Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekly Menu

Last week, I forgot to buy salmon fillets, so we had cheap and easy hash in stead.  I also didn't get around to making the soup, so it is on the menu again.  As you can see, we are embracing cheese at lunchtime right now, leaning more primal than paleo.  Here's the plan for the week...

grain free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (mmm, fall...)
eggs & bananas
coffee, milk

nitrate-free cheddar hot dogs
sherried tomato soup & crunchy primal crackers
cottage cheese & nectarines
carrots, apples
fudge babies

chile lime chicken burgers (bunless of course), sweet potatoes, salad with dressing
carne asada fajita bowl x2 (peppers, onions, pico de gallo, guac, ) x2
balsamic glazed drumsticks, sweet potatoes, green beans x2
meatloaf, peas x2

I was NOT in the mood to grocery shop, but made myself do it on Thursday since I had a good window of time to do it, sans children.  20 mile march, I told myself.  That's a discipline reference from a talk I heard from Jim Collins.  Yes, I had to psyche myself up for it.  I went to Aldi, Hy-Vee, and Trader Joe's, spending $122, total.  I was totally suckered in by the latest TJ's Fearless Flyer and bought several things highlighted there (the hot dogs, burgers, carne asada, frozen grassfed beef, nectarines, etc.), so spent the majority of my money there.  I got home late and didn't take any pictures for you this time.  Here is a great list of paleo items from Trader Joe's if you are interested.

I am looking forward to some new recipes this week, and some we just haven't had in awhile.  Have a good week!

I'm sharing these menu ideas here!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Paleo Primal Packed Lunch Ideas

lunch bags, ready to be filled

It's that time again.  The school year.  Time for a lot of lunch packing if you are a primal parent.  So, I recently brainstormed a list to look at when I am uninspired and have to get some lunch packing supplies at the grocery store.  See last year's post on this topic here.

The obvious disclaimer: I know these ideas aren't all 100% paleo or primal.  We compromise.  I give my kids dairy products (often) and plain-ish potato chips aka "veggie" chips (sometimes).  The goal is gluten free (though we occasionally use soy sauce at our house), artificial chemical free, and added sugar free.  Just wanted to make sure you know I am not completely stupid regarding what is paleo and what is not, and that I am doing these things by choice.

If you are 100% paleo, there are many ideas listed below that you can still use, especially in the protein section, which I think is the hardest to be creative in.

My children's school is nut free, which adds to the challenge of packing paleo lunches.

I prefer to send "cold" lunch items, it is easier for them to eat at their ages.

Also, my kids are served snack at school twice a day.  While most parents probably appreciate it, I resent it.  They don't need it!  It just propels the sugar-burning and undermines what I am trying to do.  However, I otherwise love their school, and the inconvenience of taking them anywhere else would be huge.  So, I have this inner battle of how much energy I want to spend on the issue of snack.  Last year, I went along with the flow.  They were offered a fruit product and a wheat cracker product at each snack time.  This year, I am going to allow them to have the fruit product (ranging anywhere from fresh fruit to apple juice -yikes!) but not the wheat product.  I will send along my own shelf stable gluten free alternatives (likely still potato or corn based) for those days when they do not have a substantial stand-alone fruit option.  A little crunch is fun now and then :)  Not ideal, but that is where I currently stand.

Also, just fyi, I have no sympathy for people who say it is too much work to pack their food.  Some days, between the two adults and two children in our family, I pack 7 meals-to-go, due to the weirdo work schedules of my husband and myself.  That's why I am such planner; I have to be or we wouldn't eat! :)

OK, now that you know where I am coming from, let's do this.  I know I probably shouldn't over generalize the food items by macro-nutrient group, but for my own organization, that is how I am going to do it here.  Some items like cheese and sun butter could go under both protein and fat.  I try to include in each lunch at least 1 protein + 1 fat + 1 carbohydrate.

Here ya go-

Protein items:

  • cooked chicken
  • deli turkey
  • deli ham
  • kabobs
  • mini cheeseburgers
  • cold meatballs
  • pulled pork
  • salmon on cucumber sandwiches
  • tuna and avocado
  • hardboiled egg
  • zucchini-ricotta rollups
  • salami
  • cold shrimp
  • chicken drumsticks
  • apple sandwiches
  • hot dogs
  • sweet sausage
  • steak jerky


  • real cheese cubes
  • real cheese slices
  • string cheese
  • cottage cheese
  • cream cheese
  • olives
  • guacamole
  • ranch sour cream
  • coconut balls
  • sun butter*


  • carrot sticks
  • celery sticks
  • pickles
  • tomatoes
  • fresh fruit
  • banana chips
  • raisins
  • fruit leather
  • unsweetened applesauce

Shelf stable snacks to send to the classroom:

  • tortilla chips
  • pirate booty
  • veggie straws
  • popcorn
  • chex cereal
  • sweet potato chips

*I have never tried sunflower seed butter, but I really want to, since it is allowed in place of other nut butters at their school.  I bought some at Trader Joe's and it is in the pantry.

I found this article helpful when creating my list.

