Another Bag Another Dollar

I think by now we’ve established how much I love grocery shopping.  Especially at Trader Joe’s.


While I was blessed with this bizarre gift (that has come in handy often in my life, especially when I’m trading favors.  Would you believe that some people would actually rather clean a bathroom than spend a romantic evening with T. Joe??) I know many people don’t share my feelings.

And let’s face it- grocery shopping is even less fun when you feel like you got robbed by the cashier.  It’s easy to blow a ton of cash at the store without realizing it and later find yourself wondering why you didn’t just run down the street to Potbelly for a tummy-filling sub instead.  I find this is especially true when you aren’t cooking for an army of children and things tend to go to waste.

Here are some tips to make your grocery trip worth it!

1.  Go with a list. Oldest trick in the book, along with “don’t shop hungry”.  It just makes sense, kids.  If you’re a man (or woman) with a plan, you won’t be as tempted to load up with impulse buys.

2. Carry a basket instead of rolling with a cart. First of all, I find that this makes me more agile when I’m racing the mom with 4 toddlers for the last jar of peanut butter.  Second,  you won’t buy as much and you’ll have to actually think about what you’re putting in your basket otherwise you’ll end up schlepping a bunch of extra junk with you.

3. Be choosy. Pick a store that you know has good prices (this is why I love TJ’s- good prices on everything all the time) and once you’re there, don’t just grab the first brands you see.  It’s amazing how much brands differ in price for the same product and you can save a lot of $$ if you just look around.

4. Buy only what you crave. This is my all time favorite tip.  Don’t go to the grocery store saying “I need broccoli” if you don’t really want it.  If you need to fill your green veggie quota and asparagus sounds more appealing that week- buy that instead!  I find that having categories of food on my list is more useful that specific varieties because I know whatever I buy will be appealing to me all week long!

That last tip applies to everything but Ezekial bread.  Zeke is always on my list. 😉

Once you haul your loot home…

5.  Organize the goods. If you throw everything in the fridge/cabinets all slap-dash, it won’t look appealing and I’d bet you $1 that you won’t eat most of it (but not more than $1- homie’s gotta buy her own groceries!).  I’d go so far as to suggest that you prep your veggies (wash/trim) when you get that home but I know that might be pushing it.

6. Create your own play book. Like a football coach.  You’ll be sure to include all of your players and get the best result.  I like to take a quick scan of what I’ve bought and write down any dishes that I could make with what I have.  That way, when I come home from work and need dinner I can just check out my list of meal ideas and don’t have to be creative on the spot.

Greek yogurt is always on the list, too.  I like me some protein in my yog.

7. Cook it all, baby. The #1 problem I’ve run into being a working girl living on my own is that I’ll make one of the chicken breasts and by the time I want another one they’ve gone bad.  Even if you’re only cooking for yourself or  yourself +1, make a huge batch of whatever you’re cooking.  It’ll last longer that way and will already be ready to eat next time you’re hungry.  This is very useful for me since I need to eat approximately every 45 minutes.  Just like an infant or teenage boy.  This brings  me to #8…

8. Use yo’ freezer. After you make said huge batch, package it up in portions and throw it in the freezer.  I often forget to do this (because I suck at defrosting.  Don’t ask me why.) but it’s awesome to open your freezer when you’re feeling uninspired or lazy and find a great meal you forgot you already made!

Mmm cheese.  String, cheddar, parmesan, asiago.  All strong reasons why I couldn’t go vegan.

I was going to make that list go to #10 but I was just so eloquent that I did it in 8!

Hopefully you can glean some help from my (insane amount of) experience in grocery shopping.  One day grocery shopping might make you feel like this too:

Happy shopping!

How do you feel about grocery shopping?  Do you find it hard to stay on a budget while planning meals?

Thai Time for Some Groceries

After the craziness that was yesterday (and the day before, and the day before that) I realized this afternoon that I needed to make my (thrice-weekly) trip to Trader Joe’s for some food or I’d be faced with tortilla chips and peanut butter with a side of soy sauce for dinner.

