Tag Archives: grocery list

Meal Planning Miracle



Meal planning has always been difficult for me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t usually enjoy cooking, but every time I plan meals in advance, I’m never in the mood to cook that evening’s specific meal. So I try to make things simpler on myself. I have tried all of the following:

  • Crockpot meals
  • Muffin cup meals
  • Once a month cooking
  • Running out and buying things on the day I need them

All of these things failed me for some reason or another, and I was once again finding myself surrounded by empty cupboards and empty stomachs to match. However, I finally figured out an answer to my problem. I am posting this in an effort to help all of you who might be struggling with the same thing. Here’s what I did:

I took out all of my favorite go-to recipes, and supplemented them with a few other simple meals. I also asked my Facebook friends for their favorites. Then I went through all of them and made a list of the ingredients. I put dry goods in one category, frozen in another, and refrigerated in another, but I only added ingredients that I wanted to keep on hand all the time. For instance, I can keep any amount of dry goods in stock and almost every frozen item, as long as I don’t have pizzas or other space-consuming things in my freezer. Some of the dairy products, such as milk and eggs, I added to the master list, because I figured it would be good to always have those on hand. However, half-and-half didn’t make the cut because I don’t use it often enough, and I didn’t want it going bad in the fridge if I failed to use it quickly.

Most of the meals consisted solely of ingredients that I decided I could always keep stocked. As this was my goal, I didn’t pick out any complicated or obscure recipes for this project. I wrote the names of these meals down in a separate column of my grocery list, along with the designation that I could cook any of them at any given time, provided I always kept every ingredient from my master list on hand. These meals serve as my go-to menu, and it’s working out very well, even when we have company. (My husband likes it too, because he has more and better choices.)

The favorite recipes containing ingredients that were not on that list were written down in a separate place, along with the one or two extra ingredients I would need to make them. I ended up with about 40 meals I could make at the drop of a hat, and 10 or 15 more that required one or two extra ingredients. Now this is the hard part: initially purchasing everything on the master list and then remembering to write things down as soon as I use them so I can buy them again. Because I chose simple meals, and because I already had many of the dry goods on hand, I was able to make my initial purchase for about $100.

Good luck with your meal planning, and I hope this idea helps some of you!

Healthy Grocery List

I’ve been trying to eat healthier this year, and so far, so good. Now I’m trying to help my sister. I just finished typing out a long email to her, and thought I’d share it with you all! Here it is:

Kimmy, here is our grocery list: Healthy Grocery Checklist

Don’t eat anything with MSG or high fructose corn syrup in it, and I’d suggest not eating anything with artificial colors, preservatives, etc. Buy bread, yogurt, and other processed foods with the least amount of ingredients. The best brands I’ve found are Earthgrains for bread and Dannon all-natural yogurt (I buy the big containers). If you buy dark chocolate, the darker the better (more cocao, less sugar). I usually buy 70% or even 85%. The Lindt brand is my favorite chocolate. Try not to eat any white sugars or flours. (If you get white sugar out of your system altogether, then natural sugars begin to taste sweeter.) Use honey or agave nectar to sweeten your hot drinks. For oral and digestive health, I try to eat a serving of yogurt, a serving of cranberry juice (I like Northland –but any 100% juice would be okay), and a serving of prunes (they actually became one of my favorite things to eat, once I got used to the taste). Annie’s makes some all-natural cookies, graham crackers, etc. in the shape of little bunnies. They’re actually pretty good, but you have to look on the bottom shelf to find them, I think. The granola I buy is expensive, but it’s really good! I can’t remember the brand name, but it’s in the cereal aisle all the way toward the refrigerated section. There are a bunch of expensive cereals all in one spot. It’s eye-level, and they have four or five different flavors, like dark chocolate/almond, and cinnamon/raisin. Try to only eat a serving of any one thing in one day. That way, you’ll get a better variety of fruits/vegetables, and it will keep you from going overboard on chocolate and cookies and such. Instead of buying salad dressing, use kidney beans (the juice gets everywhere, and it’s really yummy) or 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. It’s good, and super-cheap! (You can also add basil, oregano, garlic, or whatever spices you like, but I never do anymore; it’s an extra step, and I’m lazy). Try to use real meat on your sandwiches instead of deli meat. Cut it into strips and cook a bunch at once (just add a bit of garlic and olive oil), and then you’ll have steak, chicken, or fish to add to salads, burritos, stir-fries, sandwiches, etc. Don’t buy ground beef at all – it’s incredibly gross! Watch Jamie Oliver’s demonstration, and you’ll be forever convinced! Instead of using unhealthy sauces, spice things up with garlic or lemon juice. If you want me to go shopping with you once or twice, to help you find stuff, I will, gladly! Seems complicated, but once you do it for a couple of weeks, it gets easier.