My very slow and simple way I am hoping to break the habit of eating out way too much

We have eaten out far too much for far too long.

If I am completely open and honest about our eating out habits (which I am going to be) it has been a couple of years, probably at least 3 years plus, where we have bought food out every single night and a lot of times breakfast and lunch in addition to dinner.

We hardly ever actually go out to eat in the sense of going to a restaurant and sitting down to eat, but every single night for the past couple of years my husband has been stopping on his way home from work and buying us dinner.  He usually buys lunch out as well and for a long time he was also bringing me lunches at home on his lunch break.

How we picked up this bad habit and why we need to change it

I have never been the most efficient at consistently cooking but once I had my son my efficiency in this area plummeted to almost non-existent. And in some ways eating out has been a life saver when we were in extreme crisis mode and all my time was spent justifiably elsewhere.

However for some time now we have been adjusted to our “new normal” of life and don’t spend quite so much time in crisis mode the way we used to. But some bad habits have carried over to this season where things are more stable and steady, and eating out every single day for pretty much every single meal is one of those habits.

And this habit needs to change for very obvious reasons.

We are literally eating our income. Literally. Eating out all the time has definitely affected our budget and bottom line and not in the healthiest way.

And speaking of health, eating out has definitely taken a toll on both my husband and I healthwise as well.

We have gained weight, we lack energy (and five plus years of sleep deprivation isn’t helping us in the energy department), and we generally just don’t feel as good as we could.

As a result we don’t always cope with the challenges we face as a family in the best ways.

So for the sake of both our health and our budget, now that we are in a season where eating out is no longer a life saving option that we’re grateful for, but instead a bad habit that we’re struggling to rid ourselves of, I am hoping to slowly and steadily kick this bad habit to the curb. (null)

Enter No Cook Freezer Meals

I have long loved the concept of having meals all ready to go in the freezer. However, I don’t have large chunks of time (or energy) to carve out to actually spend hours cooking meals from start to finish in advance and freezing them. (And cooking a meal from start to finish each day just isn’t an option time wise right now either).

So when I came across the idea of no cook freezer meals I was really intrigued. Basically the idea is that you prep all the ingredients for a meal and freeze them in a Ziploc bag all prepped and ready to go. Then all you have to do is thaw it out and throw it in the Crockpot or cook it the day you want to eat it.

I knew this was the way for me to break this bad eating out habit of ours. It requires some time and energy up front but not as much as doing a complete start to finish freezer cooking session. For the pay out I feel the amount of time and energy it requires is worth it.

My Plan

This past weekend I finally got around to it and set out to do my first no cook freezer session.

I chose two Crockpot meals I have made before and know that we like. I only chose two because I want to start small, be able to see some impact from it but not overwhelm myself to where I’m exhausted, get nothing else done and give up and go right back to buying out all the time.

I know from my previous failed attempts to quickly change bad habits that slow and steady is the way to go and the way to ensure that the bad habits stay away and remain replaced by the habit I desire to have instead.

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My goal moving forward is to just prep and freeze two meals on the weekend (or during the week if some time happens to come free) for the next four weeks.

After those four weeks I plan on bumping it up from two meals to three meals prepped and frozen at a time. After four weeks of doing three meals I’ll bump it up to four meals and so on till I get to five meals prepped, frozen and ready to be cooked throughout the week.

This will leave room for leftovers one night and then a night of buying out as a treat (or for very hectic days). As far as the recipes I’m using I plan on using ones I’m familiar with and only adding two new recipes a month, every other week.

Going into the week I’m pretty excited to have two meals completely ready to go and all I have to do is thaw them out and pop them in the Crockpot. And I feel good that it wasn’t too overwhelming prepping the two meals, I wasn’t so exhausted from it that I wasn’t able to do anything else, and the cleanup wasn’t that bad.

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I’m actually looking forward to doing two more meals next week. I have a feeling this “No cook freezer method” and increasing the amount of meals I do per week very slowly, and slowly adding new recipes to the mix is going to work very well for our family.

I will keep you updated on how it all goes!

Here’s the recipes I used this go around:

Print Recipe

Vegetarian Chili

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Adapted from: Crock-Pot® The Original Slow Cooker Recipe Collection

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp minced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can corn rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • sour cream optional
  • shredded cheese optional
  • croutons optional

Directions

    1. Combine all ingredients except sour cream, cheese, and croutons in crockpot.
    2. Mix thoroughly and cover.
    3. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.
    4. Enjoy with sour cream, cheese, and croutons (optional).

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Print Recipe

Italian Chicken

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Adapted from: Crock-Pot® The Original Slow Cooker Recipe Collection

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb or so chicken breast tenders
  • 8 ounces canned mushrooms sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini diced
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 (26 ounce) jar pasta sauce
  • box of whole grain or quinoa spaghetti

Directions

    1. Mix all ingredients, except spaghetti, in crockpot and cover.
    2. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. When chicken is tender it is done.
    3.  Serve over cooked spaghetti.

