Saturday, 31 January 2015

Cook the Books | February Meal Planner

Well, here it is!  The first instalment of my "Cook the Books" Series, featuring my current favourite and go-to recipe books, Pete Evans' 'Family Food' and Sarah Wilson's 'I Quit Sugar For Life'.

So, to explain:

  • This meal planner follows both the sugar-free and Paleo eating approaches.  These approaches have a number of similarities, for example, low to no sugar (specifically, fructose), and a preference for organic fruit and veg, but they also have a number of differences.  For example, the Paleo approach removes all grains and dairy from the diet, whereas the sugar-free approach includes only full-fat dairy and a variety of low-gluten or gluten free options.  Wheat is generally avoided.  Similarly, the Paleo approach allows a limited amount of 'natural' (and unrefined) sweeteners like maple syrup and honey, whereas the sugar-free approach eliminates all fructose-containing sweeteners, including fruit that tends to be high in fructose, like bananas.  
  • If you want more in-depth information about these different approaches you can read more about 'The Paleo Way' on Pete Evans' website, and the sugar-free approach on Sarah's website, I Quit Sugar.
  • I like to follow both these approaches.  For my lifestyle, this works best.  But if you prefer one approach over the other, the recipes are easily adapted to one way or the other as there are lots of overlaps.  For example, if you are a strict Paleo follower, and you find a meal that includes grains or dairy, you could simply swap the entire meal with something else from Pete's book, or just remove the elements of the meal that don't fit with Paleo.  Similarly, if you are an I Quit Sugar follower and are happy to have grains and dairy in your diet, you might choose to have brown rice rather than cauliflower rice with your meal.  It's up to you!
  • If you feel like this is an expensive way of eating, but still want to start making changes, DO WHAT YOU CAN!  Both approaches recommend eating organic meat, but our budget does not allow us to.  Simple as that.  In saying that, I always check out the marked down sections to see what might be hidden away.  Sometimes I find real gems, and other times I don't.  One thing I've noticed however, and which I really believe is worth mentioning, is that since I started eating this way, I don't eat as much as I did before because I'm eating dense, nutritious and filling foods that keep me satisfied until the next meal.  I hardly ever snack now and if I do it's always something that has protein in it.  
  • I have two little kids who are terrible eaters.  We are working on them, but it's a slow process.  So don't stress if your kids won't eat this way.  Just keep chipping away at them!  The other night both my kids ate lamb and vegetable soup for dinner.  Admittedly, they were watching TV and I was feeding them, but they ate it and they hardly whinged at all!  It's the little victories :)
  • My meal planner is not a 7-day meal planner.  In my experience, most families eat out about once (or at least once) a week, whether it's take-away or going out or having a meal with friends.  I usually cook during the week and we just eat leftovers or have simple meals like steak and salad on the days where we end up being at home on the weekend. 
  • We have a very open and hospitable home and most weeks we will have someone come for dinner, sometimes more.  This means I need to be flexible in my cooking, however I have found that most (if not all!) the meals in these cookbooks are enjoyed by most (if not all!) the people I have served them to.  I find if my husband likes them then it's a sure thing!
  • I recommend getting your baking done early in the week (apologies for not getting this first meal planner to you a bit earlier - life with two little kids and a husband who works very long hours.  Enough said.), which means that you'll need to do your shopping early enough to do your cooking.  I'm sure you get how that works ;)
  • If you don't feel like eating what's on one week's menu, just swap it around.  I've created them without specific dates for that exact reason.  
  • I can't recommend enough using your freezer!  If you've got leftovers that aren't eaten the next day, you could eat them later that week and avoid a night of cooking, or you could freeze them for one of those lazy weekend evenings when you don't want to cook and don't want to buy take-away.  Problem solved!
  • I haven't included a shopping list because I don't know what you have in your pantry, and because that's a lot more work!  But if I get enough interest I would be happy to look at doing up a shopping list with all the ingredients on it as well.  We'll see!
  • To use these meal planners you will need to have copies of both 'Family Food' and 'I Quit Sugar for Life'.  I won't be publishing recipes from these cookbooks on my blog.  That is called plagiarism.  If I find the recipe has been published by the author on their blog or website I will aim to provide a link to that recipe where I can.  But I really recommend buying these books simply because they're a great investment.  If you can't afford to buy them, check out your local library, you might find them there, or if not you could request the library to buy them in for you.
  • You should be able to download and print the following meal planners and stick them on your fridge or keep them in your diary.  Scribble all over them, change things around, cross things out - just use them!

Phew!  I think I've covered everything, but if you have any questions you can send me an email or leave a comment on this post.  Make sure you follow me on Instagram or Facebook to see pics of what I've cooked each week.  This morning I baked Pete's yummy Banana Bread because we're heading to friends' for the night and I wanted to take something yummy to nibble on, as well as something for morning tea at church tomorrow.  I'll post a photo of that soon!

Now, let's get cooking, or more importantly, eating!


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