Grocery Shopping like a Nerd

Inspired by Tiffany’s post last week, I thought I’d share my OCD grocery shopping and meal planning tactics.

Meal Planning

(from top left: Shakshouka, Strawberry Balsamic Pizza, Curried Cauliflower and Chickpeas
with Grains
, Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos, White Pizza Lasagna,
Zucchini Cakes, and Double Bean Quesadillas)

Every Wednesday our ads for HEB (local grocery store) and Sprouts Farmer’s Market come in the mail. I sit down and comb each page of the ads, making a list of everything on sale.

IMG_20130616_122628_947

Then I make a list of everything in our pantry and fridge. I try to choose recipes where a majority of the ingredients are already in our kitchen since it’s more cost effective.

IMG_20130613_211410_199

Next I hop on the internet machine and hunt down some recipes. Lately I’ve become borderline obsessed with Jessica from How Sweet Eats and many of the meals on our list this week are straight from her archives. Melissa raved about a Curried Cauliflower and Chickpea recipe she made recently so that made it’s way onto the list as well. I try to have between 5-7 meals planned out; this will get us through about a week and a half since most recipes have plenty of leftovers.

Then I make ANOTHER LIST with all of the meals on the left and their respective ingredients on the right.

IMG_20130616_122443_245

From this list, I make my final grocery list which has HEB on one side and Sprouts on the other. Each side is also divided up by aisle. Yes, I have issues. But you’d be surprised how fast I can get in and out of a grocery store. So don’t judge.

IMG_20130614_174149_424

Sprouts is at about the halfway mark in my commute so I’ll stop there on Friday on my way home from work. Once I get home and put the groceries away, Brad and I head to HEB for Round 2. Shopping on Friday night around 6pm preserves your sanity considering most of the city is out having happy hour cocktails or kicking off date night. We’re home no later than 7 and then the weekend can officially begin!

Tell me your best grocery shopping and/or meal planning tip.

Remind me to thank John for a lovely weekend {Ian Malcolm}

Base building for Philly is well underway and I’m really happy with the way things are going. Our Tuesday/Thursday runs have been pretty consistent pace-wise and as the Saturday long run mileage increases, the pace has been decreasing. Definitely headed in the right direction! There’s still two weeks until training “officially” starts, but going into it with a solid base will without a doubt help kick it off on a high note.

Believe it or not, the training plan for Philly is STILL under construction. I made the mistake of playing around with SmartCoach on the Runner’s World website and now I’m rethinking some of my training paces. However, it WILL be done soon and then I can finally stop obsessing (and stressing!) over it.


Saturday morning Brad and I ran a steamy six (well, 6.2) miler at Brushy Creek.

Brushy Creek 7 14 2012

We recently upped our intervals to 4:1 and surprisingly, we haven’t been struggling. Ideally I’d like to keep bumping up the intervals a little every couple weeks so eventually (after 10:1) walk breaks will be wiped out completely. Probably could have done this from the beginning, but after a few low mileage months I didn’t want to push it right off the bat.

Our running pace was in the 11-12:00 min/mi range, with a final overall (with walk breaks) pace at 12:43. Still not where I’d like to be, but getting there. Temps were at a comfortable 73 but the humidity was at 93% and the air was THICK. At one point we stopped to stretch, using a railing for balance.The entire railing was covered in condensation! The run was a certified sweatfest. BUT! We were done by 8:30 and had the rest of the weekend to do important stuff…

like stop for some caffeine to power us through grocery shopping with the crazies

iced coffee

IMG_20120714_090052

and use a $3.50 coupon + rogue gift card in my wallet to update my summer nail polish collection:

nail polish

watch a Friends marathon

joeys-apple

cook a super clean dinner Saturday night {I shared the giant piece of pork with Bo – he’s most certainly not spoiled. at all.}

IMG_20120714_173108

read this bookJackie Warner

watch the CMT Top 20 Countdown {love the top 3}

 

prep meals for the week {asian turkey meatballs + fried rice}

2012-07-15_11-40-50_310

wonder why our Body Issue of ESPN the Magazine had Jose Bautista on the cover instead of Gronk

gronk

uncork a bottle of cab mid-afternoon on Sunday {hello, cheat day!}

Simi Cab

inhale a delicious plate of Chicken Tikka Masala

IMG_0283

and watch Jurassic Park for the 37893rd time.

