The theme for this week: Take Stock!
I have been taking stock of my health by recognizing it was time to eat healthier and, alas, lose a few extra pounds. Menus for the last month have been high in protein and low fat. I’ve incorporated more veggies to ensure I am getting the vitamins I need. I’ve even included a small portion of complex carbohydrates to ensure a well-rounded meal. I have found that a key piece of the puzzle is keeping the meals interesting and tasty, while being mindful of calories and fat count.
The other thing I needed to take stock of? My pantry! When I started this journey of working towards a budget-conscious grocery plan, one of the first lessons was the need to check your pantry on a regular basis. In fact, in one of my first posts, I found I had so much in my freezer and on my shelves, that I could plan meals for nearly ten days without needing to do a major shop.
I’ve also learned that regularly checking the pantry can pay off in lower bills. In fact, I often plan my weekly menus based on what proteins are already on hand in my freezer. In most cases, proteins are the highest cost items on the grocery list, so this approach is a smart way to start your own weekly planning.
I have to confess, I’ve been remiss in this department over the past month. With my new perspective of eating lean meals, I got caught up in planning meals that fit my dietary needs and lost sight of staying on top of what’s building up in my “stock pile.” This week, I summoned the courage to take a look. Sure enough, I found an ample supply of chicken, beef, and seafood in the freezer to supply most of my meals this week – seasoned chicken thighs, chicken breasts, shrimp, ground hamburger, ground turkey, and even some scallops!
I’m going back to my roots and planning some meals that will incorporate these items. Here’s what I’ve got planned.
Sunday: Seasoned Chicken Thighs (we bought these by mistake one week when we were ordering online from Walmart and they turned out to be really delicious! Now, bear in mind that I can’t indulge in these – my diet is very low sodium – but I can always have some grilled shrimp. On the side, we’ll have a salad and breadsticks.
Monday: Broiled Scallops with Asparagus and Brown Rice.
Tuesday: Balsamic Chicken Breast, Brown Rice, and arugula with nonfat dressing
Wednesday: Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomato Sauce & Shrimp (use unsalted, no sugar tomato sauce) and Shrimp, one option here.
Thursday: Arugula, Dried Cherry and Wild Rice Salad (dressing on the side).
Friday: Turkey Lettuce Cups (sauce on the side) with Melba Toast (6 slices = 1 complex carbohydrate serving). This recipe is a staple in our family and it appears regularly on my menu plans. Since dieting, we’ve tweaked it a bit, avoiding oil and making sure the chopped peanuts are served on the side.
NOTE: Start by taking stock of what you have on hand. The following list represents what I need after seeing what I had on hand. The list is not a complete list of all the ingredients needed for each recipe, just those that I need given what’s already in my pantry.
Farm Stand: Assorted fruits ($6.00), asparagus ($1.69), fresh basil
BJs: Eggs, Skim Milk, non fat fruit yogurt, onions, cereal, bottled water, cheese, 2 red bell pepper, arugula, 1 medium green pepper. This is our usual BJ’s list. BJ’s is usually less expensive on these items, so the extra trip is worth it to us. We usually spend about $30 – $40 here.
Walmart: chicken breasts, wild rice, dried cranberries, feta