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My Heart Cried This Valentine’s Day

My heart cried tonight.

It cried really really hard. It cried big gulping soul wracking sobs.

Sobs that left my heart aching. Sobs that left my heart feeling like it had shattered into pieces. Sobs that reminded me that the fragile dull heart breaking pain that has lived inside of me since learning of Tyler’s diagnosis is still very much there.

A pain that seems to just lurk there dormant deep down till random moments come along that awaken it and bring it to the surface with such intensity that I feel like I am just receiving the news of Tyler’s diagnosis all over again instead of five years having gone by.

This soul wracking, heart breaking pain made its presence known tonight.

It showed up as I was prepping for Tyler’s Valentines celebration at school. As I sat there signing Tyler’s name on the cards for him to give to his classmates, I realized how sad I am that he’s not yet able to fill the cards out himself.

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Recently I had seen a picture of a friends son the same age as Tyler making Valentine’s Day cards for his classmates and at that moment that picture floated thru my mind. It made me think of how wide the gap between Tyler and his peers is becoming and that many of Tyler’s classmates will be signing their own names or even making their own cards this year.

It made me think of how helpless Tyler is.

And not helpless in a “I pity him shame on me for saying that” way, but helpless in a “I am his mom and his main caregiver and I know intimately how much assistance he needs for even the simplest of tasks necessary to life, not to mention extras like filling out Valentines Day cards.”

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It breaks my heart to really honestly acknowledge his helplessness and to allow myself to really face it.

I feel sometimes like I’m not supposed to say how sad I feel about him not being able to do so much, but it honestly breaks my heart.

I’m so sad he has such extreme disabilities and I so wish he didn’t. It’s so hard to watch him try to do things or want to do things that his body just doesn’t allow him to do.

I feel it’s frowned upon and not necessarily very politically correct to admit these feeling but this is honestly just how I feel.

Feeling this way and acknowledging it doesn’t mean I don’t love Tyler or that I’m not grateful to be his mom or that he doesn’t also bring me a lot of joy. And it certainly doesn’t mean he’s less valuable than any other person.

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It means it’s hard to watch your child experience these challenges every single day and not feel any sadness about it and not wish you could change it for them.

So tonight as the magnitude of the challenges he faces hit me, my heart just cried, trying so hard to rid itself of a heart break that really no amount of tears can ever wash away.

The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

My Daughter Started Crawling and How I Felt About It

I was standing in the kitchen prepping Tyler’s g tube feed when I heard the rhythmic sound of determined little hands slapping the floor, steadily making progress towards their desired destination.

I held my breath as the slapping stopped and a decision needed to be made. At a crossroads she sat, either go straight to discover the fun at the end of the hallway or veer to the right and find mommy.

My daughter just started crawling.

This was her third day at it and the first time she had ventured beyond the comfort and safety of the family room. I was thrilled to look down and see that while sitting at that crossroads she chose the path that led to me. I kneeled down to snap her picture and sat on the floor clapping with her and letting her know how glad I was to see her.

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It was a bittersweet moment. These past few days since this new found skill of hers has taken off have been filled with bittersweet moments.

This was the first time one of my children have been able to come to me on their own.

Tyler is quite the snuggler and loves to be held and kissed but even when I know he wants to be close to me I am the one who goes to him. The fact that my daughter intentionally sought me out and made her way to me was a moment I treasured.

But it in the midst of enjoying that moment with her, there was the stark realization of what I have missed in these moments that I have longed to have with Tyler.

When Cassady started crawling I was not prepared for how emotional it would be seeing her be able to move from one point to another all on her own. It was a mixture of joy and sadness, joy for Cassady and her newfound freedom to enjoy and explore the world around her and renewed sadness that Tyler is still waiting for that freedom.

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I spoke with several other moms whose family makeup mirrors my own and found I am not alone in having such a wide range of emotions as milestones are met by one child while prayers are still waiting to be answered for the other child.

As times goes on and we adjust to our “new normal” of having a child who is mobile, I am sure these bittersweet feelings will not continue to hit me so hard.

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In the meantime I am seeking to make the most of these firsts with my daughter and savor them as I continue to treasure and enjoy the beautiful moments that I have had and will have with my son as well.

I am finding these moments with both of them will look very different, but I want to make sure I treasure them all just the same.

Let’s Talk:  Anyone else feel or have felt the same way when their first has challenges that the second one doesn’t?  Whether you have a child with special needs or not do you remember how you felt when your child first found you on their own?  What are some of your favorite memories with your little ones?

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