JP1

JP2

After grocery shopping post-run on Saturday morning, we didn’t leave the house for the rest of the weekend.

And it was AWESOME.

How was your weekend? Do you like country music? What’s your favorite part of Jurassic Park?

A PR Attempt

Sunday morning I found myself rested and wide awake at 7am, thanks to the magnesium I’ve been taking every night before bed – holy deep sleep! After catching up on blogs and Twitter, I decided to take advantage of an early start on the day. On Saturday I had given the house a deep clean and came across a Starbucks card with some money still on it so I made trip out to grab us some iced coffees.

We’ve cut way back on coffee, as in we don’t even keep it in the house anymore, but it’s nice to have every once in awhile. I’ve been loving this So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer lately.

Coconut Milk Creamer

The consistency is nearly identical to that of regular flavored coffee creamer but with less fat, calories and sugar. A small splash of it in iced coffee is delicious.

Once back at the house I got to work on our meals for the week:

It was just after 8am when the pots and pans hit the stove. I had a secret {lofty} goal to be finished with cooking and cleanup before noon. Whipping up breakfast would need to happen at some point too, adding another obstacle in my way. But the thought of breaking my, ahem, Sunday Cooking PR time was very appealing.

I’ve made the chili countless times but this time added more beans (garbanzo rather than cannellini), used fat-free sour cream and fat-free half & half.

White Turkey Chili

The Green Chile Corn Muffins are simply a box of cornbread mix

Honey Cornbread

with one cup of reduced-fat cheddar cheese and one can of fire-roasted diced green chiles added in.

Green Chile Corn Muffins

The crock-pot pulled pork is another Eat Live Run recipe and honestly one of the easiest recipes ever. Season pork, brown in a pan, and then add to a crock-pot with diced onions and BBQ sauce. After 6-8 hours of simmering, the pork is so tender it falls apart on its own. Perfect and amazing.

Crockpot Pulled Pork

This macaroni salad from Skinnytaste far exceeded my expectations! I didn’t think it would be very creamy but it tasted every bit as good as any full-fat mayo-laden macaroni salad you’d find at a 4th of July BBQ. The recipe yields 16 cups so unless you’re bringing it to share with a party, I’d recommending halving it.

Macaroni Salad

The egg salad recipe was made up on the fly: hard-boiled eggs (shocking ingredient, no?) less than a tablespoon of reduced-fat olive oil mayo, a few teaspoons of Dijon mustard, cayenne pepper and S&P to taste.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering if I nailed that PR:

Cooking PR

Now I need to work on a goal for next week…

The Anti-P90X Meal Plan

The week before we started P90X I paged through the Nutrition Plan. It listed your meals and snacks for each day, along with recipes for each meal. Very detailed, very helpful. For someone who works from home or is a stay at home mom, this plan would probably work out well. However, when you have an hour commute in the morning, ninety-minute commute in the afternoon and a significant other who leaves the house an hour before you do – it makes cooking three meals a day a little difficult.

We did quite a bit of brainstorming and deciding what would be the best way to make the plan work for us and not against us.  By the time I get home from work it’s 6:30pm. Tack on about 90 minutes to two hours (workout + cooldown walk) on to that, and we’re already at 8-8:30pm. It’s LATE. There’s no way I’d want to spend time in the kitchen cooking dinner, let alone eat dinner that late. We go to bed between 9:30 and 10 (4:45am comes really fast!) so stuffing our faces that close to bed time just isn’t ideal.

