Monday, January 10, 2011

Grocery Store Confessional - 8th Ed. - The Aftermath

Well, aren't we just all abuzz over grocery shopping? We would make our Mama's so proud.

Here are some answers to a few questions that cropped up today:

"I need to learn some tricks from you! I need some snack bar recipes...I feel like I am wasting tons of money on these prepared boxed snack things!! Help. - Beth"

Beth, I hear you. Snacks remain tricky territory for me. I tend to not purchase the individually packaged stuff, mostly because I'm a cheapskate. I will say this: We do not do a lot of snacking throughout the day. Now that Calvin is in p.m. kindergarten, we have to eat lunch between 11-11:30, so a morning snack is unnecessary. The kids have a snack after school and sometimes I join them. I am a stickler about wanting them to actually be hungry for meals. It's amazing what kids will be motivated to try when they are hungry! We have dinner around 5:30 and they go to bed early, so no bedtime snack. Is that mean? Don't answer that.

After school snacks are typically granola bars (the chewy, reduced sugar kind), cheese sticks or string cheese, yogurt, fruit, crackers (Cheez-Its - Holla!), sometimes turkey, a cookie if I have baked some, etc... They usually ask for a second snack and I almost always say no.

Cory and I always - always - always have a late-night snack. Usually cereal, but sometimes chips ans salsa, or an entire bowl of guacamole.

"I must ask though, where's the meat? 1 lb of turkey and a pack of chicken isn't that much. Were you already stocked up in the freezer?" - Jennie from the Ville

I have ground beef stocked in the freezer and it's still there because I just don't use it very often. If it's any consolation our pound of lunch meat lasted 2 days and the family-pack of chicken covered two meals. And we eat meatless frequently. I have no idea why. We just do.

"How do you determine your weeks grocery shopping buys? Do you plan your meals for the week on a certain day and then go? If so, how do you plan your meals?" - Giosmama

I look through my recipe books and decide what sounds good, then I write it down. I pay no mind to what happens to be on sale, which is proof that my total could be much lower. However, I have come to learn about myself that planning everything around the sales ad takes away some of the joy in all of this for me, and joy is worth something, right? I then shop with my list and buy just what's on the list. One week of meals at a time. And I never clip coupons.

"I buy my chicken stock at Aldi where it is MUCH cheaper than at Meijer. Just a thought. " - Anonymous

Our Aldi only has chicken broth! No stock. No fair. I often just swap broth for stock in a recipe (and I always buy my broth from Aldi!), but this time, I wanted to see what all the hype was. It definitely made a difference in the broccoli cheese soup!

"Love your blog, and someday when you go to Grandma's Pantry tell her Lucy said hi! ( she's my sister, Anna Mae) :)" - Lucy

This is not a question, but it shore did make me smile.

"Aldi. i've only been once and i didn't realize that you have to have a quarter to get the cart (at least here you do) and i didn't have one and i had a cranky toddler. it resulted in me running frantically around the store, toddler on one pants leg, filling my arms with just whatever. i've been too skeered to go back." - Ellen

Ellen, I do know about the quarter thing and I still went last week with nary a quarter in my pocket. I grabbed a giant empty box and hauled it around like a lunatic. It got so heavy and cumbersome that I dropped it one. It was awful. Thank you for understanding. And bonus points for your use of "skeered".

"I should learn to love vegetables - can you help me?" - Annie Banannie

If it were up to me, the whole world would love veggies! I am their biggest fan, save the radish. What are your thoughts on pickled beets? We'll start there.

Now, since some of you asked, here's some of what we ate last week:

Alright, we actually had this tonight, but it was a carry-over from last week's menu and it was GOOD. I will make it again. And again. The kids gobbled it up. The sauce was magnificent and the beans were an interesting addition. I also threw in a small can of pineapple chunks in juice at the end, because I grew up with food-court Panda Express as the Golden Standard for Asian food and that's what they do. Recipe here. (I did not find the recipe here, but she does a great job of breaking it down!)

Homemade pizza on whole-wheat crust. Guess which side was mine?

Oh, I do love some green in January.

This meal was the bomb-diggity. Basil orange chicken with pearl couscous and sugar snap peas in the dreamiest sauce evah.

Cory liked it, but did not declare, "This could be served in a restaurant", so I pouted a little. Also, TWO grocery stores were plum out of basil, so I used dried. I can only imagine how much better it would have been with the real deal.

My "Serves-18" broccoli cheese soup was quite lovely, as well. We had it for dinner once and for lunch about 80 times. In just one week.

Finally, I made scones for the first time and they were delish. I found the recipe for these Cranberry Orange scones on those little recipe card holders in the produce section at Meijer.

There you have it!

