This is the first in a series of posts about how I run my dino-chow kitchen to keep Dave and I fed without making me (too) crazy.
Two things happened this summer that transformed our kitchen. Thanks to the encouragement of the Moxy-Boss, I decided to start eating only real food. Call it paleo, call it clean, follow my lead and call it dino-chow… it meant the refinement of the no-grain eating I’d started at the beginning of the year and inspired banishment of packaged foods, soy, and dairy. Goodbye, dear cheese, Greek yogurt, tofu, and Balance bars. We’ll miss you.
Around the same time, Dave and I saw Food, Inc. His outrage was both surprising and infectious. I swore from that very moment to never eat another Hormel product, and within an hour of leaving the movie, Dave had signed us up for organic produce delivery. We made lists of what we could buy at HEB (a “regular” grocery store) and what would require us to go to a “hippy store” like Whole Foods, Central Market, or Sprouts. And we got organized. I’d always spent a few hours on Sundays prepping food, but now we stocked up on grass-fed beef, pork, and lamb, and free-rage chicken so we wouldn’t have to go to two or three stores EVERY week.
I’m not going to lie to you: at first, it was a huge pain in the butt. I was bitter. I complained a lot. But we both stuck to our guns and like anything new, it became routine. Our freezer and fridge are now habitually stocked with healthy food, and it’s not that much more work than our previous, lazier way.
I grew up in my dad’s restaurant in the midst of a family of cooks. For a long time, despite the fact that I love to eat, food was the enemy. It made me fat and unhealthy and unhappy because I knew food, but I didn’t know how to eat. Now cooking and eating are a joy. I don’t always enjoy making dinner or the tedium of packing my lunches and snacks every day, but real cooking – visualizing the meal, buying the ingredients, chopping and stirring and working the alchemy that transforms ingredients into love in the form of food… that’s one of my favorite things.
Preparing and eating quality food is the most caring thing we can do for ourselves and others. And eating quality food that’s delicious is a pleasure.
I know it can be shocking for people making the transition to dino-chow. I was amazed at the sheer volume of vegetables and protein required once we jettisoned cheese, tortillas, toast, pasta, and rice. So I thought it would be fun – and potentially helpful to y’all – if I made a list of everything Dave and I consume during the course of a typical week.
Keep these stats in mind as you read the list below:
1. Dave is 6’5″ and weighs about 250. I’m 5’4″ and 150 lbs. of fury. I eat between 1700-1800 calories a day: 50% fat, 25% protein, 25% carbs. Dave eats more than that!
2. We usually eat out in restaurants only once or twice a week. During the weekdays, we cook breakfast and dinner at home. I pack my lunch and snacks to take to the corporate overlords’ lair, and Dave eats lunch at the house. He usually eats lunch in a restaurant once a week, and we always have breakfast at Habanero on Saturdays (sometimes Sunday, too).
3. We shop at HEB and Sprouts and also get a weekly delivery of produce from Farmhouse Delivery. Sometimes if I’m making something out-of-the-ordinary for us, like short ribs or pulled pork, we make a trip to the Central Market butcher.
4. Our music/writing studio is a separate building that has a full kitchen, so we have what we call the “overflow fridge” in case the main refrigerator in our house gets too full.
OK. Here you go. This is the actual food we ate in a week this fall.
3 lbs. green beans
4 green peppers
1 lb. okra
2 pints grape tomatoes
2 lbs. snap peas
2 lbs. turnips
3 bunches radishes
3 heads cauliflower
1 head green cabbage
1 head red cabbage
1 lb. brussels sprouts
2 pink grapefruit
4 sweet potatoes
1/2 lb. baby carrots
2 heads garlic
2 lbs. turkey sausage
1.5 lbs. chicken thighs
2 lbs. chicken breasts
1 lb. ground elk
1 lb. ground lamb
2 dozen eggs
1 lb. turkey bacon
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 jar Sunbutter
1/3 jar almond butter
1 lb. roasted, unsalted almonds
1/2 lb. walnuts (for Dave to get omega-3 because he can’t take fish oil)
1/4 bottle olive oil
1/4 jar coconut oil
If you’re just learning how to stock up your dino-chow kitchen, it might take some trail and error. Be patient with yourself and try not to become too frustrated. Just like learning the squat clean or double-unders, patience, practice, and taking a nice, deep breath will eventually pay off.
In my next few posts, I’ll share my secrets for making sure there’s always something good to eat in the house, the spices that keep us from feeling deprived, and the staples in the pantry that mean our tastebuds can be in Mexico one day and Thailand the next.
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