(Photo by Ello on Unsplash)

This week we’ll be tapping back in with Charlie on food substitutes and trying new tastes, which things have helped make the transition easier, and which — not-so-much. And for double-dose goodness, we will also get a tips piece from Jamie on things she’s learned work best for planning, cooking, and packing meals that are meant to be “finished” in something like a microwave.

…Save your limp veggies, and click here for her troubleshooting fixes.

Meanwhile, it snowed and hailed here last week, so we are in comfort food overload in the Accidental Nutritionist kitchen, with many soupy/stew (aka stewps) items on this week’s menu:

Meal Plan – Week #8

Meals: “Colcannon” (Pork with Corned Beef Seasonings minus brine, Cabbage, Mashed Cauliflower, & Diced Carrots) / Italian Wedding White Bean & Tomato Soup with Kale / Herb de Province Chicken & Zucchini Stew / Pakistani Chicken Curry

Snacks: Chopped Veggies (for dipping) + Yellow & Green Squash Chips / Salsa / Balsamic Herb Dipping Sauce / Egg Whites / Berries / Naked Popcorn

Health stats: 24 lbs down, 13.5 inches down in total

With this week’s piece by Jamie, I keep thinking how far out this whole process seemed to be planned in a fated way since January of this year. That’s when Jamie and I picked up sticks from a 600 sq ft apartment downtown and moved across the water to a 1000 sq ft one, where the open kitchen with “U” double-wide counters covers about 100 sq ft of that. This was an immense change of pace from the galley kitchenette of about 45 sq ft that she had still managed to build extraordinary eats out of.

…But looking at this place on Friday afternoons, the carnage and sheer space necessity to meal plan, cook, and box up this many meals at one time would have been impossible.

I love me some history, and that awesomely located brick walk-up apartment built in the 1930s was my home for 14 years. Which is great if you don’t cook and are one person. But what was meant to be a short-term transition move by Jamie via Seattle turned into a much longer stay when the world was simultaneously plunged into lockdown, and she started her day-job consulting business.

…We made do. But holy heck, was it tight.

And the kitchen was ridiculous.

I ceded full rights and access to it immediately and stayed the hell out as often as possible. Which was sorta necessary as you couldn’t fit two people in it at the same time anyway. There was only the stovetop as all cutting and prep space, no overhead fans of any kind, and the cabinetry was so tight the open oven door juuuust cleared the opposite wall drawers by about two centimeters. Needless to say, there was no dishwasher, and only two pairs of outlets for the entire room, with such limited voltage allowance that if you’d run the microwave while attempting to boil kettle water for tea, you’d blow a fuse.

Knowing what you already know about Jamie, it’s a damn miracle she survived — not Covid lockdowns per se, but specifically that kitchen.

It was her daily Gethsemane.

…For like 2 years.

With what it takes to have the study and mental space, plus the physical requirements of being able to cook 4-6 things at the same time in/on different appliances, and wash up from multiple rounds of utensil usage, have room to cool, box up, and label, and a place to keep your notes and computer for drop-of-the-hat research needs…

(The mess is horrific but necessary. Obviously.)

…As you can see, there is no way we would have been able to do what we do here every week if it was not for the space and the kitchen necessities that became Jamie’s “requirement” when we were finally able to start apartment hunting.

(Mine was a bigger bathroom.)

Currently, we have a 14 outlet plug-in capacity in our kitchen alone. And obviously: we use it.

…Which is all to say, the importance of SPACE and accommodation to do this level of meal planning weekly is at least as important as the tools you use to make it happen. The daily frustration of making one meal in that galley kitchen and finding space in the fridge to house its leftovers has nothing to do with the personal capacity to self-educate and experiment your way into succeeding with this kind of project. But at the same time, it has everything to do with limiting you so severely that even the nutritional restrictions seem small by comparison in figuring out how you’re gonna pull this off week to week.

I am extremely thankful we don’t have to.

…And I am extremely thankful for my bathtub.

…But that’s another blog for another day…

Happy eating!