Ok, maybe that’s slightly melodramatic.

But still- I needed food.

Recently I feel like Mr. Dyson has been taking his wind tunnel vacuum to my wallet, so my goal was to spend under $40 on groceries.  Trader Joe’s is a very reasonably priced grocery store, but I tend to get carried away there so I have to concentrate and keep my eyes on the ($40) prize.

Here’s my loot:

Fruits:  Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, a plum and a peach.  (I guess I was feeling the need to feed myself with red fruit exclusively.)

Veggies:  an onion, broccoli, romaine (in the bag- hard to see) and an eggplant.

Proteins:  organic free range chicken breasts, all-natural chicken sausages and tofu.

Miscellaneous: 4 Clif Z bars, Greek yogurt, milk (unpictured) and Thai Red Curry Sauce.

Thai Red Curry Sauce?  What’s your plan for that, Megan??

Just you wait, it’s gonna get good…

And the grand total:  $40 and change!  Not bad, huh?  I’ll say this much- the chicken was a little over $7.  I’m not a promoter of a vegetarian lifestyle per se, but eating meat is definitely pricey!  Especially if you want to get quality meat.  Sigh…

The bottom line is that it’s totally do-able to eat healthfully and wholesomely without breaking the bank.  🙂

On to dinner:

I decided to grill up a bunch of veggies and tofu and make a stir fry with the curry sauce.  I threw slices of eggplant, a red bell pepper (that I already had in my fridge), and some onion on the grill over a medium flame.  While they started, I sliced up the tofu that I had pressed for about 20 minutes.

That’s some strong tofu!

I seasoned it with some salt, pepper, tumeric and soy sauce and threw it on the grill.

Once everything was cooked, I took it off the grill and let it cool enough to chop it up into bite-sized pieces.  Meanwhile, I boiled a small serving of rice noodles.  Once the noodles were soft and the veggies were chopped, I threw everything into a pot and added some of the curry sauce and mixed.

Oh, man.  It was awesome.  The veggies had a TON of flavor from being grilled and I highly recommend the sauce.  I served my noodleness with some roasted broccoli.

Thank you, Trader Joe’s, for being my friend. 🙂

Are we there yet?

Some people are taking road trips for the 4th of July holiday, including my sister and brother-in-law and my nephews.

Other people, like me, have decided that it’s a good week to move.  You know- because it’s relaxing.  And makes me feel calm and zen-like.  Mmmmhmm.  Or something.

I started today off with a little Jillian Michaels fix.  I know some people are ambivalent about her no-nonsense, in your face approach but I love it.  I like getting my butt kicked. 🙂  I actually did her Yoga Meltdown DVD (level 1).  Those of you who know me know that I’m hardly a yoga aficionado, but when Jillian is leading the workout I’m more apt to pick it up.

Breakfast this morning is more fruit (I know, it’s shocking):

Ian (the 2 year old) ate about 1/2 of my blackberries.

I also had a plain non-fat Chobani:

I have to say, I don’t ordinarily buy the individual sized greek yogurts because I find the larger tubs to be a lot more economical, but I splurged this week because I’m moving in TWO DAYS.  I’ll be back to my cheap-ness next week.

Topped with a tablespoon or so of Trader Joe’s organic raspberry fruit spread.

I love that stuff.  They don’t use any artificial flavorings or sweetener- it’s sweetened with just grape juice (doesn’t taste like grape though!) and fruit pectin.  Makes me a happy camper.

I also yoinked a piece of turkey bacon from the kids’ breakfast:

Hey, man, fair’s fair.  You steal my blackberries, I’m stealing your bacon. (yup, that’s why I’m an aunt and not a mom at this exact moment in time.  Sometimes I still think I’m a child.  Kiddie table for me on Thanksgiving, please!)

On that note, I’m off to my big kid job.

Peace out, cub scouts.