Monday, November 5, 2012

Living Simply, My Meal Plan This Week

I have been trying to live a lot simpler recently. And I have really enjoyed it.

A pair of "Sevens" jeans from the thrift store for $10. Returned my $90 pair of BKE (Buckle) jeans. Felt awesome.

Katie, a reader, mentioned she was trying my meal planning and grocery shopping tips, and loving it. Her produce wasn't going bad; she had more peace in her life.

While I do practice my own tips, (hopefully!) I realized with her comment that I was buying too much produce at the store. I love fresh produce so my cart at Costco is usually busting at the seams on my way to the checkout.

However, whether we are able to eat 100% of it before it goes bad is entirely another thing...

Some of my produce was going bad and I was spending too much money on groceries.

After Katie's comment, I did a gear switch.

When I went to the store last week, I only bought the items I needed for that day, and that day only. For Halloween, I bought two cans of tomato soup and a bag of potatoes (for Golden Vegetable Soup). All for $5. Two days previous, I bought 2 gallons of non-dairy milk for $11. Total cost of groceries for last week? $16.

The week previous, I had only spent $66.

Kind of depressing, actually. I am used to thinking of going to the grocery store as one big party, and I could just put whatever I wanted into my cart. When I actually force myself to truly only buy the few ingredients that I really super-duper need for seriously just one or two days...I need very little. And I spend very little. The party becomes a picnic. And yet, my fridge is still not empty (darn it!).

I would very much like to run out of stuff; have an empty fridge so I can clean it out and have the excuse that I need to buy something.

Yes, I use shopping as a soothing salve.

Especially spontaneous purchases, and unplanned shopping.

Stepping back. Realizing I need little and that I would be happier to focus on food less, and life more, is teaching me. I am reading more with my kids, and loving them. I have more time to exercise, more time for Paul. And the food comes, naturally.

A year ago I would not have been able to do this. Transitioning took every bit of my time. Now that I have a recipe index built up (I am so sorry that I am so terribly bad at updating this...any volunteers to help?!?) a lot of recipes, or quick dinners come naturally and I don't necessarily even need a recipe every day. Just some baked yams with steamed broccoli, cheese sauce and fried tofu for my kids. Or soup and salad. And I am happy.

Sample Menu...which also just so happens to be my meal plan for the next 2-3 days. I typed this up in Excel in less than 5 minutes.

Oatmeal with fruit and milk
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Coconut Banana Muffins
Very Berry Smoothie (for Paul)
Savory Breakfast Veggie Scramble with spinach, avocadoes, hash browns, and salsa

"Tuna" Chickpea Sandwiches
Macaroni and Cheese
PB and J's
Cheese melt sandwiches (using Daiya or cashew cheddar cheese)

Thai Chickpea Almond Curry
Yams, Broccoli, and Fried Tofu with Salad
Curried Coconut Vegetables
Vegetable Soup and Mashed potatoes for the kids
Potato Carrot Soup with tea biscuits and peas and salad

Grocery List (ALL I need to make all of the above items, with some help from my pantry)

Non-dairy Milk (Almond and Soy)
Grapes or oranges
Potatoes X2 bags
Chickpeas X4 cans

A very good friend gave me a generous, $40 gift card for watching her kids for two days (remember those seven kids, including mine?). It's a gift card to Trader Joe's. My goal is to walk into Trader Joe's and only spend that $40, no additional monies.

With that list, do you think I'll make it?

Of course $16 dollars a week on groceries is not sustainable. I am sure I dug too far into my bulk foods and pantry reserves. So I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty that their grocery bill is not as low as $16.

That would pretty much be ridiculous.

I am just sharing what has helped me live a little simpler. Realizing, that over all, even if my grocery bill doesn't stay less than $100 a week, that I could easily live on less and afford to be a little less extravagant. It may even make my life happier, with room for other happy things like teaching my kids and having a romance.


Have you found yourself living simpler after adjusting to whole foods? What are your favorite tips for living a simpler life?

I have been having quite the interesting dialogue with Dr. John McDougall via email. I may share with you what I am trying to do, and his responses.

Have a wonderful evening...


  1. Ugh, I have never been able to be simple with food. I am one of those people that follows recipes to a T, and never experiments. I am still building up my recipe index, but I hope to be able to whip out some dinners with little effort. And you're right, I need more meals like sweet potatoes with veggies. And I really need to try that curry dish you raved about...!

  2. That is so amazing that Dr. McDougal is willing to personally respond to emails! A lot of people told me that the first thing I should get when starting a whole foods life was a high speed blender but I disagree. I think the tool I use the most is my multi-level steamer basket/pot. I steam vegetables for only a minute or two and eat them all day. I do love green smoothies though, I can feel the magic happening almost instantly after drinking them. I have really had to work at simplifying my food/menu plans. It's hard when I want to make complex things, but I have learned more about myself and I know that I have to work with my tendencies/energy level/time. Another neat thing I have learned is to make a bunch of components that can be thrown together in various ways throughout the week: Quinoa, Wild Rice, Baked Yams throw it into soups, salads, stir-fry & smoothies etc. The day I make the components I also wash all my greens (celery, bok choy, romaine, kale, spinach) and put 1 serving portions into 7 bags. I call these "Greens Bags" and then all you have to do is add some water/ice/fruit into a blender and you have a meal in only a few minutes!