Shopping Trip and Menu for 03/28 – 04/03

Sorry for the delay in posting my shopping trip and menu for the week! This week has been insane and I ended up going grocery shopping again on a Monday night so I picked up a roasted chicken and kale salad to eat that night since I got home late.

RECIPES THIS WEEK INCLUDE: 

Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad with Mango Avocado Salsa by Cafe Delites

Sausage Potato Spinach Soup by Damn Delicious

Beef Bulgogi Bowls by PaleOMG

Paleo Chicken Curry by Stupid Easy Paleo

Salad Chicken Salad by Recipe Tin Eats

 

A BREAK DOWN OF ITEMS PURCHASED 

Produce = $24.17

  • Bunch Spinach = 1.29
  • Cauliflower (1.49/lb x 1.91lb) = 2.85
  • Cilantro = .50
  • Cucumber = .68
  • Green Onions = .50
  • Hass Avocado = .88
  • Italian Squash (.98/lb x .85lb) = .83
  • Kale Chopped Salad = 3.49
  • Limes (2 x .25) = .50
  • Organic 2lb Carrots = 1.69
  • Organic Red Cabbage (.99/lb x 1.57lb) = 1.55
  • Red Bell Pepper (2 x 1.25) =2.50
  • Red Leaf Lettuce = .48
  • Red Potatoes (.99/lb x 1.58lb) = 1.56
  • White Mushrooms (3.99/lb x .31lb) = 1.24
  • Yellow Bananas (.59/lb x 2.66/lb) = 1.57
  • Yellow Mango (2 x .77) = 1.54
  • Yellow Onion (.48/lb x 1.09lb) = .52

Grocery Items = $4.47

  • Canned Pumpkin = 1.39
  • Bulk Brown Sugar (.99/lb x .59/lb) = .58
  • Olive Oil Potato Chips = 2.50

Dairy and Deli = $11.49

  • Organic Frozen Potatoes = 2.00
  • Roasted Chicken = 6.99
  • Sprouts Cage Free Eggs = 2.50

Meat = 13.73

  • Chicken Drumstick (.77/lb x 2.53lb) = 1.95
  • Chicken Thigh (.77/lb x 2.86lb) = 2.20
  • Chuck Steak (4.99/lb x 1.16lb) = 5.79
  • Italian Pork Sausage (3.99/lb x.95lb) = 3.79

TOTAL: 54.50

Guide to Shopping Grain Free on a Budget!

Many have asked me how I am able to cook nutritious food on such a tight budget so I thought I would write a post about why and how I meal plan and how to find great deals!

Why Did I Start Meal Planning? 

Prior to meal planning, I found grocery shopping and cooking to be a hated chore!   I would wander the grocery aisles and pick up random things to make a set of basic meals – pasta, mac and cheese, chicken with veggies, stir fry, fajitas, tacos, and frozen pizza.  Buying random food without a plan meant I was uninspired to cook and had the dreaded question “what should I make for dinner?”.  This also meant I wasted a lot of food and went out to eat a lot.

Over 2 years ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands and cook healthy and exciting meals.  I set out with the goal of making a new recipe for dinner every meal, and I have stuck to that goal for over 2 years!  While the recipes have shifted from healthy meals that included grains to now eliminating grains my goals of meal planning have stayed the same.  In October of 2014, I came down with a mysterious stomach illness that left me bedridden.  After months of being extremely ill, I decided to go grain-free in January of 2015.  After 3 months of being strict paleo, I began to see amazing results and lessened stomach issues!  Now I am 90% grain free and 80% paleo but I still use the same meal planning process I used prior to my stomach conditions.

For me, meal planning has several great benefits:

I don’t waste food!  

  • I buy exactly what I need for each recipe and I generally make every single meal every week

I save money!

  • In addition to not wasting food, I generally plan meals around sales and overlap ingredients for multiple dishes in a week
  • I eat leftovers for lunch the next day and rarely go out to lunch on a workday

I don’t get in a rut!

  • I make a new meal for dinner and I enjoy finding new and interesting things to eat.  This keeps me interested and excited to cook dinner

I stay on track! 

  • By meal planning, I make myself accountable to my healthy lifestyle and don’t succumb to quick and unhealthy options

I save time! 

