Menu Plan – July 24th to July 30th 2017

It’s Sunday night, friends!

Weekends are a funny thing to me. On the one hand, I want to sit back and relax, however on the other hand, if I do this, I end up paying for it during the week. Especially Sundays! I did not realize this routine of preparing for the week ahead until I hit my mid-twenties. It feels like overnight that I went from being able to live out of a single outfit and a toothbrush in my backpack at a friend’s house to being completely irritated – protective even – of my Sundays. I think most notably my Sunday routine shift got to me earlier this year when I had to attend a shower on a Sunday and did not prepare in advance. While I was happy to celebrate with friends, I was completely irritated that evening trying to prepare my grocery lists, menus, work distribution and lunches for the week – and failed to do so! I spent the week feeling completed off my roll.

Gone are the days …

Who am I kidding? The young days were fun and I enjoyed the ability to run around without a plan in mind but I am also enjoying this, albeit hectic, but naturally “settling down” transition. And on that note, I present you, my readers, with my very first installment of the Sunday Night Weekly Menu Plan for this week.

To preface, I use a tool called Pepperplate. It is fantastic because you can save all your favourite recipes, generate meal plans and grocery lists on your computer. With the app, it syncs to your phone and iPad. This means you can pull up your grocery list while you are at the grocery store, pull up a recipe from your meal plan in the kitchen on your iPad and many more. Even if you identify as an old-fashioned pen ‘n paper kind of person, there is an easy print option. I am not sponsored by Pepperplate in any way, I just really love the simplicity and design layout. I have been using it consistently for almost 2 years at this point and it has made my life so much easier! It is my hope that by sharing this tool with you, I can help streamline and curate your love for food, recipes and SUNDAY NIGHT SANITY… sorry – got excited. LOL.

Alas, the meal plan de jour:

Click image to enlarge.

A few things you are going to notice right away: 1) I like consistency; 2) leftovers are my homie – I know some people veer away from eating leftovers and such but realistically, I am insanely busy working as a grad student and professional so when I cook, I batch cook. Additionally, I do not believe in throwing food out. Sure, it happens sometimes but I have been to impoverished areas such as Kibera, Kenya (see photo at the end of this post) and my partner has spent years doing work in various countries in East Africa including a recent publication on food assistance. At the end of the day: not being cognizant about where food in my home is going conflicts with my values which is likely why I am so strategic in using tools like Pepperplate. It lowers food cost and waste – something we can all agree on.

Listed above in my menu plan, you will notice some items are blue and some are black. The blue ones are recipes with links to blogs which I will include below:

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Snacks

In developing my menus, I consider what I have in my fridge and freezer first and accommodate my meals to those ingredients. For example, the creamy polenta with mushrooms, chickpeas and olives recipe – I have had cornmeal in my pantry for some time and it is driving me crazy because outside of cornbread, I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT TO DO WITH IT!! Although, I have a few ideas for recipe development come the colder weather.

Also note that I have included my water intake in my meal plan as a hope to push me to increase this (if you haven’t seen my 14 day hydration challenge, click here). This weekend with hosting has not been great (why can’t sangria count as water!?); however, Monday starts a fresh week and I am hoping I can get back at it in an effort to report to you guys how it has gone – the successes and the challenges.

Anyway, on the note of protecting my Sundays, I am going to quickly put together my work schedule for tomorrow and get some shut eye! Wishing everyone a productive and delicious week!

Celebrations and Food

Celebrations are in order!

Yesterday we had a few people over for Maciej’s birthday. It was lovely. We had four guests over and a lovely spread. To see what I served, click here. I must say, I think this was the first time as the main hostess for our get together where I was irked because I prepped a lovely sangria and had to wait to drink it! I lasted a good 45 minutes before I said FORGET IT! LOL

Forgive my ugly apartment kitchen. It is not fancy but it helps me make beautiful meals and despite its looks, we still entertain the best company! However, one day I do dream of when I get to have a beautiful warm kitchen where I do not need to stop and wait for someone to get out of the fridge before I can move on!!

While all the dishes were delicious, can we please stop and marvel at this double dark chocolate macaroon tart – seriously, it is a work of art.

