• My Meal-Making Process

    December 4, 2012

    Hi, friends! How are you? I hope Tuesday is treating you well!


    This morning’s breakfast was the usual (French Toast Breakfast Scramble), but I added fresh raspberries and almond butter (x 2) this time. I know, I’m totally unpredictable.

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    After breakfast, I took Murphy to the dog park. I planned to run 5 miles today, but my quads are smoked from yesterday’s WOD, so I switched it up with a 2-mile run/walk with the pug.

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    It took us almost an hour to cover 2 miles, so our workout was a lot more walking and sniffing and being chased by a German Shepard (Murphy, not me) than running, but it was still a great way to get some exercise into our day.

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    After the park, I came home and threw together a quick lunch, which was spaghetti squash mixed with pesto and tuna mixed with avocado on top… yes, all mixed together… in a bowl. Told ya, I’m unpredictable!

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    I actually used a can of tuna in olive oil for today’s lunch (instead of tuna in water like I normally buy) after reading a short piece in the November/December issue of Fitness.


    Apparently, olive oil is better than water at preserving the tuna’s omega-3 fats. I had no idea! I wasn’t sure if I’d like the consistency/texture of tuna in olive oil, but it was actually pretty good and not all that different than tuna in water. I drained some of the olive oil, but still left a good amount so I’d get the healthy fats.

    Ok, so I know I’ve been pretty random with my meals lately, but let me explain the method behind my madness. When I’m putting together a meal, I try to 1) not waste food (so I eat a lot of leftovers) and 2) include protein, fat, and carbs, so I’m satisfied.

    My meal-making process sort of goes like this:

    • Stare into fridge and access food/leftover situation
    • Consider and select a protein option
    • Consider and select a fat option
    • “Bulk up” the meal with nutrients (veggies and/or fruit) and carbs
    • Add more flavor if needed (spices, condiments, etc.)
    • Eat!!!


    A few hours later, I drank a chocolate protein shake that Mal made this morning, but didn’t finish. It was made with chocolate protein powder, milk, and water.

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    I also ate a few spoonfuls of almond butter right from the jar. Holy goodness, I love this stuff. I can’t stop eating it! Someone take the jar away from me!

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    fitmixer Boot Camp Giveaway

    Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a free entry to the upcoming fitmixer Boot Camp! Here’s your winner:


    For 2013 I want to get back into shape. I’ve gained about 10lbs over the last year and my clothes aren’t fitting. I need some serious motivation.

    Congrats, Bobbie! Please email me at tina@carrotsncake.com to claim your prize.

    Question of the Day

    What’s your meal-making process?

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    { 54 comments… read them below or add one }

    Nicole@TheKidlessKronicles December 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I have a very similar process for dinners around here. But the first consideration is how much time (and motivation) do I have. Then I pick a protein. And I might search around the internet for some inspiration. And then I add some sort of a carb and a veggie. For lunch, the only consideration is whatever is fast. I am usually starving by the time I try to figure out lunch so it has to be quick.

    The Kidless Kronicles


    Jean December 4, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    These days, my meal process is basically “eat the same things every day.” Boring but it gets the job done!


    Kerry @ Totes My Oats December 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I wish I was better with utilizing leftovers!


    Ed December 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I agree with Jean, that is what my days are boiling down to, will have to change that sooN!


    Lauren December 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I have the same approach when it comes to my meals, unless I’m doing a specific recipe post, most of the time, my meals are aimed to nourish me, use the ingredients I have on hand, and taste delicious.


    Deidre Skrudland December 4, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    My process is very similar when it comes to lunch since I have to pack and bring my lunch to work. Kombucha is always included though. Breakfast is my most favorite meal of the day, so I tend to leave that decision until the morning of because my cravings always change. If I go to CrossFit, I usually like to make a paleo pancake. If it’s post-running, I’ll usually make eggs with sweet potatoes/butternut squash and spinach. Or your awesome sweet breakfast scramble!

