Wednesday, June 6, 2007

food for thought

as if i never have food on the mind...

but anyways, after half a week of gluttony, which actually resulted in ennui and an overall dissatisfaction in life's tasty pleasures, i think i'm turning back to obsessing about food. more specifically, i'm interested to know how much i spend on food per week.

actually this is something i'd been wanting to track - ever since members of congress took on the congressional food stamp challenge, in which each person spent only $21 (the equivalent of what many of the poorest people get in food stamps) per week for food, i've been curious about the exact limits of a wallet, and its effects on your belt.

then i see this article on Men's Health about healthy, relatively inexpensive weekly shopping lists: Shop once, Eat for a Week.

men's health is my guide to living healthy...during season. the magazine is a great read on the elliptical, to make those tortuous 15 minutes pass. so in case this link goes away (it's not a blog, but a stupid online magazine article) here is the basic text of the article below.

Of course, now that I look at the article closer, it only extends to Thursday night. What the heck do i do friday and saturday? i guess they assume you go out and eat. not everyone can live a spartan life like i do when i'm training for taekwondo, but alas.

and if you read the recipes closely, you see a pretty diverse menu. good for a magazine that wants its readers to stay interested, i guess, whereas it would really be easy to buy large bulk potatoes, rice and maybe some meat and make variations on that. but basically:

sunday = american/italian
monday = tropical/latin american
tuesday = italian
wednesday = asian
thursday = american/spanish

The Grocery List:

Frozen Shrimp 1 lb uncooked, medium size
Rotisserie Chicken 1 cooked
Pork Tenderloin 1 herb-flavored or lemon-garlic marinated (about 3/4 lb)
Bell Peppers 1 tray tricolor (or pick out 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange)
Yellow Onions 2 lb
Baby Mixed Greens 4 oz bag, washed
Portobello Mushrooms 2 large caps
Asparagus 1 bunch
Garlic 1 head
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto 8 oz jar
Avocado 1 ripe
Mozzarella 8 oz bag, shredded
Instant Brown Rice 1 lb box
Black Beans 12 oz can
100% Whole-Wheat Fettuccine 16 oz box
10" 100% Whole-Wheat Tortillas 1 package

THE PANTRY LIST Buy these crucial building blocks every couple of months and you'll always have them on hand to construct meals around the clock.

Reduced-fat mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
Low-sodium soy sauce
Peanut butter
Extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese
Tabasco or other hot sauce



3/4 bunch asparagus (about 8 medium spears)
2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced 1/4" thick
1 medium onion, cut in 1/4"-thick rings
1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 rotisserie chicken breast or leg

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Remove the woody ends of the asparagus by gently bending each stalk until it breaks -- it'll naturally snap off at the right spot. In a baking dish, toss the vegetables with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables have developed a light brown crust. Serve half the vegetables with the chicken and a simple mixed-greens salad tossed with olive oil and vinegar. Reserve the other half of the vegetables for other meals this week.

430 calories, 36 grams (g) protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 25 g fat (7 g saturated), 5 g fiber

The next day's lunch


1 c chopped rotisserie chicken (left over from Sunday's dinner)
3 bell peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 whole-wheat tortilla
2 Tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small handful mixed greens
1 c leftover asparagus, mushrooms, and onions

To chop the chicken, remove the skin and use a fork to pull the meat from the bones. Then place the meat on your cutting board and cut it into bite-size pieces -- it should yield about 3 cups' worth. Use 1 cup for the wrap and save the other 2 cups for later in the week. Chop the peppers into 1/2" pieces. They should yield about 4 cups; use 1/2 cup today and save the rest in a plastic bag for dinner.

Mix the garlic, mayonnaise, and vinegar together to make the aioli. Brush the tortilla with the aioli, then put the cheese down the middle, followed by the greens, chicken, and vegetables. To make a tight wrap, fold the bottom of the tortilla up first, then roll it from the side.

400 calories, 43 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 5 g fiber



1/4 c instant brown rice (measured dry)
1/2 can black beans, drained and heated
1/2 Tbsp canola or other cooking oil
1 medium onion, sliced
Bell peppers, chopped into 1/2" pieces (left over from Sunday's lunch)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz shrimp, defrosted
Cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, or Tabasco to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
1 whole-wheat tortilla, warmed

Cook the brown rice according to the directions on the box, then add the black beans. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. Add the onion slices, the bell- pepper pieces saved from lunch, and the chopped garlic, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown. Mix in the shrimp and spices, and cook for another 3 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and firm. Serve half of the shrimp fajita mix with a small scoop of the rice and beans, the avocado slices, and the warm tortilla.

