Managing How To Meal Plan: 5 Tips for Beginners

This blog entry has been a long time coming and I’m finally glad to say that I’m determined to carve out time to share my tips for efficiency  when it comes to meal planning that I have experienced.
I began meal planning seven years ago, when I watched a short documentary/ attended a lecture in university called “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard. It opened up my eyes to the systematic ways of our capitalist consumerism and one thing led to another and I watched Food Inc. on Netflix. This documentary changed my perspective on our large scale monopolized food system and how detrimental mass-farming for profit and volume and conventional ways of producing food is both harmful to ourselves and to the organisms we hurt in the process. I was so inspired by both these films that I decided to take a summer internship in 2009 at a local learning center whose curriculum focuses on educating inner-city communities about growing organic healthy food and demonstrated how to create adaptable recipes to please everybody’s palate. This place is also where I gained knowledge about the global impact coffee culture has presented within our society and why I love coffeeshops so damn much. Third wave obviously…

Before I go on, I want to preface that I’m not a nutrition expert or a health care individual, but I demonstrate living a sustainable healthy lifestyle to the best of my ability everyday since 2009. So I’d like to say that I’ve had enough experience eating sustainably & healthy.

There are a few tools/tips  that you need in order to begin your meal planning process. 
1. Start a Pinterest account
          Pinterest is a powerful visual vehicle for recipes and DIY. I have separate boards for things I want to bake, things to make for next week, and festive holiday recipes to try out.
2. Purchase a blank notebook 
          This step may seem simple, but I have volumes of filled notebooks that play witness to the documenting of recipes that I will eat throughout the week. Here’s usually a breakdown of how I categorize my meals
  • Breakfast (heaviest/heartiest meal of the day, most protein dense to help fuel you)
  • Snack 1 (sweet)
  • Lunch (something that’ll sustain me, but won’t make me fall asleep post eating)
  • Snack 2 (savory)
  • Dinner (I always aim to make a soup for the week, soup is filling but light and for me, is something I can eat everyday)
3. Compile a list of pantry/fridge essentials
     Nothing frustrates me more than in the process of meal prepping and I noticed that I lack an ingredient. Having a continuous supply of necessary items in stock will ensure that you don’t run into this problem like I have. Over the years my essentials from week to week are:
  • Herb of your choice (for me it’s cilantro and basil)
  • Eggs
  • Fresh lemon
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Kerrygold unsalted butter
  • A tomato sauce of some sort (like a bolognese, that I’ve made prior)
  • Salsa
  • Green onions
  • Bananas
  • Seasonal snack fruit of choice
  • Cheese (parmigiano reggiano, shredded cheddar, and cotija)
  • Some sort of carb to carry the protein and side veggies (such as cous cous, brown rice, polenta, and oatmeal)
  • A “carrier” veggie, basically any vegetable that you like that can also be a vehicle for flavors (for me it’s sweet potato, spaghetti squash, zuchini, and cauliflower)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (high quality)
  • Coconut oil
  • A tub of full fat Greek yogurt
*If this list seems daunting, note that this list is just MY personal preference of what I like to have on hand. The beauty of cooking is that you can customize everything to your liking.
4. Set a budget for yourself. 
I’m typically not one to go into scrupulous detail regarding budgeting, but budgeting your money for things that you consume everyday is more essential and crucial to get a handle on as I step into a more frugal lifestyle.
For myself, since the farmers market that I frequent only accepts cash, the most I will spend for myself on produce is roughly 30 dollars. For anything else that I don’t purchase at the farmers market, I buy at Trader Joe’s, which results in a maximum budget of  40 dollars. If my calculations don’t deceive me the weekly total for my budget equates out to be $70 and if we were to break it down further, that means I spend roughly 10 dollars a day feeding myself three meals a day in addition to two snacks a day. If that’s not eating a healthy lifestyle on a budget, then I don’t know what is anymore.
5. Have designated containers for specific meals 

Once you’ve tackled the daunting task of preparing your meals, it is imperative for these delicious meals you’ve made to have a home. For myself, I have four 2-cup volume glass pyrex cups for my breakfast and two large BPA free rectangular tupperware containers to hold my lunches and dinners. My snacks are usually batched in gallon Ziploc baggies and my crucial cold brew is in my usual 32 ounce glass bottle. The overall spatial footprint of all these items in the fridge amounts to half a shelf with strategical maneuvering.


