Meal Planning and Healthy Choices: Throw Back Thursday

Wow!  A year ago this month and this is how I was meal planning!  Sharing this post  again, because this is exactly how I am still “Meal Planning” and Grocery Shopping, one year later!  The emphasis is on organization and healthy choices to create a healthy lifestyle.

Originally Posted On January 5th, 2014!

Almost eight years ago, I began to take a closer look at the contents of my kitchen.  I became more aware of packaging and labels on everything I was purchasing for my fridge and pantry.  Reading labels allowed me to really think about each ingredient and hidden junk that is in so much food.  I became more critically aware of lists of ingredients that went on for two paragraphs.  Reading labels also led me to researching and understanding the companies behind the labels and brands.  These realizations started me down the path that I’m still continuing today.  I shop carefully, once a month, at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  I also piece in other items from my locally owned health food market.  

     Being able to grocery shop once a month requires a little planning, organization and time for prepping ingredients.  The work I put in once a month is worth it!  I’m a mother to one twelve year old daughter( my redhead), a runner, 3rd grade teacher, and wife.  Setting aside one weekend a month to shop saves me from shopping too often and relying on fast food.  I love having fresh, healthy and natural choices ready at a moment’s notice.

    It’s important to shop with well made reusable and insulated bags.  I drive an hour and a half to Annapolis to do most of my shopping.  The bags are packed with bagged ice or freezer packs from Whole Foods.  It’s much easier to shop for perishables in the winter months.  During the summer months I buy nothing frozen.  I carefully pack everything and put the A/C on high!!

Each month I restock my fridge with staples:

– lemons

– pink lady apples

– StonyField Farm or Organic Valley Whole Milk

– Califia Farms Almond milk

– Local eggs or Organic Valley Eggs

-blocks of organic cheddar

– Organic White Bread

– Bagels

Produce is key to healthy meals and snacks:

** I love the packaged produce from Trader Joe’s.  I buy natural and organic produce and when possible I buy locally.  The packaged produce is usually pre washed and chopped.  It does help with my busy “mom/wife duties” and teaching schedule.**

I also love Earthbound packaged produce.

Currently Stocked Fresh Produce: 

– baby spinach

-Kale ( Trader Joe’s Organic)

-Fennel bulbs

– Whole fresh carrots

-Fresh cut cremini mushrooms

– Fresh head of cauliflower

– tons of shallots

– large amounts of garlic bulbs

***On the counter -4 bunches of bananas***

– organic celery hearts

– seedless cucumbers

Frozen Produce: Multiple Packages

– Broccoli florets

– corn

-edamame

– sliced artichokes (Trader Joe’s)!!

-frozen fruit- blueberries ( picked over the summer in Maine), pineapple chunks, cherries

Also, in the freezer:

– Bell and Evans Organic Bonless Skinless Chicken Thighs (numerous packages)

– Boston Butt Pork Shoulder

– Nitrate and preservative free Bacon

– ground Turkey

-Bell and Evans Whole Chickens

Pantry Staples:

– Jars of Organic Tomato Basil and Puttanesca Sauce

– dried chick peas

-dried black beans

– various dried organic pasta

-Trader Joe’s albacore tuna in olive oil

– green and black pitted olives

– packages of almonds and peanuts

– jars of Trader Joe’s Artichoke pesto and Salsa

– Bottles of Cold Pressed Olive oil and Grape Seed oil

– Organic Brown rice

     This post highlights the items in my “well stocked” kitchen.  With these items on hand I’m always able to create healthy breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners.  

I spend time on Sundays preparing and packaging food for the week. I usually roast most of my fresh veggies with sea salt and olive oil on a baking sheet.  This allows me to have them ready for any dish! I buy my beans in bulk, then soak and cook them to place in containers or freezer bags.

 I am fortunate to have a Vitamix Pro 750.  I makes tons of homemade hummus, nut butters and blended juices/smoothies.

Important Tips:

– shop for all dry and non perishable items first

– Add in produce and refrigerated items

– finally, meat and frozen items

-Be sure to pack all “like” food together- it helps things to stay cold/frozen on the way home.

-Packing this way also makes it easier getting groceries inside the house and unpacked.

Last month I created a monthly menu.  It helped me to plan meals and it was great for letting my daughter and husband know “what’s for dinner?”!!

So. . . How does everyone else shop for groceries? Do you enjoy grocery shopping?  Any tips or advice to share?  What does meal planning and preparation look like at your house? This weekend I will share an update on what I am currently doing to make healthy choices!

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