Sunday, February 09, 2014

All About Timing

My favorite reader (my mom) pointed something out to me regarding one of the first healthy stuff posts I did a couple of weeks ago.  She said something about how much food I'd prepared in such a short period of time and how a 'regular person' wouldn't be able to do it so quickly.  I hadn't thought about it, but spending time working in the restaurant setting probably does give one a different perspective of kitchens and arranging time than someone who hasn't had that experience!  So I owe you an apology for stating that all of this got done in so little time without properly explaining exactly how to do it.  

For most of us, time is a big factor in taking better care of ourselves: we don't generally value our own well being as we do that of our children or spouse.  Sad, but it's true.  So if doing for ourselves means taking extra time we don't feel we have, we won't tend to do it.  Or, if we start caring for ourselves thinking we can do it under whatever timeline we've deemed is reasonable to spend on ourselves and find we can't, we won't continue.  I started this blog experience promising that you can eat well and live healthy without spending a ton of time.  I'm very sorry that I haven't spent more time better explaining how.  

I'm a contractor.  I get paid by how much I produce in a day, so my time is literally money.  If I'm not producing, I'm not earning.  Though my kids are grown and out of the house, living in this mindset is very similar to what it was when the kids were little.  Time is like a bank account.  I have 'X' amount of time for this day.  So I have to prioritize what I want done within that time frame.  Most of us who work are in this same situation.  What it comes down to is prioritization and organization:  What has to get done, and how quickly can I do it?  So taking this approach, let's look at what I did this afternoon.  

As I've explained before, Sunday is Big Cooking Day.  I started off my afternoon writing down times I started things and ended them, then realized that I was doing far more than I'm really going to post here this week (extra baking for Rik to take to the office, experimenting on the homemade creamer recipe I'm still trying to perfect so I can toss my International Delight -- whom I so dearly love! -- for good), that I figured it might make more sense to explain the method rather than the madness.  

I started about 130p this afternoon.  By 4p, I'd done the following:  
  • Grilled chicken and steak
  • Made Oatmeal Cupcakes To Go
  • Made a cold oatmeal in a jar with fruit for Rik's breakfast
  • Made a dozen omelette muffins
  • Cut up a papaya
  • Cut strawberries
  • Cut pineapple
  • Prepared 3 bags of sliced mixed veges for Rik's lunch
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Cooked barley
  • Made the Warm Barley Chicken Salad he likes for lunch
  • Boiled a half dozen eggs
  • Made a batch of brownies for him to take to work tomorrow
  • Baked a yam
  • Made date syrup
  • Made a new (and hopefully improved) batch of creamer
  • Cleaned some beans and set them on to soak overnight
  • And in between it all, I'd cleaned out the fridge, unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded the dishwasher, and did a load of laundry. :D
That's a lot of stuff to do in 2 1/2 hours!  But it's all about planning your route.  Here's how I did it:
  1. First I put on the barley and quinoa to cook. It takes roughly 20-30 minutes for the barley to be done.  I also threw the yam into the microwave to cook for 5 minutes then into the fridge whole.
  2. I put the eggs on to boil as they take about the same amount of time to boil as the grains do to cook.
  3. I got the grill heated up and got the meat on to cook
  4. I set the dates in hot water for the date syrup I needed for the creamer which has to sit for 1 hour.
  5. Then I diced the veges for omelette muffins, fried them up in some olive oil, and got them into the egg mixture and the egg mixture into the muffin cups and into the oven.
  6. By then the meat was done cooking.  Pulled it from the grill and left it on the counter to cool a bit.
  7. By now, the timer is going off for the grains on the stove and the quinoa went in a glass bowl for the fridge.
  8. I chopped the chicken breast for the barley salad, and while the barley was still hot, made the Warm Barley Chicken Salad and got it in the fridge.
  9. Did a quick clean up and rinsed out the dirty bowls and got them in the dishwasher.
  10. By this time, the timer is going off for the omelette muffins.  I took them out of the oven to cool leaving it on for the next batch of muffins.
  11. I got the Oatmeal muffins prepared, into the tins, and into the oven.
  12. While the muffins are cooking, and since I already had most of the ingredients out that I needed to make the cold oatmeal/yogurt in a jar, I went ahead and did that next.  It goes into the fridge too.  
  13. I finished the date syrup and made the creamer.
  14. Next, I got out whatever veges I needed to make the bags of grab-n-go veges for lunches that weren't already out of the fridge from the omelette muffins and got them sliced and bagged.  
  15. Now the oatmeal muffins are done and out of the oven.
  16. I mixed up the brownies so they could go in the oven next and got them popped in there.
  17. And all that's left was to clean up whatever I hadn't yet put in the dishwasher, bag the now cooled off oatmeal muffin, cooled grilled meat, and omelette muffins.  

