Oops! Posting this meal plan a day late. Sorry! Better late than never, right?
So the big events this week are:
My parents are visiting! They arrive tomorrow afternoon. They’re here for 10 whole days and I’m all atwitter with excitement! Our meals should be simple, summery and easy to prepare for a crowd. Hopefully the dinners I’ve outlined above will fit the bill.
Friday is Maya’s 4th birthday! She wants to go our family’s favorite Italian restaurant around the corner from our house. And afterwards, we’re throwing her a little surprise party with her friends and neighbors here at home, complete with a triple-decker chocolate cake from Blissful Bites. Oh man, I might be more excited that cake than she is! Actually, probably not; she’s ridiculously excited about her special day. Just like a very-nearly-almost-4-year-old should be!
You might notice that Saturday’s dinner is up in the air. That’s because Maya wants to visit a farm her birthday so we’re taking a road trip about 45 minutes south to Half Moon Bay. We’ll be hobnobbing with goats, chickens, horses and rabbits. And I have no idea how long we’ll be gone so I’m leaving dinner open that day. I’m sure we’ll figure out something yummy.
I was hoping to do a big grocery shop today in preparation for my parents’ arrival and the week ahead. But unfortunately, Dennis’ flight was delayed and he got home just before dinner so the shopping will have to wait until tomorrow. Hopefully mom and dad won’t mind tagging along.
This time 4 years ago, I was hugely pregnant (Maya was a week overdue!) and excitedly counting the minutes until we’d meet our baby girl. I totally expected that being a mama would be hard work, completely rewarding and a wonderful labor of love. What I didn’t anticipate was the fun, the joy, the bliss and all the laughing. Good lord, the laughing. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life as I have since the kids came along. This motherhood thing is hilarious! And every day just gets better and better. I’m pretty sure there’s no better job than the one I’ve got.
It’s from Pottery Barn, it’s a sleeper sofa (which is why it won’t arrive until mid-September - I’m told sleepers take a lot longer to make), and we ordered it in “Caramel Twill” which is basically like a dark tan color.
Our living room still has a long way to go before it’s even functional, let alone perfect. But we’re saving up and paying cash for everything, so naturally it’s a process. Baby steps, right? At least we won’t be sitting on the floor anymore.
After my massive shopping trip last Monday, you’d be right to assume I was done buying groceries for the week. But then, 2 things happened:
We started running low on produce. With all this clean, healthy livin’ I don’t think I properly accounted for all the extra fruits and veg I’d be nomming on. I partially blame California and its incredible produce - year round, but especially this time of year - on this. Plus, Den and the kids have certainly been helping to make a dent in our fruit and vegetable stockpile.
I received a “spend $15, get $5 coupon” in the mail yesterday from a market that I don’t normally frequent because it’s not on my usual walking route. But for $5, I’ll definitely walk the extra 3 blocks! That’s a good deal!
a bulb of garlic
a giant head (this sucker is SOLID) of green cabbage
2 boxes of squeezable applesauce pouches (Okay, so these aren’t the most budget-friendly at 50 cents per pouch. We’ve just been out of the house so much lately, and I’ve needed food that I can throw in my bag for Hungry Henry. He’s still a bit too young and too toothless to eat most regular food, so applesauce is the perfect take-along snack. And I love these pouches because no refrigerator, spoon or bowl is required. I justify this purchase because they really do save me time and make my life much easier.)
4 pink lady apples (used to be 5, but I ate one while unpacking these groceries. Ha!)
box of button mushrooms
2 Cashew Cookie Lara Bars (my little pre-gym treat)
2 cans organic garbanzo beans
bag of organic baby spinach
a bunch of organic green beans
bag of organic carrots
4 Cali yellow peaches
box of cherries (I’d like to make a batch of my homemade cherry jam out of these but I suspect Dennis will get to them before I have a chance.)
large box of organic Cali strawberries
My cupboards and fridge were pretty bare before today’s shop, so I went a wee bit over my $50 per week budget. My total today came today $64.46.
I am OK with the overage. We really needed a bunch of stuff. Next week, I’ll try to cut my grocery budget to $35.54 to make up for going over this week. Or maybe not. I may just give myself a pass on this one. Haven’t decided yet.
Way back in the olden days (or “April 19th, 2012” as I like to call it), I promised you a review of the Trader Joe’s Kitchen Cloths that I bought.