  • I no longer stand in front of the fridge wondering what to cook for dinner! I have a plan and it allows me to reach quickly into the fridge after a long day of work and grab the ingredients I need with ease and start cooking

I have improved my cooking skills!

  • Utilizing new techniques for cooking over the past two years has greatly improved my cooking abilities and confidence.  I know when and how to adapt recipes and have become extremely comfortable in the kitchen

How do I Meal Plan?

Starting is the hardest part!

Two years ago, I first sought out to find great blogs and started a “food” bookmark folder where I saved healthy and nutritious recipes.  After a couple months of finding recipes and printing them out, I created a google doc, very similar to the “recipes archive” of this blog. Whenever I see a great recipe, I copy and paste the link into my sorted google doc so that I have access to pages and pages of recipes 🙂  This makes it very easy to pull 5-6 recipes for the week and have a plan.  At the top of my google doc, I list the links for “recipes this week” so that I have them all at the click of a button.

When trying to prep for meals for the week I do a few things first:

I look at the sale ad for the grocery store and note what is on sale! 

  • For instance, if asparagus and eggplant are on sale the week I will go through my folder and try to find recipes that include those ingredients

I try to find overlap in recipes!

  • If a recipe calls for half a butternut squash or cabbage, I try to find another recipe that also calls for those ingredient so I am not wasting any fresh produce, meat, or dairy

I utilize the entire ingredient!

  • On the same vain as the above comment, if I buy a whole chicken, I will use the bones to make bone broth.  If I have any ingredients leftover from previous recipes I will use them on the weekend to throw together breakfast or lunch or if they are still in good condition, I will find a recipe for the following week to use.  I rarely throw food away and always try to find a way to use everything I purchase

I consider what I already have in my pantry!

  • I will share my budget tips below, but I always consider what ingredients I may have on hand such as canned tomatoes, frozen meat, etc when I meal plan.  This cuts down on the ingredients I need to buy at the grocery store while staying within my budget

I consider what events I have going on!

  • If I know I have a happy hour, birthday party, etc I will make sure to not buy groceries for that night’s dinner.  I also generally allow myself one night a week where I will eat out or grab something quick for dinner.  For instance, this could be on nights I get home late from physical therapy and don’t feel like cooking

I plan my meals with variety in mind!

  • I generally like to have a salad or two, a main dish, a faux pasta dish, and a soup each week. This is a general rule of thumb but I like to cook a variety of dishes for the week based on my mood and to keep things exciting!

How do I Eat Grain Free on a Budget? 

I generally spend less than $300 a month on groceries for two to eat, nutritious, grain free, from scratch meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 90% of the week!  Most weeks our grocery bill is $50-75 (depending on if we need to buy staples like olive oil, honey, etc). Some weeks can be higher like $80-100 (which is rare, maybe once every 4-7 weeks) if we have to buy additional items like cat food, cleaning supplies, etc.  I just checked my mint account and in the last 12 months we have spent around $3,000 on groceries and $2,000 going out to eat, which averages to around $415 a month for groceries AND going out to eat!  I try to buy as much organic produce, dairy, and cage-free eggs as I can. However, with our budget that is not always possible but I try to stock up on sale items and utilize various tactics to buy the best products I can.

Here are a few of my tips to finding great food on a budget:

Shop at various stores!

  • Many stores have better deals on certain items than others and while it took me a while to determine which of my local stores had the best prices on what products, once you figure it out it becomes second nature!  For instance, Kombucha is ALWAYS cheaper at Natural Grocers by almost a dollar… and most of their organic bulk items are cheaper than Sprouts non-organic bulk items.

Shop sales and stock up!

  • Sprouts frequently has amazing BOGO sales so I always stock up on olive oil, canned organic tomatoes and beans, and other pantry staples during these sales
  • As mentioned above, I check the Sprouts ad prior to meal planning for the week and select meals given whats on sale.  If salmons on sale, you bet that I’ll make a salmon dish!

Shop in bulk!

