Category Archives: real food

menus & prepping & success


Last week I was terribly and completely unprepared. Mother’s Day was lovely but I did not complete any of my prep work. So today, I am made lists and menus. I cooked and prepped. I gotta say, it is a good feeling to know I have go-to snacks and lunches ready.

#foodprepsunday included:

Dinner Menu:

Sunday: Steak & Citrus Shrimp, fancy potatoes and a salad

Monday: Cuban Shredded Beef, rice & black beans

Tuesday: Man Pleasing Chicken, brussels & potato hash

Wednesday: Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole (two batches – one with elbow noodles for AJ & Q, one with cauliflower for me)

Thursday: Steaks or Breakfast (Band practice for Q, walking club for mom, Big Man is in charge of dinner)

Friday: Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken, rice, green beans or snap peas

Saturday: Ribs, potato salad, slaw & salads

And this is a great start.

I have some basics to get me started. I have lots of fruit in the fridge and I have bananas ripening to be made into pumpkin vanilla muffins in a few days.

I will also plan out my exact lunches and breakfast each night so work mornings are smoother. Lunches and breakfasts will include: eggs, paleo bread, smoothies, burgers, soups and cucumber salads. Snacks of fruit, nuts, soup, hardboiled eggs, cucumbers with salsa, and other veggies will be on hand so I can just grab & go.  I have lots of options.

Options and preparation will be key  to success….right now success means sticking to the gluten free thing (it works, as much as I hate that it works, it works…more on this later) and I very much want to focus on eating enough vegetables. Fruit is easy but vegetables take some work to get enough servings each day. To start,  I am going to aim for 6 veggie servings, with a serving being one cup, each day.

I am setting myself up for success.




menu plan monday


It has been a while since I posted my menu plans. I have been making them every week but not posting them…silly me.

So, here ya go!


Monday: Man-pleasing chicken, cauliflower & broccoli, mashed potatoes

Tuesday: Sausage stuffed pepper casserole, big salad

Wednesday: Spaghetti (Zoodles) and Meat sauce, grilled chicken & leftover salad

Thursday: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, Beef Nachos

Friday: Anniversary Date-night at Home! Prime Rib, twice baked potatoes, braised radishes. Pink wine or champagne and a gluten free cake from local bakery!!

Saturday: Polynesian-style Wild Boar, Fried Rice

Sunday: Chicken Cutlets.


What’s on your dinner menu this week?

reasonable, realistic, doable


The menu plan:

Sunday: sirloin steak, crispy potatoes & wilted spinach

Monday: chicken, broccoli & cauliflower casserole

Tuesday: skirt steak stir fry (cauli rice)

Wednesday: meaty sauce over pasta for them, veggies for me (ooh, husband is cooking)

Thursday: 40-clove garlic chicken (crockpot)

Friday: marinated tri-tip roast, roasted garlic mashed cauli/potatoes and some green veg



1. 3 yoga practices

2. 3 gym sessions

3. 3 blog posts


My thoughts on planning and setting goals:

I don’t usually set weekly goals. I don’t do this because I usually set such lofty goals and don’t usually have the best follow through. Setting unreachable goals is sort of a specialty of mine but I’m trying to learn a better way. I realized setting goals is a lot like menu planning. When I sit down to create the weekly dinner, I have to take a few things into consideration: Q’s activities and my schedule determine what we eat and if who cooks! This week the kinks are in the form of yoga classes, guitar lessons, and color guard practice. As crazy as our schedule is this week, I know it can and will be busier in the years to come. Side note: I am not ready to have a highschooler!

We eat dinner at whatever time is convenient for us all to eat together whenever we can. Q recently started Color Guard (yep, she’s still in 8th grade but its practice for next year) and practice starts at 5 so dinner would have to be at 4:15. Its beginning, but I’m holding on to important family time!

Just like I need a reasonable approach to meals and planning said meals, I need to do the same with fitness plans. I need to be realistic…what is my schedule like this week and what do I want to accomplish this week?!? Well….


Why these goals:

I have not found my consistent workout groove. I want to be successful and build off that success.

3 yoga practices and 3 gym sessions.

A reasonable and realistic fitness-ey goal.

I can go to yoga classes (actually I’m starting a new yoga class on Wednesday) or I can stay at home and do my own thing! And if I can’t get my ass to the gym three times in a week, I should never have bought the 6-month membership. Time to make the most of it! 🙂 That sounds a bit harsh but its not! I’m being reasonable and practical.

Blogging is good for me! My blog is my place. To ramble, explore, learn and have fun! I don’t need to write novels ever time I blog but I enjoy journal style writing. And what harm can there be with a bit more writing?!?

I believe I am setting the time for a GREAT week!!

What about you? Are you a goal setter? A menu planner?

The weekly planning



Monday: chicken thigh stew
Tuesday: skirt steak and brussel sprouts Wednesday: meatballs and spaghetti (squash for me)
Thursday: Cajun chicken over hash Friday: cheese steaks, oven fries and a salad
Saturday: 40-clove garlic chicken
Sunday: bolar roast

Monday: kettlebells, walking DVD, yoga DVD
Tuesday: stationary bike, gorilla app, yoga class
Wednesday: walking dvd, yoga dvd, kettlebells
Thursday: stationary bike, gorilla app, yoga class
Friday: walking DVD, yoga DVD, gorilla app
Saturday: outside walk/run, maybe outside yoga.
Sunday: join the gym – elliptical, kettlebells

Food notes:
Later in the week you will notice I only noted the protein. I will pair with the veggies we have left based on what needs to be eaten first.
Fitness notes:
I’m working on fighting through some confidence issues (that’s another post entirely) but I am going to keep plugging along until I bust through my self doubt. I am rejoining the gym on Sunday but for now I don’t trust the treadmill at school. And I’m just not ready for outside walking/running, as lame as that sounds.