    Dinner is usually decided by the end of the work day, after some serious time spent looking up recipes online. I get some work done in between :-) Oh, and can’t forget, I’ve got to run it by the boyfriend so he approves. The key to success is making a big enough dinner serving to eat for leftovers the next day!


    amelia December 4, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Tjs raw ab is seriously the best!!!! Should I even tell you that it tastes good when paired with raspberries and their semi sweet chocolate chips for a snack?? Love your eats….makes me feel ‘normal’. :)


    Candice@allthingsyogi.com December 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    My meal process is I snack on veggies first to fill me up a little bit before eating a meal. This way I fill up on lower calorie, nutrient dense foods.

    -protein (usually chicken, fish, or eggs)
    -good carb like sweet potato or banana


    Sara @ fitcupcaker December 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I try to do the same.. definitely add a protein with a complex carb and tons of veggies to keep me full! I also drink my UMP protein every day whether I work out or not! I try to eat leftovers also, which is usually what I do because my husband doesnt like leftovers so I get them all!


    Amy @Macncheesenpeas December 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    you are a leftover pro!! It definitely takes some creativity to make new tasty meals from leftovers. I have a similar meal planning process, and I usually choose cheese for my fat source.


    Jodea @ chillichocolatelove.com December 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I plan my meals for the week so always have just what I need for each recipe. Then, at the weekend I’ll often check what I have left and see if I can make something out of my leftover ingredients. Sweet potato and spinach soup was a recent such ‘leftover’ meal. Yum!


    Amanda @ Eat More Rabbit Food December 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I plan my dinners out ahead of time. But for lunch I usually wind up eating a strange mixture of leftovers and snack-type sides (fruits, string cheese, yogurt, etc.) There is also a lot of staring into the fridge involved :)


    eliza December 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    yum i love your meals ..
    what would you recomend for protein powder? I am open to anything and I dont have any dietary restrictions


    Becki December 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    My meal-making process kind of lacks process. My partner and I eat very differently, so I tend to just cook for one (with maybe some leftovers). With grad school, a part time job, and an internship I find myself throwing things together last minute. I need to start planning my meals more intentionally. Great tips about including protein, fat, and carbs.


    Michelle (Peachy Palate) December 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I plan at the beginning of the week – breakfasts and one main meal and then it’s leftovers all the way! There’s actually very little omega 3’s or 6’s left in tuna when canned due to it being heavily processed – many are cooked twice over pretty much eradicating the omegas and potentially turning them rancid. When canned in oil if you drain any of it off if any of the omegas are left they are much more likely to have mixed with the oil (they won’t mix with water) so you could be draining them away. I’d choose fresh oily fish if you’re trying to boost your healthy fats – or organic grass fed meat :)


    Kristen@Change of Pace December 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I always plan meals on Sunday for the week. Starch, green, protein, veggie. I try to stick with that!


    Nicole @ livingthesweetlifestl.wordpress.com December 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I need to start eating more leftovers…I hate having food go to waste but I dont always feel like eating the same meal multiple times…so mixing leftovers with other items is a great idea!


    Meghan @ After the Ivy League December 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    My meal making process involves a lot of the same principals, especially trying to use up leftovers or whatever food I have in the house. For example I have some fresh parsley in the house from a recipe this weekend, I’ve been throwing it into anything I can think of to make sure it gets used up!


    michelle kim December 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    I generally do the same thing. I try to make sure that eat meal has some kind of fruit or veggie, at least for the color (instead of the usual brown and yellow diet of most Americans).
    Congrats to the winner!


    Amanda A December 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    My meal making process is similar to yours! I put huge emphasis on “Don’t waste food,” and make sure veggies are incorporated somehow.


    Anne December 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I usually try to plan out what I am going to make for the week every Sunday. I love trying new recipes that incorporate a lot of nutrients, but are easy enough to throw together during the week and make good leftovers for lunch the next day.


    Annette@FitnessPerks December 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I have a very similar process–mine’s usually what veggie/fruit, then protein, then carbs. Fat usually comes in easily–like in nut butter form :)


    Stephanie @ Steph's Miles December 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I pretty much stare into my fridge too to get inspiration for meals. The answer to breakfast is usually what I have time for. I think I read that same clip in Fitness!


    Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes December 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I hate wasting food, too, so my first move is to use up any leftovers/things that will expire soon. I also “bulk up” my meals with lots of spinach–bring on the green! 😉


    Tina December 4, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I’ve been into spinach lately too! :)


    cait December 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    jars of nut butter are dangerous around me!! lol


    Sarah December 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I totally feel you with Trader Joe’s raw almond butter!! I have recently started doing a lot of paleo baking with almond butter and that stuff is the bomb (though I usually opt for creamy raw) It’s so much more buttery than roasted, right!? I have to add a bit of salt to it though… just a bit :) There are some pretty sweet paleo banana bread recipes floating around aout there that call for almond butter and almond meal (both found cheaply at TJ’s as you know) as well as almond butter brownies! Literally just eggs, raw honey ($4.99 at Trader’s!), almond butter, baking powder/soda (I forget), some salt, and cocoa powder…. I swear you will become ridiculously addicted.

    I am LOVING your meals as of late BTW. So balanced and healthy… and delicious. Who the F cares what it looks like. I think you’re doing it right 😉 Cheers!


    Tina December 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Almond butter brownies, you say? :) Those sound amazing!


    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats December 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Haha mine is pretty similar! I need to do better about making sure I have fat in there too though, I focus on protein and veggies!


    Emily @ Emily Eats and Runs December 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    So funny- my meal-making process is exactly the same as yours. I’m crazy about not wasting food!


    BroccoliHut December 4, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    That raw TJ’s almonds butter really is addictive, isn’t it?
    I am a total meal planner. If I didn’t plan my meals, I would spend hours staring at the fridge. I am envious of people like you who are able to improvise!


    Megan@funsizedfitness December 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Recently, I’ve been cooking a big meal (like taco soup) on the weekends and eating it a LOT throughout the week for lunch and dinner. It gets boring after a while, but definitely saves time and money!


    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers December 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    I’m pretty predictable when it comes to my meals. Breakfast during the weeks is always greek yogurt and berries, lunch is normally a salad or some kind of vegetable left over for dinner. Afternoon snack is a small portion of greek yogurt and a skinny frappe that I make. Dinner is up in the air! It depends on if I snacked on something bad, like cookies, if that is the case dinner is vegetables!!

    I didn’t know about tuna packed in oil, I always buy it packed in water! Good to know!

    Your walk looks great! It’s gorgeous where you go and walk or run!


    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More December 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I have to disagree about tuna in oil and it’s consistency. I absolutely can’t stand it. I guess to each its own, but I’m also really sensitive to oil and butter and where some people like it, I don’t and would rather not having something considered “buttery.” it’s okay, call me crazy. 😉


    She Rocks Fitness December 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    I am very similar to your meal planning process. I hate wasting food, so usually lunch and dinner and throw it together kitchen sink meals. Breakfast is more predictable and that it ALWAYS involves a heaping T of PB. I like the pesto/tuna combo. I’m going to need to try that one. Have a great night!


    Megan December 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    As a peanut butter addict, I am excited to try out the almond butter everyone is talking about! I do most of my prep Sunday. Clean fruits and veggies and cook protein plus make a soup/stew that can be reheated for lunches or dinners. My go to dinner is breakfast. An omelet is an easy way to get protein and veggies all in one!


    Natalie @ FreshLifeFindings December 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I didn’t know that about the tuna! Good to know :) My husband loves leftovers, I however just can’t eat the same dinner twice in a row. I get tired of it so thankfully I have him to finish the leftovers off :)


    Jen@HealthyFoodandFamily December 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Good to know about buying tuna, I’m going for the tuna packed in olive oil next time :) I hate wasting food too, my leftover magic happens at lunch, pretty sure my family would revolt if they had to eat the same dinner multiple nights in a row…


    Julia H. @ Live Young & Prosper December 4, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Because I cook for myself, I tend to make a big batch of rice, open a can of beans or cook a few chicken breasts, and then use those throughout the week for some meals as my base, with different veggies/sauces to switch it up.


    Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run December 4, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I respect you for listening to your body in terms of your fitness schedule. I’m currently dealing with some (hopefully) minor injuries due to overdoing it. A walk with the dog sounds nice :)


    Molly @ Happy&Healthy December 4, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    I had no idea about the olive oil keeping the omega 3’s in tuna, so interesting! I have a pretty similar meal making process, it makes life so much easier to just throw leftovers into a bowl!


    TorontoRunner December 5, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I think someone said it up top best – I eat basically the same thing on a regular basis. I guess for ease, and lack of cooking skills! Jealous of all you amazing cookers/bakers!


    Becky @ Olives n Wine December 5, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I also hate wasting food so I tend to make a large meal for dinner early in the week and have leftovers! I like your idea of mixing different leftovers together. A good way to change things up without wasting any food :)


    Miriam December 5, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I need to show this post to my friends, family and everyone else who has seen me eat, particularly after working out. My “bowls” go the same way (I usually dump hot sauce on the top too) and I’ve been met with weird reactions…particularly to the post-run breakfast of kale (steamed in the microwave), greek yoghurt, banana, nut butter and chia seeds. It’s like a smoothie, really! Just…a bit less pretty :)


    Tina December 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

    @Miriam: Haha! YES! Mal was giving me a hard time about all of the bowls in our dishwasher the other day. I just like bowls of food! :)


    Miriam December 5, 2012 at 11:23 am

    @Tina: Seriously!! It’s the most awesome/convenient way to put EVERYTHING together…and it always tastes good :)


    Leah @ Whitefoot Blog December 5, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I always plan my week’s dinners every Saturday before my weekly grocery run, and it works pretty well! I almost never divert from what I have planned, so I rarely go on fast food runs or go out to a restaurant for dinner. My only problem is I usually have the protein and starch planned out, but tend to forget the vegetables. So if I don’t have any steam-and-serve veggies left in my freezer, I make whole fruit and yogurt “soft-serve” for dessert in my blender :)


    Connie @ Livin' Lean December 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I always used to buy canned tuna in water too until Hurricane Sandy..the only tuna left at Trader Joe’s was tuna in olive oil, so I bought a few cans of it. I actually like a lot..I think it has more flavor! Good to know it also preserves the omega 3s better.


    Kelly@BalancedDaily December 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    When I’m home at my parents house there are always leftovers that I choose to reheat before making a mess in the kitchen, but when I’m at my own place I usually only cook the right amount for me to eat. For me, freshly cooked food is always better than leftovers (besides the staple chinese food or pizza reference) and I’m always deciding what I want on a whim when I get a craving. But I’m sure when I have a significant other/family this will change.


    Herbivore Triathlete December 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    My approach is similar to yours, lol! I eat a lot of leftovers too, so for 3-4 days in a row I eat the same thing. The meal that was dinner on Monday becomes Tuesday’s lunch, Tuesday’s dinner becomes Wednesday lunch. Then Wednesday dinner may be the same as Monday’s dinner. It all depends on how much of the meal is leftover. Sometimes I will mix and match pieces of Monday dinner and Sunday dinner to make Tuesday lunch. Very predictable and boring.


    Laura@ Eat Right Newsletter December 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    It’s so great that you always make time for exercise, and include your dog to make it fun! I hope I can always stay active like that! Your leftover meals always look delicious, and the tuna idea was very interesting. I’m going to start looking for the olive oil version!


    Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit December 5, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    I think my meal-making process is fairly similar in terms of criteria, except that I typically add an additional carb besides the veggie/fruit. I actually plan out my meals and grocery shopping lists in 6 week increments so there’s not a lot of starring into the fridge wondering what to have except at snack time. 😉


    Meagan Marion December 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Time plays a big part in my meal-making process. To your point of just looking at the fridge for options, I do that too. It adds a bit of creativity to the cooking process, don’t you think?


    Tina December 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Totally! :)


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