What To Cook This Week

by Andie Mitchell on October 16, 2010

 

Macaroni, Peas, and Cheese

Click the photos for recipes!

 

I’ve learned three things today. One: candy corn is a sign that human beings were meant to be happy. Two: my debit card is not the same as the one that I had in the game Mall Madness. Three: The grocery store is a battlefield. For your sake, I’ll only elaborate on the third lesson.

 

Meatloaf Burgers with Extra Sharp Cheddar

 

I used to love the grocery store. I really did. I could push a cart up and down those neatly lined aisles for hours if not half a day in quite the joyous state. It was an exploration of new food, a search for menu inspiration, a chance to kibitz with kindly strangers about the unit price of cereal. I probably knew the supermarket staff in an oddly intimate way. And having lived in four states in one year’s time, I know the price differences of product brands and markets so well that I should probably consider a trip to The Price is Right. I could really use a six piece dinette set.

Think of me as a supermarket maven, if you will.

 

 

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

 

It’s all well and good until I corral my carriage into a check out line. This begins the makings of a panic attack. I begin second guessing what I’ve piled in my cart. I begin whispering curse words at the organics. Why can’t you just be the same bleeping price as your conventionally grown cousin? I squint at the price displayed on the cash register, obscuring the total so that I can breath through the process. By the time I reached the parking lot I have sweated through my tee.

Tell me I’m not alone in this stress.

I should start a support group. For those of us who leave Stop and Shop in the same way we left the SATs years ago, uneasy and spent.

 

Korean Beef Bulgogi Tacos

 

The bad news is that the prices will more than likely only grow higher, I will continue to buy organic because it’s what I believe in, and I will also continue to view imported cheese and high quality dark chocolate as necessities. So I’ve got to swallow at least two sedatives and chin up.

The good news is that it truly is money well spent. Very few other expenses feel as worthwhile as knowing I’m feeding myself and the ones I love well. And on a creative level, I’m funding my hobbies: cooking and baking. I buy what I want, what I love, what inspires me, and what I will use.

So as many times as I unnecessarily work myself into a panic attack in the checkout line, thinking that I’ll soon have to consider selling my left kidney on eBay, the truth is that I won’t. Yet.

 

Spicy Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

 

My grocery shopping tips:

  1. The night before you plan to shop, browse several of your local stores’ circulars for sales. Make a quick list of sales that interest you. Clip any coupons for products you frequently use.
  2. Then spend 5-10 minutes dreaming up 5 or so recipes incorporating those sale items. If chicken thighs are on sale, but you have never cooked them before, do a quick search online for recipes using them. Try to tap into what flavors or cuisines you’re craving and build a meal around that. You should also think about ways to connect these meals through similar ingredients, so that one food can work double duty- meaning less fuss and less waste when it comes time to prepare the meals. For instance, if I roast a small chicken, I’ll be able to use the meat in a number of recipes. And if I roast root vegetables along side the chicken, I can use those leftovers in a casserole, a pasta dish, or even a sandwich.
  3. Write down the 5-6 meals that you intend to make.
  4. Now list the ingredients that you’ll need. Put the list into your smart phone or write it on a sheet of paper like me, because I’m hell-bent on killing the environment with my hand-written to do lists.
  5. Time to head to the grocery store.

At this point, my list has generally veered from neatly and efficiently packed to ‘Oh but the circular never mentioned you, Mr. Ghirardelli.’ So don’t be like me. Stick to the list. It will make the checkout panic attack much more bearable.

And because I love you and want the best for you, this post has 5 healthy recipes to consider adding to your upcoming week’s dinner menus! Click on any photo to view the recipe. Enjoy!

How do you handle the grocery store? Are you like me? Do you lose it at the cash register? Please?

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Liane October 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

I need this support group. I’ve been known to close my eyes, tell the cashier I don’t want to know the final tally, and just hand over my debit card.
Isn’t that how grocery shopping is supposed to happen?!

I tend to buy the same basics every week, and then allow for one “splurge” purchase so that I don’t do crazy in the aisles of Whole Foods and throw everything into my cart at once. One week I might buy a special chocolate, another a new nut butter…

Although, every and all rules fly out the window when I get to Trader Joe’s. My reasoning on that… “But I don’t have TJ’s at home, this is SPECIAL!”

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 16, 2010 at 9:14 am

Aaahhh girl after my own heart! Let’s meet for support at Whole Foods?

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Krista October 16, 2010 at 9:48 am

I’m OK at my regular grocery store which is small and doesn’t carry to wide an array of products. I do panic when I hit up the bigger, better stores b/c there’s SO much more to choose from and the prices are higher. But you’re right in that the expense of good food shouldn’t freak us out b/c we are feeding our loved ones!