In the end it came down to us having our biggest meal of the day at lunch time. We’d each be responsible for our own breakfasts and snacks. Lunch was planned out the weekend before so there was never a question. Dinner is a protein shake. Necessary for proper post-workout recovery, but not too heavy to head to bed soon after drinking it. If it was a particularly hard workout or we’re still hungry afterwards, we have a salad with grilled chicken. Yeah, it might not work for everyone – but it works for us.

IMG_0321

IMG_0327

IMG_0324

IMG_0329

IMG_0326

IMG_0346

As I mentioned yesterday, I spend most of the morning and early afternoon on Sundays in the kitchen cooking up our food for the week. I portion out meals into containers so they are grab-and-go when we’re leaving for work in the morning. Last week we had Turkey Meatballs in Pomodoro Sauce with Garden Delight Pasta, Stuffed Bruschetta Turkey Burgers, Whole Wheat Couscous with Garlic & Herb Feta and Grape Tomatoes, Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins, and Zucchini Bread. I also made a low-fat ranch from scratch to use for salads. It was a busy day, but it beats eating Lean Cuisines for lunch and starving the rest of the afternoon. I’d rather make the breakroom jealous of my lunch as opposed to wondering what exactly is in that frozen lunch that makes it edible until 2014.

I had to make a clean break from coffee, for now at least. Drinking coffee causes me to skip breakfast because it fills me up. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so the java had to go. I drank unsweetened iced tea the first couple days to wean myself off the caffeine and it hasn’t bothered me since. Oddly enough, since I stopped drinking coffee I quit my mindless snacking throughout the day. I blame it on the Sweet n Low.

Another huge (HUGE!) step was reducing the amount of sugar in our diet. We purged our pantry of every item which had more than 6g of sugar per serving (with the exception of protein bars). Um, holy shit – there is so much sugar in EVERYTHING! That was an eye-opener. I think Brad lost 5 boxes of cereal in the process, although I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Frosted Mini-Wheats? Ahem. I’ve been using Xagave both for baking and in my hot/iced tea.

Last but not least, we allow ourselves one cheat meal. Notice I didn’t say cheat DAY. No need to throw caution to the wind for the entire day. On Sunday we have our choice of splurging on breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’ve gotta say, this has been an incredible help through the past couple weeks. You don’t feel like you’re being deprived because you know if there’s something you’re craving, you can have it on Sunday.

The whole process has been a bit of an adjustment, but it’s all for the best. I think this works out better for us than counting points or calories. I’d rather work on portion size and quality of food than try to survive on Lean Pockets because they have the right amount of calories. What it comes down to is: you want to lose weight? Stop eating crap! So that’s what we’re doing.

Back on track

A couple months ago Brad and I decided that after our wounds healed from the Spartan Sprint we would allow P90X to kick our ass for, well, 90 days starting May 28th.

p90x

Days of picking up Sonic on the way home or ordering a pizza for dinner are over. Our eating habits have been completely revamped. Saturday mornings are now spent meal planning and making a detailed grocery list.

all out of

The combination of list-making and shopping only the perimeter of the store allows us to knock our grocery shopping out in less than 30 minutes, even on a busy Saturday morning.

groceries

Sunday mornings are spent cooking for the week, which allows me to avoid picking up a single pot or pan on a weekday. (HUGE fan of this!)

I’ll get into meal planning in another post, but for now here’s what’s set to come out of my kitchen today:

It’s a bit of work for a Sunday morning, but you know what? If it grants me a cooking-free week, I will gladly slave away in the kitchen for a few hours on the last day of the weekend with the CMT Top 20 Countdown blaring in the background. Also, our one cheat meal for the week is on Sunday so after I’m done playing chef I am rewarded with a crisp glass of wine and someone else cooking for me.

Last week our cheat meal was at the Alamo Drafthouse while seeing Snow White & the Huntsmen. Delicious food was consumed, including fried pickles, fresh baked-to-order chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream, and multiple adult beverages. Cheat meal, INDEED!

Snow White and the Huntsman

Alamo Drafthouse

PBR - Prosecco

Todays destination?

Brick House Tavern and Tap

And I have my heart set on some delicious carbs:

Brick House Pretzels