The Last Note:
Get hands on
Basically, you can mentally plan and plan all you want but without proper execution and gratitude for the trial and error process, you won’t know what works for you and what doesn’t. My trial and error process has been extensive to say the least, but I’ve had a lot of enjoyment out of it. Throughout the work week, I dream of spending Saturday mornings perusing my local farmers market and talking to all the farmers about their recent growing season. This process has served as a new method of therapy for me on the weekends, I call it “My Sacred Saturdays” and I wouldn’t change them for a second.


Social Media Sacredness + Selfishness

Around several months ago I found myself in utter error in regards to perceived expectations. Being down on my luck in the romantic dating department, my ever-so-fabulous friend from college invited me out to an evening to rub elbows with all the Hollywood PR types. He wanted me to glam up and socialize for a night out and to my dismay my beloved friend had more in store for me.
He introduced me to someone I had rash generalizations about. Actor-model type. Tall. Generally handsome.
And me with ALL my cynicism was the rudest I had ever been. I didn’t have to act disinterested, I was disinterested. I’m not a compliant individual when it comes to set-up dates or even introductions and this was a time where my cooperation was at an all-time low. I was being in a selfish slump; caught in a deluge of negative emotions about myself and my general appearance. A state of proliferated pity was the dress I was wearing that night.
Then suddenly, one complex question changed my demeanor in an instant. It was delivered like this: “So (insert mutual friend name, disclosed for privacy purposes) tells me that you’re a book enthusiast. Who are your favorite authors, their characters, and why?” Upon hearing this question, asked of me in the most ironic of settings (commercial EDM music blaring fabulously clothed model-persons strewn about, bourgeoisie men with watches that could pay off my car) I just looked at him in bewilderment and sheer surprise. Caught off guard was one thing, the effort to verbally compile my opinions into some formidable sentences was another. After taking a moment to think, I inundated the conversation with my top five favorite authors and their associated protagonists. Turns out actor-model type and I share a couple favorite authors and book genres so we then proceeded to talk more about our favorite kind of narratives and the stories we’d like to see more often portrayed in popular media.
Fast forward several months and social outings later, getting to know this Renaissance gentleman has been a pleasurable unsuspecting journey. Feelings of attraction are slowly taking place but my head and my heart are always at odds with one another.
At this point I am four years single and I do not find any discontent with the situation at hand. Outside forces such as family and friends are always pushing forth for some desirable relationship, as if being in a committed relationship would be the resolution to my life’s questions. It’s not that I don’t have a desire to have a relationship, I just have a stronger inclination to be in a relationship with someone worthy to put in the effort. I feel something like that takes time and to me, seven months is still the blink of an eye when it comes to getting to know a person. Renaissance gentleman is someone I feel that has potential, but being a new personality in my life that I’m experiencing is enough at the moment.
This year, as I’ve mentioned, is the year of new. New beginnings and new triumphs to face. Last month I took a leap of faith and bought membership to a dance studio in hopes that I will regain my relationship with dance. No, I will not post videos for validation on social media but I will take the time to write about my experience. I will take the time to digest it, analyze it, and cherish it for what it is.
You see, the things that are sacred in my life are held in this selfish sphere, away from the prying eyes of social media and public commentary. I’m exercising this restraint because it helps me evaluate the authenticity of value these relationships have within my life, whether it be with a person or an activity.
To everyone that wants me to “dish out the dirty” I most likely won’t.
Privacy is today’s privilege and I intend to keep mine out of the limelight for as long as possible.

Indelible Gratitude, 
– Kat



Welcome To “Febrewary”
     Today is officially the first day of the second month of the new year. I feel like we as a culture have finally simmered down from the first month frenzy and have come equipped with some sort of routine for ourselves.
As for myself I’ve finally come out of the trenches of being sporadically ill for almost a month and have finally slowed to a pace of life I can manage right now. My sleeping schedule has finally aligned with my goals. My meal prepping is no longer a task that I had become anxious/scrupulous about and I am a month into the new fangled world of Bullet Journaling.
Needless to say the month of January was a readjustment month.
February however is just beginning and I am exclaiming that for this month, I will be writing with a focus on coffee. I’ve written about coffee before and my cathartic  relationship with it, but now I’m going to take that enthusiasm and expand it a bit.
I need to write about different coffeeshops and how each one I step into has a variable vibe.
This will further push my goal to write more and harness my writing skills that I have been in distant contact with (really need to do my English minor justice). Hopefully you enjoy the forthcoming posts featuring Instagram worthy images.
Indelible Gratitude,

In Love With The La La


On a cold Friday night in the hazy winter light. 
I had seen a film ever so magical, so wonderful. A delight. 
The colors that graced the screen so vibrant and vivid. 
The music so variant. It was both bold and timid 
The dancing had captured my heart in an instant 
My own memories of tap dancing, jazz piano, and musicals had been so distant 
This film I’m describing in none other than La La Land 

Please watch it if you love Los Angeles, fleeting dreams, or swing & big band.

