Talking Food

You all know how I (we) have been rocking it out with the work outs, and trying generally to live a healthier life. We’ve successful incorporated hand weights into our work out routines and do our best to be active 4-6 days a week. We have cut down our food portions and have stopped filling the between parts with entire bags of sour twizzlers. We’re moving in the right direction.

The thing that remains entirely too difficult? Grocery shopping. We struggle with grocery shopping and what to make for lunch and what to make for dinner way too often. Part of this is because I get sick of food very quickly. So, something I’ve eaten every week for 3 months will suddenly be impossible for me to swallow. This just about kills Kamel, who could eat the same thing every day for the rest of his life. Every day the discussion on what to pack Lauren for lunch takes over our morning and suddenly Kamel is pulling is hair out in frustration as I have refused to eat anything we have currently in the house.

The other issue, besides my obnoxious food needs, is budget. We can easily go to the grocery store every week and spend $100.00 on food we may never eat. We can also easily go to the store every week, spend $100.00 and magically not buy anything. I’m not sure how this happens, but after we fill the fridge and the cupboard we suddenly have nothing to eat for dinner. Kamel has taken to quizzing me, in the store, on what I will have for meals, basically proving to both of us that there is actual food in our shopping cart. We’ve been doing the every other week grocery run to save money and to force us to eat the food we buy (barf), but lately that’s becoming a huge burden, and often means I’m eating a diet rich in bread, shredded cheese, jam, and potatoes. Even though my portions are fine, the cheese is skim, and the bread is whole wheat, this is not a way to live. When the only fruit (or vegetable) I’m consuming is blueberry jam for nearly an entire week, something’s gotta give.

So now, instead of doing 1 grocery run every two weeks, we’re doing 2 small trips. These trips will primarily focus on perishable items only (fruits, vegetables, dairy… and healthy snacks since I am an avid snacker and a much less avid meal eater), and the bread and meat department will be supplemental only. In the last few weeks I’ve looked in my fridge and seen 5 different types of bread. FIVE. We have the regular loaf, the pitas, the tortillas, regular bagel thins, and cinnamon raisin bagel thins. And after I gobbled up all of the nectarines, there were NO fruits and veggies. How did this happen?

So now we’re counting our servings, and we’ve been rocking the V8. Kamel actually likes the regular vegetable V8 and I can’t gag that down, so we go back and forth between the fruit/veggie V8 (1 serving of fruit and 1 serving of veggies in each can), and the regular kind. We’ve stocked up on green beans, apples, and squash this week. And we’ve also been rocking the marinara. We’re too busy to prepare and cook a lot of veggies (I love roasting, but it just takes too long right now). And as much as I love salad, I have a hard time getting to it before it turns brown in the fridge, so I order a salad 9 times out of 10 when we go out to eat instead of anything else (mmm beets!).

We’re always going to be the people who like mac and cheese 1000x better than cheese and broccoli. That’s the truth. So we have to make a conscious effort to keep better foods moving in the direction of our mouths, and part of that means making those better foods work for our lifestyle.

Do you guys have tricks and tips for keeping your fridge stocked and things appetizing? We would love some new ways to prepare things, etc etc. Help a sister out. šŸ™‚

58 thoughts on “Talking Food”

  1. I know you say you get sick of things quickly, but if you build up a few good base recipes it really helps. For example, we love tacos. That can become chicken tacos, fajitas, taco salad or regular tacos. I make a tomato based stew that can have fish or shrimp or chicken added to it. Our backup plan is always roast chicken with a carb and a veggie, which is really fast when you get the precooked kind. Crockpot stew is easy for work days, or you can make a giant pot od soup (like minestrone) on the weekend and freeze it in containers. Chicken tortilla is also good for that. Good luck!

  2. I’m going to sound a bit . . . lame here, but maybe think about doing a weekly meal plan. It sounds really annoying, I know, but I did it for the past month or so, and it was uh-maze-ing.

    We would do the “what do you want to have?” “I dunno, what do you want to have?” “I dunno, what’s in the fridge?” “I dunno, what’s in the freezer?” thing when it came to having dinner and it rove me nuts. Plus, besides the grocery store basics, I’d never know what to have, and I’d always end up having to run to the shop for that one pesky ingredient that I didn’t have whenever we inevitably decided on making food. With a meal plan, you can try new recipes and shop according to what you want to make, as opposed to drawing a total blank at the store as to how things are going to come together.

