Sunday, February 27, 2011

Adventures in Grocery Shopping and This Week's Menu

Well... "Adventures" is probably a strong word, but I spend alot of time at HEB, it seems, and have a few observations/pet peeves.

First of all... at peak times, say Sunday afternoons and immediately after work... why do people bring the WHOLE family and allow their children to push an ADDITIONAL, unnecessary cart? Just clogs up the aisles and leads to me taking a lot of deep breaths. Honestly, taking everybody along to the store seems painful to begin with, but having a kid who can't see over the top of the cart lingering behind - would create a whole lot of anxiety for me! I can see wanting to entertain the kids, and of course sometimes you can't avoid having tag alongs. My poor mom had tag alongs probably 99% of the time she went to the store and she almost always refused to go at peak times (it was an option for her since she was home during the week, obviously not an option for everyone). We usually got to ride in the buggy - once we were too big to sit up front, we got to sit under the cart, back in the day when the carts had more room underneath, which was a big treat. When we got too big for that, she would patiently let us push the cart (or for a "big" shop, push the additional overflowing cart) until Andy and I were fighting over who got to do it and ran the cart into her heels, tearing her very delicate skin. I take my own 30-something tagalong sometimes, who people probably think I should leave at home because he's usually hanging on the cart with his head bent over his phone, looking at game scores or updating his fantasy football team... I usually park him in one spot with the cart and run down the aisle which is pretty handy. Nothing worse than traffic jams on the cereal aisle. We have spent many an hour together in HEB, and I really love his company but sometimes its easier to just do it alone without having to make any explanations :) Shhh!

I get such satisfaction about saving money at the grocery store, especially when I get free items with HEB's in store deals! Even more so if it was something already on my list. It pains me to buy the name brand item. Richard is a bit of a snob and hates it when I buy store brand cereal, cookies, or crackers. When I was younger, it really embarassed me that we shopped at PriceLo and Budget Chopper as opposed to the classier Randall's or Kroger stores. I bet I would feel differently now. I spent $90 this week on an extensive list including, but not limited to, 6# boneless skinless chicken breast, 2# pork tenderloin, 1# lean ground turkey, 2# large shrimp, beer, tons of fresh produce... I'm usually pretty good at guessing what my bill would be but I was thinking $120+ so that was a pleasant surprise.

The upside of grocery shopping at peak times: SAMPLES! It is so hard for me to pass up a sample, even if it's not something I particularly like or am apt to buy. Especially the sushi. I'll probably never buy a tempura roll or dumpling, but that's all they ever sample and I almost always take one. I LOVE the Cooking Connection at HEB, where they make "easy" meals (read: meals where you add their expensive gourmet-ish products). Its fun for ideas, and if you're hungry the little samples take the edge off, but I don't very often buy what they're making (because I'm cheap and/or don't want to use some high fat/calorie ingredient thats in it... but a bite sure doesn't hurt!)

Just call me Suzy Homemaker... I have finally realized how much easier it is to do one shopping trip on the weekend than stop by most days after work to pick up a few things. So I've been planning meals ahead of time. I'm trying to do at least 1 crock pot meal, 1 go-to meal with ingredients I can easily keep on hand (spaghetti, stirfry, tacos, turkey burgers), 1 new or special meal, and then 1 more simple meal. I try to let Richard have at least 1 request per week, and I also love going through my cookbooks to find new things to try. I also started organizing my grocery list... why haven't I done this before? It took 3 drafts, but I organized myself to sections of the store in the order I reach them as I go through (produce, meat, bread, canned goods, cold, frozen... etc) to keep me from having to navigate back across the store. It worked so well!! Maybe one day I'll try the art of couponing like several of my friends have. For now I'm trying to stock up on things I use regularly when its on sale so my pantry isn't completely depleted at the end of the week.

Update on my weekly attempt at the crockpot: Pork chops and rice, from the little booklet that came with the crockpot. I was a little disappointed, but I don't particularly like pork chops to begin with. Also, the extended cooking time of the rice plus the seasonings made it taste a little too Thanksgiving-ish, and that's not my favorite. Last week I also made Steph's ( recipe for roasted chicken, which was delicious! Richard requested enchiladas, but I couldn't bear to make them the traditional way (with all that oil... I'll eat it if someone else makes it, but I can't SEE it), so I made a "healthy"version which was good... but I thinking I'll stop attempting Mexican food because I just can't do it like his mom!

This week:

Last night I made charro beans and guacamole for a "fiesta" dinner party. The beans were a huge improvement from my previous attemps and tasted much more like what you'd get in a restaurant. Next time I'll use less bacon.

Tonight I'll be making Thai Curry Coconut Shrimp with Basil Lime Couscous for an Oscar night dinner. I've made it before, and it was really good. Hopefully it won't be a let down, which sometimes happens when I really liked something the first time.

Tomorrow night I'll be using the crockpot to make pork carnitas. Basically, I'll be slow cooking the meat all day, and then shred it and eat it in tortillas like tacos. We'll eat leftover beans with it. I don't think I've ever had that, but Richard sounded excited so I'll cross my fingers for a success!

Tuesday night Mom and I have been going to dinner and then Bible study and Richard works late so he can have leftovers.

Wednesday I'm going to make Amanda's ( crockpot recipe for Santa Fe Chicken with rice.

I have ground turkey to make turkey burgers and Tex-Mex Calzones (also courtesy of Amanda) on whatever other nights I need to cook. I think I'm set for the week! Hopefully having a plan will decrease spending for eating out (cooking also creates leftovers for lunch for both of us!) and help me eat healthier meals all week long rather than ordering pizza or some other temptation.

What tips do you have to make your life easier?

Gotta go find my apron!
Love, B


  1. Yay for the update! I'm jealous that you're having the calzones this week because I have been in the mood for them the past few days- hope they turn out well, and same with the santa fe chicken!

    We take one trip per week, as well, and go with a list, although Brian always goes with me and sometimes even goes for me- I'm very blessed, I know! I still don't organize the list by the store layout but it's only because I like to write things down in the order that I think of them and don't want to bother re-making the list. I bet that really does help though!

  2. Y'all can come eat supper with me when I make the calzones. Richard probably will be at class or work ;)
    I complain, but I actually like grocery shopping unless its totally chaotic and especially if I start out having to circle the parking lot to find a spot. I would only send Richard with a VERY specific list, no more than 5 items... I think he'd get lost and definitely would not be very economical!

  3. These are great ideas, Beth! I'm going to try the Italian chicken once we buy a crockpot that doesn't make everything taste like metal. I love Stephanie's roasted chicken as well - that has become a staple in the Bedo household. It's also good to make when you need to bring a meal to someone.