Also, if you have access to a microwave at work at meal time, the easiest "no excuses" tip I ever heard is this: Always keep frozen veggies and precooked meat/fish on hand (shrimp, chicken strips, canned tuna, etc.).  If you are running late in the morning, you can always just throw these into a dish together, add some olive oil, garlic or S&P if you want or whatever.  Then, just heat & eat at mealtime.   Not gourmet, but no excuses!

Thoughts?  Additions to my list?  Please share any suggestions with us in the comments!  Everyone likes new lunch ideas :)

I hope your school year is off (or will soon be off) to a good start!

Coming soon: food containers I like.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekly Menu

paleo breakfast bread
orange-coconut smoothies
eggs & fruit
paleo waffles (from Eat Like a Dinosaur)
coffee, milk

cottage cheese & fruit
salami, cheese, & veggie chips
sherried tomato soup, crunchy primal crackers
fudge babies

nachos/taco salad x2
ground turkey philly cheesesteak skillet
pork, apples, & cabbage in the crock pot (less sugar?) x2
baked asian-style salmon, roasted green beans, sweet potatoes

Have a good week!

I'm linking up here to other recipes and menus!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Good, Inexpensive Coconut Oil

I used to buy coconut oil from Mountain Rose Herbs.  I love theirs.  But, in an effort to find the best price (since I don't have someone to share shipping costs with), I later switched to Nutiva brand from  I hear raving reviews about Tropical Traditions, but have never caught one of their sales.  Last year, I gave Vitacost organic coconut oil a try when I found out I could get 54 ounces for about $11!

Recently, when it appeared to be time to reorder some coconut oil, I did some searching and found another good deal from Vitacost.  So, I wanted to share it with you... you can read the how-to details on this blog from Laura.  I used the tip in the update at the bottom of the post and bought two 54 ounce each jars.

I didn't have a $10 credit to use, since I had already signed up for Vitacost's referral program the last time I ordered and used my coupon (and since I am so uncomfortable soliciting anything to friends or family, I had never sent out any emails with my link to refer them which would have earned me more credit). But, I did look in my spam mail (because they send emails all the time) and find a 25% off coupon from Vitacost (which equalled $10 off my order.)  Perfect.

So, with free shipping (super fast, might I add) on Vitacost brand products if you buy $25+ worth, in combo with a 25% off coupon (if you are already a customer) or a $10 off coupon for signing up for their referral program, you can get 108 total ounces of yummy coconut oil for right around $30 shipped!  Sweet.

Still with me?

Hope you can make some sense of this and use these tips if you need coconut oil right now, too!

PS - My husband and I LOVE coconut oil on our skin, especially when spending lots of time in the sun.  It is a great moisturizer, and seems to help either prevent sunburn, or help it quickly (like overnight) turn into a tan.  Of course, we use a LOT of coconut oil in the kitchen when cooking, too.

And PPS - I decided to be smarter this time.  If you are going to sign up for a their referral program in order to receive a $10 coupon, I'd appreciate it if you would use either of the links mentioning it above.  Then, I get $10, too.  Thanks :)

Groceries: Hy-Vee & at Costco

HyVee $36

They had some good sales this week.  Colorado peaches for 99¢/lb. Everything was here was on sale except for the butter and pizza crusts.  I made some gluten-free pizzas for the children and babysitter last night.  Corn chips are for taco salad.  I'm still into cottage cheese.  I also bought some other household items and food for church, not pictured and not included in the total.

Costco $60

Should be good on cheap coffee for awhile.  Got the Izzes for fun.  I hadn't had them yet this summer and there is a Costco coupon for them right now.  While bottles are cool, I like the size of the little cans.  We'll make them last awhile.

I will make a small trip to Aldi on Monday or Tuesday.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Groceries: Primal at Aldi

Here's the food we bought today at Aldi, plus the Tobasco and cooking sherry on the left from Walmart (had to go there for a b-day party gift).  Altogether, I spent around $40 for the food.  Depending on how the week goes, I may stop by Costco sooner rather than later in the week.

Weekly Menu

A note on last week's menu: I ended up following this ground beef gyro recipe (minus the flatbread, and lemon juice instead of cider vinegar - personal preference) for the deconstructed gyro salad.  It was delicious, especially with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from our neighbor's garden!

Here's the plan for this week-

paleo breakfast bread
eggs & fruit
coffee, real milk

turkey & cream cheese cucumber sandwiches
veggie chips
almonds or pistachios

chef's salad
salmon burgers, homemade baked sweet potato fries, salad
chicken marsala (paleo-fy), green beans, salad x2
hamburger vegetable soup (paleo-fy) soup, salad x2

I need to re-brainstorm ideas for packing lunches again for the upcoming school year.  My school starts next week, and the kids' preschool starts after Labor Day.  Tunnel vision focus, here I come.

Have a good week!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Menu Planning Steps

Have you ever wondered how to menu plan?

Let me say that if the thought totally repulses you, I understand.  I was there.  When I had to plan my entire work day in 15- 20 minute increments (ahem, teaching 6 year olds) the last thing I wanted to do was more planning.  But now that I have children of my own, a different job, a more limited budget, and cannot run to the store as easily whenever I want to, menu planning REALLY helps me.  It keeps our costs lower, keeps dinner timelier and healthier, and me happier.