    Of course things change and things come up, so sometimes meals have to be moved around, but I’ve found it to be a really really great starting point. And by doing it weekly, it might not give you enough time to get tired of the food you’re eating.

    1. Planning meals is about the only way that I can feel sane when it comes to cooking. I like coming home from work and knowing what I’m going to make that night–even better what’s going to be cooked in the crockpot when I get there. Plus, it means if you want to make something that’s in the freezer you can defrost it ahead of time.

    2. Yes! The only, only, ONLY thing that has helped us with these issues (and honestly, I can relate to 99.9% of this post WHOLE-HEARTEDLY!) has been meal planning. When we’re on top of it, our whole food outlook is so much brighter than it is when we don’t do it. We get to sit down on the weekend, think about what we want to eat for the whole week, we’re organized when we go grocery shopping, and we can strategize our produce purchases so that we don’t end up with a lot of rotten veggies, and cooking every night is SO much less daunting when you know exactly what you have to do before you even walk through the door.

    3. Yes to meal planning. Though I totally gave up on “Tuesday is set in stone taco night” and moved toward having 5-6 meal ideas ready for the week.

      I also let go of these crazy idea that I have to produce a gourmet meal every night. If I wanted le BF to help or occasionally handle the whole thing Bon Appetit had to be put in the “weekend only” file.

      For me, it was a combination of letting go of ridiculous expectations and putting a plan in place with enough flexibility to let life happen.

    4. I’m going to have to de-lurk for a moment to recommend a great meal planning website I use, it’s called e-mealz. They have a whole bunch of different plans and ever week they provide a meal plan/grocery list. It does cost a little money ($5/month), but to me it’s completely worth it because we probably end up saving money in the long run because we eat out less. I don’t mean to sound like a sales pitch, just wanted to share what works for us… now back to my dark corner. šŸ™‚

    5. It feels good to know other people do meal-planning! My boyfriend insists we do it every week, and I dread sitting down trying to think of meals for the week, but our grocery bill is around $60-$70/week (maybe more on weeks with olive oil or expensive stocking up items) and it makes weekdays so easy. Of course there has to be room for flexibility, but there are set nights when we must have leftovers because we don’t have time to cook, and this really helps us expect that.

      And, always make full recipes so you can freeze stuff and bring leftovers for lunch! Soup is great frozen, pesto (do you have a food processor?), portions of bacon (for a little flavor in pasta or quiche — oh yah, frozen crusts are great too), and homemade black bean burgers (just reform into patties, or the filling is great in enchiladas too).

      We love cooking, but not when it’s stressful and a weeknight, so planning ahead really does help us save money and not have to buy extra ingredients during the week.

  3. Do you have a wok? I’ve found that has helped me A LOT with vegetable consumption. Plus it’s quick. Most veggies cooked in a little olive oil soy sauce basil salt taste devine. Or even more delish Is a sauce made of balsamic vinegar, honey olive oil and soy sauce. I can eat anything cooked in that. That sauce made it possible for me to eat mustard greens. I recently signed up for an organic vegetable box so it’s kept me on my vegetable cooking toes, and also generally made me feel healthier.

  4. Mark Bittman’s cookbook “How to Cook Everything” is fabulous. If you go to the grocery store and come back with a bunch of stuff you have no idea what to do with you can go to the index, look up, “Broccoli Raab” and find a recipe that is bound to be delicious. He gives really good advice on how to stock your pantry so that you can always whip something up even if you failed to plan ahead. I’m a big fan of meal planning, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I love the Bittman book so much I often refer to it as “the Bible”. I also refer to Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s MEAT book as “the Bible” and then of course there is the Bible, Bible, but I think I’m getting sidetracked here …

    1. Completely seconded, Zan. I didn’t know how to cook until I read “How to Cook Everything,” and that’s not an exaggeration. Sure, I could follow a recipe, but once I started reading the book, I could just throw together a meal without really thinking about it. This is essential for my life, which really, really rebels against things like meal plans and grocery shopping.

      1. I think I need Kamel to read this. He is a fool in the kitchen, and had issues cooking fresh pasta last night. He needs a cooking manual just to save our relationship and give me 5 minutes to myself after work.