I WOULD be lying if I did not admit to having a slice this morning for breakfast with my coffee, okay? It was divine. Chocolatey, decadent and not for the faint of heart as well as surprisingly easy to put together; however, you do need to make sure you prepare it in advance as it is a no bake recipe that requires freezing.

Despite all this decadence, something that has been a major accomplishment is I do not feel guilty about this celebration with food. While I recognize that in the minimalist philosophy, food is strictly for nourishment, food is also a very social ritual. Celebrating birthdays and holidays with food brings people together. Where there was a time I would feel inherently guilty for indulging, I find now that I enjoy feeding people and fostering conversations and joy through food – as well as secretly pushing how delicious gluten-free and plant-based meals can be. I did let everyone know at the end that there were no animal products – something I am usually hesitant about and everyone was in awe. They could not believe that the cheesy nacho dip I served did not have a lick of dairy in it, LET ALONE be carrots! I think since I have transitioned in my adulthood into eating predominantly healthy food, I do not feel guilty on the odd days that I indulge – not to mention that with all the prep work, the only lunch I had was taste testing the upcoming courses! I spent a total of 7 hours in the kitchen… SEVEN!!!!! Regardless, it was a fabulous night.

Overall, the evening was lovely and fostered how much I love to host people.

How about you, readers? Do you ever feel guilty indulging during a party or get together? How did you work with those feelings? Hosted any summer parties lately? Share your experiences below or connect with Red Lipstick Lifestyle on social media!

Cheers to a beautiful summer and wonderful people!

Feelings of Overwhelm

What am I going to do?

I don’t know about anyone else but 2017 has not been my year. I feel like the challenges that have been thrown at me are reminiscent of being the last player left on your team during dodgeball and there are no balls left on your side.

Earlier in the year, when another challenge would present itself, I would usually respond with anger, frustration and overwhelm before I finally exploded and tired out. I would like to say I have made sooooo much progress but really, today, I would like to acknowledge my baby steps. You see, typically as someone who is innately anxious while also enjoying achieving big dreams, I see the big picture and freak out. This goes for my large accumulation of student debt, the entire 6 chapters of my master’s thesis, and the steps leading to my ultimate professional goal. Even to some extent, I get overwhelmed and impatient with this blog… I JUST GOT IT RUNNING YESTERDAY! THIS IS MY SECOND POST!!

On Monday, I sat with a good friend of mine who has an accumulation of wisdom in her years ahead of my own. We were discussing some of my work and she told me: “Okay Stephanie, you are well on your way. However, now you need to take each chapter one at a time, finish it, refine it, make it perfect. Then once that is completely done – THEN move onto the next”. I share this little tidbit of wisdom with you my readers because – like most areas of my life, I tend to circle things. I move around without always committing to my one main task at hand. There is a whole philosophy of productivity that talks about this. For now, I would like to refer to this infographic created by Brandon Gaille. Gaille proposes 5 time management techniques for enhanced productivity.

My biggest vice is I switch between tasks and I procrastinate on social media. So, what if I did not? Would that bring the stress down? Would I actually get something done? I have decided to try all five of these techniques over the next week and write a review post on my feelings towards the various methods. It is my hope that I can figure out which method works for me so I can get the things I need off my to-do list.

On the list for tomorrow:

I have to complete my proposal for a conference in New York City; I need to complete a chapter of my thesis; and, I need to host people in celebration of Maciej’s birthday!!

On that note, I have put together a lovely menu spread for tomorrow! I am excited to get cooking! The recipes in this menu are all from one of my favourite bloggers of all time, Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows. Her recipes are always a hit – even amongst those dietary meat purists. On the menu I have:

Appetizers:

Main Course

Dessert:

Drinks:

I think it goes without saying, I have one HECK of a day in the kitchen and on the computer tomorrow – anyone want to give me a vote of confidence that I can pull this off? Nah, sadly, me neither. I think it would be wise if I take some time before bed and schedule out my day tomorrow in my iCloud calendar as well as make friends with the Pomodoro technique because tomorrow is going to be a busy one! I will let you know how the menu turns out!

Do you have any productivity tips and tricks? How about keeping stress and overwhelm at bay? Share them below! I would love to discuss them with you!

Wishing everyone a good night!

And of course, most importantly – to the man I hope to keep whispering nonsense to until you have tripled this age – Happy Birthday.

Photo credit: Boakview Photography