Grocery Shopping 101

So here’s the deal, you don’t have time to cook full meals because you work, and have kids, and have to go to the gym, and you don’t have the right ingredients in the pantry, and…I get it!  Step 1 for healthy, home-cooked meals is having the food available to cook.  If you only have frozen pizza, canned soup, and condiments then there’s not much available to cook even if you found the time.

Cooking full meals requires planning (until you become so good at it you could MacGyver that pizza and soup into a 4 course gourmet meal).  Even then, there will still be some planning involved and this starts with filling the fridge and pantry with versatile ingredients.  Remember that bag of frozen chicken tenders we discussed previously? Not only could that be used for the Chicken Enchilada Bake, but also: Asian stir fry, shredded BBQ chicken, Greek chicken kabobs, chicken in mushroom sauce, and tons of other quick and easy recipes.

Then there are the add-ons like cheese, salsa, herbs and spices.  Keep your favorites handy.  Shredded 3 cheese blend is great for Mexican dishes, omelettes, and even on top of burgers.  Choose a couple of sauces and salsas you like. Yes, you could make these from scratch too, but let’s start simple.  For now, buy the sauces and condiments.  There is an array of sauces available depending on your mood: BBQ, Asian peanut, green and red salsas, curries.  Keep a couple of options in your pantry.

Next are the veggies.  Again, we’re keeping this simple for now.  Pick one or two you like that can last a while.  I almost always have broccoli and avocados.  I get carrots and celery as needed (you know, for stir frys or chicken salad).  Seasonally others may show up in my cart like spring asparagus or winter squash for variety.  Onions also go in just about anything.

A few other staples to keep on hand are good quality butter, coconut oil, eggs, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, and good quality salt and pepper.  If you can find these in the grinder jars, even better!  By keeping versatile staples available, meal prep will be so much easier and you can even prep a meal on the fly when the mood strikes.image

To get the most out of your shopping trip  and to keep it as short and painless as possible (you are very busy after all), make a list. If possible, put the list in order of your grocery store layout.  This will keep you from backtracking and ending up with a cart full of items you probably don’t need.  My local store has produce just inside the door, then fresh meats, frozen, pantry, then dairy.  I can usually fill a cart from my list in 10 minutes and I’m outta there!

Lets say you now have all of the ingredients listed above.  What can you do?  The last post gave you a Chicken Enchilada Bake (chicken, salsa, cheese).  This time, let’s go for an Asian Stir Fry (chicken, broccoli, rice). We are keeping this simple, and there’s no need for a wok, so I guess technically it would be a chicken vegetable sauté. Whatever.

Ingredients

  • chicken (estimate 1-2 tenders per person, cut into 1″ chunks)
  • broccoli (about 1/2 cup per person)
  • rice (about 1/2-1 cup cooked per person)
  • soy sauce

Directions

Do yourself a favor and buy a rice cooker.  Rice can be cooked on the stove, but you don’t have time for that, remember? Follow the directions on the bag of rice and your cooker for amounts, typically 1part rice to 2 parts water.  A full pot of rice will take less than 45 minutes and will stay warm until you need it.

Put the rice on and go do some chores, a quick workout, or relax with a cold beverage.  A rice cooker will automatically switch to warming mode when rice is cooked and stay warm until you are ready.  Since the stir fry will only take a few minutes, you now have some time to chill.

Once the rice is cooked, add a table spoon of coconut oil,to a heated frying pan.  Toss in chicken cubes and cook until done (the small cubes will only take a few minutes).  Drizzle soy sauce to taste (go light at first, a little goes a long way and you can always add more).  Turn heat up, add a splash of water and broccoli.  Cover and let steam about 5 minutes.  Serve over or next to rice.

This is a very simple version to get you started.  You can embellish with additional veggies like carrots, onions, and celery.  Toasted sesame oil sprinkled on top after cooking gives a fantastic depth of flavor.  To have this meal during the busy work week, you can cut up the chicken and vegetables beforehand and store in the fridge.  They will then be ready to toss in a pan and ready in 10 minutes.

You can just do vegetables for a vegetarian meal.  You can make a larger portion of meat and veggies and omit the rice for low carb.  Once you get the hang of a basic one-pan meal like this, the sky is the limit on which ingredients you use!

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2 Responses to “Grocery Shopping 101”

  1. Johnny Says:

    I like this. Simple and smart. Living on my own for the longest time I always cooked ‘one pan’ dishes. Quick and easy especially during cleanup. The rice cooker is also great. Steamed rice accompanies everything and makes the smallest dish into a meal.
    I enjoyed reading this. Thank you.
    You have a new follower.

  2. Planning and Meal Prep | LifeWalk Recipes for Wellness Says:

    […] Recipes and Rants from LifeWalk Wellness « Grocery Shopping 101 […]

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