In an effort to physically prepare myself for the post-apocalyptic conditions that the austerity budget will bring (and certainly not because I’m sick of being morbidly obese) I have decided to go on a diet. Well actually I decided four months ago, but this week I actually started. I’ve tried various diets in the pass and have enjoyed some success (the most successful of which was the Atkins, lost about six stone, but it just doesn’t feel right). However no matter how well the diet goes at first after a few months I inevitably fall back to my bad old ways. Which is pretty disastrous when your existence is as sedentary as mine. After giving the problem some, admittedly less than in-depth, examination I concluded that the big problem with eating healthy was the time and effort involved. It’s much easier to open a pack of crisps or give domino a shout than it is to throw together a salad or grill some fish. So the two watchwords for my diet plan were Speed and Convenience.
As I mentioned above I tried various diet plans before and the two most successful were the Atkins and the Weight Watchers No Count diets. However the Atkins one, while I do believe its medically viable, just doesn’t feel “right” when you’re on it. It’s over reliance on meat was also going to be an issue price wise (despite my facetious comment about the budget having a diet that was “economically sustainable” was an issue). The Weight Watchers No Count diet had proved quite easy to adapt to daily life, but the ever present points lead to weird patterns of hording and binging, as well as trying to “game the system”. As such I decided to use the No Count diet as a rough guideline but tailor the diet to my specific goals of speed and convenience.
My first decision was to prioritise convenience over culinary exploration, as such I decided to go with a very small (or no) rotation of dishes for breakfast and lunch. My culinary experiments would be restricted solely to the evening meal. Though even then the meals would need to take less time to prepare and cook than their main competitors – take away food. So my basic criteria were that they should take less than thirty minutes to prepare and cook. The meal would also need to be more or less “free” on the Weight Watchers No Count plan. With these loose criteria in mind I turned to the internet and began my recipe search.
I’d already decided to go with porridge for breakfast and a smoothie for lunch. I choose porridge for breakfast because it’s quick to make and fairly filling (and as we all know, eating breakfast first thing makes it easier to sleep). The smoothie for lunch was HAX as the kids like to say on the interwebs. One of the foundations of any healthy eating plan or diet (apart from the more fringe or esoteric ones) is your “Five a day”. But I’m not the world’s biggest fan of fruit and veg. Therefore I decided to compact all five portions of fruit and veg into one serving (and my colon be damned!). So with my two staple meals out of the way I moved on to compiling my list of dinners.
As I intend to comment on each day individually I’ll wait till then to further detail and discuss the recipes (I bet you can’t wait). I initially planned out a two week block as experience has shown me that mentally I find that easier to deal with than the a new eating plan stretching off into infinity and it’s also a realistic amount of time to shop for.
While I generally dislike the whole “There’s an app for that” meme I should point out that I have been using a meal planner to make this process easier. I’m using Mealboard, which I really can’t recommend enough. It’s only a little over a quid and it’s proved extremely useful. I use it to plan out my meals, store recipes and create/update my grocery list. It’s even more useful now that you can save and load from “the cloud”, which allows you to edit the recipes on the website and then sync them to your phone.
On Tuesday afternoon I set out to buy my ingredients. Grocery list (courtesy of the aforementioned Mealboard) in hand (and by in hand I mean on my iPhone) I set off for the metropolis of Dundalk (and long the way I press ganged mother and Sean into helping me fill it). As frugality was an important, though not over-powering, element of this dietary plan our first port of call was Tesco’s so that I could take advantage of Patrick’s staff discount. Bitter experience has thought me that no matter how super the market is you will never manage to fill your entire list in one place. This proved through once again as Tesco’s proved weirdly bereft of smoked salmon, fancy smoked turkey sausage, bean sprouts and lemons. Still I have to say that I did manage to fill the majority of my list. When I decided to start eating healthily I was prepared to suffer some financial duress. But at the same time I hoped that it would amount to less a week than frequent takeaways and trips to the local shop. I had optimistically hoped to spend around €50 a week on groceries. So I was quite pleasantly surprised when my receipt totalled €100.13. Of course, finding the last few items on the list would push me over, but it was still a nice figure.
To finish off my list I visited Aldi and Liddl. I managed to secure everything but the bean sprouts and the andouille sausage. I also discovered that if you are buying any kind of fresh fruit do so in Liddl, it cost me less to buy fourteen oranges there than to buy five similarly sized oranges in Tesco’s. The smoked salmon was similarly prized among all three stores; I’m quite fond of Tesco’s own smoked salmon. But as I mentioned above they had none on Tuesday (or yesterday evening either) so I ended up going with a peppered smoked ham from Aldi. My inability to find the andouille sausage wasn’t surprising, but it was irritating. I bought some smoked german sausage to takes its place. The results of said replacement will be detailed later. Mother managed to secure some beansprouts for me Wednesday morning. So I was all set to start.
Listening to: Faith No More - We care a lot