When you're working in a commercial kitchen, especially when other people are involved, you have to be very organized with your time.  You know what you're going to make ahead of time, you know roughly how long each item takes to cook, and so you plan out your route so that it's all ready within your time frame.  

Today I did far more than most people would do.  I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen.  I find it relaxing and energizing.  But if I were to suggest to you just the bare bones of what needed to be done today, I'd have done the following:
  • Cook your grains.  Cook them on Sunday afternoon, keep them in the fridge, and they will last all week.
  • Grill your meat.
  • Slice some veges and put them in Ziploc bags so you can grab them and go in the morning.
  • Prepare something like the omelette muffins or oatmeal to go so you have it if you need something fast on your way out the door.
If you do it in this order, it will take you 1 hour or less.  And now you've gotten a good portion of your basics done for the week: some veges cut, your grains ready to scoop out a cup or so, and some veges to thrown on top to steam in the microwave for a good healthy lunch.

Here are this weeks' receipts:  I spent $69.81 on food.

And here's what it bought:  

I just love this store.  They have the best deals on food and seeing all that fresh produce makes me ridiculously happy though I'm not sure why!

I found asparagus on sale for $0.98 a pound!!!  It was almost $3.50-$4 lb. at both of the other stores I went to today.  

If you don't have access to a Sprouts or Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage, remember to use your mid-week newspaper sales.  Walmart's across America do a price matching of any sale you can find.  This includes food!  Go through your paper on Wednesday evening and see what's on sale.  Make a list, and hang onto your sales flyers from other grocery stores.  It will save you having to go from store to store to get the best deals.  Though I don't generally recommend Walmart (can't stand them as a business), when you're trying to eat well on a budget and your time is a big consideration, getting what you need at the lowest price has to factor in.  I hit all 3 of the stores I went to today because I wanted specific things from each store that the other stores (and Walmart) don't carry.  That and I had the time.  Went and got my nails done (matte red!), then made the loop (which also included a vanilla latte) and ran other errands that weren't food related while I was out, getting home just as it started to snow again :)

Does it take time to eat healthy?   Yes.  
Does it take a ton of time to eat healthy:  No.  And if you plan it right, like outlined here, you can put in an hour 1 day a week, cook a reasonable dinner each night, and no more time is required.  
Is it as easy as eating out or buying frozen dinners?  No.  You're investing in your health.  It's gonna take some of your time.  But it's SO worth it.  YOU are so worth it.
Does it cost a lot of money to eat healthy?  Not at all.  Just educate yourself!  
Will you see a difference in how you feel, how your clothes fit, and your energy level?  

And remember:  If you're not well, you can't care for those you love.  You have to be a priority too.  Your health matters.  It matters as much as your children's and those people you love the most.  Those people who factor highest when you budget your time.  And if you're caring for you, you are caring for them.

Tomorrow night I get to participate in my second hypnosis session about exercising.  Real quick for those of you who don't know, I need to exercise.  I generally am not a morning person and do not like to exercise.  I did hypnosis about a month ago and have gotten up every day 1 hour early and worked out.  In my book, that means the hypnosis was a success.  However, there's still a part of my brain that's standing there watching me work out who's hugely confused and wants to know exactly why we're up this early and why the hell we're sweaty?!?  In other words, not all of my brain is on board with this.  I'm up.  I'm doing it.  But I'm not liking it.  I want to be as passionate about exercise as I am about food.  I really want to be.  I just seem to lack the internal ability to decide to do it.  Once I decide something, it's done.  I don't waver, I don't cheat, and I'm in it 100%.  I just don't have it in me to get to that point about exercise.  But because of my health and injuries, I can't keep waiting to drum up the gumption to do it.  So I'm cheating.  I'll sneak in an update this week sometime after Wednesday when I've had a couple of days after the hypnosis session to know if it's worked.  I'm asking the hypnotherapist to suggest that I have passion for this.  I've heard it helps if you really want it, which I do.  And, like I said, I feel I got good results last time in that I am doing it.  I just want to love it as much as I love food. :D  Wish me luck!