    2. I have this Bible, and it seriously overwhelms me. Maybe I should actually read it instead of flipping through randomly and getting freaked out…

      Also, Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall! I do not have his meat book, but I am a fan of Gordon Ramsey’s The F Word, so it is a name I know and do not often hear. (And yes, despite watching this kind of tv, we don’t cook.)

  5. My favorite during-the-week recipes are those where most of the ingredients are non-perishable (so they can just chillax in the cupboard/freezer for a while), and then on the weekly grocery store run i pick up veggies to throw in there. For instance, get lean ground turkey, make a homemade tomato sauce (i can send you a super easy recipe of you want), throw in some mushrooms or peppers or whatever floats your boat, and serve it over wheat pasta. Pre-made spaghetti sauces like prego are actually not so good for you, and are high in sodium.

    OR! Just bite the bullet one weekend and make a ton of stuff to stick in the freezer. I make trays of chicken enchiladas (wheat tortillas, easy on the cheese), meatballs (you can serve these with spaghetti or over brown rice with an easy peasy bbq sauce- again, i can send the recipe if you want), or stuffed peppers.

    I also agree with the meal-planning idea. If your freezer is stocked with frozen chicken breasts, you can make chicken picatta one night, baked chicken with some salsa another night, fajitas a third night, and marinated chicken with a side of green beans the last night (even if you just used the canned french style green beans or whatever). Pork tenderloin is another thing that is super easy to cook with.

    Sorry, that was a novel and now i realize that i’m a major carnivore. I just really realllllly hate eating boring things too, and all of those recipes are fun and delicious and easy to eat vegetables with šŸ™‚

  6. If either one of you has an iPhone you need to download the Whole Foods App (free!) You can search for recipes normally, by certain diets, or by foods you currently have in the fridge. And when you find some recipes you like you can add all the ingredients in one shopping list. We usually make 4 recipes a week and that leaves enough leftovers for lunches!!

  7. We joined a CSA so we paid up-front and now get a box of fresh produce every week. It’s honestly a challenge to use all the vegetables we’re given, and we LOVE vegetables. If you think about the foods you have at home all day, your mind will crave them because it makes you ANTICIPATE them, which is all the difference, I think.

    Also we make up meals a lot, with no idea what we’re doing. It always works out. And it’s always different. Because we cannot ever figure out how to make something twice, even if we really liked it the first time.

    Also also, you must have some perennial faves (mine are Mac & Cheese, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and Chips and Salsa which YES is a whole meal I don’t care what you say). Make sure you always have supplies for your go-to meals. They’ll fill in when you’re not feeling creative.

  8. CROCK POT! I am seriously so lazy that I start it the night before, when I go to bed, and we eat it for dinner the next night. My staple is frozen chicken boobs, I throw those in there with anything and it turns out delicious.

  9. (*Note, I wrote this comment and realized it would be an awesome idea for a blog post in my blog since I talk about food all the time, haha, and I know you’re not the only person who struggling with food/grocery trips. So I’m changing things up slightly in my post, but with the same idea.. and totally linking to this original post of yours!)

    Honestly, I was in the same spot you were. Literally, especially with the whole grocery shopping thing/getting sick of the same thing all the time.

    When we bought our house, we realized that we lived less than a quarter mile from a QFC. It’s on both of our ways home from work, but I usually get home before Matt does, so if we decide we want to do a protein and steamed veggies, I’ll stop and pick up a back of frozen veggies that steam in the bag, or whatever we basically need. We went from going to the grocery store like, once every few weeks to at least 4-5 times a week.

    We only buy enough fresh produce, etc. to last us a few days. We noticed when we stock up on too much stuff, it goes to waste/we forget we even bought it. I’ve also made more of an effort to go to more farmer’s markets and that type of stuff for fresh produce, as for some reason it makes me actually really want to eat what I bought.

    The other place we go to once a week is Costco. Now, this definitely changed based on moving from an apartment to a house and having actual SPACE for stuff, but food-wise I’d say we buy a few items there and then are set for awhile. Fage greek yogurt, chicken breast, Mahi Mahi, La Tortilla Factory tortillas, and a few other things that we both like are staples in our diet/what we always pick up at Costco. OH and the chicken noodle soup is amazing and will get eaten very quickly, providing a super easy and quick meal for a few days straight.

