(Photo by Food Photographer phototastyfood.ru on Unsplash)

Raise your hand if it’s been too hot for too long, wherever you are. We are in the Pac NW, and even WE have finally caught the summer souper sweat weather of gross. Coming from CA (dry heat) to the WA state rainforest-like humidity is still something I haven’t gotten used to, even 20 years in. This last week felt like the whole western side of the state was sitting inside the mouth of a panting dog. Gross-awful. So bad that working yourself up to the action of eating became like this whole other job. In this climate combo, nothing sounds good but ice cream, bottomless margaritas, and whatever closest restaurant has air conditioning (not a guarantee in these parts.)

Knowing this weather wave was coming, Jamie planned accordingly to help Charlie in her heaty-est moments of summer eating:

Meal Plan – Week #26  (Written by Jamie)

Cost: $139.13 week for 3 people // $2.20 /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. 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) Black Beans (variation 9) / (2) Chicken, Chickpea, and Parsley Salad / (3) Crunchy Mediterranean Kale Salad / (4) Garden Salads / (5) Roast Turnips / (6) Herbs de Provence Chicken  / (7) Pork Shoulder / (8) Brown Rice

Snacks:  Chopped Veggies (for dipping) /Herb Dipping Sauce / Egg Whites / Naked Popcorn / Pumpkin Seeds / Sweet Peppers

…The thing is, most people can’t do just endless salads for everyday eating. Beyond the fact that many people need to force themselves to eat greens even once a week, I know my system (for instance) gets super crabby if I have too many raw veggies too many days in a row — while Charlie’s is super adaptable to them (a convenient and very necessary truth for her dietary plans overall.) In fact, I have a strange ability to lose weight the day after a pasta night and gain after an all-salad one. A freak fact that took forever to pinpoint, and one that will immediately backfire if I try to have leftovers the next day. My system NEEDS carbs, not just craves them. Without some kind of energy “fillers,” it’s like my body assumes I’m in starvation mode and holds onto every damn thing.

The addition of brown rice and quinoa fillers to Charlie’s meal plans was something we were pulling for the hardest moving toward her first check-up. To be given dispensation to add those carbs into her meal planning helped grow and sustain her sense of “fullness” for longer stretches of time — a fantastically timed allowance. With busy summer schedules and long commuting, the ability to build meals that work both in a “hot” rice/quinoa bowl and a cold salad straight from the fridge allows fast and cook-free options for Charlie’s hot day eats. And Jamie and I have been subsisting on the same meals crammed into flour tortilla wraps for easy dinners in our hours-long current commutes to and from all our side gigging.

…Which is all to say, one well-planned hot day in the kitchen a week can actually feed three people a whole week at a time — we know this to be true from practice. It’s one of the benefits of meal planning that goes beyond just the time-saving element. Heating up your kitchen to a minimum and having meal option combos that don’t even require reheating but offer more punch than just a raw bowl of salad is important to keep your nutrition balanced, give you variety to help speak to flavor cravings even in the heat, and keep you fueled for whatever shenanigans you’ve got ahead of you for the day.