Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekly Menu

I went on a massive grocery shopping trip on Saturday and used up the rest of the January food budget as well as started into the February one (since I was shopping for the whole week that is coming).  There were some bright green avocados at Aldi for 29 cents apiece, so I bought 16 since we love them so much, and we will just have to be patient until they ripen sufficiently.  Grape tomatoes, baby carrots, celery, and pineapple were also on sale this weekend, so we are using lots of those items this week, too.  I spent the most at Aldi, but also went to Costco, and got a few random things at Hy-Vee, too.  I used to try to avoid grocery shopping on weekends, but right now, that is working out the best for our schedule.  I try to get it all done for the week, even if it takes me 3 hours.  And, I finally got some more grass-fed beef from the local ranch!  A bonus of this warm winter weather?  I got some farm-fresh eggs, too, which we haven't had since last summer :)

banana muffins (an experiment based off of the successful pumpkin muffin recipe)
eggs & turkey sausage

tuna stuffed avocados
chicken sausages
broccoli-cheese soup (another experiment)
veggies & homemade ranch dip
mixed nuts/banana chips/raisins trail mix
pineapple or bananas

cobb salad x2 (make the dressing without sugar OR use this one)
paleo shepherd's pie x2
nitrate-free hot dogs & sweet potato fries
"creamy" chicken tomato soup
out with friends

I will be cooking for my Bible study girls one night this week... not cooking paleo, but trying to do gluten-free, or at least enough gluten-free options for me to eat that way.

Happy eating!

Friday, January 27, 2012


So, anyone wondering how my 30 days of paleo challenge went?  I was hoping you weren't going to ask.  I sucked.  Partially.  I kinda forgot about it and kinda didn't care.  Could have been waaaaaay worse, but could have been waaaay better.  I cooked paleo at home.  I stayed far away from grains, unless someone else made chocolate cake when I was at their house for dinner (plus a few cookies I swiped at work)... but now I am convinced that my joint issues flare up after have gluten.  So, I am motivated to do well with that.  But I didn't do well with the sugar.

Can I blame in on my 2 year old who was potty training, and the fact that therefore we had a supply of chocolate chips sitting on the kitchen counter for many days?  No, I can't, because it isn't anyone's fault but mine.  But, seriously, when I can get sugary-ness completely out of my house, things are so much easier.  I am not discouraged, though.  One thing at a time.  I am taking baby steps after blowing it all over the holidays.

January was definitely more paleo than December.  And hopefully February will be an improvement on January!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Simple & Delicious: Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash

So today, I went grocery shopping immediately after church and left my husband at home to make lunch for himself and the kids.  (Let me tell you, it is worth it to get up early Saturday to shop... it was crazy out on Sunday afternoon!)  Anyways.  My husband is a pretty decent cook, he just doesn't do it that much anymore, so I had to write down directions for him.  Since I've been wanting to share this recipe with you, here is is!  The only bummer is I scarfed down my share when I got home, so I didn't take any nice pictures for you.  It is not a meal that photographs well, anyways.  But trust me, it is good, for any meal, any time of the day!

The other great thing about this meal (besides the fact that it is yummy and my whole family loves it and you can have it for any meal) is that it is probably the cheapest paleo breakfast, lunch, or dinner you will ever have.  (Not counting things you grow or kill yourself.)  It is very tweak-able in terms of ingredients and cooking methods.  You can double the meat, halve the potatoes, add other veggies, change the seasonings, whatever you want.  This is just what we like to use.

Part 1
3 lbs. sweet potatoes ($1.49 at Aldi)
garlic powder
dried onion
chili powder
salt & pepper
butter or coconut oil

Scrub potatoes.  Chop or shred them.  (We have a Saladmaster which makes shredding go fast.)  Pile in a rimmed cookie sheet (or a 9x13 pan will do).  Sprinkle with all the seasonings.  Dot generously with butter or coconut oil.  Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes or until cooked.  Stir once during cooking to distribute the butter or oil.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the sausage...

Part 2
1 lb. ground turkey ($1.49 at Aldi)
dried onion
salt & pepper
pinch of ginger

Brown everything together in a skillet.

Then, when the potatoes are done cooking...

Mix up the sausage and hot potatoes and eat everything together!  OR, what I like to do is layer the sausage and potatoes together in a pan and cool and place in the refrigerator.  Individual servings can be scooped out and heated up and eaten at any time.  Also great with scrambled eggs!

