Author Topic: Midwestern Mustachian Diet  (Read 3200 times)

ThunderCats

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Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« on: May 14, 2016, 08:03:07 PM »
Let me just start this with a confession.  I am horrible at meal planning.  I have so much difficulty thinking of things to make, much less thinking of things to make on a budget or with good planning for shopping.  So I'm looking for some meal ideas which would entirely (or nearly entirely) consist of things which can be grown locally (I've been increasing my garden beds each year, and would like to be as self sufficient as possible)

So what are some of your favorite recipes involving things that would be available to grow locally in the Midwest?  Oh, and we typically try to avoid meat except fish.

pbkmaine

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2016, 08:20:09 PM »
I think we need more specific geographic information. Upper or lower midwest? Do you live near somewhere you can fish?

ThunderCats

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2016, 08:29:21 PM »
I think we need more specific geographic information. Upper or lower midwest? Do you live near somewhere you can fish?

I am not, nor will I ever be a fisherman... This is something I'm willing to purchase, and I'm not as concerned about it being local since we don't do fish very often.  We're near the Wisconsin/illinois border... so hardiness zone 5a if that helps :-) Veggies that are common in the area include asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, corn, carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, collard greens, spinach, green beans, peas, etc.

forestj

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2016, 09:01:10 PM »
I enjoy cooking and I think I am pretty good at it, but  I don't really plan my meals. I work from ingredients to a final dish rather than deciding  on a dish and then trying to find ingredients. Today I made tacos, so I'll use this as an example.

I started with Tofu.

For good tofu, I know that it needs to be cooked at high heat with oil, plus it needs some fat and flavorful sauce.  I know that it's easier to fry the tofu if its dry, so I pressed the tofu slices in a cloth hand towel before frying.

I looked around my kitchen and saw Ancho Chiles. These are Poblano chiles which have gone red and then been dried. I buy these because I like mexican food and they have a strong flavor.  So I decided to make Adobo Sauce for my tofu, using these chilis.

Now that I was  thinking about mexican food, I decided to make some beans. Dry beans and water in the pressure cooker.

Finally, I needed to decide how I would serve my beans and tofu. I  saw that I had some old corn tortillas lying around, so I decided on tacos.

I know that corn tortillas are kind of dry, rubbery, and flakey out of the bag, so I sprayed them with a bit of water and put them in the microwave. This improves their texture a lot.

Finally, I added everything together and fried the tacos for a minute before serving. 

When I was initially slicing my tofu, I didn't need to know what dish I would end up with. I already knew I would make fried tofu, which goes well in many things. As I glanced around my pantry and saw beans, ancho chilies, and corn tortillas, I got an idea, and went with it. But it could have gone in any other direction.

I'm sorry I didn't really answer your question. I suppose my answer is, "Don't plan meals, just get creative, and as long as you treat your ingredients right, everything will be ok."  As far as living in the Midwest, I do too. I suppose you could practice cooking with the ingredients you have easy local access to and see what works the best for you.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 10:01:37 PM by forestj »

ThunderCats

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2016, 09:09:20 PM »
forestj, I envy your cooking skills and creativity :-).  In the same situation, I would have ended up with plain beans and/or tofu.  I hope to get to the point I can throw things together well like that, but right now, I need more inspiration and work best from specific ideas.

forestj

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2016, 09:24:12 PM »
 It takes time to fully get used to ingredients and learn them in and out.

If you are looking for specific midwest recipes, I could think of a few. How about something using the three sisters. Baked squash, black bean burgers, and corn on the cob.  Or a Minnesota "hot dish" casserole with squash and local vegetables. You could make felafel with a cucumber sauce.  You could make Chicken Tikka Masala with farmed catfish instead of chicken.  You could make curry stew based on squash and/or Garbanzo beans.  You could make baked kale crisps on the side. Kale grows very well in the midwest and its nice to have in the garden because all the hipsters have inflated its supermarket price so dramatically.  You could make boiled collard greens and mashed potatoes, with mushroom gravy.

