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  1. Wednesday, June 28

    How Shopping at My Local Farmer’s Market Reinvigorated Life in the Kitchen…and Got Our Family Eating Healthier!

    This post is sponsored by the American Heart Association Healthy For Good movement. The views, opinions and positions expressed within this post belong to Jane Maynard of This Week for Dinner and do not necessarily represent those of The American Heart Association unless explicitly stated.

    Local Tomatoes from Cyclops Farms | Photo from @janemaynard

    My new year’s resolution for 2017 was to cook more. I know it might seem strange to have a food blogger make this her resolution, but the fact of the matter was I had let cooking take the back burner (pun intended!). So, as 2017 kicked off, I decided to really focus on cooking again. And that focus has worked and made me a much happier person as a result.

    2016 was a rough year for several reasons that I won’t get into, but it really is no surprise that making dinner wasn’t a top priority for a good portion of the year. We were eating out a ton, which always makes me uneasy because I know we’re consuming way more calories, fat and sodium than we should be eating. There were a lot of pancake and cereal nights, too. I’ve made peace with how dinner went down in 2016 and have told myself “everything in its season.” But I am also feeling so good about the fact that I’ve been in the kitchen more this year, even during times that get especially busy.

    Cyclops Farms in Oceanside, CA | image from @janemaynard

    One of the keys to the success of this year’s resolution has been shopping at our local farmer’s market each week. There is a farmer’s market every Wednesday (all year!) in my town and after 3 1/2 years into living here I had never visited. I KNOW. It’s just so weird because things like farmer’s markets and CSAs make me so happy! So, as part of the resolution to cook more, I started going to the market each week. We also discovered a small, organic farm smack dab in the middle of a nearby neighborhood that is perhaps the happiest place in San Diego, with devoted shoppers and restaurateurs carefully selecting their produce each week.

    I cannot tell you how AWESOME this change in my life has been. First off, it’s fun telling my friends that I am going “to the market.” They think like I sound like a European grandmother and never quite know what I’m talking about.

    Cyclops Farms in Oceanside, CA | image from @janemaynard

    Beyond sounding like a European grandmother, going to the market each week has kept me much more in touch with what food is in season at any given time and our meals have reflected that natural seasonality more and more. And I love buying local – most of the farmers represented are located in my town or neighboring communities. I love knowing that our family is having a positive environmental impact through buying so much more of our food close to home.

    There’s been another unexpected benefit of going to the farmer’s market each week: my cooking has gotten more fun and creative. As you know, I’m totally about planning a weekly menu. My shopping list is always built around that plan and I rarely stray from the list when I am at the store. Going to the farmer’s market has gotten me to have a little more fun with our meals and add a bit of flexibility to the planning. Yes, I go into the market with a list, but I also let the fruits and vegetables that happen to be there that week drive what we eat. It’s made cooking fun and creative. (If you’re looking for a little creative inspiration before your next shopping run, consider shopping and serving the rainbow!)

    And, of course, the biggest benefit has been that we are eating way more homemade food, which is just plain healthier than takeout and most restaurant foods. I have been meaning to write this post about my new farmer’s market habit and the American Heart Association finally gave me the kick I needed to get it done. I am so happy to share my experience as part of their Healthy For Good campaign (did you know it’s National Fruit + Vegetable Month?), which encourages us all to Eat Smart, Add Color, Move More and Be Well.

    Remember that rough year I had in 2016? It kind of got me down. I felt uninspired and the stress of everything definitely caused me to rely too heavily on eating out. This post from the AHA about unhealthy eating as related to stress really spoke to me, especially numbers 2 and 6! I am telling you that this new focus I have had on nourishing myself and my family through food has been transformative. Yes, I still feel stress. Yes, I am still getting over some of that 2016 nonsense. But taking the time to focus on food has been amazingly uplifting. Plus, getting outside and walking for my grocery shopping sure has made life happier, too!

    I’m sure you’re wondering if I get all of my food at the farmer’s market…and the answer is no! First I hit the farmer’s market then pop over to my local grocery store to get other staples that weren’t at the market. I’ve never really loved food shopping, but now I look forward to it each week!