**I couldn’t help myself but make a rhyme scheme introduction on quite possibly one of my favourite movies of all time.
I know I know I know guys, this is a big statement to make! Have no fear, I fully support this film from within my bones.
Before I gush on about the Top 10 Reasons why I’m in love with La La Land, I have to preface that I have a long running background in dance, piano, & musical theater. I’m also a classic film enthusiast so every single easter egg was a slice of intense joy for me. My perspective is completely bias, but after seeing this movie with various audiences (ranging from having no musical background to die-hard fans of overtures and 4 chord minors) there are overall themes that run through this film that are universal to anyone whose ever had a dream they wanted to pursue.
( image via Google)
10. The Opening Sequence featuring CinemaScope 
If you aren’t familiar with 1950’s classic films by MGM, the widescreen lenses they utilized during that era were CinemaScope lenses. These lenses were integral for motion pictures at the time to capture everything in frame. From panoramic views to sweeping perspectives capturing long sequences of choreography, the fact that La La Land was shot with these infamous industry lenses is a simply sweet homage to the classics.
(image via Summit Pictures)
9. Damien Chazelle and his personal story
There are directors that self impose their narratives in the work they do, but often do so in a way that is glorifying and centralized, Chazelle however inserts his personal experiences through struggle. He loves jazz music and musicals, but his cumbersome fear of stage fright kept him from the spotlight. I had rewatched his film Whiplash prior to seeing La La Land. The film Whiplash is Chazelle’s exploration of when he was a jazz drummer in high school and in contrast to La La Land, both films portray the process of achieving one’s dreams. One situation that is isolating and self-centered (Whiplash) and another that is communal and almost altruistic (La La Land).
(image via Summit Pictures)
7. The Non-Cliche Iconic Landscapes of Los Angeles
Having seen this movie with company from both LA and far from LA (London, in fact) there are variable differences on what people would like to see about Los Angeles in the movies. My British friend complained that they didn’t see the Hollywood sign; my Los Angeles friend loved that there was a scene at Watts Towers. Overall, I’m quite enamored at the fact that Chazelle didn’t choose the road most taken when it comes to filming in Los Angeles, his implicit direction to show some “uncommon but familiar” landmarks that ground the nature of this city is to my liking.
(image via Summit Pictures)
6.  The Subtle Jokes About Los Angeles 
I went to college in Los Angeles county and became acquainted with all the Los Angeles stereotypes. This film captures these seemingly real stereotypes and situations in such a light-hearted humorous way; from Prius popularity to gluten free galore it also portrays that although this city is filled with dreamers where everyone is trying to make it, there is room to find your “tribe” or “squad” in the immense demographic that is the people of Los Angeles. In a city full of people playing professional make-believe, I’ve  made an immense amount of authentic friendships that last a lifetime.
(image via Summit Entertainment) 
5. The Title’s Double Meaning
Not only is LA known for its moniker “La La Land” but La La Land is defined as “a fanciful state of mind” in which the cinematography captures so effortlessly in many frame by frame moments. It toggles the boundaries of reality and disillusion through dream like sequences. I’m a sucker for things with depth and the movie title’s double meaning adds another layer.
(image via Miguel Aguilar) 
4. The Production Collaboration + Minimal Post Production Editing 
Due to the nature of making this film in the 1950’s technique, Chazelle’s objective to take elongated one camera shots with minimal takes was an operation of meticulous proportions. In addition, I’m appreciative of the use of the actual landmarks and the minimal use of a soundstage/ set. It is rare nowadays to see a film without some sort of CGI, multiple takes and multiple cameras used, so this film felt like a visual breathe of fresh air. It is relaxing to the eyes; you’ll experience it once you see it.
(image via Summit Entertainment)
3. Ryan Gosling + Emma Stone’s Chemistry 
Originally, Miles Teller and Emma Watson were cast to play the roles of the two lovebirds.  Due to conflicting filming schedules, Chazelle went with Gosling and Stone instead. Prior to this film, the pair starred in two roles together. If you have ever seen the 2011 movie  Crazy Stupid Love their chemistry was very natural. Both of these actors’ dynamic emotional range is versatile as well. During the filming process, Chazelle, the screenwriter, and both of the actors were integral in the development of Mia and Sebastian. The result? Absolute chemistry. If you pay attention closely, the behaviors/dialogue of one transfers onto the other in the same fashion as a real relationship.
2. The Music 
The composer of the musical score is James Hurtwitz. He also has worked with Chazelle on his two prior films Whiplash and Guy And Madeleine On A Park Bench. The thematic musical score has five main melodies from it’s five main songs. If you listen to the film’s soundtrack closely you can hear each one of the five songs transposed in a different key and tempo throughout the film to convey the emotional atmosphere. The film’s soundtrack is really meant to be listened as a whole, each song advancing the narrative. Creating together an amalgamation of scenarios that define the human condition when it comes to trying to achieve your dreams.   In the process of composing the musical score for La La Land, Hurwitz compiled roughly around 1900 piano demos to show to Chazelle as well as the lyricists Justin Paul and Benj Pasek. Paul and Pasek also wrote original music for one of my favourite shows, Smash.
(gif via Summit Entertainment)
1. The Dancing + Rehearsal Process
All strengths put aside, if there could be one reason and one reason only for me to love this film, it has to be the dancing. I’m a sucker for dance movies, but lately the movies that have come out in recent years didn’t have a narrative I was fully invested in. The plots were predictable and the choreography (or lack thereof) was inundated with tricks and gimmicks. La La Land however heavily pays homage to cult film dance classics such as Sweet Charity, Singing In The Rain, Umbrellas of Cherbourg and many others. Iconic sequences of choreography recorded in beautiful one camera one take constraints (like the Old Hollywood movies did) effectively hones in on the beauty that happens when dancers, dancing, and a compelling musical score converge together. Mandy Moore, the choreographer also created these pieces to be accessible due to the capabilities of the actors. She wanted the choreography to to be approachable and realistically anchored in everyday movement that (when shot on camera) would blur the dreamlike dance sequences and dialogue seamlessly.
Prior to the four month filming process, Gosling and Stone had a three month rehearsal for both the dance choreography and the learning of the piano. Although the rehearsing schedule was rigorous, it was beneficial in the long run.
In addition, if I could shamelessly plug in another aspect as to why I love this film so much, a couple of my favourite dancer friends from the YouTube community also make an appearance in the opening number (ahem,Jilly Meyers, Dana Wilson, and Galen Hooks to name a few) and it’s rewarding to see other dancers that I’ve watched on YouTube/had taken workshops with for  years, finally get the recognition they so well deserve.
If you have read this far, I applaud and appreciate you. Leave comments if you have other reasons as to why you love La La Land too!
Indelible Gratitude,