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Evan Thomas October 16, 2010 at 10:03 am

I love grocery shopping. I think it’s the most relaxing thing. But I need to bring a list or I’ll go all out and think I need everything. But I can’t handle shopping at Market Basket anymore; it’s like a zoo and I get claustrophobic walking down the aisle.

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 16, 2010 at 11:27 am

Sooo true- Market Basket is a war zone. Really low prices though, which is fabulous

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RhodeyGirl October 16, 2010 at 11:33 am

I actually don’t care how much I spend at the market. I used to, but now I only panic when I go clothes shopping (which is rare). I think maybe it’s because I read this article about how little Americans spend on their food compared to some other countries, so it is much easier for me to justify it now.

I do, however, take extra care to not waste anything. In the past two years I have probably thrown away only 3 or 4 items because I let them spoil.

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Such a great point that you make- people in other countries spend far more on food and they value it much more too, I believe. You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t get caught up in the cost of it all because it’s such a vital and beautiful part of life! Hope you are well!!

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spabettie October 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I want every one of these dishes… they all look fabulous. I will answer YES, I can absolutely Stay For Dinner. ;)

I love to grocery shop, and always have a meticulous list. I love to take my time and go through each aisle (at New Seasons ALL aisles are good food… no “stick to the perimeter” for me!) When I do not have to luxury to browse, I DO see that most of the food we consider necessary IS on the perimeter! :D

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Thank you, my lovely! You are so sweet! I’m jealous of your meticulous list and your ability to follow it- I need you to come with me next time!

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Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread October 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm

GREAT tips, I love grocery shopping….my family says it’s a sickness but they always send me so I guess they deal alright :) Lovely meal roundup!!

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Thank you Jennifer!! Will you go grocery shopping for me?

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Amerunz October 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm

i definitely lose it at the cash register. i feel like you were talking about me when you wrote this….scary!

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Isn’t it panic-inducing? I feel bad for the poor cashier; she really doesn’t deserve to see me sweat profusely.

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Leah @ Why Deprive? October 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I always hold my breath when the cashier tells me my total. I don’t know how I manage to do it, because I’m only feeding me, but I spend a fortune on groceries. I can justify it to myself (and my bank account) because its actual food I’m buying. Its worth it. And it makes me happy. :)

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Lindsay October 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Totally agree on the candy corn. Last week a friend got me to try one candy corn with two peanuts in one bite…bliss.

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 16, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Peanuts and candy corn all at once?! I’ll call you from rehab.

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MelissaNibbles October 17, 2010 at 2:54 am

I love candy corn! Pure sugar? Yes please!
I’m pretty good at sticking to my list in the grocery store. I’m not really an impulse buyer. I’m lucky!

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Amanda- The Nutritionist Reviews October 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Hello! I was at the checkout counter at Meijer today and saw you on the cover of Women’s World!!!!!!!!!! Congrats! That is so exciting. I really enjoy reading your blog.

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 17, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Thank you, Amanda!!

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rsmm October 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I read the Woman’s World today you have inspired me to loose weight. I have joined WW many times, I think I am the queen of join and quit. Today
is a new day and I am going to start with the grocery store. You are right organic cost a lot more.The stores in my area all have the buy one get one free, it is easy to get sucked in. How long did it take you to loose the weight?I am 51 and really need to do this.
Thanks for a great story.

RSMM

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 17, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Hi there! Thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by! You can do this. No matter how many times you start and stop, there will be a point when it will all click and you will follow through- I believe this wholeheartedly. It took me 13 months to lose all the weight. I wish you the best of luck! Thanks again!! Andrea

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Cindy October 18, 2010 at 7:47 am

oh how I’ve been doing the grocery bill Tango for a while now.
you actually are one of my go to sources for healthy amazing family meals….check…

don’t bring other shoppers with you (aka husbands) or oops, ice cream and what not ends up in cart Haha.

I have your spicy shrimp dish set up for this week. Can’t wait to try that!

I like to shop at smaller stores…less distractions and less temptations.
Have a great week!!!!

seems the couple of places I frequent, don’t have your magazine. I am getting peeeeeeeved now.

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Megan (Braise The Roof) October 18, 2010 at 11:39 am

I totally get grocery store sticker shock! I try to minimize that by shopping mostly at Trader Joe’s (so much cheaper, and I don’t have to clip coupons) and always making a list. And at the end of the day, I know that good food is a great investment, so I never feel too guilty. Oh and I’m totally like you- I enjoy the paper list more than an e-list!

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 18, 2010 at 12:02 pm

You’re right about Trader Joe’s- I don’t get nearly as panicky there, mainly because I know it’s some of the lowest priced stuff around!!

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Dot October 18, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Awesome tips… I do the same thing–find something on sale then figure out what I can do with it :)

I’ll be linking to this in the spotlight tomorrow on Foodwhirl.com — thanks for sharing it!

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Can You Stay for Dinner October 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Thanks Dot!

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