Peace out.

ps - Is anyone else watching The Bachelor? Girl, do not tell the whole world what a failure you are at dating! Do not eek out through your tears, "I think I'm just meant to be a-a-aloooooone!"
Oh, this stuff never gets old!


  1. must.try.basilorangechicken. looks amazing!
    and i've tried and tried, but i just can't quit you bachelor!

  2. This makes me want to cook/serve more veggies. Your pictures of your food look delish.
    And I am watching the Bachelor this season (guilty pleasure that I watch off and on -not every season). I totally agree! I also laughed when The Bachelor said about his one-on-one date, "I'm going to give her the Pretty Woman experience." I know what he was meaning, but it made it sound like she was a prostitute.

  3. I know! What was girlfriend thinking?

    Thank you for the clarification. Also do not for a minute think that you aren't giving me that scone recipe when you know perfectly well that scones are on my fearless 40 list.

  4. I wish I enjoyed veggies more. I am a carb junkie. I posted on face book a week ago. Vegetables aren't food , vegetables are what food eats. New Years diet ... bite me. Still true today :(

  5. My personal must-have snacks... well, let's be serious... snacks I'm willing to eat when I'm trying not to eat junk food: granny smiths with about 1-2 Tbsp of peanut butter (the organic, no-sugar kind) or a banana with a glass a milk. Not sure what's goin on between the bananas and milk, but it makes for a yummy satisfying snack.

  6. embarrassed but I'm watching The Bachelor this time. I have to be gone next Monday night... will you please post all about it? :D

    I was sad for the one feeling like she has to be alone now but the other two... so glad they left!! Yikes!!

    Can you get milk at Aldi's? I get mine there and save a good $5 a week! :)

    If you were at my Aldi's w/o a quarter, I'd give you my cart. I'm always looking for someone that needs help putting their cart back or getting one out.

  7. What's with the fresh basil shortage! I can't find it anywhere either. What's a girl supposed to do?

    And I'm so glad to know that I am not the only one who watches the Bachelor. No matter how hard I try to resist wasting my Monday nights away, it sucks me in every time!

  8. Thank you for indulging us grocery geeks in further detail. I was thinking we could play "guess that meal" from your ingredients. this game is the cousin of "guess that gadget", played at fancy schmancy kitchen stores.
    Yes to this season of the bachelor. They had me when his shrink was interviewed. Seriously awesome funny business!Food is the edible sunshine that will get us through the dark and drearies. Keep em coming! Please.

  9. I tried to post a comment on your shopping post, but my computer was being uncooperative and I couldn't do it at the time.


    I wrote that I can't believe how cheap your food is in the States. Most of my grocery bills are at least $200 and I find it very difficult to get it under that for a weeks worth. We don't buy meat cos I'm a vego. Dont buy juice 'n stuff that's not really necessary. So, what I'm saying is that you've got it sweet if you can feed your family of 5 for $100 a week compared to my family of 4 for pretty much double that.

    Oh, and while I'm here, if you ever want to share some really great meat free, and by meat free I mean anything that had a face, recipes with the world, I'd love to know about them...and see the photos.

    Ky x

  10. randomly, i just made scones on sunday for the first time! snacks are the devil in the grocery budget. and like you i buy no invidually wrapped, etc. still adds up a ton!!!!

  11. i love how you write, girl. it feels like we're together, having coffee. and trent and i always have a late-night snack together too. almost always lime nachos with trent's homemade zucchini salsa. (and i ate a whole bowl of guacamole just the other day :)) xo

  12. How tasty and great photography!
    Mary Ann

  13. Peanut butter and celery.....pb and bagel..pb and crackers...pb and apples...pb and waffles (personal favorite). Just to name a few. My 3 little ladies addicted to pb and anything. Enjoy some protien... Love you blog.
    ~ Molly

  14. Delicious - not just the food but "The Bachelor" as well !!!

  15. The Bachelor is not shown here in the UK. At all. Ever. Going off for a small sulk.

  16. I totally messed up and posted Bachelor garb on the wrong day. sorry!

  17. Whatwas up with her hair..on the top. Did you notice that?

    Thanks for addressing all our questions! It's getting hard for me now because mine are older and swim all week. They are plum starving. Also in school they have snack and lunch times! usually apple n cheesesticks

    No you are not mean... Just smart!
    Still loving this grocery store stuff!


  18. we have too many snacks around these parts. and you're right. the processed are expensive and i, too, like hungry at dinner kids. good advice here. you know i loves the grocery posts.

  19. Did you know it was that girls 30th birthday? It almost completely slipped by me...

    P.S. I'm obsessed with this show called Extreme Couponing on TLC.