Thanks For Giving

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Brunch Club Movement 

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noun  |ap·pre·ci·a·tion \ə-ˌprē-shē-ˈā-shən,|
an ability to understand the worth, quality, or importance of something

This word, Appreciation, is the unsung hero of modern sentiments. Growing up in the ever evolving contemporaries of “quick and fast” service, things that take time are often unforeseen. Things and acts that take time are labeled as “inefficient” or “unproductive” and if you’re not going as fast as a sports car, you may be marginalized in society as lesser than.
Although I label myself as Type “A” and I’m very much living a mobile lifestyle, this weekend I took all the time in the world in  appreciation of humanity. To be removed from the vortex of the digital and live in the present, the physical. To sit down and have a cup of coffee with someone and hear their story. Eyes wide open and ears at the ready for listening.

Too much? Probably. Too heavy in emotion. Definitely.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we? Okay.


The beginning of this year I sought out to better myself as one does, but  I decided to be implicit with my intentions. In my typical “Type A” fashion, I laid out a plan and a time-line of when those intentions would occur. The biggest “Action Item” on my aspirations was “Love the way you want to be loved” and “volunteer  frequently.” And for awhile, those goals remained as such.. goals. Just arbitrary thoughts in my ever-so-scattered mindspace and was always a constant reminder of something I NEEDED to do. Months went by before I even took notice of this aspiration of mine and before I could even negotiate with myself how much time it takes to volunteer, I got off my lazy excuse-filled ass and signed up for events that I took a personal interest in. That is for me, food. 

I found the Brunch Club Movement through means of social media and I’m fervently thankful that I did. This nonprofit organization’s mission is to not only feed the homeless veterans, women, and children of San Diego, but help them with the transition out of it. It follows the mantra of “If you teach a man how to fish” principle and has built an immense audience of volunteers over the years, myself included.

This past weekend at the Annual Thanksgiving Dinner for Brunch Club was the pinnacle event for the organization with a goal to feed 300 people and hand out 300 holiday care package bags. The minute I stepped into that commercial kitchen to help out with the dinner prep was the minute I felt that nostalgia of magnanimity that comes with doing purposeful work, and I haven’t felt that way in two and a half years. The rush of working with a group as one cohesive unit with a common objective that is bigger than yourself is nothing short of magical in the best sense. There are many things that bring me pure joy, but doing something I love (cooking) for a purpose that I love (nonprofit work) puts me over the edge with elation. In quick ten minute intervals I went from carving turkey to dicing sweet potatoes to blanching green beans.. and I relished every moment of it. 