  • Not only is buying in bulk cheaper, it is also so much better for the environment.  I always buy in bulk nuts, almond/coconut/tapioca flour, chia seeds, spices, and other staples.  Again, since these products keep very well, I will buy in bulk during sales.  On a side note – I always keep my alternative flours in the fridge so they last longer

Shop online!

  • I love using subscribe and save on Amazon and stack amazing deals with coupons.  For example, I buy 90% of my Larabars on Amazon when they have a $4 off coupon for a 16 pack plus 15% off for subscribe and save.  Watching for sales, I can buy 16 packs of Larabars for $7-10!  Other great items I purchase online while watching for sales are olive/coconut oil, canned goods, Qi’a, Renola, coffee, etc.

Use coupons!

  • Kroger has an app where you can download coupons digitally.  I find a lot of their organic Simple Truth brand to be on sale and also have electronic coupons so you get double savings. They tend to also have coupons for fresh items like cheese, eggs, and almond milk! Also get connected with mailing lists.  Sprouts sends me monthly emails with coupons for heavy discounts or even free items!

 

Well there is my brain dump of information about meal planning and shopping on a budget!  I will add more ideas as I remember them 🙂  Feel free to comment with any questions you may have!

Food in Review 03/21-03/28

This week had a lot of great cooking involved and included a lot of time at home since it was spring break and I got a few days off work 🙂 Colorado was hit hard with an unexpected blizzard but I truly enjoyed spending my time cooking, watching netflix, and hanging out with my husband.

Monday

We went to the grocery store and got the massive haul I posted about.  We also grabbed a roasted chicken and items from the salad bar for a quick and easy dinner.

Tuesday

I HEAVILY adapted Half Baked Harvest’s Chili Cashew Shrimp

  • First off, when I went to Sprouts they were out of raw shrimp…. so I used chicken instead
  • Secondly, I swapped the rice noodles for bean thread noodles
  • And lastly I adapted quite a few of the sauces to be paleo friendly

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Wednesday

The blizzard hit so I got to make a simple breakfast at home, had leftover Cashew Chicken, and made this AMAZING recipe by PaleOMG This is one of the rare times I followed the recipe without any adaptations (except I only marinated the chicken for 4 hours not 24….)

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Thursday

Another workday morning at home from the snow meant I had time to make a hot breakfast!  I used leftover coconut cauliflower rice from dinner and added cumin and chili powder so a great side to bacon and eggs!  For dinner I made Zenbelly’s Pan Roasted Chicken with Apples and Bacon and a side of butternut and acorn squash.  I mostly followed this recipe, except I cooked it all over the stove rather than in the oven.

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Friday

I had a few doctors appointments in the morning so I had a quick breakfast of Siggis whole milk yogurt topped with Qi’a grainfree cereal and almond butter. For lunch I went out to Mod Market and had a delicious strawberry and chicken salad and had leftover roasted chicken from the night before for dinner!

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Saturday

For breakfast I made Birch Benders Paleo Pancake Mix topped with cacao nibs and bananas with a side of eggs.  Dinner, I ended up making Foodie Crush’s Autumn Cobb Salad utilizing the other half of the acorn and butternut squash from Thursday’s dinner.  I also made some bone broth by simmering the leftover chicken with celery, garlic, onion, and bay leaves for the majority of the afternoon and evening.

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Sunday

It was Easter and we went to brunch at a friends house.  We made a gluten free, boozy french toast and they made an assortment of grain free items including a frittata, hash browns, fresh fruit, bacon and eggs. We were stuffed from a late breakfast so we didn’t end up having lunch and made a heavily adapted version of Half Baked Harvest’s One Pan Tusan Quinoa Bake. 

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Shopping Trip and Menu for 03/21-03/27

This week I ended up going grocery shopping on a Monday night, which is extremely rare in my household! Normally the weekends are my go to time to get errands completed, however, my weekend was just too jam packed to make that happen.

This weeks grocery haul was much more expensive than normal and I blame that in part for going on a workday in the evening with my husband (!) and also because I had to stock up on a few household staples and we ended up buying a rotisserie chicken and sides from the salad bar for a quick dinner.