  20. love what you cooked!

    the homemade pizza made me side always looks like yours and lydia helps me eat it...the boys and their daddy eat extra cheese and enough pepperoni for an army.

    of course, I watch The Bachelor.
    I'm so glad he got rid of melissa and rachel last night...he wants NO DRAMA.

  21. I love reading how other mommas feed their children. I actually post my menu every wednesday for the week on my wee tiny blog because I do think you can save a little money and a TON of aggravation for yourself by planning ahead and sticking to a list.

    But I spend waaaay too much! Thanks for the tips!!

  22. I love veggies, too! And I swear they taste different when they are fresh. I can't wait until our local farmers' market reopens. I can find all sorts of yummy produce for $10-15 instead of $25-30 at the grocery store! And while I have no children (yet), Hubby is a snacker. I try to keep oatmeal, yogurt, dried fruit and nuts on hand at all seems to do the trick for us.

  23. I'm concerned about the girl with the teeth! Yikes!

  24. Shannan,

    "sometimes chips and salsa, or an entire bowl of guacamole"

    ... you are my long lost sister. Kindred spirits. You speak my love language. I knew it. And to think, you had me at salsa. You just get better and better.

    :) Love the recipes. Loved your side of the pizza. This could be the breaker for us, how do you feel about black olives?

    Ah! Happy Tuesday.. well, maybe, we're still trapped in the house. The 8 inches of snow has now been covered by a half-inch of ice. Everyone is tired and cranky and I'm all out of eggs. There's nothing left to bake here. My Chapter 3 Journey to Foster Care Series posts today and I am posting comments to you instead of writing it. Pro. Cras. Tin. A. Tion.


  25. "This could be served
    in a restaurant" is also
    my gold standard : ) I
    have been know to say
    quite often about a new
    recipe that I've tried,
    "You've got to kiss a lot
    of frogs...!" when the
    response is a bit luke-warm.
    My all-time favorite
    cran-orange scone is the
    recipe from Ina Garten.
    xx Suzanne

  26. Funny post. I actually get a thrill out of planning my list/meals around the sale ads--it's a game for me. They come out today, and I will be armed with pen and paper!

    You should try making your own chicken stock. Way cheaper, and so much better. Just cook chicken in water with veggies, and strain. Love it.

  27. I need to work on grocery shopping. I can easily drop $100 at the store on just me for a week. Not acceptable. I am watching the bachelor - its a train wreck where you just can't look way

  28. You got me excited to cook some yummy dinners for the fam. Love the Bachelor. Michelle ("It's my 30th Birthday today. Not my 29th. Not my 31st but my 30th") girl is from my hometown and went to school with my little sister. I thought she was cute on the first episode. Wrong! Psycho chick (not to be confused with all the got-it-all-together chicks!)

  29. I love the color coding!
    And your photos made me drool.

    off to get a kleenex.....

  30. I've never dared to eat a pickled beet - they scare me!

    PS you are onto me and my nickname - Annie Bananie Queen of the Bananie Islands. It's my alter ego from 3rd grade.

  31. Oh yes indeed, let's talk about the Bachelor. These ladies may very well bring a whole new level of crazy to ABC. And when she said that last night, I shook my head and thought to myself: "Yep, you just reserved your seat on the crazy train, lady." Good Heavens, what happened to having a little pride and self respect?!?!

  32. You should do this more often! I loved it. I am a little odd that a stocked pantry is a slice of heaven to me. Love it.

    I LOVE Aldi's Milk. It is hormone free and is only 1.50 a gallon here :) Love it :)

  33. copied down the broccoli cheese soup,my girls will love it! and they would consider it extreme torture if there wasn't an after school snack! ( and my sis at the 'Pantry' is so fun,wish i would get to see her more:)

  34. I thought about this the other day and then forgot again until you have a Costco? If so, I buy this glass jar with the most wonderful substitution for stock/broth in a box/can. It's called "Better than Bouillon". It makes 76 cups of broth and sells for a little over $6. far as a healthy, yummy snack option, check out this recipe my dear friend Susan posted...

  35. I am intrigued by this way of grocery shopping of yours. P l a n n i n g. Hmmm. Do you actually plan out breakfast lunch AND dinner and then shop accordingly? By recipe, for all of them?
    I was just wondering because I need a plan. I am a terrible money waster on groceries. There I said it.
    Thank you for your time and ideas.

  36. giosmama26@yahoo.comJanuary 11, 2011 at 11:50 PM

    This post is super wonderful and I thank you for answering my question. The meal pictures look wonderful. And you must share the recipe for the scones. You didn't think you could post a picture like that and someone not ask for the recipe did ya???

    And I totally agree with ya about coupons. They only complicate the already stressful and crazy shopping experience. ;)