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Meal Planning Part II: The Grocery Store Trip

23 Jul

Hi there! Today we are going to talk about part two of my meal planning strategy- the actual grocery store trip! Catching up? Check out Part I: Before the Grocery Store!

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Although most of us spend quite a bit of time in them, grocery stores can be overwhelming and scary places! ┬áI know I am of the minority when I profess my love for grocery shopping. Tiffany’s is to Holly Golightly what grocery stores are to me ­čÖé I grew up with a mom who┬ádespised┬ágrocery shopping (and still does I think!), so I understand the pain of those of you who side with my mom. Here’s hoping a little guidance and streamlining will help ease the pain… ­čÖé

The first two steps are the most crucial! If you remember nothing else from this post, remember these rules:

1. ALWAYS go grocery shopping armed with a list! (see Part I)

2. NEVER go grocery shopping on anything less than a satisfied stomach!

(I have slipped up on these two steps before and next thing you know you’re standing in the checkout lane with double your $$grocery budget$$, ten empty sample cups, and a hodgepodge of items! Not good for the wallet, the waistline, or the meal planning.)┬á

Once you are prepared and properly fueled, you are ready to execute your plan. So grab your imaginary cart and let’s go on a virtual grocery store tour…

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PRODUCE

I always start with produce mainly because of the natural flow of most stores AND to fill my cart with the good stuff first! Aside from what’s on my list, this is what I look for…

– Whatever fruit is on sale for snacks. There is always something on sale! I get enough for at least 1 serving per day per person.

– Citrus for green juice┬áand for flavoring dinners.

– Carrots/celery for snacking and adding cheap nutrition to various meals.

– Avocados for salads, sandwiches, eggs, and the┬áinevitable┬áMexican night!

– Fresh greens (kale, salad greens, chard, etc.) if we don’t have a garden bounty.

– Anything else on sale/that looks good!

MIDDLE AISLES

Next I move on to the middle of the store. I usually breeze through these aisles pretty quickly, trying to stick with just items on my list. The middle of the grocery store is the place that causes the most “off the list”/impulse buy/junk food trouble for me! Those darn food marketers…

Popular middle aisle┬ánecessities┬áinclude…

– A quick stop in the meat department for the occasional fish. (technically not in the middle)

– Whole wheat or quinoa pasta, canned tomatoes, chips for JWD, nut butter, bars, and cereal.

– Any extras like sparkling water, crackers, hot sauce, coffee, trail mix.

BULK

This is one of my favorite features and the primary reason I go to Whole Foods! I load up on old-fashioned oats, beans, lentils, grains, nuts, and anything else needed for the upcoming week’s recipes.

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FREEZER/DAIRY

This is the last stop!

– Frozen greens for green juices (much cheaper than buying all fresh!) and frozen fruit for smoothies.

– Sometimes a frozen pizza if one is on sale and it is going to be one of┬áthose┬áweeks (I know you know the kind I’m talking about).

– Almond/soy milks (usually 2 half-gallons), tofu, tempeh, Food For Life bread, yogurts (one Greek, one regular), cheese (slices for JWD and something tangy for my lunch salads), and hummus.

*Note: We buy a dozen eggs every week from a small grocery store that stocks local eggs. We think it’s worth the extra trip!

I take a minute to recheck my list that I have been crossing off as I go to make sure all needed items made their way into the cart. 

And that’s a wrap! Time to pay! We have a set grocery budget and I’ve gotten pretty good at eyeballing the cart and staying within our budget.

Now it’s time to haul it all home… stay tuned for more!

Thanks for reading ­čÖé

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Meal Planning Part I: Before the Grocery Store

17 Jul

Some of the most popular questions I get are meal planning-related. I am a firm believer in the cliche saying “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” As a dietitian, self-proclaimed foodie, and grocery shopping lover, even┬áI┬áhave a hard time staying healthy when I’m forced to wing it in the kitchen. Planning ahead, especially when it comes to food, makes for seamless mornings, easy snacks, and {almost} effortless dinners. So here’s a rundown on how I meal plan…

I start by taking inventory of what we already have and make note of any obvious gaps.

Oats!

Coffee!

Bananas!

(3 things that seem to disappear in an instant at our house!)

I also make note of things that need to be used up.

Then I fill in the blanks with our staple breakfast/snack/lunch foods.┬áYogurt, “milks”, bars, bread, and hummus are some staple food examples.

In the warmer months, a farmer’s market trip typically falls between the kitchen inventory/staples step and the meal planning step. It’s fun to get what looks good without the restriction of a shopping list! (In the winter, I skip this step and go straight to meal planning).

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Farmer’s markets are also great for meal inspiration.

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Next comes what many probably consider the most tedious step- actual planning of the meals. This is also the most commonly skipped step! And the┬ákey┬ástep! I check the calendar to see what the coming week entails. Does JWD have a late ____ (fill-in-the-sport) game? Do I have an early morning/late evening clients? Any fun plans for going out? I make note of anything that will disrupt a normal dinner time and plan accordingly. Meals with longer prep times will fall on weekends or on days that I have a light client load, quick + easy meals (link) will fall on busy nights, and so on. I also try to mix things up so we aren’t having the same foods back-to-back.

As for recipes, I scan my Pinterest board, cookbooks, and magazines for new inspiration. And I always mix in a few memorized staples for ease! (more on these types of meals at a later date!)

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After the meals are scheduled, I add required ingredients to the shopping list. I make weekday lunches a breeze by planning for leftovers with certain recipes! I use this nifty planner from May Designs, a company I’ve blogged about before.

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(We write our grocery list in code ­čÖé )

After my list is complete, I take my book to the grocery store and stock up!

Stay tuned for more!! Thanks for reading ­čÖé

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