Week 1: Ramen, lunchables, and too-sweet quinoa

This week included an attempt at homemade authentic ramen, my favorite quick work-lunch, and the lesson that you shouldn’t use vanilla almond milk in a savory dinner recipe. Read on for more…

Had in kitchen (leftover from other recipes/cooking staples): Cheese (grated cheddar + hunk of cheddar/Monterey jack), carton of tomato soup, bread in freezer, minced garlic, bag of shredded red cabbage, chicken broth, soy sauce, cinnamon, baking ingredients, spices

Bought: Almond milk, quinoa, buckwheat ramen noodles, apples, bananas, box of Triscuits, Craisins, chicken cutlet, broccoli, apple sauce, carrots, kale, 2 lemons, 1 onion, Shiitake mushrooms, eggs, plain Greek yogurt (single-serving carton)

Spent: $40.84 for the week (aka $8.17/day)

Daily Breakfast: Made this apple-cinnamon bread (just used regular flour since that’s what I have in-house). I had a slice each morning along with a banana and my coffee.

MONDAY

Lunch: Leftovers of this from Sunday night dinner

Comments from Claire: Delish! I used the dried Italian breadcrumbs I already had in my cabinet and red pepper flakes instead of a fresh red pepper. Really simple and yummy.

Dinner: Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Comments from Claire: I had a carton of this soup—great for a store-bought one—and a hunk of cheddar cheese from last week so it seemed like a winning combo. I usually have a half-loaf of whole wheat bread in the freezer so it doesn’t go bad, and it comes in handy for quick sandwiches or weekend breakfasts.

TUESDAY

Lunch: Apple/kale/red cabbage salad (I made on Sunday for lunch, see top photo) and leftover tomato soup

Dinner: This broccoli quinoa casserole

Claire’s Quips: This took a little longer to make than I would’ve liked (I had taken a free soul cycle class that night I didn’t end up actually eating until 9 p.m.!). I think if I made it again (which I would, because it was quite yummy and tasted like comfort food even though it was pretty healthy) I would have the chicken cooked and shredded or sliced ahead of time so I would just have to mix it in. Needing to cook that along with everything else just proved to be too much. Also, I forgot to get plain milk and ended up using my vanilla almond milk, which I wouldn’t recommend! Gave it a sweetness that didn’t quite work.

WEDNESDAY

Lunch: Leftover broccoli quinoa bake, plus I finished off Sunday’s red cabbage salad

Dinner: Homemade ramen, here

Claire’s Quips: I loved the idea of making legit ramen at home, and it was actually easier than you’d think (so don’t be scared!). Still, I need to work on perfecting this recipe a bit to my taste. First off, where it calls for water I would recommend using broth instead, since it was lacking in flavor for me. It almost tasted “watery.” Also, be wary of your noodles! I bought a different type than the one listed (though still an authentic ramen noodle) and put WAY too much. I did a “what-the-heck-let-me-just-throw-the-whole-pack-in” and it turned into a bit of a ramen noodle stew. I ended up freezing half of this, so I think when I defrost I will add more broth. Also used kale instead of spinach so I didn’t have to buy two large bags of both.

THURSDAY

Lunch: Leftover ramen

Dinner: Leftover quinoa bake from Tuesday

FRIDAY

Lunch: Homemade healthy Lunchables: finished off that hunk of cheese in slices, crackers, and cut up some apples and carrots. One of my favorite quick lunches.

Dinner: Pizza at a friend’s house. Since I’m good about eating at home and bring lunch during the week, I always treat myself for dinner Friday night (and maybe Saturday too, whoops!).

See you next week! To see what I’m eating in the meantime, follow me on Twitter or Instagram @ClaireELeaden

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