    I think a big part of it is do you guys eat the same stuff or not? Prior to us eating healthier, we ate TOTALLY different things and therefore had way more random crap to eat than we do now. Now we both each the same dinner together, which helps infinite amounts in making sure nothing goes to waste.

    If you’re really crunched for time though, one suggestion I have is making a huge batch of something for the work week on a Sunday. I’ve done this by making turkey chowder in the slow cooker, or making sandwiches, or stir fry, whatever floats your boat… Just make a large amount of it so you guys can not have to worry about food for a few days. I love having leftovers so I don’t have to cook every single night (like my fish taco left I ate for dinner last night!)

    Canned soup or soup at hand with a sandwich can spice things up. Maybe I’ve just become a plain Jane when it comes to breakfast but I enjoy low sugar oatmeal and a banana, and some turkey sausage. You really need to go to the store with a plan as to what you want and KNOW that you will eat. Don’t ever go to the store having no idea what you’re in the mood for. Try your best to plan ahead and make a list. Sure, it can be a pain in the ass but it also makes it so you don’t go out of control when you shop and get stuff you’ll never eat.

    The biggest things that have helped are flat out buying less in each trip, but making way more trips to the store, ALWAYS bringing a list, and trying to find things that I won’t get sick of.

    This all takes way more effort than you’re probably used to (it definitely did for me and took time to adjust), but it’s worth it and will really encourage a healthier eating regimen than before.

  10. I think you’ve already gotten some really good comments, but I’m throwing my hat into the ring too because I’m obsessed with food. And cooking. And cheap shopping. So, I haven’t always been one to cook, but while my husband and I were still dating, we decided we wanted to learn how to cook. Now we both genuinely enjoy it (although I “enjoy it” more often than he does).

    I absolutely, every week, without fail use a meal plan. TheProjectGirl has some really cute templates, so it’s kind of fun to fill out. You have to be honest with yourself about when you’re going to eat at home and when you’re going to eat out, so you don’t waste. But if you typically (or want to) eat out once or twice a week, make sure to factor that in. Also, factor in leftovers. If you make a big recipe one night, eat the rest one or two nights later. The meal plan also makes it easier for you to see what you’re eating, as far as veggies/carbs/etc. If you have a carb heavy meal one night, go for veggies and protein the next. A whole lot of meat one night, maybe do vegetarian the next day.

    To better facilitate this, I also (this is neurotic – me at my best, for sure) keep a spreadsheet in Google Docs with all my go-to meals and links to the recipes if I don’t have them memorized. I divide them into columns by “ethnic origin” basically, but you could do it however you want. This makes it easier to spread things out and eat varied stuff every week. I try not to eat Italian more than 2 nights a week because it’s often so carb-heavy, and I try not to do Mexican more than 1 or 2 nights a week because my husband didn’t grow up in Texas like I did (LOL). The spreadsheet also keeps me from going, “I don’t KNOW what to COOK!” Yes, I do – it’s in the friggin’ spreadsheet. Also, I keep track of recipes I want to try through Pinterest. I love that it’s so visual. If I make a successful new recipe, it goes on the spreadsheet.

    As far as health goes, I stay on the perimeter of the grocery store. I don’t buy anything packaged (except for cereal sometimes and frozen meals like Lean Cuisines to take to work sometimes – those are “indulgences” I will allow my lazy ass). But I don’t focus so much on healthy stuff that I’m grossed out by what I’m eating or husband won’t eat it at all. I figure if I’m using whole ingredients and making it at home, it’s healthy. I make stuff like fajitas and tacos, pasta dishes, and sometimes grilled cheese & tomato soup is dinner enough for us, too.

    Having a few meals for the freezer is nice too for nights that you just don’t feel like cooking. If you have a casserole or some burritos you can throw in the oven, it’ll save you from ordering pizza. Even if the caloric content is the same, it’s the money difference and the “I made this with quality ingredients that I’m aware of” difference that makes all the, um, difference. Sometimes I’ll double a recipe on a Sunday afternoon or spend a little extra time cooking some things that day, and throw them in the freezer for weekdays when I just can’t imagine doing anything in the kitchen.

    1. Ahh, your Google doc idea just blew open a whole new meal planning world for me. As someone who uses Google docs for everything, I embarrassed I never thought of it myself.

