Friday, April 17, 2015

Menu Planning - Shopping

Before I jump into my shopping strategy,  I want to talk {well write} a bit about our specific meal plan.

We eat a whole foods diet. What that means is we {well, let's get real..I make all the meals} make all our meals from scratch. 

We eat mostly vegetables,  fruits, and meats. Most of the sauces we use I also make from scratch...I mean, have you ever tried homemade salad dressing or ketchup?? Seriously...give 'em a try, and you will not go back. In fact, you can check out the ketchup recipe here.

The last several months B-Real has been seeing a Homeopathic doctor, who has changed up his diet several times. He has suffered with headaches and migraines for the last 5 to 6 years, and after years of getting no where with conventional medicine...we sought out something different.  He has only has 2 headaches since starting these new changes 2 months ago...he was getting 4 to 5 headaches or migraines a week before. So tell me again why healthy whole foods aren't considered medicines??? But I digress...

We have mostly cut dairy out of our diet, and years ago we had cut out "bad carbs" {refined sugars, breads, rice, white potatoes,  etc}. I still eat whole grains such as quinoa, oats, and some low carb bread occasionally. My diet mostly consists of vegetables and fruits. I have had digestive issues my entire life, and have a difficult time digesting meat. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE eating meat...but my body doesn't.  I seem to be able to handle chicken, venison,  turkey, and fish/shellfish. 75% of my day to day food intake is salad.

With these diets, it means that convenience or boxed meals are out.  This doesn't  mean that our meals are not easy. I prep vegetables for salad or fresh eating a couple different days a week. Our other meal vegetables are steamed or baked. I like to make large batches of cooked vegetables, as this saves me valuable time later when prepping meals.


So...on to the Shopping portion!

I am a prolific note taker, and an OBSESSIVE list I survive grocery shopping by making several lists. 

First, I have my monthly meal plan laid out in from of me, and I make a list of all items that I will need to complete those meals.  I then check my inventory sheets {yeah, I am hard core, yo!} so I am not repeatedly purchasing the same things over & over again.  

Next I go through each stores online ad, or check my perks {I use mPerks through Meijer's mainly, and occasionally use Kroger if I need to go there} for additional discounts.  I see nothing wrong with coupons, if you can use them for the things you buy...have at it folks.  I personally don't spend the time to do couponing.  To each their own. 

For each weekly ad, I write down the prices of items advertised that I know I will be shopping for that trip.  

I like to keep our food costs as low as possible, and since the majority of our grocery purchases are fresh vegetables & fruits...I want to get the best produce for the best price.  

When I am going to go grocery shopping, I make sure that I have my lists.  I could probably put them on my phone...but I get so much satisfaction from crossing something off with a pen.  

I start by going to Aldi's, and purchase as much as I can from my list there.  Aldi's has quite a few organic items {almost as much as bigger stores}, lots of produce, and the prices are much cheaper.  Just remember to take your reusable grocery bags...and a quarter to "rent" a cart.  Don't worry {for all you Aldi newbs} get the quarter back when you hook it back up in the corral.  :)   

Keep in mind that with Aldi's, they are getting the lowest prices on items.  With the canned items, that is fine, but you need to be selective when it comes to the produce.  I have found that with our store, it is best to go on early or mid week...always avoid Sundays {the produce has usually maxed out it's freshness}, and the first of the month.  On a good day, I can get 90% of our groceries at Aldi's...but there will always be a couple items that I just can't find there.  One being natural peanut butter...Oh how I wish they would start carrying Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter.  

Next, I stop off either at Kroger or Meijer, and pick up the rest of our goods.  Krogers carries more of the natural food products {Kombucha, brown rice powder, organic canned coconut milk} that we use; while Meijer has lots of great produce, and some of the organic packaged snacks that Squishy likes.  

I understand stores vary by region, but these are the shops we frequent.  

Next week I will post showing the price differences for one meal from various local stores.  I like to keep my eye on prices when I shop, even if I am not purchasing something that trip, it is nice to have an idea of price comparison.