Oct 27 2008

Overcoming some menu-planning challenges this week

Planning a menu this week was a bit stressful for me. My diet definitely needs improvement — I need more protein, whole grains, and greens. I decided to attempt to follow the Brewer diet this week to see if that gave me more energy.

Oh man. First, it’s a lot more food than I’m used to. And second, figuring out how to incorporate all of the food groups into a day was a bit tricky. It took me a few hours to get a week’s menu mapped out. Listed below are the dinners I came up with, but I didn’t want to list my breakfasts, lunches and snacks because it’s just too much to type out.

Once I put together my shopping list, I was frustrated when I realized the list would cost about 3x as much as what I usually spend at the grocery each week. I try to keep it at $50 or so, but my new list with tons of meat, produce and dairy would likely cost about $150. Great.

Another complication: I’m trying to stick with just using cash this month, just as an experiment to see if it would reduce my spending. As a result of my earlier purchases this month, I had $92 with which to buy groceries. Yes, I could have grabbed some money from our checking account. But I wanted to make this shopping trip work on my terms.

I went through the list again, this time eliminating pricey items that we didn’t really need. I cut string cheese, apricots, asparagus, sunflower seeds, and a few other nutritious but unnecessary items.

Shane and I ventured over to stores we hadn’t yet tried — Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

I was pleasantly surprised by some of the prices at Trader Joe’s. The food quality seemed to be reasonably healthy, and in many cases, foods were mostly natural and in some cases organic. We picked up some produce and a few canned goods, and spent about $20 there.

Whole Foods was just a few blocks away, so we decided to see what the fuss was all about. My goodness, that’s an expensive place to shop! I bought two boxes of tea — one red raspberry leaf tea, and another that had red raspberry leafs and other things that are supposedly good for pregnant women. Will it help? I don’t know, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

After that, we went home to drop off our purchases and went to Aldi.

Calculator in hand, Shane and I weaved our way through the aisles. Prices on some products had recently dropped (for example, a dozen eggs were $1.19, I believe) and I was happy to discover we would come in under budget.

We looped back through the store and added a few more items. I picked up a gallon of apple cider for $3.49, and Shane grabbed a jar of peanuts for $1.99.

I much prefer my usual method of menu shopping — making meals from things in my pantry, basing my purchases around sales and what sounds good, and using my budget as a guideline instead of a strict amount to follow. But, this week has shown me that with a bit of extra work, you can basically follow a nutritious diet and still stay within your budget.

Dinners:

Beef with broccoli and steamed rice (we had this last night — it was delicious and quick!)
Spinach quiche, whole grain bread
Baked chicken with rice, steamed carrots, whole grain bread
Salmon, peas, rice
Chicken noodle soup with extra veggies and beans, whole grain bread
Spaghetti and meat sauce with added veggies, side salad
Beef fillets, mashed potatoes, broccoli

Check out more menu plans at Orgjunkie!



10 Responses to “Overcoming some menu-planning challenges this week”

  1. Ugh. I HATE that eating healthy is so much more expensive than processed food! Some things really are worth investing in, though, especially now. That’s why we cut corners in other places, right?

    Sounds like you’re finding a good balance!

    Karen’s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday & Grocery Round Up – 10/25-10/31

  2. Be careful of the respberry leaf tea. My midwife was a very strong believer in it, but only after the 36th week of pregnancy because it has such strong effects on the uterus. I’m not talking about Lipton’s reapberry tea, I mena the kind that it real raspberry leaf. You might want to ask your midwife or doctor before guzzling it down….

  3. Best wishes on your efforts! It sounds as though you’re doing well with it all, in spite of the initial difficulty.

    Could you possibly save some money by getting some ideas from the Lacto-Ovo version of the Brewer Diet? There is a page for that under “Vegetarian” on that same website that you linked to in your original post.

    Also, regarding the huge amount of food that it appears to be, I suggest that you check out the serving sizes of each of those food groups. For instance, each of the meat portions is only 1 oz, which is about 1/3 the size of a deck of cards, or about the size of your thumb.

    You might also find some help by printing out a copy of the weekly checklist on that same website, and post it on your refrigerator. That way, you can check something off every hour with hourly snacks, and then just use what’s leftover (the empty boxes) for your meals. Or you could do it the other way around. I think that when women eat something small every hour from that checklist, it makes the amount of food much more doable.

    Best wishes,
    Joy

  4. You might also want to check out the page called “Diuretics” on that same website. There are some pregnancy herbal teas which contain some herbs which, in my opinion, could compromise your efforts to keep your blood volume well expanded.

    Joy

  5. I’ve used both the Brewer Diet (when I was expecting my now-grown kids) and What to Eat When You’re Expecting with my latest (now 5 years old).

    The Brewer Diet is exceptionally good for women pregnant with multiples, because it addresses the increased needs much better than most pregnancy diets. (Actually, most of the pregnancy diets I’ve ever seen, with the exception of the 2 I mentioned above, are pretty much jokes.)

    Yes, it’s hard to eat all that food if you aren’t used to it. Use a checklist and remember to go over it shortly before bed. That way if you’re short in some categories you can go fix yourself a bedtime snack that will fill the holes, not just add calories.

    Also, you can look back over the past few days checklists and see if there is any kind of pattern to where you’re not managing (i.e. not getting enough protein or enough green veg or enough calcium or whatever). Then you can focus on that particular area for a while.

    As for the expense, you’re building a human being who will use that body for the next 70 or 80 years or more. It’s worth it to make sure the foundations are solid.

  6. i’ve been buying healthier food, too, lately. yes…definitely spending more $ on our grocery budget. went from about $35-40 per week to about $60-75. oh well…i’m losing weight and feel so much better!

    tiffanie’s last blog post..hamburgers and slacking.

  7. The red raspberry tea leaves will definitely help with contractions. It made a huge difference with my 4th child (the only one I drank it with) and I was able to have her naturally. My labor was shorter and the contractions were more effective. I would definitely recommend drinking it every day.

  8. I’m wondering how this is going for you by now.

    I’m also wanting to re-iterate that not all of your protein sources to come from meat, and also note that the meat servings on that Brewer checklist are only 1 oz each. A 3 oz. serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards, so a 1 oz serving is 1/3 the size of a deck of cards, or about the size of your thumb.

    I also want to re-iterate the caution about making sure that the raspberry tea, or pregnancy tea does not contain nettle or dandelion, or the other herbs on that “Diuretic” page.

    Best wishes,
    Joy

  9. I’m wondering how this is going for you by now.

    I’m also wanting to re-iterate that not all of your protein sources need to come from meat, and also note that the meat servings on that Brewer checklist are only 1 oz each. A 3 oz. serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards, so a 1 oz serving is 1/3 the size of a deck of cards, or about the size of your thumb.

    I also want to re-iterate the caution about making sure that the raspberry tea, or pregnancy tea does not contain nettle or dandelion, or the other herbs on that “Diuretic” page.

    Best wishes,
    Joy

  10. I should probably add that on the Brewer checklists that call for 6-8 servings of food from the “Protein Group” the meat servings are 1 oz. (approx the size of a thumb). However, on the Brewer checklists that call for 2 servings of food from the “Protein Group”, the meat servings are 3 oz. (approx the size of a deck of cards).
    Joy

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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