      1. Haha, it is awesome and I hope it helps you! Just be careful who you tell; “I have a recipe spreadsheet” sounds WAY Type-A crazy. šŸ˜‰

  11. We have this same problem, especially because he and I both like completely different kinds of food. Unfortunately I have no new suggestions, but I have to second that “How to Cook Everything” by M. Bittman is awesome and really helpful (and also heavy, so carrying it around would be like exercising).

  12. I’m a member of Weight Watchers and they always have good healthy recipes. I prefer to cook at home than eat the frozen boxed products. Here is one recipe that I tweaked a bit. We make if a couple times a month, it’s loaded with vegetables but tastes rich.

    Kielbasa and Vegetable “Paella”

    Two packages of yellow rice, cooked according to directions without the butter or oil (I use Mahatma saffron yellow rice).

    In a large skillet, heat 2 tsps. of olive oil, add 2 chopped red bell peppers, 1 chopped medium yellow onion, 3 cloves of minced garlic. Saute until soft. Add one sliced Jennie-O turkey kielbasa. Add 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables (whatever you prefer, I use a greens bean, corn and carrot mix). Add prepared yellow rice to this mix and serve.

    This only lasts a couple of days in our house, so not too many leftovers which helps keep me from getting sick of it.

  13. When I’m not so crazy, and the month before your wedding falls into the crazy, I try to make one new recipe a week. Skinnytaste.com is a staple and I make some of those recipes all the time, per the first comment.

    I wanted to throw out going to Costco, or Sams, or BJs, or whatever. David and I get a week’s worth (sometimes more) of produce: apples, stuff for salad, a dinner veggie, and vegs for snacking which we take to work everyday. We also get our proteins there: ground turkey, chicken skewers (frozen), panko tilapia fillets, boneless pork chops, chicken boobs (heh, stole that). It makes for ridiculous freezer tetris, but we have things for when we plan our meals (turkey for Asian sesame meatballs) or when I get home and it’s all, “Craaaaap. Forget to take something out.” So it’s panko tilapia (4 pts each) with oven roasted potatoes. Et voila, fish and chips.

    You get staples like rice, potatoes, pasta (although sparingly with the pasta if you’re on WW) so you can always make a full meal. Works for us!

  14. I try to find ways to eat veggies that I get excited about because dreading them does me no good. Sometimes that means putting them in something where they get overshadowed (fruit smoothies and pesto are excellent vehicles for spinach…. I honestly hesitate to elaborate, lest I become That Girl Who Talks About Spinach Smoothies Everywhere On The Internet. Really.).

    Sometimes it means making them taste different than I thought they could (i.e., take a big batch of kale, torn in pieces, toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and RICE vinegar: spread on a baking sheet under a broiler until it crisps up – not long = kale chips!)

    And sometimes it means adding in something I really, really want to eat. I like salads ok, but if I know my salad has avocado pieces and green olives, I get psyched about it.

  15. We have this problem too! I’d recommend frozen veggies, since they have lots of nutrients still, and don’t go bad. That helped us out a lot.

    One suggestion for the whole, can’t eat too much of one thing, (I’m the same way, nothing worse than 4 days in a row of chicken) is keep lots of herbs and spices in the house. This way, you can switch it up, even if you are eating the same main ingredient. Chicken tacos are not the same as chicken stir fry, etc.

    As far as lunches, we can’t always do this, but I find it helps to make a whole bunch of food for the week on Sunday. Then, there’s no scrambling Wednesday night, after you clean up from dinner to make something for lunch the next day!!

  16. Re: eating more veggies but not roasting them — I quickly saute lots and lots of greens (kale, chard, mustard, beet greens, etc.) to add to meals. It takes 15 minutes (wash, cut, saute, serve), and they are mostly pretty inexpensive. The trick is to saute minced garlic in olive oil until tender (not brown & crispy), then throw in chopped greens. Cover for a couple of minutes till they wilt, then add a splash of vinegar (balsamic or cider) to steam them done. They should still be bright green, but tender when you serve them. This is easy to do while prepping anything else you plan to eat — chicken breast, etc.

