Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Meal Planning Monday (on Tuesday!)

After a couple of weeks of spectacularly failing to meal plan (due to a combination of the Jubilee weekend and half-term), I am back on both my diet and my meal-planning mission this week. I am attempting to low-carb which is a new thing for me, the carb-addict, but hopefully it will give the diet a boost.

Yesterday we spent the day dodging the showers / incessant drizzle at Legoland with the kids, taking advantage of an inset day at the end of half-term. Despite the weather, we actually had a fabulous day - both kids were happy all day and we enjoyed ourselves even more because of that. It was just lovely to have a day without a single tantrum / drama queen moment from either of them.

So, on to the meal-planning...

Monday - Fishcakes and caesar salad (all shop-bought due to post-Legoland tiredness)
Tuesday - Tray-roasted salmon with green beans, cherry tomatoes, anchovies and olives (one of our favourite Jamie Oliver recipes)
Wednesday - Lamb Rogan Josh with cauliflower rice
Thursday - Steak, with potato wedges for the Husband and a pile of veggies for me
Friday - Halloumi, chorizo and pepper kebabs with salad
Saturday - Out for a meal for our 9th wedding anniversary (how did THAT happen?)
Sunday - Roast dinner - either at home or the pub for Father's Day.

I think it sounds like a good week - let's just hope I stick to it!

Thanks, as always, to Mrs M for the link...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Hangover Munchies

Last night the combination of free-flowing Prosecco (and free-flowing Chardonnay once the copious supply of Prosecco ran out) and my lack of willpower when faced with waitresses topping up my glass got the better of me...  I'd like to claim I wasn't drunk but, in reality, I probably had one or two (or three) glasses of wine more than I should have had - due to the enthusiastic glass-filling I don't actually know how much I had.

So today I have the hangover munchies - I've been attempting to stick to a relatively low-carb diet this week (lots of salad, protein and no bread) but my hangover is demanding bread. And it is demanding it so loudly that it makes my head hurt. Not only did I succumb to the temptation of the mid-morning bacon sandwich run, I then followed it up with a brie and cranberry panini. And yes, it was good, but I am so going to regret it when I step on the scales next week..

I've also been thinking about my favourite hangover foods - a bacon and fried egg sandwich with a big dollop of tomato ketchup, chips covered in melted cheese, sea salt and balsamic vinegar Kettle Chips, cheese and crisp sandwiches (yes, I know that one is weird), cheesy mashed potato, cheesy pasta... spotting a theme here anyone?

Of course, there is one other thing that will make me feel better, more Prosecco - roll on wine o clock!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Meal Planning Monday

Last week was another successful week for my meal planning as I managed to stick to the plan from Monday to Friday... we did succumb to the temptation of a trip to the local chippy on Saturday after a day out, and I was out for a meal last night, but as I'd deliberately left the weekend free of planned meals, that was fine.

This week I have been flicking through my cookery books and have planned a couple of new recipes. I'm also working on getting a greater balance of foods in our meals - so the plan is to have a chicken based meal, a red-meat based meal, a vegetarian meal and a fish/seafood meal each week. I'm also trying to vary the carbs that I serve with them a bit more - some weeks we seem to eat a lot of rice. In addition, I'm trying to do one batch-cooked meal a week (this week it is the lemon chicken stew) and one meal from the freezer (chilli con carne) to save a bit of time and money.

Tonight - Lemon chicken stew, mashed potato and peas
Tuesday - Spaghetti with cod in chilli, garlic and white wine sauce (new recipe)
Wednesday - Stuffed tomato tortillas (new recipe)
Thursday - Chilli con carne with rice
Friday - Cheese fondue (not great for the diet, but some friends visited from Switzerland recently and bought us a cheese fondue kit as a gift and it needs eating up)
Saturday - TBC (probably a take-away in front of the Champions League Final on the telly)
Sunday - Roast chicken with all the trimmings

I am really looking forward to some warmer weather (aren't we all?) as I feel like I am still cooking all our favourite winter meals and I'd love to try out a few lighter options. Rainy days just don't inspire me to eat salad...