    So, that’s the update on this year’s resolution to cook more. The farmer’s market is my new happy place and I love the effect it’s had on our eating and on my life in general. And it’s totally helping me keep my new year’s resolution.

    Happy cooking!


  2. Sunday, January 1

    Week 519 Weekly Menu + My 2017 New Year’s Resolution – Cook More!

    Happy New Year!

    Eat Well, Heal the Planet: This Week for Dinner 2017 New Year's Resolution - Cook More!

    Today I’m combining the weekly menu with my annual New Years Resolution post because they are closely related. Let’s talk about the resolution first then get on to the weekly menus, shall we?

    Every year I choose a resolution that helps our family to Eat Well and Heal the Planet. For 2017 my environmentally-friendly kitchen resolution is to, quite simply, cook more. And while the goal itself may seem simple, the reasoning behind it is more complex.

    This will be my eighth year where my New Year’s resolution is focused on how my behavior in the kitchen impacts the environment. These past seven years have been awesome and the resolutions have truly helped me become more conscious than ever about how my food choices impact Mother Earth. It’s been a transformative process for me and I hope my journey has had a positive impact on others, too.

    Last year our family’s food-environment resolution was to Waste Less Food. I started a compost bin, which is still going strong, and we’ve tried really hard to, well, waste less food! One of my biggest takeaways last year was that eating out was our family’s biggest source of food waste. Not only did more food get thrown away when eating out, but there was so much more garbage per person with takeout containers and the like. This is contributing factor #1 to this year’s resolution to cook more.

    Eat Well, Heal the Planet: This Week for Dinner 2017 New Year's Resolution - Cook More!

    I don’t want to jump on the whole “2016 was the worst” bandwagon, but I will tell you that, for personal reasons, 2016 was at times quite challenging and I cooked less this year than I have in probably a decade. I was dealing with SI joint dysfunction for much of the year, and then I had a crazy car accident in November, just as the holidays got going. Plus, you know, life is busy. Work, kids, etc, etc, etc…we all know how it goes. As a result, this year found me in the kitchen far less than usual. Making dinner became a source of stress and something I thought I didn’t have time for. By the end of the year, my decreased levels of cooking have really had me down. The last two weeks I’ve been cooking a lot more. I visited our weekly farmer’s market for the first time. I’ve thought a lot about my relationship to food and what it means to me. This is contributing factor #2 to this year’s resolution…so let’s talk about the resolution itself!

    I want to cook more! I want to feed my family better. I want to feed myself better. I want to care about my food again. I want to enjoy the cooking process. I want to be inspired by food rather than stressed by it. I want to go to my local farmer’s market and be inspired by the local, seasonal ingredients I find each week. And I want to help the environment – the best way I can do that in the kitchen is to simply COOK MORE.

    So, that’s the goal! Less eating out. More cooking. More getting back to the love of food and savoring the time it takes to prepare it.

    Are you with me? Are you already there? Share your tips if you are! And, in case you missed it, I wrote an article for Mom2.com in October where I shared my friends’ tips for cooking dinner every day, even when life gets crazy. There is some good stuff in there, I highly recommend you check it out!

    And now my first menu of 2017! Note: we are still going to eat out, but I’m limiting it to once a week! I will continue to post menus every weekend and hope you all will continue to share yours in the comments! I am beyond grateful for the interaction we have here on the blog and your menus are a true inspiration week after week!

    This Week for Dinner: Week 519 Weekly Dinner Menu, Including FREE Printable PDF & Ingredients List from @janemaynard

    MONDAY:
    Homemade pizza (as per the kids’ request!) – Margherita and Honey Goat Cheese

    TUESDAY:
    Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Green Salad Topped with Grilled Chicken

    THURSDAY:
    Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Roasted Vegetable Egg Scrambles and Smoothies

    Click here or on the menu graphic above to access this week’s free printable PDF of the menu and ingredients list!

    Your turn! Please share your menu in the comments…simple, fancy, whatever! And if you have any thoughts about this year’s resolution, please share those as well! Happy New Year and Happy Cooking!