    Prepping certain things in advance really helps, too. I usually cook dry beans once a week (black beans, cannelini, garbanzo, etc. 1 cup of rinsed beans covered with water an inch above the beans, simmered for ~1 hr until tender. Add a small handful of salt right as the beans start getting tender. You can season with a bay leaf, pepper, thyme, etc.), and add them to other dishes. For example, one batch of cannelini can be 1.) added to salads for protein; 2.) Heated with herbs & olive oil and tossed with a grain (rice, quinoa, bulgar) or pasta for part of a lunch; 3.) added to some veggie broth w/ sauteed carrots, celery, onion, garlic, a can of diced tomatoes, and some pasta for a quick soup; 4.) pureed with garlic, olive oil, thyme and/or oregano for a dip to go with veggies or pitas.

    Also, chopping lettuce and storing it washed in a salad spinner really helps us add salads to our lunches every day. Salad can be ever changing, so might help you with your food boredom problem. Good luck, and good job to you and Kamel in tackling this!

      1. Yum! Sounds delicious. I discovered beans this winter, and now they are one of my absolute favorites šŸ™‚

  17. uhm. yes. we do the buy $100 of groceries and have nothing to eat schpeal too, really. it’s ridiculous. i’m starting to LOATHE tv dinners.

  18. i can offer no tips since, i go to the grocery store after work to buy what i want for dinner on the day. As for lunch, on the weekends i buy what i want to eat for 4 days out of the week and leave myself friday as my splurge day. Its a well portioned food since im on a little diet myself.

  19. So funny…i have that How To Cook Everything book, and have touched it maybe once! Now that its been mentioned a few times just in these comments..i need to bust it out! One thing we ALWAYS have in the house…spinach. It lasts super long for salads and you can sautee it up with some EVOO for a quick hot meal. (If you like spinach ;)) And since we got our fancy shmancy crock pot for xmas, Hubbys been making yummy recipes on sunday (from the book Fix it and Forget it) for the week. Or before you head to the grocery store, if you have something in mind you want to make, pull up the recipes on your phone and use that for your list at the store. I always have my phone out when grocery shopping. Cant wait to hear about your routine you settle into!

  20. I’m just like you: I get sick of foods pretty quickly. I’m also not a brave cook which means I need really simple recipes.

    I’ve started going to my local farmers market. I used to be a picky eater and didn’t really eat many fruits. But I tried the samples they had out and now I have a set of fruits I really enjoy! I’m obsessed with gaviota strawberries right now… Mmmmm.

    I try to switch up my salad dressing so I don’t get bored with lunch. Also avocado is AMAZING. I have it in my salads, on burgers (cooked on a skillet!), with sweet potato fries.

    Last week I worked up my courage and bought a marinade and soaked some chicken in it all day. Divine! And so easy. And you can change up the marinates so you don’t get bored.

  21. OMG, I feel like all I talk about it food, food, food! (If you look at my Facebook or instagram feed you’ll probably think that I’m obsessed with food) This has always been a little difficult for me but I feel like I’ve hit my stride in the grocery department over the last year so I hope that you’re ready for a novel!

    We have three challenges in our house
    1- Fred works until midnight so we never eat dinner together
    2- I have a vegan diet but live in a suburb (all of the good stuff is at Whole Foods but I don’t want to drive to Napa)
    3- Budget

    I HAVE to bring a lot of food with me to work (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack) because I can’t just graze the team tables and see if there is anything good. It’s usually cake or cheese or something not vegan friendly.

    I cook for myself monday-thursday nights and I use a scale to measure my portions (a serving of zuchinni is 4oz so is a serving of peas so I put the amount on the scale until I reach the portion amount). My meals are all pretty much the same, I just like to mix up the accessories so that means a typical dinner for my is a small mix of a bunch of veggies (zuch, peas, green beans, broccoli) and then a plant based protien. Typically that’s baked or sauteed tofu or a lentil burger. I ALWAYS keep BBQ sauce and Teriyaki sauce in the fridge and curry powder in the pantry. The best part is that a serving of BBQ sauce is 2 tablespoons which is actually enough to make it super saucy and amazing!
    I like to pre-make my lentil burgers on sundays. I bake them then individually freeze for my lunches. If I have leftover lentils, I like to make “taco meat” and make burritos or something.

    In order to save $$ and avoid eating out during lunch times, we buy some vegan or vegetarian (for fred) frozen lunches. The Amy’s organic one’s are awesome when they’re on sale! There is sodium in them but if we both only eat whole foods the rest of the day, we’re able to keep our salt intake under control.