If it tells you anything about our family (2 adults and 2 small kids)... we can polish off the entire recipe in one sitting!


Groceries: Shopping Paleo at Costco and Aldi

The stash.

On the left: $35 spent at Aldi.  On the right: $50 spent at Costco (not pictured: 6 lbs. pears from Costco)

I didn't know if there would be sweet potatoes left at Aldi, so I went ahead and got some already prepped butternut squash at Costco, where I went first.  Turns out there were sweet potatoes at Aldi.  Oh well, I will feel pampered not having to chop or shred potatoes this week.  The spray-free tomatoes, baby carrots, and spinach were on sale at Aldi.  With 2 gallons of milk from the farm, the total should be right under $100.

Weekly Menu

I'm trying to be more frugal than usual this week in order to make sure I have enough cash left in the grocery budget at the end of the month to get our grass-fed beef order.  So, I am attempting to stay under $100 this week when I go grocery shopping.  Will probably stick to Aldi and Costco today.  It's going to be a busy week.  The method of dinner-planning this week (and what I tend to use when I am uninspired) is chicken twice, beef twice, fish once, and cheap/use-it-up twice.  Here's what I came up with:

We need some pre-made ones this week, so I am going with some pumpkin muffins again (no chocolate and perhaps applesauce instead of maple syrup?).  Plus another option of sausage and sweet potato hash (I should take a pic and post some directions for this.  It is so yummy and easy.  And bonus: cheap!!)  And eggs and coconut milk smoothies are always around, too, of course.  I stopped by the Asian market last week and got some of this coconut milk with bpa-free packaging, as recommended.

adults - paleo sub roll-ups, carrots and guacamole, fruit
children - nitrate-free hot dogs, veggie chips, raisin/banana chip mix, unsweetened applesauce
(not the most additive-free or low-salt lunches, but it is not every week...)

Paleo Homemade Date Ball Fudge Crack Larabar Babies :)

roast chicken, squash or sweet potatoes, green beans x2
meatloaf, peas x2 (I love this for some reason.)
homemade salmon burgers (need to formalize this recipe, too), sweet potatoes
bean-less chili (using homemade chicken stock and ground turkey) x2

I notice several items include sweet potatoes, but we will try to space them out so we don't have them all at once!  What's on your menu this week?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stretching Macadamias...

Sheesh man, macadamia nuts are pricey.  But they are soooo good.  I stopped into Trader Joe's last week on a hungry whim to get some goods to make some trail mix because I knew it would be awhile before I got home.  I got some dry roasted and salted macadamias, some banana chips (these are sweetened), and some dried cranberries.  The nuts were nearly $9, but the banana chips and cranberries were only $3, total.  So, I figured they were an inexpensive way to stretch those macadamias just a little bit further and keep me from eating $9-worth of nuts too quickly!  For $12, these items made 2 quart-sized zip-top bags of macadamia trail mix.  Yum!  The addition of almonds would have stretched it further and made it even more protein rich for a decent price, but I was out of cash :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekly Menu

I was getting a little bored so I tried to mix it up (just slightly) this week.  I has been awhile since we have done taco salad, etc.  Here's the plan.

berry cobbler
coconut milk smoothies
primal pancakes
sausages & fruit

chicken & olives & grape tomatoes or sausage & cheese kabobs
veggie chips (for the kids) or carrots and homemade sour cream ranch dip
paleo trail mix or primal fudge

braised balsamic chicken, broccoli x2
hamburger vegetable soup (paleo-ed), pumpkin muffins x2
taco salad
nachos (with leftover taco meat)*
eggs, turkey sausage, and sweet potatoes

paleo ice cream or shakes (an experiment)

*I will make a exception on the weekend for some organic blue corn tortilla chips from Aldi.

More weekly menus at Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shopping Paleo at Aldi, HyVee, & Costco

I'm going grocery shopping!  At the risk of continuously oversharing, here are my lists:

nuts (macadamias or cashews or almonds)
dark chocolate
garlic powder
chili powder
marinara sauce
sweet potatoes
pineapples (if they look good)
string cheese (for church)
ground turkey
frozen OJ (for smoothies)
veggie chips (kid's lunches)
organic blue corn tortilla chips (next weekend)
total = about $70

I was going to only go to Aldi this week in an attempt to spend less, but I may have the chance to get elsewhere, too.  So, if time allows...

