Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Glimpse into Eco-Babyz #8: Dinner

Unlike most families I know, we do not eat dinner together because daddy works second shift and leaves home shortly after 2 pm. This of course impacts when and what I make for dinner. Since I have to prepare it at lunch time, I am often short on time. We keep it simple and have a mix of grains, meat, and veggies. Though it should be starting with veggies, then grains and meat. One reason we can keep our food budget low is that we eat European size portions, in other words, our servings are about half the size of a typical restaurant entrée. The goal is to nourish ourselves, not stuff ourselves so that we can't get up after dinner. Smaller portions enable us to get higher quality food as well. With a couple of exceptions, pretty much all dinners are made from scratch around here! Here is what we like to eat:
  • Grains: We currently consume a lot of grains mostly due to our budget. But I am hoping to change that since we're approaching our 30s and they are no longer as easily digested. For anyone who is overweight I would recommend steering clear of most grains altogether. Our typical dinner is accompanied by either rice, pasta, potatoes, buckwheat, or quinoa - the latter two being the healthiest and quinoa being quite new to me. I have yet to explore the recipes I can make with it. We buy rice in bulk (Basmati, India), 50 pounds at a time - it seems to really last forever. We've used a little less than half the bag and it's already been more than 6 months since we bought it!
  • Meat: By American standards we consume very little meat. We usually buy the 'all-natural' chicken at Trader Joe's without antibiotics and typically we just get drumsticks unless we're expecting company. We can't afford the organic chicken unfortunately. In three weeks we eat a total of about 18 drumsticks and 1 package of ground turkey among the three of us. We have at least one or two meatless days each week. The chicken I usually make in our toaster oven. Most times I just sprinkle a little salt and pepper, sometimes I make mustard crusted chicken with Trader Joe's mustard from France and bread crumbs. The ground turkey usually goes in the soup in the form of meatballs or I make my own meatballs as a side with onions, garlic, bread crumbs, and finely chopped veggies if I have some on hand.

  • Veggies: By far my favorite part of our meals! Sometimes I incorporate the veggies prepared with the grains, but most often we have them raw in the form of fresh salads. It can be a little time consuming depending on the number of ingredients, but always worth it. Since we shop every three weeks, I sort of have a plan for serving vegetables even in the third week when most would already spoil. The first week we eat fresh raw vegetables such as the salad above. The second week, a mix of whatever has kept fresh and some frozen veggies. The third week we usually have frozen veggies plus those that keep from spoiling longer such as cauliflower, avocados (that we buy near our house), celery, and vacuum packaged cooked beets. Our typical fresh salad pictured above is comprised of baby spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, steamed beets, green onions, olive oil and pinch of salt.
  • Sandwiches: Not only do we have sandwiches for lunch, but sometimes also for dinner - usually once a week. You can see what we put on sandwiches here. Since baby E is not really a sandwich person, I make her a 'sandwich pizza'. I cut a thin slice of our homemade bread and top it with butter or mayo, tomatoes, avocados, and shredded raw milk cheese and pop it in the toaster oven for five minutes. She loves it! Especially taking it apart.
  • Homemade Pizza: Once a week or two we make our own pizza. I especially like to make it with my hubby on Sunday. We use TJs pre-made crust, but I keep promising myself I'll make my own sometime. I make bread already, how hard can it be? We top it with pizza sauce, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, avocados, bacon, and raw milk cheese. Yes, it is fat! Tastes unbelievable and baby E loves it too. We need some fat anyway.

  • Miscellaneous: Sometimes we make random things for dinner, like crepes on the weekends. On Tuesdays when I have a conference call that ends half an hour before my husband leaves, I am quite short on time. I make the Chicken Dumplings from TJs that are always in our freezer for 'just in case'. Baby E loves these and always asks for more. I also used to buy the TJs Biryani, but my husband doesn't like it so I stopped buying it. Other than that, I find the time to make all the meals so we don't have to eat anything pre-packaged. It is both cheaper and healthier.
  • Our dinners usually end with a dessert. Come back for our next Glimpse into Eco-Babyz post on snacks and desserts, you don't want to miss it!
      What do you like to make for dinner?


    1. Everything you eat sounds super healthy. Even the fat pizza still looks healthy( well except the bacon part, once in a while I guess it doesn't hurt)

    2. I thought you might like this quinoa recipe. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Quinoa-and-Black-Beans/Detail.aspx It's a great, inexpensive non-meat dish with a lot of flavor and lots of room for variations (in terms of veggies). It's in our dinner rotation on a regular basis (even our 4 y.o. likes it).

    3. I am very impressed how organized you are on budget, i go to TJ every week, can't leave without that store. We eat 6lb of organic apples in a week. I would say more nuts veggies and fruits than bread. Recently sprouted TJ bread is our favorite.
      Only if my hubby would not be so picky about food and in his health condition it would be so much easier.


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