If I don’t learn how to eat decent food on a regular basis, I’m going to end up killing myself early. I don’t have body dysphoria or anything, but I have, over the years, unlearned how to eat breakfast, lunch, and sometimes a reasonable dinner. It’s made me skinny, but it’s also made me prone to illnesses like Bell’s Palsy, which I’ve had twice. Yet, still to this day, I have not mastered the art of eating regularly.

I have started an ambitious, but necessary adventure in meal planning. I purchased 10 meal planning containers with three dividers in the attempt to ensure that I am, at the very least, eating a healthy, home-cooked meal several days of the week. My goals in doing this are not to save money or time on eating. My goal is to make time to eat often and well.

To kick it off, I’m having grains take the lead in my decision making for what 4 to 5 meals I’ll make every month. Thank goodness, the Oldways Whole Grains Council came up with a list for me. For January, the grain is Oat! Wow!

So, I did some research and I found 4 oat dinners that I could make. I thought of some clever, simple veggie sides, and then I put all the recipe ingredients together in one large table, like a shopping list:

As you can see, there are a lot of ingredients! But, this is for four full meals, so it looks like more than it actually is. You may also notice there’s no meat in these ingredients! What the hell! Well, my partner is pescatarian and so, I want to be the loving mate who includes him on my meal plans. So, I found vegetarian ways to do all my bidding this month.

What’s on the menu for our first week?

Okay, I know, when I decided to do this oatmeal meatloaf, I originally had ground beef in mind. Otherwise, I’m not sure I could stand the oatmeal, right? But I just held it all back and tried to put faith that all this work I’ve been doing is adding up to something delicious and healthy. Plus, I’m really not trying to eat much meat either.

I didn’t really use the recipes for the Mashed Parsnips and Roasted Carrots, because it’s very straight forward. Instead of boiling the parsnips in milk, which I find to be exorbitant, I boiled them in salty water with a Russet potato. I also used heavy whipping cream in place of the milk since I had it on hand. The carrots I let roast a little too long in the oven and so they were probably the biggest losers of the night, but they still tasted good. I mean, honey roasted carrots are amazing. Next time, I’ll add some garlic.

As a cook at my day job, I’m always learning that it’s best to have everything you need for a dish next to you before you start the process. You may discover you don’t have enough of what you need and you don’t want to end up wasting food because of it.

So, this meatloaf which doesn’t have any meat in it. I was freaking out so hard, especially when it came to the pecan meal, because I’d never heard of pecan meal and it wasn’t at the grocery store where I work. You could buy it on Amazon, but I kept thinking, “It’s just processed pecans, right?” So I bought about a pint and a half of pecans to make 1 cup of pecan meal. I learned that you don’t need to buy a bunch of extra pecans to make pecan meal. I think I made at least 2 cups of it. And I threw it all in there too, knowing I’d end up just wasting the rest.

Basically, you chop the onion, melt a stick of butter and saute the onion until its soft. Then you mix in the 2 cups of quick oats and let them cook together for about five minutes. You just mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and when the oats are done, you mix it together and throw it in a casserole dish. I baked it for an hour at 350 but then realized I didn’t put the ketchup and brown sugar on. I did that and then turned it up to 425 and let it heat up for another five minutes so the sugar would melt.

I took that meatloaf out and I sliced it up into 9 slices. One meal for me tonight and 8 into their containers for the week, (4 for me, 4 for him). But let me tell you, when I finally sat down and ate that meatloaf it was fucking fantastic. It tasted so good. It tasted like fucking meatloaf! It was delicious and I’m actually excited to bust out my meals this week.

Now I know that at least four times this week, my man and I will be eating some quality, home-cooked food that will be nutritious. My goal is to keep this going every Monday. Maybe next year, I can do it twice a week.

Coming up later this week, I’ll be doing an apple and pomegranate oat crisp desert and some oat bars for breakfast and snacks. Thanks for following along. Let me know if you have any ideas, inspiration, support, and advice!