I plan to run into Hy-Vee without the kids after my class to get grape tomatoes (on sale), organic sausages (on sale), chicken (on sale), dish washing brush, and more reusable lunch containers. = about $20

And perhaps a quick duck into Costco later in the week as well for romaine lettuce, salsa, sour cream, almond butter, hydrogen peroxide (color-safe disinfectant), and more bananas if needed. = about $35

Plus the farm for some milk and raw cheddar-jalepeno cheese should bring the weekly total to $137.

I will add photos to this post when I get home if time allows.

Please share any paleo frugal grocery finds (or indulgences) that you recommend we try!

Happy shopping!


OK, I just got back and here's the stash from Aldi.  $60.51.  The avocados didn't look good and they didn't have sweet potatoes or macadamias, so I didn't get those things.  If I decide to get them at Costco later this week, that will up my total there.  But I was $10 under my estimate at Aldi since I didn't get those things, but I did add eggs, which I had forgotten to put on the list.

-Another update, post Hy-Vee trip: I didn't get the chicken (too much fake stuff added), but did add sweet potatoes and red wine vinegar to the list.  Stayed right on budget.  Will add guacamole to the Costco list.-

Friday, January 13, 2012

Revamp + Thoughts

OK, don't freak out.  This is still the same blog, I just redid some things.  Nothing fancy.

The 30 day challenge is coming along.  Aside from when we had to go out of town last weekend (and I totally used that as an excuse), I am doing OK.  Not perfect, but pretty darn good.  Near perfect on avoiding the glutenous desserts.  There have been a few M&M's, some popcorn with the husband, and a bit of coffee, but that's about it.  Still need to improve the sleep quantity.  Perhaps I will make that my next thing to work on after this 30 day shindig is over.

Some thoughts that I have every year at about this time: January is a very tough month to eat squeaky clean.  It is the time of year when I just want to hibernate.  So, enjoying a cup of coffee or some fine food is a nice comfort and social outing during this time.  I'm not saying we should turn to food for our sole comfort AT ALL, but I do think we are meant to enjoy food.  And so all I am saying is that I think January is an extra tough month to eliminate many "food joys", unless for some reason, your January is full of fun and thrilling distractions, then it may be easier for you.  I think this is why I am not so motivated to give up the coffee and chocolate (it must be dark chocolate, which those M&M's were not...)  Because I know how the fluffy bread and desserts make me feel (bad and bloated)... but the effect coffee and chocolate is more energy related, which may not be enough of a reason to me right now...  Perhaps those eliminations should go hand in hand with improving the sleep quantity.  But I only feel ready to tackle a bit at a time right now, not all of it.

However, all that said... that should not be used as an excuse.  Because if you are really struggling with discipline, there is no time like the present to rewire your brain.  Think about it.  If you get through the toughest time of the year, then you know you can do the rest of it!  Do hard things.  Read The Flinch (free).

Ugh.  Can you tell I am trying to convince myself right now?

I don't need to be perfect.  But, if I don't aim high, I won't get anywhere new.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Simple & Delicious: Grain-free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

OK, so I know it is the dead of winter, and no longer autumn, anymore.  But, I think I've found (or rather created) the recipe I was searching for all autumn.  So, I just have to share.  Bookmark it for next fall, if you must.

I love pumpkin + chocolate chips.  I haven't quite figured out how to adapt my old favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe to be more primal, rather than less primal.  But as far as muffins go?  These come pretty darn close.

And yes, these are not 100% paleo (sigh), since they do contain maple syrup and standard semi-sweet chocolate chips... but you are welcome to try them with less syrup and no, or less-sweet, chocolate.  I love dark chocolate, so I would totally be willing to try that next :)  Stomaching the pumpkin without any sweetener might be more of a challenge for me, though, since these muffins are not overly sweet to begin with.

What I love most about these muffins is that they use almond butter instead of almond meal, so the result is a smooth and creamy muffin.

Grain-free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(adapted from here)


1 cup pumpkin puree*
1 cup almond butter
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup (Grade B is darker & stronger... I buy it from Trader Joe's.)
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I use aluminum-free... only $1.49 at Whole Foods.)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients except for chocolate chips well in a bowl.  Spoon at least half of the mixture into 12 muffin cups.  Sprinkle desired amount of chocolate chips on top.  (I think I used about almost 1 Tablespoon per muffin.)  Finish spooning the remainder of the mixture over the chocolate chip layer, so the chocolate chips are sandwiched in the middle of the muffin.  Bake for 23 minutes (possibly longer for non-silicone muffin pans.)

