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planning, prep & shopping | styleberryKITCHEN pt. 1

It appears what I do in my kitchen is of great interest to you all…so this week…we’re diving in. I’m going to take you with me through planning, prep & shopping done my way!

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I believe in REAL food. I buy real butter and real sugar. Real meat and fresh fruit & veggies. I buy organic when I can, but it is not always as available as I’d like it to be. I cook about five meals a week & we eat out once or twice a month. We eat left overs. I no longer cook a separate meal for caroline, she eats what we eat & usually OUT eats me. The girl is a bottomless pit! I’ve developed my own system for much of what I do so I will walk you through it.

THE ROTATION

I collect recipes from a variety of places. My top two places are Cooking Light & Everyday Food Magazine. I can usually count on these two magazines to give me really tasty, healthy recipes. I also tend to search Allrecipes.com if I am looking to try something new & dive into the comments section to see how everyone has tweaked the recipe. Then I decide what to do with mine. I have collected a number of recipes over the years. I try to add a new one each week, but the rest are from “the rotation” which is what we call the meals that we both deem YUMMY & want to have again & again. I keep a list of “the rotation,” organized by ethnic cuisine, taped to the inside of my recipe cabinet, as you can see here.

I am in the process of migrating all my paper recipes into evernote so I can cook off my iPad (like we discussed here) instead of my trusty page-protected binders. But I still use both systems. One of these days I’ll get it together enough to just sit at my computer & scan…but here is what it looks like right now. 55 recipes so far, all tagged with their category (dessert, Mexican, to try, etc.)

WEEKLY MEAL PLANNING

I do not have a set day to shop. I go when I can’t feed us from my refrigerator or freezer anymore. Sometimes that is every 6 days, sometimes I can squeeze it out to 9. But since we eat so much fresh, it is pretty much weekly. I spend about $150/week on groceries. This is mostly because of the added expense of organic stuff, as milk alone sets me back almost $30/week.

Before I head to the store I make a list of 5-6 meals for the week. I try to choose a good variety & cook a different ethnic food each night…Mexican, Italian, American…just so we don’t get bored. I try to match ingredients to minimize waste–& choose recipes that have similar fresh ingredients. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but I try.

I add all my ingredients to my iPhone app Grocery IQ (it’s free & also available for the Droid & iPad). I built a “favorites” list with my weekly essentials, so I just have to populate them over to the current list instead of type them out each time. Grocery IQ is great, because you can have lists & “favorites” lists for a bunch of different stores. I have one for Costco, Target, Hobby Lobby…you catch the drift. Then I never forget stuff because my lists are always with me! I only buy what I know I need & I make sure every single ingredient is there before I leave the house. I hate grocery shopping, so forgetting something is not an option…

*updated: I forgot to note the wonderful “scan” feature that lets you use your phone’s camera as a bar code scanner. You can go through your pantry and scan the items you would like to add to your grocery list, or favorites list. This way, you do not have to type your items out & you can add the EXACT item you are holding in your hands. It’s FABULOUS. Especially fabulous if you are lucky enough to ever send someone to the store for you. ;) No phone calls from aisle 5!

I don’t plan which meals we will eat on which night. I need organized flexibility. I decide what we will be eating the day of the meal. ;) I’m [sorta] spontaneous like that. Ok. I am not spontaneous…but this is as good as it gets! ;)

Next up…my clean up fast trick…& Meal #1: quick carne asada tacos with avocado pico. Yummy!

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  • Kendall SToy - I heart you. We would so be friends in real life :)ReplyCancel

  • Emily Ramsey - Thank you for this! I am excited to hopefully get this aspect of my life more organized!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Great Post!
    This is pretty close to how I operate. I use the computer alot in the kitchen but I like to have recipes I use a lot on paper. I like to just grab them and scan the directions for a reminder. I think this:
    allthingsbeautiful-charity.blogspot.com/2010/05/meal-planner-menu-board.html
    is a genius, low tech idea that would work for me. It’s been on my to-do list for a couple months now.ReplyCancel

  • Loni - Thank you for all the organizational ideas and how to’s that you post on here! This is great and your fuzzibunz post changed my life! :) Can’t wait for more!ReplyCancel

  • Megan - Great! Thanks for sharing your process. I wish my hubby was open to more foods – he’s pretty much meat and potatoes – he grimaced when I suggested we try 1-2 new recipes a MONTH! I menu plan for 3-4 weeks at a time and use my google calendar to track the menu. I’m going to have to search and see if there is an app like Grocery IQ for my bberry. Can’t wait for the other posts in the series!

    Wow Stephanie – that’s a really cool idea!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - I use Grocery IQ as well. I freakin love it. I do not have an iphone (maybe next month when Verizon gets it!?!?) but I have it on my ipad. I will never take a paper grocery list to the grocery story again. I love that you can organize your list by aisle, makes it impossible to forget stuff that gets lost on your list!ReplyCancel

  • nowlin roberts - So…what do you make dinner that doesn’t include onions, garlic or mushrooms…UGH! Have you ever met a Mexicano who won’t eat the above?ReplyCancel

  • Renee Booe - You are amaze me with your passion for organization. Seriously, its a gift girl. Looking forward to the rest of this series.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I love how you have a printed rotation schedule by ethnic cuisine (wow!). I love food and I love to cook, but sometimes I can’t think past Taco Tuesday. We use that term whenever we have tacos. (We have them at least once a week.)ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Grocery IQ rocks the hizzouse + so do you!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy of KSW - Shawna,

    Thanks so much for doing this. I used to keep our rotations on stickies on my Mac, after we moved and I separated from the AF it was 20 months before I logged on to it. When I saw my list of usual rotations I was shocked at all the junk we were eating just to get food on the table quickly. If for no other reasons staying home has allowed me to beef us my rotations to make them healthier than before. I’m always looking for new side dishes everyone will enjoy besides macaroni and cheese (if you could help in that department it would be great). Also, shoot me your email to kidsstuffworld@gmail.com I want to invite you to a recipe site I KNOW you will love.

    Curious if you have thought of using pinterest instead of evernote for your recipes? I used to use it all the time but have pretty much abandoned it after finding Pinterest.ReplyCancel

  • Erin W. - Hilarious!! So many times when I read your posts, I think, this girl is like my sister from another mother!!! This is almost the EXACT system I use to a T!!!!! I LOVE Grocery IQ and my recipes are organized just like this except in 2 giant notebooks. I started meal planning with this same system about 3 months ago and could not funtion without it now!! It makes life so much easier to spend 15 minutes and have everything stocked and ready for meals! Looking forward to the rest of your kitchen posts…I’m such a sucker for a good new recipe! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Love, love, LOVE! I have groceryIQ also, I have a hard time getting it to scan too often. But when it works I LOVE the scan feature. (I’m too shaky plus bad lighting.)
    Can not wait for the carne asada tacos!! Sounds delish, can’t imagine the pic.ReplyCancel

  • Erinn - Great post! As other mentioned, what you do sounds just like myself. However, I do like your rotation list (hadn’t thought of that one!). Oh, and GroceryIQ is the one of the apps I use most often. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • Whitney - I just installed Grocery IQ for my Android device because it has one feature that many of the other shopping apps do not have–the ability to sync a list from your computer with the list on your phone. I work during the day and often think of dinner ideas for the following week while at work browsing recipes. I needed the ability to add to my shopping list as I was looking at the recipe, rather than trying to remember by the time I get around to grocery shopping over the weekend. This app is perfect for meal planning in that respect!ReplyCancel

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