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  • Writer's pictureJoel Shapiro

Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping: A SIMPLIFIED SYSTEM

For many people, grocery shopping is Decision Overload. Here are just a few of the decisions:

  1. Where to Shop? Online? Store? Which Brand—National Chains (Walmart, Target), Local Chains (Kroger, Publix, Trader Joes) or Discount Chain (Aldi’s, Win-Co)?

  2. How frequent? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? As Needed?

  3. Fresh or Frozen? Organic? Non-GMO? Brown or White Eggs? Fat-Free or Whole Milk? Low Carb? High Protein? Processed? Whole Grain? Kosher?

And the average grocery store has over 50,000 products on its shelves today (compared to only 7000 in the 90s)! That’s a lot of choices! It is easy to see why FOOD has become the 3rd largest expenditure of a family’s budget, just behind shelter and transportation.

The USDA has 4 Food Plans with estimated per month spending. These totals are for a Family of 4 (male, female, 2 children under age 11). Updated for Sept 2021

How does this compare to your family’s monthly grocery bill?

Some things to consider if you want to cut back on your spending…

Waste Less and Less Waist:

Store Better

Meat and Fresh Produce are the most common food products tossed out.  Keep produce in bins (high humidity for more veggies and low humidity for most fruits).  Put meat on the bottom shelf to stay colder (heat rises even in a refrigerator and the door is the warmest). Tupperware Fridgesmart containers are amazing!

Prepare Less

Portion sizes have almost doubled in the last 30 years.  What we now think of as a “kids burger” was the only size in the ’70s and there was no such thing as “supersize” anything. An easy way to reduce food waste and your waistline is to prepare less. For tips on portion size, check out this visual aid from Shape

Simplify Meals

Michael Pollan points out in his book “Omnivore’s Dilemma” that we have become a nation obsessed with Cooking Competition Shows while at the same time, spending less time in the kitchen actually cooking.  A HEALTHY EATING PLATE is ½ plate of Fruit & Veggies, ¼ plate of Whole Grain, and ¼ plate of Healthy Protein.  

Sorry, but we don’t need bread and butter, or biscuit and gravy at dinner like Grandpa always had. He did a lot more physical labor than most of us do today!

Tip:  Start with Family Favorites! Most families have between 7 and 10 regular meals they make.  These are the easy Go-To meals.  You will typically have the ingredients on hand or at least can shop quickly for the ingredients.  

Portion Control AT the STORE

Buy chips in small single servings—they will be fresh when you open, you can get more variety, and you won’t have a ¼ bag that goes stale and must be tossed out. Other portion control items are small single-serving sodas or juices, smaller frozen vegetables, even Boil in a Bag Rice limits how much you make at one time.

Cook for Double Duty

Grill both Chicken and Steak.  Immediately put grilled Chicken in the refrigerator to use the next night.  Brown both ground beef and ground turkey and put ½ of the mixture in the freezer to use later.

Check your Inventory–Pantry, Freezer, and Refrigerator

Take an inventory before heading to the store.

Check your calendar

If you have a dinner date or an after-hours event you may not need to cook. And remember that most restaurant servings are LARGE, so get a “To Go Box” and take some home to brown-bag for lunch the next day.

If you are hosting a get-together at your house, you may need to add a few items to your shopping list.  And be creative with any leftovers or extra ingredients!  Just make sure items did not sit out too long and reach an unsafe temperature. 

Fresh items FIRST

Produce like Avocados, Pears, even Bananas are often too “green” when you first bring them home, but in just a few days they are “perfect” and in a few more they are “past ripe”.   These items need to be used first and frozen items later. 

Interested in personalized Nutritional Coaching Sessions?

Or contact me to discuss your goals, order Tupperware items, organize your pantry, and discuss meal planning tools and options.

Call or Text:  817-797-0870

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