*What to do with the leftover canned pumpkin?  Save it to use it in a pumpkin spice latte -OR- freeze it in an ice cube tray (I have these left over from my baby food making days) and use it for a paleo-adaptation of a pumpkin smoothie!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Menu Plan

I'm trying to make-do without our regular, locally-raised grass-fed beef until I can pick up some more at the end of the month... I missed another pick-up due to holiday travels in December.  So, last week we had some organic, 100% grassfed beef from Trader Joe's, and it was OK.  It is imported, and I can tell it is no where as near as fresh as the local stuff.  It doesn't really compare.  For this week I got some ground beef from Whole Foods since it is on sale right now, this weekend only.  It is the conventionally-raised stuff, but I've had it in the past, and it is still superior quality compared to the standard grocery store meat.

I was out and about without my children for once, so I also stopped at Costco, Aldi, and Price Chopper today and spent a total of $116.  I went by 2 Aldis because the produce selection at the first one was awful.  They were waiting on a delivery.  The beef (Whole Foods) and chicken (Price Chopper) that I got should last us past just this week.

Last week we devoured the macadamia nuts from Costco... they were so good!  Yes, they may have contained some soybean oil, but because of the price, I won't be buying them every week, so I figure as a "treat" they are not so bad.  We are plowing through the pistachios, too, so we'll try to slow down and eat less nuts this week :)

Here is our food plan for the coming week...

eggs & bananas
berry cobbler

kids' at school-
chopped grilled chicken & cheese
dill pickles (psst... the ones from Trader Joe's don't contain artificial colors)
strawberries or pineapple
ants on a log (celery with almond butter or cream cheese and raisins)
adults and non-school days-
chicken, olives, tomatoes (on kabobs or over greens with dressing for greek salad)
fudge babies

meatloaf & peas x2 (of course I forgot to get the ingredient tomato paste, so I will have to be creative...)
chicken no-tortilla soup with avocados
salmon burgers and homemade baked sweet potatoes fries
cashew chicken and green bean stir fry x2

Have a good week! :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Weekly Menu + Recipe + Groceries Details

sweet potatoes
berry cobbler
primal cranberry muffins (still hunting for a recipe)

waldorf chicken salad* (over salad greens for the adults)
almond bars (an experiment with no honey, perhaps add some coconut/applesauce, fingers crossed) -or- pickles for my daughter when she's at school (no nuts allowed)

After school snacks:
Trader Joe's banana chips (contain some added sugar), macadamia nuts, pistachios

Monday - Italian meatballs in marinara sauce, roasted green beans
Tuesday - leftovers
Wednesday - bean-less chili with avocado (sour cream for the kids)
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - football party
Saturday - shrimp/pineapple/bacon skewers, roasted asparagus
Sunday - leftovers

* Waldorf chicken salad recipe... hmm...  My mixture consists of chopped chicken, chopped celery, chopped apples, raisins (or grapes), mixed with a little bit of sour cream (use paleo mayo if you can't tolerate any dairy) and nuts sprinkled on top, when permitted (using toasted almonds this time).

And here are the groceries that I bought yesterday with which I will make our meals.  I had hoped to do one stop, but since it is a large shopping trip for the start of the month, it was worth is to make 2 stops.

I like to predict how much my shopping trips will cost before I go to the store.  I'll show you those numbers, too.  All numbers include approximately 9% sales tax.

Costco: predicted $80; actual was $83 (with some changes to the list)
frozen green beans, strawberries, and mixed berries, salad, bananas, pistachios, almonds, macadamias (should have gotten at Aldi - cheaper there!), and almond butter.

Aldi: predicted $35; actual was $36
eggs, avocados, onions, diapers, asparagus, shrimp, bacon, chicken, pineapple, pumpkin, orange juice

Monday or Tuesday I will swing by Trader Joe's or Whole Foods for organic apples, organic celery, dried unsweetened coconut, grass-fed beef, sesame seeds, banana chips, dill, and aluminum-free baking powder.  Approx. $45.

Milk from the farm will be about $12.

So, that brings the grand total to about $176 for the week, which is $26 above our weekly budgeted average of $150/week.  But, we were under budget for groceries in December and with this being the first stock-up of the month, I am OK with being $26 over, because many items will last more than 1 week.

OK, there are all the glorious details.  Better than gory details, right?  Have a great week!  Happy New Year!