Thanks, as always, to Mrs M for the link.

That last 10lbs....

Allegedly, summer is on its way, and I'm back on the diet / healthy eating plan on a mission to lose the 10lbs that all those glossy magazines say that we should lose before donning our bikinis and hitting the beach. Coincidentally, having lost 3 stone over the last 18 months, that 10lbs is 'all' I need to lose to get to my goal weight.

My problem is that I seem to have hit a plateau / mental block / lost my motivation (call it what you want!) and I just don't seem to be able to shift them. I know exactly what the problem is - it is my inability to resist the lure of the biscuit tin, or to stop picking at the kids' leftovers, or having an extra couple of glasses of wine without thinking about the calories - but, however hard I try, I just can't stop myself doing it. And, if I do succumb to the temptation for that 'one biscuit', it seems to trigger a sugar binge which inevitably leads to another biscuit, a bar of chocolate on the way home from work, something sweet for dessert.... and half of the time, I'm not even hungry.

So, this week's plan is to cut out the excess sugar consumption in the hope that it will have a positive effect on my diet. No biscuits, no proper chocolate, no cakes... it is time to go cold turkey. To be honest, working in what a colleague described last week as 'an office full of feeders' I'm not holding out a huge amount of hope that I'll stick to it until even the weekend, but it has got to be worth a try.

Watch this space....

Monday, 7 May 2012

Monday again already?

Last week I stuck to my menu plan which, for me, is a real achievement. My usual approach is to start the week with lots of good intentions and then resort to the prepared meals aisle in Waitrose as the reality of juggling two kids, the long school run, a part-time job, a diet and exercise regime and keeping the house in a state where we don't risk life and limb picking our way though the discarded Lego catches up with me. Last week I actually found that having a plan really helped - I felt more in control and not having to think about what we were eating made my evenings commute feel much more chilled.

So, this week I am doing it all over again. I haven't planned as far as the weekend yet because I'm not sure what our plans are, but five days of planning is a good start.

Monday - Chinese beef with noodles and vegetables (using up the remnants of yesterday's roast)
Tuesday - Pasta Puttanesca (this week's new recipe)
Wednesday - Green chilli with tortilla wraps and salad
Thursday - Fishcakes and caesar salad
Friday - Chickpea and chorizo stew with bulgar wheat

Friday's stew is part of my plans to make Friday night food a bit more of an event in our house. Jedi Boy has a swimming lesson on a Friday evening which The Husband takes him to, which gives me half an hour of peace on my return from work to prepare an evening meal before being thrust into the bedtime routine. Having that time to relax and unwind in the kitchen is something I really enjoy and I plan to make more effort on Fridays from now on.

Thanks to Mrs M for the inspiration!

Friday, 4 May 2012

A Battle of Wills

Ah, the terrible twos.... At two years and two months old, the Little Princess already has a big personality. 90% of the time she is adorable - smiley, cute, funny and always ready for a 'cuggle'. The other 10% of the time, however...

We are in the middle of a real 'Mummy' phase at the moment and The Husband can't get anything right. It's not that he doesn't try - he is a fantastic Dad and when the Little Princess is the right mood, she adores him. But, these days, even the offer of a bedtime story with Daddy is enough to provoke a screaming fit and demands that 'Mummy do my story'. And as for him cutting her fingernails... I came home from work a few weeks ago to find her sobbing inconsolably that 'Daddy hurt her nails'.

It isn't just Daddy that feels the full force of the Little Princess' demands though. This week alone we have had tantrums over the fact that I poured her milk without letting her help, Jedi Boy forgetting to give her a cuddle as he rushed into school with his friends, me not letting her wear a pair of shoes that are two sizes too small, her favourite 'Lola' vest being in the wash and, most extreme of all, a full-on, 'lie down on the floor' tantrum in Waitrose because I wouldn't add a second packet of Babybels to the shopping basket.