    I like to meal plan sometimes, but mostly I just figure out what I like and buy accordingly. I don’t usually venture out and buy unusual things because they’ll just sit in the fridge!

    We shop every week and this is staple grocery list, sometimes we venture off but not often!

    Juice (carrot juice for Fred, V8 Fusion for me)
    Veggies (zuch, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, cucumber. sometimes we get a few potatoes but they don’t get eaten that fast)
    Fruit (apples, bananas, avocado and a couple of other in-season items)
    Lara bars for me (mid-day treat AND a serving a fruit!)
    Frozen lunches (5 and only if they’re on sale. Always a couple of Vegan ones)
    Frozen waffles (I buy these amazing vegan/ gluten free ones and put a smidge of peanut butter on it for breakfast)
    TOFU (two packs at a time!)
    Ezekiel english muffins (avocado spread on them with a lentil burger or baked tofu in the middle is SO GOOD)
    Almond milk
    Cereal (for Fred, I don’t usually eat cereal)
    Pasta Sauce (mostly for Fred, he’s home alone on Friday and usually makes spaghetti)
    Fruit popsicles or tofutti cuties (I count calories and I always allow myself dessert!)
    Sometimes I throw in a fancy vegan side like this awesome “pulled pork” but it’s a treat not a common occurence!

    Every couple of weeks I make sure that we have dry lentils, beans and grains/ pastas. I also make sure that we have a couple cans of chickpeas and kidney beans. Since we live in the ‘burbs I do miss things like coconut yogurt and a bigger variety of vegan products like tempeh, pre-made seitan or Daiya cheese! (Oh how I miss Daiya!) I try to stay away from soy meat since it’s SO high in sodium and fillers.

    A usual bill is between $75 and $100 but spending a little more at the grocery store means we’re not eating out and that saves us money!

    Hopefully you were able to make something out of my rambles! If not, I’m happy to answer questions!

  22. There are a bunch of rollover-type cookbooks out there and I’ve had good luck with them. It allows me to put 40-60 minutes into making two meals. I can handle that some nights.

    We don’t have a traditional CSA but an organic fruit and veggie delivery. It’s $40 every two weeks and they freaking deliver to your door. It has really helped up our fruit and veggie intake. Just having whole fruit around makes me want to eat it.

  23. Beets. Get a few. Cook them on a sunday. (wrap in foil, set on a baking sheet, cook at 350 for like 45 minutes or until you can slide a fork through them. Then peel them. Let them cool and stick them in the fridge for another day.)

    Then, on a weeknight I douse them in a simple vinaigrette and shallots, bake them for like twelve minutes so they caramelize. Add them into a salad while they’re still warm and add goat cheese and toss… and seriously. You get the BEST weeknight meal full of goodness. The cheese melts all through the salad. Add a big slab of toast and yummmmm.

      1. I get that chevre with a goat on it, it’s in a plastic pouch type thing, I have no idea what it’s called. And I slice the stems off the beets when I roast but it’s not totally important either way.

        So good.

  24. My finance and I have this exact same problem!! During christmas taste of home had a sale going on and I bought 5 cookbooks for 20 bucks. From here we would sit down and write out a meal plan for each day, whether it be one was at work so the other just had to make lunch or if we had dinner together at home we would pick a fun recipe out of the cook book. Its crazy how much meal planning can help with saving on food cost and eating the food you buy. Of course during the super busy times of you life it can be difficult. Hope this helps.

  25. Everyone finds a different road with food…but, I think you’re going to like shopping once a week. For one, most of the healthy stuff that you want to eat will go bad in a week anyway so it’s worth it…you’ll end up with better fruits and veggies around and you can buy smaller containers of lettuce (or whatever) so you can finish it off during the week (good dressing helps).

    Trey and I also do well with having A Plan– a simple Plan, but a Plan all the same. We scribble out the meals we want to eat Sunday-Thursday on Sunday afternoon and then go shopping. We divvy it up when we get to the store so it doesn’t take as long and we’re not as likely to beg the other person for treats. (“mmmm, ice cream, I love ice cream” …. “then you should get it” …. “nah….” “why not? you love it! Just get it!”)