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Recipes this week include: 

Roasted Chicken with Bacon and Apples by Zen Belly (with a side of roasted squash)

Paleomg’s Baked Jerk Chicken with Coconut Cauliflower Rice and Plantains/

One Pan Tuscan Bake by Half Baked Harvest

Chili Cashew Shrimp Noodles by Half Baked Harvest (will sub with bean thread noodles and chicken)

Autumn Cobb Salad by Foodie Crush

A Break Down of Items Purchased 

Produce = $35.86

  • Acorn Squash ($1.29/lb x 1.33lb) = 1.72
  • Butternut Squash (1.29/lb x 1.68lb) = 2.17
  • Celery 1lb Bunch = .98
  • Cilantro = .50
  • Clementines 2lb bag = 2.50
  • Cucumbers (2 x .50) = 1.00
  • Green Bell Peppers (5 x .88) = 4.40
  • Green Onions = .50
  • Hass XL Avocado (2 x 1.25) = 2.50
  • Jalapeno (1.29/lb x .04lb) = .05
  • Limes (2 x .25) = .50
  • Minced Garlic = 1.99
  • Organic Cauliflower (1.50/lb x 2.3lb) = 3.45
  • Pink Lady Apples (.88/lb x 1.06lb) = .93
  • Plantains (.99/lb x 1.31lb) = 1.30
  • Portabella Mushrooms (4.99/lb x .43lb) = 2.15
  • Spring Salad Mix Large Box = 3.99
  • Vineripe Tomatoes (.98/lb x 3.38lb) = 3.31
  • Yellow Bananas (.59/lb x 2.33/lb) = 1.37
  • Yellow Onion (.88/ln x .62lb) = .55

Grocery Items = $14.79

  • Grapefruit La Croix Sparkling Water = 2.99
  • Bulk Roasted Cashews (6.99/lb x .26lb) = 1.82
  • Large Black Olives = 1.99
  • Malt Vinegar Chips = 1.50
  • Olive Oil Chips = 1.50
  • Roasted Red Peppers = 2.49
  • Sparkling Water Liter (2 x 1.25) = 2.50

Dairy and Deli = $30.54

  • Almond Milk – Unsweetened Vanilla = 2.50
  • Almond Milk Creamer = 1.99
  • Fage Greek Yogurt (5 x .79) = 3.95
  • Large Eggs – 18 count = 2.89
  • Roasted Chicken = 6.99
  • Salad Bar (7.99/lb x 1.05lb) = 8.39
  • Whole Milk Mozzarella = 3.83

Meat = 18.75

  • Chicken Breast (1.77/lb x 3.72lb) = 6.60
  • Chicken Thigh (1.99/lb x 3.09lb) = 6.16
  • Uncured Bacon = 5.99

Household = 7.48

  • Cleaning Spray = 2.99
  • Free and Clear Laundry Detergent = 4.49

Food in Review 03/13 – 03/20

This week I had a pretty colorful and budget friendly menu! I spent about $55 at the grocery store and got a pretty good haul 🙂  I had a few staples at home to work with, but for the most part this was enough food for 2 for the majority of the week.

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Sunday

I make Skirt Steak Salad with Caramelized Pears, Pecans, Red Onion, and Pepitas with a Dijon Dressing.  The recipe is by Baker By Nature

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Monday

I made Pinch of Yum‘s Ultimate Winter Bliss Bowl and added roasted turmeric chicken

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Tuesday

Dinner was Feasting at Home’s Cuban Mojo Chicken that I made into a one pan, easy dish!

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Wednesday

I had a potluck at my friends house so I did’t cook dinner, however I heavily adapted Merit and Fork’s Banana Bread recipe into cookies for a quick and easy breakfast for the next 5 days!

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Thursday

I ended up going to Quiro Arepas because I didn’t feel like cooking and met up with some friends 🙂

Friday

I made a Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese salad by Chelsea’s Messy Apron and added Basil Chicken Sausage

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Saturday 

We went to brunch at Root Down and I got a delicious Pulled Pork Omelette with roasted potatoes and arugula

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Saturday night I made a Turmeric Pork Skillet by Laura Vein that was super easy and quick

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Sunday

We went to Chipotle for a late lunch and I was not hungry till about 8pm so I threw together an egg scramble with a leftover Basil Chicken Sausage and field greens.

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And that’s my weeks food in review! 🙂