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Okay, so I may be getting a little too close and personal for you all right now-- I feel like looking into someones fridge is a lot like peering into the darkest depths of their soul.  As a family of three, we have all the usuals necessities like milk, eggs, juice and the occasional bottle of wine.  (Totally acceptable).  My problem however, lies in the fact that when I go to make dinner I magically have nothing to prepare.  This dilemma I believe is twofold, not only am I shopping incorrectly and spending too much on things that don't get used, but I also haven't done any menu-planning for the week.

One thing I'm certain is that spending close to $10 a day or more if we buy our lunches/coffee/snacks while we're on the go definitely doesn't help my cause.  It's troubling to know that I've spent well over what I've needed to, and all the while I have a seemingly empty-- yet so very full--  fridge!  It has been driving me bonkers.  What gives?

This is a challenge to myself, and I guess a question to many of you out there:

Whether you are a single lady, a newlywed couple, or a family with little children, how do you shop for groceries?  Is it spur the moment?  Do you plan?  Do you buy organic?

Now don't even get me started on the impossible task that is driving out with a teething eleven month old by yourself to get groceries.  If I have Erick's help, all is right in the world and our trips are usually fabulous.  Without him, which seems to be 80% of the time these days, is an entirely different experience. I've been considering getting fresh and local produce delivered to the house since I've read many a good story on all of this shopping and organic business like here and also over here.  I've been tossing and turning looking our budget up and down and trying to find that acceptable amount to spend on quality, whole food.  Things truly are so much different when I can't just eat frozen pizzas and boxed macaroni and cheese and get away with it.  I have a family to feed, and more importantly, the bodies and lives to maintain and nourish, healthily, to those that mean the most to me.

Please share your thoughts with each other, if so inclined.

This is one thing that I haven't been able to get off my mind... (or to-do list, for that matter!)


  1. I have a small CSA box of fresh from the farm veggies and fruits bought every week, and once I get it I plan my weekly menu around whatever happens to be in there (damn you, peaches, blueberries, and Spinach for not being in season all the time). We have a pretty set menu for breakfasts and lunches - smoothies with greens and our omega 3's in the morning, and leftovers or sandwiches or whatevs for lunch. Dinner is always my drawing board. I always shoot to spend under $100 (including the box along with B's and L's). It works pretty okay for me, and forces me to eat better because I only have good stuff in my fridge and cupboards, but obviously sometimes my schedule gets screwed due to babies or sickness or laziness... Cough... And we end up eating out every night. So healthy and happy-housewifely, I know.

    If you end up trying different methods, you should post about it! I'm curious to see what works for other peeps too so that I can reap some ideas and motivation.

  2. I agree. I hope that people might discuss further what they do, I really have to turn my shopping habits around. Hovering around the $100 range for two weeks for two (and a half) people seems perfect. It's those times I've ended up surpassing that amount that I want to kick myself. It's so hard learning to shop efficiently, effectively yet keeping your standards for health high. Definitely a work in progress!

  3. Mrs. Mallett to the rescue! on the blog. tomorrow : )

  4. Im in the same pickle as you!! I think the thing to do is meal plan between pay-periods, or every two weeks, whenever, and shop for those specific items at each shopping trip. Im planning slowing sneaking organics into my hubbys meals which is hard with 4 other people in the house bringing home crap.

  5. do people ever figure it out? i'm always at a loss. but i do always have chocolate chips.

  6. My husband is a picky eater and I make my own baby food in our food processor. So I plan out what kind of foods I would like to make and freeze for baby, and then I ask my hubby what he would like to eat. We have three staple meals every week - spaghetti, pizza, and carrot soup. These are quick for me to whip up and I only have to get creative with 5 meals and somehow it always works out. I make my own bread/pizza dough and have it ready on standby for when I need it. Also salads can either be a side to a meal or the meal itself. I make waffles, pancakes, coffee cake (all with fruit) for breakfast, and lunches consist of PB&J or leftovers from the previous night.

    I still don't have it quite worked out the way I want, but I'm getting there!

  7. this is an ongoing battle...Meal planning is key here and I often slack off too-I keep a spreadsheet on my laptop that I update with meals. For 2 adults we spend $60-75 a week on groceries that includes non food items as well. This does not count going out to eat though! (I'm scared to look at that #). I stock up on fruits and veggies (fresh and frozen) and lean meats.

    I shop at Aldi and Kroger for the most part, did discover a local health food store that I get my full milk and sprouted bread from as well. I love trader Joes when I get to go which is about 1x a month or 2. In the summer I have my veggie garden that I get most of my veggies from so that also saves on cost. If you don't have a lot of space you can plant a lot of foods in planters on a deck/porch.

    Farmers Markets are starting up and I love going there first when grocery shopping. Chicago has some great CSA options as well-you should definitly look into that.