On the plus side, we have had a lot of fun too... and her smile never fails to warm my heart.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Meal Planning Monday

Inspired by Mrs M, I have decided that Monday will be meal-planning day. I have found that I stick to both my diet and my budget much better if I plan the week's meals in advance. Plus, there are days when I just can't be bothered to make a decision over what we are going to eat, and the Husband's ever-helpful response to this is usually 'you choose' so, believe me, meal planning is a positive thing for us. This week's menu is not the most exciting menu plan in the world, but it is hopefully something I can stick to.

Monday - Moroccan fish tagine with lemon and garlic couscous
Tuesday - Chilli and ginger chicken stir-fry with noodles
Wednesday - Tuna pasta bake topped with crisps (this is one of the childrens' favourites and a regular family meal in our house)
Thursday - Salmon with pesto and green beans, served with new potatoes
Friday - Chicken fajitas with all the trimmings - a Friday night treat!
Saturday - TBC, I am off to the FA Cup Final so I'm guessing it will be a trip to the chippy on the way home or something equally 'healthy'
Sunday - Roast dinner, meat to be decided but whatever it is will be accompanied by roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and a variety of veg

Once I have got myself back into the meal planning habit I am also intending to go through my huge array of cookery books and attempt a new recipe every week.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Tale of Rainy School Runs

This week has been one of the wettest weeks I can remember. Obviously living in England we are used to rain, but it has been incessant this week - bit ironic really considering this is supposed to be a drought. And the constant rain presents its own special challenges - notably the school run. Jedi Boy's school is nearly two miles away. We usually walk the first mile to the bus stop near the station and then catch a bus up the hill. On a non-working day, the Little Princess sits in the buggy and shouts at me that she wants to get out and walk, while Jedi Boy runs down the road fighting invisible battle droids with his imaginery lightsabre or clutching his wrist and 'transforming' into one of Ben 10's aliens. Believe me, I get a lot of funny looks as he charges off shouting 'Ultimate Spider Monkey' at the top of his voice.

With the rain pouring down, and no way of carrying an umbrella while pushing the buggy and trying to get Jedi Boy to suspend his boundless imagination for a few seconds to concentrate on the mundane act of crossing the road, I have spent much of this week with water dripping off my fringe and soaking wet jeans. By Wednesday I had resorted to spotty wellies and a mac with a hood (sometimes you just have to compromise on style), and by Friday I had invested in a new umbrella for the days I don't have to take the buggy. Somehow, though, Jedi Boy seems oblivious to the rain - he is quite happy to stop and study a puddle to determine whether or not it looks like a spaceship or some discarded alien slime, or balance precariously on a mud-splattered wall, and that just means I end up getting even wetter.

It is all worth it though - even if there are days where the school run just feels like too much effort - most of the time I love spending that time with my little boy... hearing the stories that he tells about life in Reception, listening to his lengthy explanations of what he dreamed about the night before, laughing when he gets so distracted by his games that he runs into a tree - just being together is what makes it all worthwhile.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Is it wine o clock yet?

Ever have one of those days where that moment where you take the chilled bottle of wine from the fridge, pour it into a glass and take that first sip just can't come soon enough? Of course, for a true moment of perfection, the house should be tidy, the children should be fast asleep in bed and a delicious food smell should be drifting out from the oven, but we can't have everything... to be honest, I'd settle for two children in their rooms, the clutter pushed into a corner where I can ignore it and the leftovers from the freezer re-heating on the hob.

There's something about that hour just before bedtime that occasionally makes me wish I had an escape hatch in the kitchen floor... Jedi Boy (age 5) and the Little Princess (age 2) seem to know exactly what buttons to push, whether it is leaving a trail of destruction in their wake as they charge from one room to the next, making puddles (of varying types - but let's not dwell on that) on the bathroom floor or just following me around asking for drinks, snacks, where the tiny green lightsabre that belongs to one of the Star Wars figures is. But then there is that lovely, cuddly fifteen minutes once they have finally been coaxed into their pyjamas and they have their milk and stories which kind of makes it all worthwhile. And now, they are tucked up cosily in their beds, I've kissed them goodnight, dinner is almost ready and I can finally pour that well deserved glass of wine.