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Meal Planning

Meal Planning

I’ve found that one way to reduce weekday stress and waste fewer groceries is to meal plan.

I think alot of us – know we should, don’t like to, or feel like they don’t know where to start.

But once you are in the habit of meal planning, you can significantly reduce the money spent at the grocery store and the stress each day of deciding what to make for dinner.

I’ll share my routine with you:

  1. Pick another family to help each week.
  2. Look at the family schedule to determine what nights you have activities and which you don’t.  This will help determine what kind of meal you need to make – crock pot, grill, skillet dish, grab ‘n go sandwiches, etc.
  3. Pick a variety of proteins your family likes to eat
  4. Pick a starch and veggie (or two) that pairs well with each protein
  5. Write down what you’re making each night
  6. Build a grocery list from the meal plan

For example:

  1. Older son offered to help.
  2. Two nights he needed to work (Joe’s Butcher Shop in Carmel, IN) until 8.
  3. Chicken thighs, pork tenderloin, ground beef, fish (for Friday during lent), homemade pizza, ribs
  4. Chicken thighs – mac n cheese, green beans
  5. Pork tenderloin – instant potatoes, brocolli
  6. Ground beef – hamburgers, chips and peas; tacos with corn salsa
  7. Fish – tilapia, rice, brussel sprouts
  8. Homemade pizza – sausage, pepperoni, veggies
  9. Ribs – fried potatoes, cauliflower
  10. Transfer the meal plan to a visible spot for the whole family to see
  11. Build your grocery list
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Posted by on March 29, 2020 in Uncategorized


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Grocery Shopping

Grocery Shopping

I’m sure some of you have heard these stories, but some haven’t.

My maternal grandparents, Raymond and Frances Herman, owned a grocery store and full service gas station called West End in Raymond, IL.



I grew up in the ranch home that sat directly west of the store.  It was a home that my godfather, Uncle Jerry built.  My parents moved into the home when I was one, in 1973.  And lived there until the summer of 1999.

After my grandfather’s death, in the early 60s, my Grandma Herman ran that entire operation.  I can’t believe now how little I asked her about it while she was alive.

I think my love of food (her amazing noodles, fried chicken and angel food cake) and my love of grocery stores must stem from growing up inside that storei.

I would love to hear some of your stories about grocery shopping and what you remember about the West End.


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Posted by on March 25, 2020 in Uncategorized


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Welcome and welcome back!

Everything old is new again?!  Ideas that started years ago as a way to purge the gluttony of holiday eating and spending, will now serve my family – and hopefully yours – as we try to be resourceful during this ‘shelter at home’ exercise.

I’ll again share our shopping strategy, our menu planning, and our meals.

I’ll share the story of what this used to be.  And we can all help shape what it needs to be now.

be #ResourceFull


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Posted by on March 22, 2020 in Uncategorized


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Where have you been?

That’s what I’ve been hearing alot lately.

So, guess where I”ve been???  Working!

It’s true — after 12 years home with my kids, I’ve gone back to work.  And, I’ve been trying to ‘walk the walk’ not just ‘big talk’ about how to feed a family (at home not in the drive-thru) while working.  

The goal was to share this struggle, but honestly, I’ve been way too busy.

Now don’t start thinking that I’ve got it all figured out and that I’m currently not busy (it’s the holiday season, right) – but for some reason, I’m inspired to share today.  So, I’ll give a short synopsis on ‘Where I have been lately!”

I started a part-time job programming and doing data conversion and new customer training at a start-up software company called AppealTrack.  It’s founder is a long time friend of mine who I originally met while interning during college.  I’m not sure I would’ve applied for this job had I seen it as a random job opening — it would’ve seemed beyond my comfort zone in terms of work experience — but the training has been outstanding and the experience has been awesome.  I’m truly loving it!  And, more importantly, it’s extremely flexible — which has been exactly what the family needed as I transitioned back to work.

Honestly, the family nearly starved during my first three weeks working.  We don’t eat out – we just don’t.  So that wasn’t a fall back for us.  So, when mom doesn’t get to the grocery and she doesn’t meal plan — we all just wander around like crazy, hungry people and eat whatever we can throw together.  (These results did not get us Great Purge caliber dinners – to say the least).

But, now, after three months, I’m in a routine.  We do eat out once a week now, but I am in a regular meal planning and grocery shopping pattern.  It’s not what it used to be, but it’s working for now.

And, finally, a teaser….. As we all know, The Great Purge Vol 3 looms just around the corner.  So be assured that I’m not stock piling the pantry.  In fact, my prediction is that based on the past couple of months, this purge will last a much shorter time than previous years.  But, you never know — that pantry is the size of a closet, literally!

Here’s what I’ve learned:  I can still do this.  It takes more coordination, more energy and especially more help from the family (which they have stepped right up to give).  I hope you continue the journey with me!



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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Using SNAP benefits and Public Transportation to shop

You’d think I hadn’t shopped in a month – not a week.

Monday was grocery day and I visited two stores that are accessible by public transportation (although reading these maps has proven difficult – I have tried to include the bus route):

Aldi on E Washington Street (8 Bus – IndyGo) and Walmart on Emerson Ave (16 Bus – IndyGo).  

If I am reading the Eligible Food Items list correctly on the SNAP website, there were only two purchases that I made that do not qualify: paper towels and a bouquet of flowers (a rare treat for myself!)

My purchase at Aldi totaled of $130.79.  That means that $124.31 was eligible.

At Walmart, I spent $155.45 with $68.94 being groceries that are SNAP eligible.

So, my total SNAP spending was $193.25.

