(Long) Weekend Reading
January 15, 2024

I had a grand plan to get a lot of recipe testing done over the past weekend, and none of it got done.

When I looked back in frustration on why I’d failed to actually cook anything, it was very clear to me that I didn’t really have a plan.

I had ideas of the finished recipes that I wanted to make, and I had a bunch of ingredients in the fridge.

But I hadn’t sat down and planned how I’d get from point A—the beautiful mental image of a warm, fragrant finished dish—to point B, a real plate of food that I had actually cooked.

Without a plan, I forgot to pick up key ingredients that I needed for my lovely, theoretical meals. In the absence of a recipe, or even a clear sense of how each recipe would get made, I stared blankly into my fridge.

I’m not the most creative recipe developer around, and I’m certainly not the most prolific. Most of the time, however, planning is my strength.

In The Vegan Week, I wrote that planning was the most important step in meal prep, and I meant it. You can’t meal prep with ingredients you don’t have, or prepare recipes you haven’t decided on.

At this time of year especially, so many of my clients tell me that they want to start meal prepping and don’t know where to start. I almost always tell them that creating a plan, no matter how basic, is the starting point.

We all ignore our own advice sometimes. In failing to plan this past weekend, I set myself up for procrastination and frustration.

When I woke up this morning, I felt a familiar kind of exasperation. I didn’t actually rest or take time off over the weekend, because I was mentally preoccupied with work. Yet I also didn’t accomplish anything productive.

I’m working to address this pattern in my work/life. One thing I’m sure of is that I need to start planning more proactively and consistently.

When I plan, I thrive, whether it’s recreationally, nutritionally, or professionally. The time that I invest in planning always amounts to time saved and satisfaction felt.

There are people who do their best cooking, and perhaps their best living, when they’re being freewheeling and improvisatory. Self-awareness is one of the nicest parts of getting older, and I know for a fact that I’m not one of those people.

Instead of taking today off from work, I’m giving myself time and space in which to plan the week ahead of me.

I know that I’d feel better in the short-term if I simply rushed into the day, checking items off my to-do list at random. Yet, in keeping with last week’s post, a goal of mine this year is to spend more time on intentional and impactful efforts.

Here’s to a day of strategic thinking. Whether you’re working, planning, or resting today, I hope it’s a good one.

And here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

1. A close friend of mine can’t stop raving about this saffron pasta recipe.

2. I’ve been craving chocolate babka recently and in search of a good vegan recipe. Hannah’s babka looks terrific.

3. Excited to make the vegan version of Ali’s cozy wild rice soup.

4. I was searching for something to make with purple sweet potatoes recently, and I love this colorful, nourishing idea from Lauren.

5. I’ve been downright obsessed with chicories this winter, and I’m eager to make this spaghetti dish with my vegan cashew parmesan cheese.

Reads

1. As I thought about planning and being deliberate today, I took comfort in Rebecca Solnit’s words about slow change.

2. Relatedly—and if you feel a little deflated two weeks into January—here’s some comforting advice about slow starts.

3. Do you feel a little overwhelmed by articles detailing how 2023 was the warmest year on record? Or predictions of how the next pandemic will start? Or other science headlines portending global struggles to come?

Obviously, we can’t turn away from the reality of the challenges that face humankind, our planet, and our animal neighbors. But I think it’s important to take in hopeful news, too, and I liked reading about 13 ways in which the world saw improvement in 2023.

4. I get an above average volume of questions about green powders at this time of year. I usually tell my clients that most of these powders don’t pose significant health risks. However, some provide an excessive amount of nutrients, and many are expensive. Green powders really shouldn’t be necessary within the context of a balanced diet, and reliance on them might actually defer the work of planning such a diet. (Speaking of planning.)

My advice aligns with the advice given by Dr. Natalie Poulos a recent Eater article. I also weighed in on the green powder trend for USA Today late last year.

5. An interview with an anthropologist gives an interesting, nuanced perspective on what research on loneliness has to teach us.

This week, I’ll share a meal prep breakfast that I make often and have been relying on especially in the last few weeks. It requires a small amount of planning, and not surprisingly, the payoff is worthy!

Till soon,

xo

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