I love food. So does Chris.
But, a lot of the food we love isn’t necessarily in love with us (looking at you, pizza). Since we first got married (almost five years ago !!!), the foods we buy and eat have morphed and changed along with our knowledge of our bodies and nutrition. I’m a nurse, and Chris is a strength coach with an exercise science degree. We both really enjoy learning more about what can fuel our bodies and help us feel our best!
And, I actually really like cooking! Cleaning the kitchen after SUCKS. lol. But over the years of being the ~woman of the household~ I’ve developed a bit of a system with how I meal plan and grocery shop, and I’m going to share my process in this blog post! Whether you’ve been doing this for way longer than me and just need some inspiration, or you don’t ever grocery shop and have no idea where to even start, I think this post will be beneficial for you to read!
why I choose the foods I buy.
When it comes to food and nutrition, there are some things I care about a lot, and some things I don’t care about at all.
The things I care about:
- buying pesticide free (aka organic) produce. You can take some time and look up for yourself what pesticides will do to your body, but the short version is you really don’t want to put them into your body if you can help it. This includes anything that grows outside – wheat, nuts, coffee – as well as meats and dairy… it can feel overwhelming! But there’s a lot of great options out there now, and as more people begin to support farms with their purchases, more and more organic options are becoming available every day.
- buying hormone free meat and dairy. once again, do your own research on this. for me, I am trying very hard to regulate my hormones, and part of that includes not introducing outside hormones from the foods i eat into my delicate little reproductive system!
- minimally processed foods – I love how Kate Eskuri (find her on the foundation blog, she’s amazing) puts it – are you eating food, or a “food-like substance”? Your body craves nutritionally rich foods, real foods, and it can tell the difference.
And the things I DON’T care about:
- FAD DIETS or CALORIES! while I can see benefits from whatever people are excited about in the moment – keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, low calorie, low fat, gluten free, whatever – I’m not personally going to adopt any one specific diet. I am going to try to do my best to find the foods that give my body the nutrition it needs and then basically not worry about calories! That’s what works for me. I’ve learned that I really don’t do great when I fully restrict any one area of my diet, but instead work on making the most well-informed decisions I can.
A couple general disclaimers:
– I am not a nutritionist! I can’t tell you how many carbs or how much protein you specifically need in your diet. I’m just going to share how I approach nutrition for myself and my body, and I hope that you take some time to research and decide what you need for your body too! Example – I had brain surgery, and since then I have tried to focus on foods that have been researched to support brain health like walnuts and fish and avocado. I also saw a list of brain foods that included both coffee AND dark chocolate the other day, and while I don’t know if that pinterest graphic was 100% research based, I have chosen to accept it as bible truth personally. 😉
– I am NOT perfect when it comes to my diet and the choices I make. I LOVE bread, and pizza, and ice cream. When it comes to specific foods I love, I try to make choices based on quality ingredients as much as I can, only pick them sometimes, and give myself GRACE to learn and indulge sometimes. Over the years, I have learned that elimination diets are basically my own personal hell. But, as I continue to learn about what nourishes my body and helps me feel more healthy, the more likely I am to make better and more informed choices.
– I am only shopping for two adult humans. When there are little humans in the mix, I am sure my process will shift and change. I can only speak about what I know personally!
Basically – trust your gut (literally and figuratively, lol), do some research into your own health and nutritional needs, and, most importantly, ENJOY YOUR FOOD! A happy mind begets a happy belly and a happy heart. Or something like that. 🙂
meal planning + grocery shopping.
This is the system I personally use to create a grocery list and meal plan. It makes a lot of sense to me and for our lifestyle!
There’s three steps to the process for me: 1) meal planning + making my shopping list, 2) grocery shopping, and 3) food prepping.
1. Meal Planning:
I typically start this step by sitting down and looking at my calendar for the week. What days am I working? What nights do we have plans to eat away from home? I even go as far as looking at the weather to see what I might ~feel like~ eating that day (I’m an enneagram four, I LIVE in my feelings lol). If its a warm and sunny day, I might plan some type of fresh salad or something we can grill. On a cold rainy or snowy day, I like to make more soups or crockpot meals. I also try to plan to have leftovers on the days that I work, since I only usually go to work 3 days each week as a nurse. Usually I pick 2-3 things I can plan on prepping for lunches as well.
Once I have those questions answered, I’ll start filling in meals for dinners for the week. Lately I’ve been trying to plan meals that have similar ingredients, or can be used for lunches or snacks. That way, I can buy less produce at a time and hopefully we’ll use more of it up and not have any go to waste!
As I pick meals for each day, I’ll write them into my grocery list. I also check our pantry and fridge to see if any of our essential items are getting low – things like lunch snacks, oats, rice, quinoa, condiments, milks, coffee.
2. Grocery Shopping
This part is pretty self explanatory – I bring that nice list I spent all that time writing and bring my little butt to the grocery store. One way I try to make this part easier on myself is to separate my list into the sections of the store – produce, meat, aisle items, frozen & dairy. I usually buy probably 80% from the list, 20% from intuition of what I know we’ll want or need. That frequently includes some sore of tasty treat. 😉
Because I try to plan our weekly meals, and just based on how long our produce tends to stay good for, I usually go to the store about once every 1-2 weeks. I try to limit the trips I make to target or a local market for “just a couple things,” since those trips can frequently add up and put us over our grocery budget for the month!
3. Meal + Snack Prepping
This is the part that I’m still really working on! I usually do well with the first two steps, but by the time I get home from the store, it feels SO HARD to keep working on getting all of those groceries prepped (especially because I tend to make a mess of the kitchen and then super not want to clean it back up)!
For me, this usually involves washing and cutting up fruit and veggies so that they’re available for quick snacking and making any type of breakfast or lunch recipes that we’ll need to have ready to bring to work. Some ideas for lunches and snacks are hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken for quick salads or wraps, protein muffins, quinoa or rice for yummy bowls… I mean, those ideas are allll over pinterest if you’re looking for some inspiration. Each night I’ll prep and cook that day’s dinner, unless it was a night that I planned to have leftovers.
That’s really it! It’s taken me 5 years of marriage (aka being a grown up and doing this for myself) to feel this comfortable and confident in both my nutrition and my meal planning. It’s definitely something that you can play around with to see what feels best to you and makes the most sense for your lifestyle! While I definitely crave takeout some nights, I’m always happy with the meals I make for Chris and I when I actually take the time and put in the effort.
a sample grocery list and meal plan
here’s what one of my recent grocery lists looked like:
I got that photo way out of focus, but you can get the idea! I keep it pretty simple and base it on what my meals consist of for the week!
On the edge of that photo, I wrote down a few of the recipes I was planning on making just to remind myself what ingredients went with what recipe so I knew how much of each thing to buy! And, you can see a few of the yummy treats I got myself up in that top right corner. 😉
So make those lists, eat that food, enjoy your life, and let me know if this helped you at all! Thanks for reading!