You are going to have a hard time getting a healthy diet just from your home garden. The veggies will be good, but you really also need a protein source. If you can drop the cash, fish is fine. I like farmed catfish because it doesn't have a systemic ecological problem, and its cheap.  Otherwise you are going to need lots of beans and grains. Those are only really farm-able on an industrial scale, but they do grow in the area.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 10:06:21 PM by forestj »

Jschange

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2016, 10:28:32 PM »
An easy way that I sometimes meal plan is to think of which flavour profiles I want that week: Italian, middle eastern, Greek, Tex mex, curry, comfort, veggie restaurant ish. Then I look at on sale or in season food and assign it appropriately:

Broccoli is great for Italian or Chinese, possible for curry and scrappy for mexican
Asparagus I don't want to miss the flavor so it's go in on Italian, comfort, or veggie fancy night
I'm not feeling cooked Brussels sprouts, they are going in a shredded veggie fancy meal
Cabbage I like curried, in coleslaw, in stiffly, or in fancy salad
Corn I love in everything

You're on a budget, so let's say one tofu meal, one egg meal and 3 legume meals

Monday is pasta with a carbonara ish egg sauce, asparagus, garlic,  and broccoli in olive oil. Maybe some parm and chili flakes
Tuesday is curried Channa, with rice and curried cabbage or a quick pickled cabbage
Wednesday is black bean tAcos with corn and cabbage
Thursday is a stir fry on rice with tofu, cabbage, broccoli, and a tiny bit of leftover asparagus
Friday is a fancy vegan chopped salad, shredded Brussels sprouts, shredded cabbage, broccoli, corn, and a marinated lentil salad with some cranberries and nuts or seeds

Meal planning with your first 5 veggies, done!

If you don't want to buy rice, pasta, or tortillas, you can skip the starch, make your own if you're happy buying flour, or add more roots and squashes

Tuskalusa

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2016, 11:06:52 PM »
I have been working on meal planning for the last 6 months or so. It's finally starting to pay off, in terms of saving on take out, and on lunch the next day (leftovers).  I subscribed to eMeals. For $50 per year, they send a weekly list of kitchen tested meals. They have a lot if different options. I like the crock pot clean-eating program.

I'm sure that some folks will say it's not very Mustacian to subscribe to a service. I reality. I could go to the library and get a bunch of cookbooks. I've tried that, and it just added more time than I have (full time working mom).  So, this was a good option. For under $5 a month, we're saving a couple hundred due to better planning and less eating out. The ROI works for us.

mustache110

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2016, 05:13:43 AM »
http://www.budgetbytes.com

This site has been a lifesaver in teaching me that, yes, I can cook. I have since branched out to other areas, but this would be a good place to start and build some confidence.

Rezdent

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2016, 07:29:33 AM »
It sounds like there's plenty of veggies available, and good recipes are easy to find if you search ingredient+recipe.

Do you have pantry staples to make different flavors profiles?  Onions, garlic, ginger are my basics, along with curry, cumin, chili powders.

Rezdent

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2016, 07:47:20 AM »
I have been working on meal planning for the last 6 months or so. It's finally starting to pay off, in terms of saving on take out, and on lunch the next day (leftovers).  I subscribed to eMeals. For $50 per year, they send a weekly list of kitchen tested meals. They have a lot if different options. I like the crock pot clean-eating program.

I'm sure that some folks will say it's not very Mustacian to subscribe to a service. I reality. I could go to the library and get a bunch of cookbooks. I've tried that, and it just added more time than I have (full time working mom).  So, this was a good option. For under $5 a month, we're saving a couple hundred due to better planning and less eating out. The ROI works for us.

I eased my way into meal planning over a couple of years.
It has made a big difference in our health, happiness, and budget.

I didn't try to change everything at once, I took baby steps.  I fell off many times, and just start back up.