    We make a plan for four meals. We assume we’ll need to be lazy and get take-out one night during the week and we’ll eat with friends or family or figure something else out on Friday and Saturday. To our grocery list, we also add stuff for breakfast and lunch and healthy snacks (ak-mak crackers are my fave) of course. Then we only buy the stuff on the list. If we write it out and it looks too long, we’ll cross some stuff off. That keeps us from seeing stuff at the store that we’re attracted to (“Oh, look, a star fruit! I love it!”…”you should get it!”…”nahh”… “c’mon, you love it!”), but have no way of cooking. And it cuts down on cooking apathy. Usually it also means there’s less food going to waste…but we all have bad weeks.

    I’m with you on the lunch pickiness. For lunch this week, I’ve been eating a lot of alfalfa sprouts and avocado sandwiches. It’s yummy, if you’re into that kind of thing. I also usually add a slice of good cheddar cheese and some spicy mustard. Really, you can do a lot of things between (whole wheat) bread that include cheese and veggies: apples and cheddar cheese and grated carrots and raisins and walnuts, goat cheese and sprouts and roasted red peppers, strawberries and cream cheese and arugula, goat cheese and dried apricots and arugula, etc, etc etc. I also like leftover’s for lunch…but of course this necessitates having made enough the night before.

    Grilling chicken breasts to have for lunch is also really great–then you can make a sandwich or cut them up on a salad. I like chicken with grapes, feta and ranch dressing. (It’s good!) Also, how do you feel about beans? There are tons of easy bean salads to make for dinner… usually they include: some kind of onion (red/white/green), some kind of pepper (yellow/red/pablano), some kind of herb (parsley/cilantro/thyme), and some kind of vinaigrette. Easy.

    Finally I also recommend Bittman’s, “How to Cook Everything.” If nothing else it has a nice list at the beginning of good pantry items that you can use to, well, cook everything.

    I wish I could give digital cooking classes…but that’s also something that might help!

  26. So many great tips! And lord knows we need them too. Woohoo! I wish I had some tips, but I subsist on TJ’s indian food and quesadillas…so uh, not so bad, not so good. And Scott eats nothing but cereal. It’s ridic.

  27. Ok so most of my ideas have been said but here’s what we do:
    -Grocery shopping once a week, we do not do meal plans, I like to be the creative kind and come up with different recipes out of what I see. That said, we always have squash, tomato and paprika (bell peppers? ) . I also love eggplant. We try to eat meat & chicken only 2 to 3 times per week. Like someone said above, a wok can help. We love to cook the vegetables with olive oil, soy sauce, cheese cream, balsamic vinegar and then you can use them as sauce over rice or potatoes or pasta. When we have ratatouille leftovers for example you can use it for a sandwich and it is delicious. Another tip is to get a centrifuge for the salad , that way, you can wash all of it, dry it properly, and then keep it for a bit longer, in separate bags. I like to look for new recipes in smitten kitchen or 101 cookbooks, where you can search by ingredient. Also, learning to cook in the oven (which I am at, I am no expert) is fun, you use less oil and the flavors mingle together. So that’s my 2 cents…. hope some of it helps. Oh and we also always have eggs (just in case, we can always do a veggie omelette or sunny side ups ) and tortillas (the mexican in me) and we also make quesadillas, with champignons, or chicken breast or whatever.

  28. [I preface this by saying I need to run out the door 5 min ago for work, so I didn’t read through the comments and I hope I’m not repeating stuff other people have already said.]
    Meal planning is the bomb! Totally the way to go for healthy eating, stress-free meal-making, and efficient (time and money wise) grocery shopping. I wrote a blog post about it, please read it and feel free to pester me with all your questions! http://cindyandjulia.blogspot.com/2011/05/we-are-stage-managers-and-therefore-we.html?showComment=1306516205173#c4755433922327184110

  29. Ack! I just realized I forgot one of the things I wanted to suggest: pickled veggies. Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for pickled carrot sticks a few months ago (it’s super easy — fridge pickles, no canning or anything), and I’ve used the same process for string beans. Makes them taste more interesting, and they keep in the fridge for a month, so you can make a big batch and have snacks for weeks.

  30. As pretty much everyone said…meal plans! Me and my boyfriend rarely throw out food if we know what we’re eating and buy all the ingredients. Usually one of us picks up some fruit/veg on the way home when we need it but mostly it works.
    Also have a look at the The Great Big Vegetable challenge blog – it’s brilliant for working out what to do with random veg!

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