I was looking for a reusable, washable, durable paper towel substitute. I needed a solution for those clean-up jobs that were too yucky for a dishtowel but too clean for a rag (think: something like wiping up spilled baby rice cereal). Did the TJ’s Kitchen Cloths do the job?
The verdict: Yes. I think they’re pretty great!
When I first used them straight out of the package, I had my doubts. They’re very stiff and not all that absorbent at first. But, after one wash, they softened right up and worked beautifully. Those little towels are just as thirsty as the package promised.
I have six Kitchen Cloths and I think this is a good number. Occasionally, they’ll all be in the wash, but that doesn’t happen often enough to merit the purchase of an extra package. Best of all, I haven’t bought a single paper towel since and I haven’t missed them at all!
I recommend the Trader Joe’s Kitchen Cloths wholeheartedly. Just make sure to throw them in the washer and dryer at least once prior to first use.
Hello, Monday! While I’m sad to see another too-short weekend come and go, I can’t really be mad at this bright, beautiful, 77 F (25 C for my Canadian friends) blue sky day.
If you’ve seen my meal plans before, you might notice that today’s looks a bit different. I’m in the midst of embarking on some intricate lifestyle changes, people! Let’s just call it “sharpening the saw”. I’m giving myself a long-overdue little health tune-up by means of some simple dietary adjustments, greater mindfulness and a daily commitment to my yoga practice.
On the meal plan, this translates to :
A different type of breakfast for moi. My old breakfast of coffee/tea and toast was not serving me very well at all. I’m switching to a warm grain (millet, rice, quinoa, etc.), some soaked raisins and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds instead. I’m replacing morning coffee with hot water with lemon and fennel. Plus whatever herbal tea strikes my fancy! (And as you can see above, we all have our breakfast favorites!)
Actually eating a proper, sit-down lunch. Every day. No exceptions. This has been my biggest challenge since kid #2 came along. After feeding both the kids their lunch, I never seem to have enough time to feed myself, and this really must change. I’m going to tweak our schedule a bit so that I can fit in a balanced lunch too. The days of eating a handful of pretzels and an apple (and sometimes another cup of coffee) are gone. A proper lunch! Yes!
No more snacking. (This has served as a poor substitute for missing lunch anyway.) Thus, I have only included Kid Snacks on the meal plan. Three squares a day for me. Nothing more, nothing less.
Other notes on this week’s meal plan:
My Grocery List was so long, it spilled over into the Notes column. For visual ease, I put the items I need to purchase for this Meal Plan in green.
Dennis is in LA all day on Wednesday so the kids and I are on our own for dins. Rather than make a fancy dinner, I’ll just throw together whatever leftovers we’ve got hanging around plus a few odds and ends. I love dinners like that. And it’s a great way to use stuff up!
Another week of hot weather is ahead, which explains why my meal plans are featuring more cold food lately. It’s hard to get excited about soups and stews when you’re wearing a tank top and sandals. Just my opinion.
My parents are coming! My parents are coming! I seriously cannot wait. They’re arriving on Saturday and I’m counting the seconds until they get here. Aside from all the help they give me with the kids, I just adore their company and I’ve got lots of fun stuff planned for their visit. And since they don’t arrive until the weekend, this week’s meal plan isn’t hugely impacted by the extra people in the house. But next week should pose a fun challenge as I attempt to feed 2 extra people on my $50 per week budget. (I honestly love challenges like this!)
Sunday is Father’s Day and mom and dad are taking us out for dinner to celebrate! I’m excited!
There won’t be a grocery shopping expose this week, folks. Yesterday, my friend Kendall rented a car and surprised me with an offer to drive us the 6 blocks up to Trader Joe’s and back so we could both do a big shop. This was my opportunity to stock up because, since we don’t own a car, I am usually limited to whatever I can fit in the stroller. Honestly, I’m totally fine with stroller shopping and I always make do; but when the opportunity to do a major stock-up presents itself, I am compelled to take advantage. I moved some money around and spent much more than I normally would on yesterday’s grocery shopping trip (obviously), but I’m okay with it because I had a little nest egg set aside for just such an occasion.
Lastly, Parks & Recreation is quite possibly the funniest show in the history of funny shows. This comment is clearly not meal plan related but it really needed to be stated.
