Isn't a Meal Plan Restrictive?
I handed the 30 Day Meal Plan across the table. Three people had requested them, because they or their spouses were facing various health issues. And they'd heard that a vegetarian lifestyle could be helpful.
All the while, my friend C. watched with a little smile. She told me later, "I thought you were crazy. Like, how controlling is that to make a meal plan and follow it? But when I asked if it got monotonous to follow a meal plan, you asked me, 'What're you having for dinner tonight?' When I said I didn't know, you smiled at me, and I suddenly realized there could be freedom in following a plan."
In the same conversation C. was referring to, she'd finally decided she would fall back on "chicken". I probed, "How many times will you eat chicken this week?" She admitted they'd probably have chicken at least four or more times.
So she was going to eat chicken most of the week... broiled, baked, fried, maybe microwaved. But the 30 Day Meal Plan, should I choose to follow it that same week, would take me around the world— lentils made Indian style, pasta made Provencal style, black beans with a Mexican flair, chickpeas made African style, and so on. A rainbow of culture and vegetables.
C. asked me for the meal plan.
Is a meal plan restrictive? Not at all. There's freedom in knowing "what's for dinner tonight". A healthy option is planned right into the schedule. Shopping gets easier. Meal prep becomes a snap when you're not always trying new recipes. And nobody stands over you saying, "Did you follow the plan?" So, you can depart when you want to.
The meal above, for instance, was a departure. I had left over escarole, some fresh green beans, a small bunch of broccoli in the fridge. So, voila. Escarole soup. Lentil salad. Potatoes with green beans and broccoli.
Saute until light brown...
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
Add and cook until tender...
- 1 container vegetable broth
- 1/2 bunch escarole, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- generous pour of olive oil
Potato Greens Pan Casserole
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
Remove onions. Add the following in layers (greens in between a top and bottom layer of potatoes), cover, and saute until tender...
- 4 potatoes sliced thinly, salted and peppered
- green beans, chopped
- broccoli, chopped
- the sauteed onion & 1/2 tsp. dried fennel (can mix with the green layer)
Top with shredded cheddar if desired, and a generous pour of olive oil.
Escarole soup photo, by L.L. Barkat.