I started out with making one big pot of soup per week.
Months later I started making a pot of beans for the week.
Then I added a salad of the week.

Sunday is the best day for me to do this, so today I am making broccoli soup, a Greek pasta salad, and pinto beans.

I would get home, decide on a main dish and usually another vegetable to go with these.
Thursdays were always leftovers, and Fridays were not planned.

Then I added another level once my soup/salad/bean habit was strong.  I decided on what to cook in advance, but without the recipe yet.
Broccoli soup/Greek salad/pinto beans
Monday: chicken, zucchini
Tuesday: tofu, peas

Fast forward a few months, I was planning the recipe as well.
Broccoli soup/Greek salad/pinto beans
Monday: grilled chicken with stir-fried zucchini
Tuesday: curried tofu, saute peas

ThunderCats

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2016, 04:57:49 PM »
Thanks for all of the different ideas!  Just to clarify, I'm hoping to utilize my garden and farmers market as much as possible, but I'm fine with buying some things from the store... I'm feeding a family of 4, so I know I'll never be able to grow everything. I'm not worried about keeping my grocery shopping dirt cheap, it's my goal to get an exceptionally healthy diet at a reasonable price.  But I'm hoping to limit shopping to PRIMARILY consist of dairy, eggs, bulk items like grains and beans, fruit (I've started some blueberry bushes and strawberries, but I don't have the space for my own fruit trees), and fish/tofu.  It's my dream to get some chickens and goats and be able to raise my own eggs, dairy, and chicken someday... but since neither is allowed in our current location it's currently a pipe dream.  I'm also hoping to shift to grinding my own grains at some point from bulk bought wheat, but one step at a time.

I think where I have difficulty is trying to figure out what our pantry staples are and planning to find meals that work around that.  Right now, I just tend to find random, disjointed recipes that use very few of the same ingredients and leave awkward leftover scraps of veggies, spices, and sauces that I never use again.  Also, it leads to not generally having the things I need to make anything without specifically going to shop for a certain recipe.

Generally, in terms of a "flavor profile", we tend to be all over the place.  I'd say garlic and onion are the most frequent things we use, everything else comes and goes.  My husband and I both enjoy tex mex foods, pastas, bean based dishes, but only have a couple of recipes.  I've also recently been finding some things I like from The Art of French Cooking... for instance onion quiche.  We both love about anything with a potato or sweet potato involved... but I have trouble making a meal of these.

Rezdent: your method of making a salad, soup, and beans every week fascinates me... Just to clarify, do you use these as side dishes, lunches, or main dishes?

Jschange: I keep re-reading your suggested plan and salivating.  You've given me a few good options to look into... a pasta with a carbonara sauce might be the next one on my list:-)

pbkmaine

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2016, 05:26:13 PM »
http://theprudenthomemaker.com

For frugal cooking, keeping a pantry, and tending a garden, I look to this blog. She is a homeschooling Mormon mother of eight in Las Vegas, so the climate is quite different, but the principles apply. Although they are not vegetarians, many of their meals are.

ThunderCats

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2016, 07:25:28 PM »
http://theprudenthomemaker.com

For frugal cooking, keeping a pantry, and tending a garden, I look to this blog. She is a homeschooling Mormon mother of eight in Las Vegas, so the climate is quite different, but the principles apply. Although they are not vegetarians, many of their meals are.

Thank you!  I just clicked in and already have 5 new bean recipes to try :-)

Rezdent

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Re: Midwestern Mustachian Diet
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2016, 08:41:13 PM »

Rezdent: your method of making a salad, soup, and beans every week fascinates me... Just to clarify, do you use these as side dishes, lunches, or main dishes?

Once I've got them cooked, I really just wing it.  They could be a whole meal, especially if I add bread.
Or I use them to fill in around other stuff, like making tacos for dinner and serving salad and beans as sides.
Beans almost always for breakfast tacos, plus eggs.
I use soups and salads for my lunches but DH prefers sandwiches because he doesn't stop working when eating.