I ate mahi mahi today. Twice in fact. It’s like some ancient language of dinners: mahi-mahi-mahi-mahi. Mahi. If you say it out loud enough times it starts to sound odd. (Go ahead – try it. I’ll wait.)
Why have mahi-mahi-mahi-mahi? Cause of a little thing called leftovers. In these sort of economic times, it seems ridiculous to waste food. (Actually anytime is a ridiculous time to waste food…) So while I have been good about my diet I have had to make realistic decisions about what to eat. Candy – bad. Leftover fish – good. Leftover Easter chocolate – not good.
What is it about leftovers? Apparently people who write “meal plans” have never heard of such a concept. Either I’m cooking wrong or they’re eating way more than they say. Or something like that.
I hit a wall a few weeks back and worked on tweaking the intake. As I prowled around the internet looking for just the right diet….(yes I honestly entered “why do I eat less and still gain more” into the search engine)…I found tons of those meal plans. And I’m always rather frustrated by them.
Here’s what happens (to me) when I check out one of those “healthy” meal plans:
First of all – the breakfast options. Hmmm….on Monday you’re supposed to eat fresh pineapple with some cottage cheese and coffee. No fresh pineapple here. Frankly it’s canned or nothing. Shhh don’t tell the meal planner. Actually don’t tell them you’ve skipped the pineapple entirely as you believe it goes better with ham than cottage cheese. Berries instead….but you know you’re eyeing the kids’ Frosted Flakes the whole time.
Tuesday you are supposed to eat oatmeal. Not stick it in the microwave, instant stuff. But the real steel-cut oats. You figure to go all out – get the nice brand of oats and search the internet for the perfect oatmeal recipe that still is healthy. Discover a recommendation that putting it in the slow cooker is a great way to cook ahead. Stay up late Monday to make sure you don’t put the slow-cooker oats on TOO early as you are sure you’ll oversleep and burn them.
Tuesday morning there is some yummy looking oatmeal …. lots of it. And boy that just needed a dash or two or three of brown sugar. Maybe some more berries. Even hubby likes it. The kids take one bite and demand Frosted Flakes. You are excited about the energy you feel from the yummy oats. And you put that energy to good use as you fling open cabinet doors looking for enough plasticware to store 6 gallons of oatmeal for the week. And then you need to scrub the slow-cooker of all the burnt sections of oatmeal. That stick really well.
On Wednesday the meal plan calls for you to eat some fruit and cream of wheat. But your husband reminds you that he can’t get to the cream for his coffee due to all the oatmeal on the fridge shelves. You console yourself that they are practically the same thing – cream of wheat (never ate it before anyway) and oatmeal. You dutifully pour more Frosted Flakes for the kids. Then you try not to look at the gelatinous glop that was once steaming oatmeal as you put it in the microwave. It comes out okay but you are still fighting that gag reflex.
By Wednesday afternoon you realize that maybe the oatmeal can sit another day. So you tackle planning for Thursday’s breakfast. It includes one Raspberry Ginger Oregano Organic Whole Wheat Gluten-Free Sugar-Free* made from scratch muffin. One. Only one. But they have the recipe to make it easy. So you figure it has to be good.
You gather the ingredients for the recipe and find it includes 1/2 teaspoon of some spice that you do not currently have at home. But this ingredient is in bold so you know it is crucial to the outcome of the muffins and provides you magically all the nutrients you need. So you trudge to the store to shell out $5 for a spice that you only need a pinch of and you will never use again. Along with a bag of organic whole wheat flour cause you’ve forgotten that you already have a bag of it in the bottom of the fridge at home from the last time you tried to follow a diet plan.
As you make the recipe Wednesday night (as the time baking will make up for the sit ups you skipped that day), you reread it as you stir the batter and realize that it yields 18 muffins. Crap. And you have already poured in all the ingredients and can’t cut it in half. Apparently these diet gurus assume you’ll be hosting a diet brunch for all your friends on Thursday as there is no mention of this muffin again in the next 17 days of the meal plan.
You figure might as well go ahead and make them. Maybe if you put some of that leftover vanilla icing from your daughter’s party on the muffins, the kids will think they are getting cupcakes for breakfast.
You try to stay awake long enough to not burn the muffins. When you set them on the countertop, they look a little odd but you figure it’s late and you’re tired.
At 7 am the muffins are looking even more dubious. But there’s that icing you have. Go dig that out.
Unfortunately now you have your back turned on your kids. The kids into whom you have hammered the importance of reading. Thus, they have pounced upon the organic whole wheat flour and strained applesauce stained recipe you printed off the internet and are reading it to each other.
Gross Mom. This says these are healthy muffins.
Did you make these?
Eww don’t we have real muffins? With chocolate chips?
You’re standing there with two sad muffins in hand, barely disguised under the hard-to-spread-now-that-it-has-been-in-the-fridge-for-four-weeks icing. And don’t forget the icing you’re licking off the corner of your lips…..
Mom! You’re not supposed to be eating icing. You’re on a DIET!
DADDY!!! Mom’s eating icing out of the container.
Caught in the sugar rush, you might accidentally hiss that the children can have ice cream for lunch if they would just HUSH RIGHT NOW! Then you smile at your husband and you don’t blame him at all when he looks at the muffins and says he’ll grab breakfast on the way to work.
As the kids dump their cereal bowls in the sink cause at least they’ve learned something this week, you lick the icing off your fingers and stare at the 18 muffins on the countertop. And you figure another morning of gelatinous oatmeal it is. The muffins get bagged up and put aside for lunch.
And by now you’re pondering how your attempt to pretend that chicken wrap at McDonald’s was the same thing as the chicken salad recipe on the diet meal plan was really a smoke screen. But you also know that you’re gonna need to eat all that oatmeal in order to find the leftover chicken that’s in the fridge somewhere. And the muffins will have to be eaten so you can find your breadbox again. And you recognize that you’ve lasted longer on this meal plan than on the previous one!
And thus I eat mahi-mahi leftovers. They are better than chicken wraps from McDonald’s. Especially if you heat a tortilla and call it a fish taco. But more importantly, the lesson is – meal plans are for wimps. Real moms figure it out as they go along.
*Obviously not a real recipe. My apologies to any raspberry muffins out there.
**Details of this scenario may have been very exaggerated. Just slightly.