(Cumin Smoky Pork Shoulder, & Black Bean & Corn Salsa over Brown Jasmine Rice)

Am working on about 3 1/2 hours of sleep at this point, friends, so bare with me as we jump into week 22 of our meal plan journey (and night “I-can’t-even-remember-anymore” of my chronic insomnia.)

Meal Plan – Week #22 (Written by Jamie)

Cost: $86.15 week for 3 people // $1.37/serving* (*NOTE: These numbers are calculated off what we actually spend each week, which may include occasional supplements of grain, starch, or beef for Drew and Jamie which Charlie cannot have. Week-to-week fluctuations in cost are more reflective of the times we need to pick up staples like olive oil and vinegar, or weeks where Jamie is prepping three weeks’ worth of cauliflower rice, rather than one week’s meal plan costing extra. Taken overall, we believe this offers a more accurate reflection of what this diet might look like financially for others.)

Meal Plan Diet Categories: (Gluten-Free, Lactose/Dairy Free, Diabetes Diet, Low Fat/Low Cholesterol, Cardiac Diet, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian)

Meals: (Click on the names to go to the recipe) (1) Smoky Pork Shoulder / (2) Chicken, Baby Kale, and White Bean Salad / (3) Black Bean and Corn Salsa / (4) Sweet Potato Steaks / (5) Tuna Salad (variation 2) / (6) Seared Chickpeas (variation 4) / (7) Garlic Green Beans / (8) Brown Rice

Snacks:  Chopped Veggies (for dipping) / Balsamic Herb Dipping Sauce / Egg Whites / Naked Popcorn / Almond Butter

So let’s talk about when schedules get over-bloated, and sleeping and eating times get all jumbled up. I’ve been awake since 3 a.m. (for instance) and opened the work laptop by 4:15, deciding that would be more productive than watching youtube on my phone for another 4 hours. It was an insanely busy week last week running to extremely late hours, which carried into the weekend, and a lot of that was drive time and different locations working between 2 counties, frequently within the same day. Charlie was also bounding in and out of remote work dealing with a rash of COVID outbreaks, contact sourcing, reporting, and finding coverages at her company. Meanwhile, Jamie was returning from cross-country travels where she put finishing edit touches on an NEA grant, and came home to a laundry list of client to-dos with one day to complete Charlie’s weekly meal plan.

We’ve all been stupid-busy. Obviously.

…But even with these all-hour and all-location requirements…(or better put, BECAUSE of them), we really have to focus when it comes to our refueling and self-care. Cuz, I dunno if you’ve noticed, but it is also really really freakin’ hot out there.

How do you cope with all this and still stay on food-and-meal-plan task? Here’s a few of our go-tos to try if you are ALSO being pulled in too many directions, and aren’t quite sure where to start:

  1. Always travel with a water bottle. I keep it next to my keys on purpose. Charlie has TWO with her at all times. Refill before you go out every. single. time. Even if you think it’s just a quick milk run, or trip to the post office. Traffic is almost as fun as gas prices these days, and I have so many times relied on that water in backups and detours to keep me going.
  2. Sometimes water just isn’t enough. In these really brutal heatwaves, and especially on extremely low sodium diets, you will need an electrolyte boost to replace what you’re sweating out. Charlie and I both get massive headaches without making sure that balance is taken care of. Our go-to is a packet of Emergen-C which we keep stocked in our cars, purses, and day-packs, just in case…but a hit of Pedialyte also works great — both with the added bonus of vitamins and much higher potassium, fewer calories, less sugar, and without the added chemicals of average sports drinks.
  3. Have a day-pack ever-ready. Both Jamie and I have our own versions for when we know we will be out for several hours at any given time. It’s kinda like our adult diaper bag in that we pack drinks, meds, healthy snacks, books, and sometimes bring an extra small ice chest with stocks of backup drinks and meal options for the back seat. Charlie does her day-travels with her lunchbox as well. Because “fast food” is extra convenient and extra enticing when you are hot and tired and busy. So help yourself out by building and bringing a safety net buffer.
  4. Set mealtime alarms. Seriously, it helps. Pulling an all-dayer with no food isn’t negotiable for something like diabetes watch diets (which Charlie was on.) You have to sustain your blood sugar, and replenish your fuel in a timely manner, no matter how busy you get. Does Charlie’s phone alarm go off in the middle of a meeting sometime? Yes, it does. Will she take out her lunch and start eating it while her boss keeps talking? Dang straight. She has shared her journey with her co-workers, and they understand the drill. And they are supportive of it. It has often encouraged healthier eating habits in them too. Sure, upon occasion she needs to delay by 15 minutes or so to wrap something up, or deal with an ER issue, but the point is she has put priority on this self-caring necessity and holds herself accountable for it.
  5. Get some sleep where and when you can. My nauseatingly long bout of insomnia is really taking a toll on my body. Everything from flip-flop tummy, to muscle aches, headaches, focus problems, and loss of appetite (mostly from the flip-flop tummy.) We all know sleep is a big freakin’ deal. I’ve literally even tried crying myself into it out of desperation, but all I end up with is a dehydration headache. So here’s my deal: I know that with my anxiety, I won’t win the fight if my brain decides it won’t let me go back to sleep. I will usually give it an hour or so, but at some point, I usually choose productivity and a place to focus my anxiety with purpose. This is where remote or home working options are stellar. Having the ability to log on and start working through a list of to-dos (even while tired) at least makes me feel self-powered and in control of … something. But just as important as that option is it me, is the discipline of putting the work away when the day’s tasks are done, and laying down again to rest. Even if that ends up happening before noon. I use that work and productivity and sense of accomplishment to help ease my anxious mind, and allow a nap when I can get it. Sleep and gentle proteins like eggs and chicken, and hits of steamed veggies and rice can also help bring the tummy round the bend back to a better place.

As I wrap up the first half of my day now just after 7 a.m., and Jamie has popped into the kitchen for her first cup of coffee, I am off to lay down for a bit. Because the one good thing about working so early in the morning is a total lack of distraction. Which means 4 hours of preplanned work done in 3, which I think earns me a good little nap!

…Here’s hoping…


P.S. Don’t forget to check out Charlie’s guest article on her many adventures with egg whites and building breakfast combos with color and pizazz!