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A Rant About Meal Plans + WIAW

I have several low-FODMAP cookbooks that have 1-week or 2-week meal plans in the front of them. This makes a lot of sense to me.

Of course, meal plans =/= intuitive eating, and I think intuitive eating should be everyone’s goal, but there are times when you need to follow a guide. Like when you’re recovering from an eating disorder. Or when you have IBS and you’re trying to manage your symptoms with a low-FODMAP elimination diet for a few weeks. Honestly, even if you’re a totally normal eater, making a grocery list requires more or less extensive planning ahead, depending on your grocery shopping style. So meal plans aren’t evil.

I’ve also seen many food and/or health bloggers sell meal plans or offer them for free on their blogs. Again, cool. Nothing inherently wrong with that, depending on your motives for having a plan and how rigidly you force yourself to follow it.

But I have little pet peeve about meal plans: so many of them seem totally oblivious to the way people actually cook and manage their kitchens.

For example, I happened across a meal plan when I was looking for some inspiration for recipes for the week, and I noticed that the first breakfast of the week called for one piece of avocado toast with a side of fruit and yogurt. And then–and this is what kills me–no meals or snacks calling for bread or avocado for the rest of the week.

I’m like, what!? So if I followed this plan, what am I supposed to do with the bread? Freeze it, I guess? And unless I’ve put the entire avocado on one piece of toast–which sounds like a bit of a heavy load for one poor slice–then what do I do with the rest of the avocado?

Another meal plan in the front of a cookbook of mine suggests a snack of one pancake. The recipe they suggest for said pancake, though, serves nine, and no, you don’t eat leftover pancakes the next day for breakfast. Literally it wants you to make a batch of pancakes so you can eat just one pancake, and then not eat any of the leftovers. That is, assuming that you follow the meal plan exactly for two weeks, which I think is actually sort of what the authors are implying you’re supposed to do.

Maybe they intend you to make 1/9th of the recipe? And if so, how do you measure 1/9th egg?

And okay, so maybe you’re not just cooking for yourself. Fair. Maybe you have a partner or a bunch of kiddos to help you eat those pancakes. That’s a possibility. Having a large amount of leftovers every time you cook tends to happen to people who cook for themselves only, which isn’t everyone.

But then here’s another example.

That same meal plan has you to drink about one glass of milk per day. But you’re supposed to alternate between rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, and lactose-free cow’s milk.

What?! Like who buys four different kinds of milks so that they can drink a different kind of milk every day with their morning snack? And has time to make a batch of pancakes for a snack when presumably they’re also cooking lunch and dinner? Like, does anyone who writes these things actually believe that anyone would ever follow them?

So that’s my rant.

I also wanted to share Tuesday’s eats because I haven’t dropped by for a What I Ate Wednesday in a while. Many thanks to Laura for hosting!

Tuesday was a bit of a crummy tummy day for my IBS, but I did what I pretty much always do with crummy tummy days now: try to eat as normally as possible.I didn’t get a photo of breakfast, but it was nothing exciting. I was down to the last few odds and ends before a much-needed trip to the grocery store: toast with butter, plain Greek yogurt mixed with maple syrup, and a glass of cranberry juice. Plus tea. Obvs.

By the way, does anyone else think that the best topping for toast is melty butter? I mean, I like nut butter and jam and all the other fun stuff all fine, but there’s just something so exquisite about a good slice of bread, toasted and smeared in some melty butter.

After some errands in the morning, including the above-mentioned much-needed trip to the grocery store, I heated up some Trader Joe’s frozen Palaak Paneer and ate it with a banana. Kind of a small lunch, but I wasn’t feeling great.I went into work, and in the afternoon I snacked on some cute little mixed cherry tomatoes I’d picked up at TJ’s, plus a chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar. My roommate offered me some she’d bought because they weren’t quite her thing. I didn’t like the chocolate chip flavor quite as much as my old stand-by, blueberry pie, but I still gave it a πŸ‘I did a spin class at 4:00, and when I got home, I heated up some leftover Dijon chicken from this cookbook. I’m all about this cookbook, y’all. When I made the chicken this time, I had some random leftover spinach and mushrooms, so I threw those in with the sauce and it was πŸ‘πŸ‘ Plus I microwaved a potato and topped it with obligatory butter.Sorry the picture’s not great. Food photos after the sun goes down are tricky.

After supper I was still pretty hungry–spin always does that to me–so I snacked on some vanilla rooibos tea with a splash of milk, two Reese’s and two clementines.

Have you ever actually tried to follow a meal plan that you found in a book or online? How did go?

Anyone else a toast-with-just-butter fan?

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  1. Claire says:

    Meal plans drive me INSANE. I’ve never been able to stick to one. Just reading them makes me want to rebel. And yes, sometimes they’re just stupid (1 pancake?!). That said, I do plan a lot of my meals in my own way, especially since I hate sitting there wondering what to make for dinner. Also, toast with butter? Um, yes!!

    1. Joyce says:

      Planning ahead I think is totally normal. It’s the published “meal plans” that sometimes make me go “Whaaaaa?”

  2. Evangeline says:

    Alternating between four different types of milk would be exhausting. You’re right. Many meal plans don’t prioritize the prevention of food waste or minimization of expense. It makes so little sense because one of the main functions of a meal plan is supposed to be practicality. Le sigh.

    Toast with butter is underrated. Toast with pools of butter is borderline radical in our diet-obsessed culture. (although it shouldn’t be) Like you can put butter in your coffee and you’re trendy, but if it’s eaten with carbs, suddenly it’s “not a healthy choice.” Silliness. Bring on the butter.

    1. Joyce says:

      Yes, exactly! They’re supposed to make your life simpler, and so many of them I see look like they’re designed to make your life a million times more complicated.

  3. Cora says:

    Oh dear Lord rant is right!! That’s absolutely ridiculous. I base my week of eats solely on re using what I’ve made and re incorporating what I have in my fridge in different ways. If I make 9 pancakes one day you better believe I’m eating pancakes a few days that week.

    Its too bad. I feel like some people may see these types of meal plans and feel like they are all shiny and the “right thing to do,” so will then feel discouraged from it all when they realize how unattainable it is. We need to start our own meal plan. The “How to recycle all the food you have and not spend your entire savings on food” plan.

    1. Joyce says:

      I think you’re better than I about making sure to truly use up everything you have. I bought some celery and I used like two stalks of it. Oops!
      So, yes, if you publish that meal plan, I’d love to take a look and glean your wisdom.

  4. I hate that about meal plans I see as well. Thats why I just put a sample meal plan out in my newsletter that is a NO WAST plan. You actually use everything you buy through out the week. Plus like you say, I don’t like calling it a meal plan, its more of a guide to follow or draw inspiration from. Everyones needs are so different that most plans shouldn’t be followed strictly unless it was created for you by a doctor.
    Anyway, great food and post as always! Love the rant

    1. Joyce says:

      Thanks, Patrick! And yay for being a practical food blogger!

  5. Your eats look delicious, couldn’t agree more with your meal plan thoughts, and Butter and Bread are the OG classic! So comforting and nostalgic πŸ™‚

    1. Joyce says:

      I’m embarrassed to say I had to look up what OG stands for! But yes–agreed. πŸ˜‰

  6. Kaylee says:

    Who has the money and the space for all those different types of milks?!?? Geez Louise. Like Cora, I base my meals on repurposing what I already made during the week. And totally agree with what Vangie said on how it neglects waste of food and money. I just don’t know how sustainable a meal plan is in the long-run.

    On a happier note, Trader Joe’s frozen food is the bomb.

    1. Joyce says:

      Isn’t it though?

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