#recipes, Bites, Everything

Meal Planning, Because It’s the Only Thing We Can Do

One of my favorite things about being an O Mag Insider is connecting with this most amazing group of supportive people. I’m so excited to have one of my fellow ambassadors, Cara Meredith, featured on my blog. She runs the amazing site Coloring Outside the Lines and she’s just wonderful. I am sure you will enjoy this delicious post and recipe, as much as I did.

It happened again yesterday afternoon: I took the seven-day calendar off the kitchen wall, rummaged through my cupboards and refrigerator, and set about meal-planning for the week ahead. 

Truthfully, up until a week ago, I hadn’t meal-planned in over three months (as evidenced by the Christmas Eve feast of crab, bread and butter I had to scratch out before last week’s meals). After all, up until a week ago, it was my luxury not to have to think more than a day or two ahead about what my husband and our two young sons would eat in the coming days. 

Perhaps like you, it feels like life has been turned upside-down in a very short amount of time. When the first (of five) upcoming speaking engagements was canceled in the eleventh hour, I knew something was up. When my young, elementary-aged sons left for school on a Friday morning, only to find out, two hours later, that they wouldn’t be returning to school for a minimum of three weeks, I began to wonder what this would mean not only for their social and emotional health, but also for all those children for whom receiving care by way of food and education is truly a matter of equity. And finally, when the state of California (where I live) issued a “shelter in place” mandate, I let the tears fall. 

I didn’t know what this meant, not for me and not for my family – and certainly not my neighbors who don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, whose entire livelihood is a paycheck-to-paycheck kind of existence. 

Because when the world feels like it’s been turned on its side in a matter of minutes, I do the only thing I can do: I let myself feel the pain, as crashing waves of the unknown pound me onto the shore. I am not unaware of my privilege in this moment, especially when it means that I have the choice to put my own work as a writer on the back burner, in order to care for my sons during the day. As such, I seek to enter into the moment, one LEGO and crayon-filled moment at a time; I have become a teacher, at least by proxy, to the five and seven-year old boys who live under my roof, whose sticky hands I love more than life itself. 

But I also plan out meals for the week, because in a way, my life depends on it. After all, when everything feels out of control, letting my creative juices flow in the dinner hour gives me a little bit of life. I am reminded of what it means to use what is in front of me instead of running to the store for one last ingredient; I am invited to experiment, just as I am invited to trust my culinary instincts and dare to create meals that would give any whole foods, plant-based advocate a run for their money when I know every ingredient that goes into every morsel of food. 

Tonight, “stir fry” was the only directive I had to follow when it came to cooking dinner. Crab stir fry, I typed into the search engine, wondering if “crab” even went with “stir fry” in the first place – but because it’s what we had in the freezer, it’s what we went with, along with a carrot, single green onion stalk, half a bunch of asparagus and head of broccoli later. 

So, I diced and I chopped. I sautéed and I stirred. I added and I subtracted from original instructions. I made it my own. 

And when my family sat down to dinner a half hour later, they said that it was good – in a head cocked to the side, “What’s this stringy meat doing in our stir fry?” kind of way. 

As for me, I’ll take it. And in this season of not knowing which way is up and which way is down, I’ll keep on looking in my ‘fridge and planning the hell out of our meals each week. 

Because, in a way, it’s the only thing I can do right now. 

And that, I say, is okay. 

Crab Stir Fry

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 carrot
1 green onion
1 head broccoli
Half a bunch of asparagus
1 egg
1 cup cracked crab
Lime juice
White rice/cauliflower rice 

  1. If you don’t already have it on hand, cook rice according to instructions. 
  2. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, soy sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce and cornstarch. Note: the original recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon fish sauce – add it if you have it! Set to the side. 
  3. Heat olive oil over medium to medium-high heat, until water sizzles upon contact. While oil heats, chop up carrot, green onion, broccoli and asparagus (or whatever veggies you have on hand). 
  4. When oil is hot enough, add garlic and cook for thirty seconds. Then, add remaining vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally until heated through and/or to desired level of softness. Note: some cooks would say to add the ingredients from hard to soft – ie: carrots, asparagus, broccoli, onion. If that’s your thing, do it. If not, add ‘em all at once. 
  5. When vegetables are cooked to your liking (6-8 minutes, perhaps), push veggies to the side to create a small space in the pan. Crack and stir egg in a small bowl, then add egg to the aforementioned space, stirring continuously until the egg is fully cooked. Turn off heat. 
  6. Here’s where you’ll have to be a miracle worker in the kitchen: if you still have ten minutes left for the rice to cook, hold off. If, like me, you already had rice ready and at your disposal, then move on ahead. Basically, leave two minutes for this last part so the rice and stir fry are done at the same time. 
  7. Turn the heat back onto medium/medium high. Add the crab. Add the sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until heated thoroughly and sauce has a chance to thicken. If you feel so daring, add a splash of lime to the top. 

Serve hot, topping rice or cauliflower rice with stir fry. Note: I didn’t add extra salt and pepper, mostly because soy sauce always seems to kick up the sodium intake and flavor more than usual. Also, the kids ate their stir fry with regular white rice, but my husband and I had it with cauliflower rice – both were delicious. Enjoy! 

Thank you, Cara!

-Becky

Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker and conversationalist. Her first book, The Color of Life, a spiritual memoir of her journey as a white woman into issues of race, released in 2019 (Zondervan). She lives with her husband and their two young sons in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, as well as on her website.

Cara_BIG

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