I decided to add in a workout plan so I’m not being willynilly about my workouts. When I don’t plan its easy to get sidetracked by life, kid, well, everything. This became very evident last week. Q was home from school all week, sick again! AJ had a toothache that actually was infected. My car stopped working. Guess what suffered?!? I did one real workout. I also did a lot of yoga stretching-yoga poses and stretching while doing other things but no real yoga practice – following a video out going to a class where the 20-60 minutes is focused solely on yoga.

Planning is good for me! With a plan already in place, I can pack my good and clothes the night ahead and workout at school before AJ comes to pick me up! With a plan I stay more organized and less scatterbrained. See, it works all the way around.

Did you plan your meals? What about your workouts?

Menu plan, February 4, 2013


Monday – lemon and artichoke chicken thighs and asparagus with roasted root veggies
Tuesday – garlic beef stew (pot pie over mashed potatoes for husband)
Wednesday – pineapple chicken stir fry
Thursday – pork chops, coleslaw, Mac & Cheese for husband and kid, veggies for me.
Friday – meatloaf, mashed potatoes (for husband) and cauliflower (for me)
Saturday – chicken drumsticks
Sunday – braised Chuck roast

I have learned I cannot force anyone to eat the way I want to eat. My husband and daughter have ridden along with me as I tried all the tricks to lose weight. I have made some dinners that were winners and others that were not even close to winners. I have counted points, calories, points again and I never found my happy place.
The whole30 changed so much for me. At first I thought it was going to be so restrictive and I would hate it. I never imagined those restrictions and rules would be so good for me. There was no way of fitting oooeygoooey, cheesey, or chocolatey favorites into the rules of whole30. I had to make real changes not just sorta changes.
I feel different as I proceed.
I can’t blame my family for being skeptical.
I can only keep leading the way.
Truth be told, they eat almost the same way with additional foods I am not eating. I used to eat them. Some of these foods are not “all that bad” but not all that great either. At least not for me.
So I’m back to menu planning, not that I ever really left, because planning is so important and I miss blogging it.
Do you menu plan? How in depth is your plan? Do you plan all your meals?

If you planned your menu this week, leave a link in the comments so I can check out what’s on your menu!

let’s talk about food.


Big Man is making dinner tonight.

This is indeed a rare treat!!

I have pretty much taken over the reigns in the kitchen…would you believe when we first met, Big Man did all the cooking and I burnt water. Now, I love putting together meals and menu plans. I love food more than possible. I learned how to cook by watching Paula Deen and Emeril on foodnetwork. And, I got good at it!

I have tried all sorts of food styles and types (usually to go along with whatever “diet” I was trying at the time. Over the last 5 years, I have tried Weight Watchers, blindly cutting calories, nothing but hoping the weight would come off, Visalus, and a gaggle of other diets. With each one, I had initial success but nothing lasted.  I tried to fit in my favorite food, or modify them to be lower calorie, or only have them once in a while. None of that worked.

I recently read an amazing book, It Starts With Food (ISWF) and my mind has been opened! I have a formal book review coming tomorrow night but tonight I want to talk about food and a little bit about my Whole30 experience.

Today is Day 22 of my first Whole30 Challenge. I chose to do the Whole30 after reading ISWF, and as cliche as it is, I started my Whole 30 on January 1st!

Initial worries:

  • coffee with NO cream or creamer or splenda
  • was I going to be hungry?
  • was food going to be boring?
  • was I going to be hungry?
  • where’s my coffee?!?!
  • what am I going to eat?!?
  • how is this going to work with family meals (we make it a point to eat dinner at the table together every  night while we can. I know as Q gets older we will not always have this time)
  • really, only 3 meals?!
  • can I do this!?

I have logged everything I have eaten since January 1st. I am using myfitnesspal…my username is mendingjen if you use MFP too! When I am finished the whole30 and I have a bit of time, I may write up a day-by-day food diary for the blog but for now, check out MFP. If we are friends you can see my food logs.

Feast your eyes on this instead!


What I have learned so far:

  • I have not felt deprived.
  • I have enjoyed the food I have been eating. Its pretty and delicious!!
  • I have increased my veggie intake by at least double.
  • I am not snacking, but I have had the occasional snack (when I determined I was truly hungry)
  • I have made huge progress in eating what my body needs not what it thinks I want.
  • I do 1000% better with sweets when I just don’t have any to begin with (insert pasta or bread in place of sweets and it works the same)
  • I can drink black coffee but not every coffee. I like black tea.
  • I like peppers and mushrooms.
  • I can see myself eating like this (not as strict) for the long haul.
  • I miss cream in my coffee. I think I can do without the splenda but I miss cream coffee.
  • I like cashews, especially when paired with a banana.
  • I can sit at the same table while my husband and daughter eat pizza, and eat meat and veggies.


I have one full week after tonight. And I am ready for it!!


Does whole30 scare you? Have you conquered the whole30? What is your favorite veggie dish?

#whole30 Days1-5…the food pics edition


I had this awesome post all written, I was finishing it up this morning and what did I do…hit the wrong button TWICE and trashed the whole damn thing!


So here are my food pics for the first 5 days of eating on Whole30 plan. I will post all my thoughts and maybe more pictures (of Day #6 and #7) later tonight!



Because I really have to get ready for school or I would rewrite this post!!

IS it Monday again?!?!