  8. I remember being in this predicament when I lived in FL. Working and planning out what was going to be for dinner every night proved itself to be challenge. Especially when every night I worked till 12! AGH! What helped me most was making meals that included leftovers I didn't mind taking to work the next day. (i.e. pasta salad, soups, meatless taco salad, or meatless chili). It definitely helps to decide what you want to make for the week/weeks ahead and then get the ingredients I need. Baking is also a must. Dried goods last long for snacks and small lunches :)

  9. Catherine ShortMay 3, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    This exact topic is one of my top goals for when we move out again in a month. I was fairly good about cooking dinner but it was random and I tended to over buy on produce and things would go bad. My SIL always has a piece of paper on her fridge with what they are eating for each day - even including leftovers. I'm thinking thats the only way to really master this - and also being ok with not having a ton of food in the house! Maybe its ok to not have a ton of options besides what was originally intended.

  10. this is a big issue over here too! We average around $100/week for 3 (little dude eats and drinks a lot!) We try to buy only organic for the babe and organic meat, milk, and eggs for everyone. I follow the "dirty dozen" list when I can and sometimes organic avocados/broccoli/carrots are cheaper than regular ones depending on sales. Our biggest problem is a full freezer and pantry but we are always running out of perishables. That means a quick trip to the grocery store (impossible with a 1 yr old) where I spend more than I needed just to get one thing. I try to only go once a week but add in an occasional roadtrip to either whole foods or trader joes once a month or so. We also try to do staple meals every week. Tacos one night, seafood one night, chicken one night, frozen easy meal one night, we go out at least one night, leftovers one night, etc.... we also usually stick with a regular rotation of breakfast and lunch and leave room for cheap lunches out as well. I'm not sure that helped!!!!!

  11. oh man, I have so much more to say on the subject :) I can't wait for the farmers markets to start up. I think local far surpasses organic any day!! Our meals get much lighter in the summer but also a little more unpredictable depending on what looks good at the market. I have friends that do CSA's but I personally wouldn't like being restricted with ingredients and being stuck with beets and mushrooms (gah!!!) I always have a grocery list going on the counter (or phone) that way I don't forget staples and I can easily add ideas to it. I have been very conscious about trying to not throw away any fruits and veg. If all else fails cook it, puree it, freeze it and sneak it into the babes meals :)

  12. Hi :). Try India Knight Book "the Thrift Book: live well and spend less". Though author lives in England, i think you can easily adapt for US. It's about 7 $ used from amazon ( don't buy new - no point). It was an eye opener for me and she covers everything from Food to clothes, household items, parties and so on. good luck :). xx

  13. You know what, this is one of the few adult/happy house wife things that I actually have down pat! Haha!

    Whenever Chris and I have a free afternoon on Saturday or Sunday, we plan our meals together (usually while watching a movie or something.) I'll write down our "menu" in the upper right corner of a piece of paper, Mon-Sun, and then write all the ingredients/groceries needed for the week in a list down the left hand side of the page. When we're done shopping I'll fold the paper so that only the menu is showing, and put it on our fridge for the week. After doing this for a while, you'll definitely notice your weekly staples... For us it's always milk, cream, bread, deli meat, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, onion, apples, bananas. Always. Then we'll buy other items in bulk when we need to... like frozen organic chicken breast, coffee, canned and dry items, toiletries. We usually spend around $75-90 a week for the two of us, and I usually have to make a Wednesday trip during my lunch break for more bananas and any other items we need.

    It's so easy to have a menu set for the week... and usually I try to make one or two dinners that can be eaten as leftovers for another meal. Sure, there are some nights where I just don't feel like cooking, and we usually eat our on Friday or Saturday night... but if you get the planning part out of the way it really makes the preparation easier!

  14. Okay, okay, so I know I totally wrote you a book.... but I have a little more... :)

    If you're looking for a meal planning and budgeting option, I've heard really good things about eMeals ( It's a meal planning/budgeting service that does all the work for you :) It's about $5 a month, and they provide a weekly menu and budget shopping list. They have a ton of meal options, like vegan, organic, low-fat, etc, and you can pick what store you'd like to shop at. I've been thinking about trying it for months now but just haven't gotten around to it!

    Whatever you end up doing... good luck! I know how stressful life can get, and I can't imagine having a little one to tote along the way!

  15. Great post! We are struggling with the exact same thing! I don't have any advice but I'm excited to read the other comments from your readers!

  16. We have the same problem! From experience planning really is the key in this department. I try (try being the key word here) to sit down every Sunday morning over coffee and put together a menu then from there prepare a grocery list. I also try to prepare some meals with leftovers from the previous night's dinner (saves money & time). Of course life happens and I don't always have that coffee (or the free time) to do so. I wish you luck & am eager to see some tips from your other readers!

  17. I'm always faced with this dilemma. I solved it for a bit by actually meal planning (although found we don't eat meals as much as I plan them) so sometimes resulted in wasted food - which is the worst. Now that I'm almost 8 months pregnant, I don't even try. My shopping consists of buying the fresh necessities from the grocery store, sandwich foods, and about 70% of any given mean (besides the veggies part) was pretty much done from frozen.

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  21. just saw this post on your sidebar, and i can totally relate. we probably spend as much on food now as when my brothers lived with us just a year and a half ago. stuff gets wasted and it's kind of depressing. hmmm, if you're still having issues with this maybe we can come up with tips to avoid i hear blog series? ha, just thinking "out loud" ;)


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