Reserve the rest of the rice and beans in a microwavable bowl or plastic container along with the leftover fajita mix, and use it for tomorrow's lunch.

602 calories, 42 g protein, 71 g carbohydrates, 22.5 g fat (3 g saturated), 15 g fiber

The next day's lunch


Leftover rice, beans, and fajita mix (from Monday's dinner)
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
Salsa (optional)

Heat the leftovers in a plastic container or a microwavable bowl for 60 seconds. Top with the avocado and salsa to taste, if desired.

650 calories, 37 g protein, 85 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat (3 g saturated), 16 g fiber



6 oz 100% whole-wheat fettuccine
1 c chopped rotisserie chicken (left over from Sunday's dinner)
1 c roasted vegetables (left over from Sunday's dinner)
1 1/2 Tbsp sun-dried-tomato pesto
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Cook the fettuccine in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Toss half the pasta with some canola oil and reserve in a container for Thursday's lunch. Combine the chicken, vegetables, and sun-dried-tomato pesto with the remaining pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Grate some Parmesan and sprinkle on top. Serve with 1 cup of mixed greens, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

490 calories, 46 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat (5 g saturated), 6 g fiber

The next day's lunch


1 Tbsp sun-dried-tomato pesto
1 whole-wheat tortilla
1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c chopped rotisserie chicken (left over from Sunday)
1 c roasted vegetables (left over from Sunday)

Spread the pesto on the tortilla. Top with the cheese, chicken, and vegetables, and microwave open-faced for 1 minute, or until the cheese has fully melted. Fold over and slice into quarters. If you have time, try cooking it over low heat in a skillet or sauté pan for a crispier result.

440 calories, 38 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat (8 g saturated), 4 g fiber



1/2 c instant brown rice (measured dry)
1 tsp canola or other cooking oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 c mixed chopped peppers (left over from Monday night)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c chopped raw asparagus
8 oz shrimp, defrosted
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste (We like Sriracha.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the brown rice according to the package directions. Add the oil to a large sauté pan or wok and place over high heat. When the oil is smoking, add the onions, peppers, garlic, and asparagus, then stir-fry for 5 minutes, until the vegetables have browned slightly. Stir in the shrimp, soy sauce, and hot sauce and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve half of it over the brown rice, reserving the remaining stir-fry for lunch tomorrow.

592 calories, 36 g protein, 88 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat (2 g saturated), 9 g fiber

The next day's lunch


1 c shrimp stir-fry (left over from Wednesday's dinner)
3 oz cooked whole-wheat fettuccine (left over from Tuesday's dinner)
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp water
Splash of vinegar or orange juice
1/4 tsp black pepper
Hot sauce to taste
1 Tbsp chopped peanuts (optional)

Toss the shrimp stir-fry with the leftover pasta. In a separate bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar or OJ, and pepper. Add the peanut-butter mixture and hot sauce to the stir-fry and pasta, and mix thoroughly. Top with peanuts, if desired. Eat cold or at room temperature.

530 calories, 43 g protein, 63 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 7 g fiber



1 pork tenderloin, about 3/4 pound (herb or lemon-garlic marinated, if available; check the meat section of your grocery store)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 1/2 c mixed chopped peppers (from Monday's lunch)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450˚F. In a baking dish, toss together the pork, onion, peppers, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the tenderloin (to an internal temperature of 150˚F, if using a thermometer). Enjoy half the pork and vegetables tonight, and save the rest -- storing both together in a sealed container -- for lunch tomorrow. (If you want a bigger, meal, prepare 1/4 cup of instant brown rice, measured dry. It'll add 170 calories, 4 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, and 2 g fiber to the nutrition information below.)

350 calories, 37 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 2 g fiber

The next day's lunch


1/2 Tbsp sun-dried-tomato pesto
1/2 Tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 whole-wheat tortilla
2 Tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
Vegetables and pork tenderloin, thinly sliced (from Thursday's dinner)

Combine the pesto and mayonnaise, mixing them together in a small bowl, and spread over the tortilla. Layer the cheese, pork slices, and leftover vegetables on top, and wrap it up.

480 calories, 48 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat (5 g saturated), 3 g fiber

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