Since right now I am either procrastinating in hopes of inspiration -or- just trying to enjoy this process more than is natural, I am going to let you in on my thought process tonight.  A thrilling Friday night, right?  Hey, the rest of the weekend in pretty packed, so I gotta squeeze this in.

Here's how my paleo weekly menu planning process typically flows:

Tuesday & Wednesday:

  1. Get the grocery ads from the mailbox and glance through them.  The grocery sales are usually Wednesday through Tuesday, with some special sales anytime between Thursday-Monday. (P.S. The ads are all online, too, if you don't get them.  Just go to the stores' websites.)
  2. Circle the items I want to buy because they are a really good price and we can use them.
  3. Start a list of the stores and corresponding sale items that I want to purchase. 

Thursday or Friday:

  1. Pencil in a menu for the week ahead, based of off any special perishable items I want to buy, what we have, and what I can buy at the stores I want to go to.  Search my Pinterest paleo board, old menu plans from my blog, recipe books, or starred posts in my Google reader for inspiration.  Ask the kids and husband what they would like if all else fails.
  2. Add any additional items needed for these recipes to the list under the best store to buy them, according to cost.
  3. Approximate the total cost and adjust the list and plan as needed.  Cut and rearrange the list if too many store visits are required.
  4. Schedule shopping trips to make sure I have the needed items by the time they are on the menu, and that they will be used before they spoil.

Friday through Tuesday: 

  1. SHOP! (in as few trips to the stores as possible!)
So, you can see, I plan and shop at the week's end for the week ahead.  That is the method that works best with our work/school schedule right now, but I'm sure will continue to evolve.  

Everyone who wants to menu plan has to find a flow that is good for them.  I probably make this process more involved than it needs to be.  You could simplify it if you wanted.  I work well when I have to hammer things out in words... I enjoy the construction of the shopping list and menu planning.  And the whole evaluation, tweaking of the list.  (me <-- weird)

Guess I better go get some thrills and actually plan now.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Groceries: Aldi

I meant to say in my last post that I would spend $40 at Aldi (not $20).  It was actually more like $48.  Well, then add on to that for some birthday gifts and household items (kleenex, wipes, etc.)
I've been putting off going to Costco.  It saves me $$ in the short run, but maybe not necessarily the long run?  Here are the food items purchased at Aldi today.  Dessert items for the dinner and birthday are on the left.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekly Menu

almond meal griddle cakes
scrambled eggs & fruit
leftover hash
coffee, real milk

paleo chicken salad (roasted chicken, grapes, roasted almonds, paleo mayo)
hard boiled eggs
cottage cheese*
apples, cantaloupe
black olives
veggie chips
snack mix
baby carrots, celery

Sunday - sticky chicken in the crock pot, zucchini, leftover potatoes from the freezer
Monday - deconstructed gyro salad (use grass-fed beef)
Tuesday - Bible study meal / sausage & sweet potato hash for the family
Wednesday - meatloaf, peas
Thursday - salmon & sweet potato patties (from It Starts with Food), roasted green beans
Friday - chicken fajitas (no tortillas)
Saturday - pizza b-day party aka screw-it or make my own

Check out more gluten-free meal ideas at Musings of a Housewife.

*Cottage cheese is a compromise food for us right now.  I don't like all the additives in the cheap kind (as opposed to Daisy brand).  But am justifying it by saying it can't be worse than lunchmeat, right?  We all like it and it is easy for lunches.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Groceries: Trader Joe's and Hy-Vee

I can't call this a paleo shopping trip.  Not even close.

I am cooking for my Bible study this week and am taking the easy way out with purchased foods.  I wanted to go with not time-consuming, tasty,  not-too expensive, and light on grains.  This will not be paleo, though.  Going with TJ's mandarin chicken, broccoli, rice ( I won't eat), and lemon meringue pie (still to be purchased).  And, I my baby boy is soon to be 3 and has requested chocolate cupcakes and ice cream, so you'll see those items in there, too.

Trader Joes: $42 (that's a chicken in the bag)

Hy-Vee: $22

We are still finishing up peaches from last week.  I will go to Aldi on Monday and probably spend another $20.

Paleo Trail Mix

Just in case you ever need to make a massive amount of trail mix (snack mix, whatever), here is a recipe you might be able to use.  I prefer it on the less-salty side, but you could use items with more salt if you wanted.

(someone started before I got a photo :) & the macadamia bag is not pictured)


  • dry roasted, unsalted almonds
  • raisins

Trader Joe's:

  • roasted, unsalted macadamia nuts
  • roasted, 50% less salt whole cashews
  • banana chips (contain some added sugar)
  • unsweetened dried cranberries


  • pistachios, salted

Dump desired amounts together.  Mix.  Divide into quart sized freezer bags.

And apparently you are set on trail mix for a week-long on and off-road motorcycle ride along the Continental Divide.

(P.S. Steak jerky goes well with this.)