Food Planning

Sam and I try and plan our meals for a few reasons: 1. so we know what to buy at the shops, 2. so we know what we’re cooking and who is cooking and 3. to try and keep costs down. This week, we spent about $90 each on groceries, which is a lot I guess, but did include some rather expensive ingredients for a strawberry custard (vegan and natural) tart I’m making for a dinner tonight (the custard of which is setting in the fridge right now *fingers crossed*. Hopefully, these groceries will last us most of the week, and quite a few of the things will last longer (ie. the dried kidney beans, oats, millet etc).

Our meal planning generally just involves us deciding what we’d like for the week (my choices generally come after looking at amazing food blogs all week), my preferences at the moment tend to lean away from meat, dairy and wheat meals, whereas Sam likes to include some meat and dairy. We are compromising mostly, and buying meat from a butcher and small amounts of dairy. And who cooks is dependent on who is home and when! We’re both so busy that we are rarely home for a full night each.

This weeks meal are (in no particular order):

  • Spicy vegetable soup
  • Stirfried vegetable millet
  • Vegan Fettuccini
  • Vegetarian Pizza (home made base, and basil pesto instead of tomato sauce)
  • Sushi
  • Lamb Roast
  • Fish with ginger soy glaze

Lunches will be leftovers, sandwhichs (home made rolls), and a recreation of a fabulous salad my sister made (Pomegrante and fetta).
Breakfasts will be the chia seed oatmeal.
Snacks will be fruit, veggies and I am going to make some muslei bars (this weeks ingredients include sultantas, oats, almonds, seasame seeds and apricot pieces).

But my big question is, how do I know if I’m getting a balance of nutrients and minerals? In my reading, I’ve found it’s essential to get a balance for maximum health benefits.

I’ve decided to attempt to use Five-Phase Theory, which is based on chinese philosophy.

Basically, the circle going around in a clock-wise direction is the ‘nourishment cycle’ and the inside star arrows are the ‘control cycle’. The points are ‘nourising’ when going in a clockwise direction: Wood nourishies Fire, which nourishes Earth (think of all the greenery that comes after a bushfire/burnoff), which nourishes Metal, which nourishes Water, which nourishes Wood. In turn, each point ‘controls’ it’s opposite: Wood controls Earth, which holds Water, which extinguishes Fire which melts Metal which cuts Wood.

Each point is classifed by various elements, transformations and categories. The categories include seasons, organ systems, falvors, colors, positive emotions, negative emotions, cell constitutents, major vitamins, minterals and endocrine glands.

So theoretically to balance meals, we should have equal amounts from each phase, this won’t always work because each individual is different. A well balanced meal will have each phase represented in the meal. You need to identify the major phase/s of eahc meal and attempt to at least put in minor phases in.

On the flip side, if you are feeling unbalanced (ie. just not quite feeling ‘right’ or ‘with it’) then you can determine which foods to eat. If you eat an exess of one phase (ie. you are unbalanced) you maybe get a craving for food in the phased ‘controlled’ by the food you ate. For example: if you have eaten excess of wood (ie. wheat) you may get a craving for earth (ie. sweets).

So back, to my meal planning to attempt to ‘balance’ at least one of our meals, I’ve tried to choose an element or two out of each category. So for the roast lamb:

  • Wood – represented by the lamb and oil for roasting
  • Earth – parsnip and pumpkin mash
  • Fire – roasting (cooking) and asparagus
  • Water – steaming (the veggies, cooking), black seasme seeds (on the marinade)
  • Metal – ginger and garlic (on the marinatde)

As for the stir-fried millet:

  • Wood – carrot, egg, oil, frying
  • Earth – corn cut from the cob
  • Fire – Asparagus
  • Water – soy sauce (tamari)
  • Metal – ginger, garlic, shallots, egg

There is so much research out there, and other theories, and I am by no means an expert whatsoever, nor do I think that this should be followed by everyone. I have no idea if this will work, but it’s something interesting to try, and it certainly won’t harm me! One of the things I’ve learnt from Annemarie Colbin’s book ‘Food and Healing’ is only do it if it feels ‘right’.

Right now, I need to go and make my strawberry and grape glaze for my custard tart (which I’m proud to say has set quite well whilst I’ve been writing this).

Tonight, we’re going to watch Food, Inc. So prepare for a mini-review!

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