Well guys, the masses* have spoken: I shall continue posting about my grocery shopping trips. Huzzah!
And as planned, Henry and I trekked the 5 blocks up to Trader Joe’s this afternoon. When we arrived, it was eerily not crowded, which totally surprised me. Trader Joe’s is always crazytown and I was completely taken aback by the near empty aisles and the quiet handful of shoppers. But by the time we left, normalcy resumed and the place was a zoo once again.
I got so busy with emails this morning that I didn’t get time to go to Trader Joe’s for groceries. It’s times like this that I’m quite thankful indeed for Cal-Mart only a block away, even though it’s a lot more expensive.
I’ll make it a point to hit Trader Joe’s tomorrow, but I did need a few odds and ends today that just couldn’t wait.
organic baby cereal
about a pound and a half of beautiful Cali green grapes
large container of organic whole milk yogurt (it’s local too!)
quart of organic milk
The total came to $12.06. Which leaves me almost $38 for the rest of the week. I don’t have much to buy so this should be easy peasy! (I’ll probably even come in under budget this week. Love it when that happens!)
On another note, I’m starting to feel like these grocery posts are a bit boring and redundant. Is anyone even reading these? I wouldn’t blame you if you skipped them entirely; they’re not very exciting. Plus, my weekly meal plan with my shopping list is probably enough information.
So I pose this question to cyberspace: Should I keep posting about the groceries I buy every week? Or is it too boring?
I’d really love to know what YOU think. If you would be so kind as to email me* with a quick note telling me your thoughts on this, I’d really appreciate it. Even if you just put a “yes” or “no” in the subject line and leave the rest blank, that’s good enough for me. Obviously, I want to post about stuff that’s interesting, and I really don’t want to waste anyone’s blog-reading time. Your opinion means a lot to me. And you won’t hurt my feelings either way, I can totally take it.
*Of course it goes without saying that I’d never dream of sharing anyone’s email address or any such nonsense. This is truly just a humble, personal request for your 2 cents. Cheers!
After such a glorious warm and sunny weekend, this morning has broken with some gloomy overcast skies here in SF. Yup, sure feels like a Monday around here. I’m confident it will all burn off by noon, which it always seems to do whenever we get a few clouds.
Since we don’t usually have much grey to speak of here in San Francisco, there’s a little part of me that actually likes it. Not too much, mind you. Just a little grey is okay with me. Makes me feel deliciously homesick for Vancouver, where grey skies abound. I love it here in Cali, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I do miss my family and friends up north.
You can take the girl out of Vancouver, but you can’t take the Vancouver out of the girl, I guess.
Anyway, despite the clouds, it’s still a Meal Plan Monday around here. And as you can see above, this is actually a pretty easy week.
Saturday is Date Night for Dennis and me. We’re going to a fancy-pants restaurant down the block. I’ve never been and I’ve heard nothing but great things about this place. I am really excited!
I’ve got a few marching orders for this week, but nothing too difficult. All those chores I could probably do in my sleep, I’m so used to it by now. Hopefully, I’ll find the time to get it all done early in the week.
Since some of the cherries I bought at the farmers’ market last week turned out to be a bit tart, I decided today to muster the courage to try something I’ve never done before: I made a batch of homemade cherry jam.
Normally, I wouldn’t waste perfectly good, healthy fruit on something as nutrition-less as jam, but since I make it a point not to waste food and these cherries were borderline inedible, I had to figure out a way to repurpose about a pound of too-tart cherries.
As it turns out, tart cherries make the best jam.
I can’t remember the last time I made something as wonderful and decadently delicious as the homemade cherry jam I made this afternoon. I’d even venture to say that ending up with about a pound of tart cherries might just have been the best thing to happen to me all week.
I used this un-recipe and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Store-bought jam isn’t even in the same league as the jam I made today; and dare I say it will be extremely difficult to return to regular old grocery store jam after this.
I discovered that making homemade jam is much easier than I thought it’d be. And requiring only 3 ingredients - cherries, lemon juice, and sugar - it’s a very frugal little venture indeed.
One pound of cherries yielded 3 jars of jam; I gave one jar to our neighbors upstairs (we traded for some homemade fava bean soup they made) and I kept the other 2 jars for myself my family.
Let’s just say I’m really (really, REALLY!) looking forward to breakfast tomorrow morning. Tea and toast, anyone?