This will feed my family of 5 for the next week:

35 breakfasts, 37 lunches and 25 dinners 

This only works for me because I have made a conscious effort to meal plan, read labels and try not to pass along my chocolate cravings to my kids (so far – not working).

I purchased 8 fruits and vegetables and 13 protein items that could be used as the main dish in meals.  And as you all have seen, we are a snacking family too – so there are plenty of cookies, granola bars, chips, etc in there too.

Help me to help others learn to meal plan, eat healthier and use their SNAP benefits wisely.  


Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Preaching to the Choir

If you are reading this, I would bet a week’s groceries, that you:

1 – have access to an automobile

2 – have either (but probably both) a stove or refrigerator

3 – have not had to skip a meal over the past week because you had no groceries or no access to food

So, although I love you followers, I’m afraid that I’ve been preaching to the choir.

See, I’ve spent the morning being agitated by a column written by IndyStar Columnist Erika D. Smith that I read this morning.  I’m not mad at her, I’m not mad at the IndyStar, and I’m not mad at you.  

I’m mad at me.  For not realizing that there is a whole community of people who I really need to be helping.

I shopped today and spent $146 on food for the week and have a great meal plan too (we are finally back on a schedule now that summer break is over).  

I bought items for school lunches, I bought some fast food for at home – like frozen pizzas and hotdogs, I bought some junk – like fruit snacks, brownie mix, prepackaged individual cookie packs, and I bought TONS of fresh fruits and veggies.


Aren’t I awesome?  Well, really, not so much.  

I had a car to drive to two different stores and load up seven bags (plus a case of water, 3 gallons of milk, 2 containers of apple juice and some other random large items).

I have both a stove and refrigerator at home. The oven and all five burners work on my stove.  And I actually have two refrigerators for storing food.  I have an entire closet to store pantry items.

I can’t remember the last time anyone here had to skip a meal.  For heaven’s sake, all we do is eat.

There is nothing special about my story.  

I’m mad at me.  I should help solve a real problem.  Is the long-term answer for part of the population to give food to a pantry and part of the population to get food from a pantry?  I think it probably isn’t.

I need to focus on helping people getting the resources they need and the education they are missing to make real change in their diets.

Here’s what I’ve learned: I need your help to get started.  Will you help point me towards organizations that could use my help?  Will you brainstorm with me?  Will you share what I’ve shared here with you today?




Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Uncategorized


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You can call me anything you want – just don’t call me late to dinner

My parents were both teachers.  This meant we were all on the same schedule.  Our day started and ended at basically the same time.  We also had the same vacation days.

Because I went to public school, sports practices were always held directly after the end of the school day.  This made it easy to plan most dinners (at least dinners on practice nights).  I guess my mom might argue that there were lots of crazy nights.  But, I hope it makes her feel better to know that I only remember that dinnertime was 6:00.

So, we do what we know, right?  I assumed that dinnertime would be 6:00 in my house.  But, we are definitely in a different situation.   My kids sports are randomly scheduled and rarely right after school.  

To put it mildly, dinnertime varies.

It’s hard for me who likes structure to realize that some nights dinner will be at 4:30 (and then a second dinner is normally needed) and sometimes dinner will be at 8:00.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  it doesn’t matter what time you have dinner; what matters is that you are spending time together as a family.

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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Are you kidding me?

Today my 4th grader went on a field trip.

His packed lunch consisted of the following:







and a water bottle

Not only that, but it was supposed to be in a disposable container – so we found snowman treat boxes from the dollar store that looked something like this


Are you kidding me?  I wish I was.

Gotta go – obviously we are in desperate need of groceries.


Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Guest Blog Post

My brother’s mother-in-law shared with him that she and her husband were doing a version of “The Great Purge”.  Seeing as how they are ’empty-nesters’, I thought their viewpoint would be a fresh perspective on the exercies.  Thanks Colleen for sharing!


We didn’t start purging for any particular reason…there wasn’t an epiphany or anything like that.  I have frozen leftovers for years but usually ended up throwing them away.

So, one day I looked in my freezer and saw all the extra stuff frozen and decided to take a chapter from the book of “Kristin School of Cooking.”  Tod told me how she goes through her freezer periodically and purges.
As a result, I am in the process of purging my freezer when I don’t want to go to the grocery store or just simply want to make room in the freezer.  My best advise to those who are new to freezing leftovers??…
Label your packages!  One might think that since freezer bags are clear, it is easy to identify the food item.  Not so…plus it’s good to date the package as well.
Thank you for the idea…also makes me feel better that I’m not wasting food!
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Posted by on April 7, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Step 4 – fruits and veggies

OK – we are nearing the end of the plan.

We have already worked on a schedule, divided our days and picked our proteins.

This is the next crucial step: fruits & veggies.


I really harp on fruits and veggies throughout the course of my blog.  And here is no different.  In order to eat more fruits and vegetables, you MUST BUY more fruits and vegetables.  If you aren’t currently in the habit of buying these, it will seem expensive and you will worry about waste.

Here are two ways to circumvent those fears:

1 – buy most of your vegetables frozen 

2 – buy most of your fruits fresh – and buy alot of just a few varieties

Your weekly goal should be two sit-down dinners a week, two quick dinners a week and two nights where you stop at fast-food but provide sides at home.

That makes 6 meals to prep for multiplied by the number of people in your family = the number of servings you need.

For example: 6*5 = 30 servings for my family.

Here’s how I would reach that:

one bag of apples (10 servings)

one bunch of bananas (7 servings)

two pints of strawberries (4 servings)

pre-cut and washed lettuce (2 servings)

one package frozen corn (4 servings)

one package frozen brocolli (4 servings)

one package baby carrots (4 servings)


Step 4 – Fruits & Veggies

Last Step – in the final blog post in this series, we will shop together


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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized


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