Once the intense rush of prepping a massive meal was over, the real special part began. I stood out there in the twinkling lighted courtyard of the church and welcomed our honored guests with the most genuine smile on my face. Three particulars that I met that evening stood out to me. Their stories resonated with me in such a deep personal matter; the whole experience felt very much like The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Here are their stories, I hope they strike a chord with you like they have with me.



Mac: A man about 70-73 years old stood in line to get his complementary haircut. He had served in the U.S Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and when he came back he was drowning in debt. With a struggling search of employment in combination of PTSD his wife left him and took the kids because she believed he was an unproductive member of their family. Four years ago was when he started to experience homelessness and four years ago was when he last had a haircut. He came up to me and asked me where he should sit and I directed him to a chair with my friend Jess. As Jess began cutting his hair I couldn’t leave him. His sheer positive energy was something I wanted to engage more with so I stuck around and talked to him for awhile. He spoke about his buddies in the war, how much he loved pho, and how guilty he felt for “infiltrating” a country with such beautiful landscapes. When Jess was done cutting his hair he had the largest grin plastered on his face as he looked at himself in the mirror. With eyes sparkling, he exclaimed “Watch out George Clooney!” Mac’s spirit was pure magic, the kind you don’t forget. 


Spencer: I stood in the entry archway of the church and saw a man with clean clothes and a backpack. I automatically assumed he was a volunteer and so I directed him inside where he would check-in. He said to me “Oh, no I’m here for a haircut and a hot meal and a sports coat if they might have any.” I’ll admit, I was befuddled in my own bias because off the bat he didn’t “look” homeless. He had a certain inflection of anxiety in his voice so I decided to accompany him with whatever he needed for the time being. Spencer didn’t look me directly in the eye, he spoke to everyone in this manner and I learned early on that he has Asperger’s Syndrome. Standing in line with him to enter the meeting hall he spoke about the clouds. He ranted on and on about the temperature change and how temperature change causes barometric pressure change and when that happens that causes different types of rain to fall. He spoke of so many numerical variants that I got lost in translation, but he kept saying that numbers are absolute, they tell the truth, they’re objective, they do not lie and if we follow the numbers there would be less accidents. He looked up at the sky once more and said that these clouds resembled the ones in Portland. I asked him if he was from there and he said candidly “Yeah, that’s where my wife and kids died. In an accident.” He said it with no emotion but as if he was stating another numerical fact to me, he then proclaimed “After that happened I researched a place that could hardly have clouds and San Diego came up.” All I could muster up to say was “On behalf of San Diego, we’re glad to have you here.” I spoke more with him about what he likes about San Diego and he spoke immediately of his work as a Physics professor and his keen interest in Geotechnical Studies. I took notice of all his other stories and the menagerie of factual trivia he kept in his conversational arsenal. I felt like I was with Rain Man in flesh and blood. He thanked me for my time and I thanked him for his knowledge.


Maggie:  After escorting Spencer inside for his sports coat I heard a higher pitched voice loaded with inquiry. I heard “Excuse me ma’am, but do they have hot coffee inside?” Elated at this question (because I’m an enthusiastic person for coffee) I assuredly answered back “They most certainly do.” Jubilant at this answer, she smiled a magnetizing grin and said “Oh good. That’s all I really want, a comforting cup of coffee.” I told her I really love coffee as well and she reminisced about her own tradition that surrounded coffee. Maggie told me that her grandmother was from Ethiopia and that the coffee she grew up drinking was called “kahawa” and it has notes of cardamom and ginger in it and that on cold days it was the thing that brought her the most joy. Seeing the purest of happiness transcribed upon Maggie’s face was really something special. It reminded me of how incredibly significant the simple things are. I wished I had spoken with Maggie more, but it was time for me to go as my source of transportation arrived. I told her it was a pleasure meeting her and she looked straight into my eyes and said “God bless you and your beautiful soul.” She said it in the most earnest manner that I couldn’t help but cry. We engaged in an embrace and it was something I never knew I really needed up until now. 

I met three people that night. Three individuals with their own compelling stories to tell. Stories that taught me about Triumph, Trauma, and Exultance; stories about the insatiable hardiness of the human spirit and how important it is to live vicariously in the physical and in the now.

So, if you’ve read this far.. this is my thanks. My Thanks For Giving.

Indelible Gratitude,