefer toasty, hot sandwiches with melty cheese, but this was a tasty variation. The crunchy toppings (pickled carrots + onions, cucumbers) go well with the rich, fatty meat.
Want more food logs? Also, let me know if you're in San Francisco and want to hang out. My favorite things to do in the city are climbing and checking out new restaurants.