Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I like to go to Trader Joe’s in addition to my regular grocery.  Sometimes I only go twice a month, but there are certain products I like to have on hand.  This trip I am also trying some new to me products and I will give you my thoughts if I have tried it.  I also shop weekly at Kroger and monthly at Costco.  

Freezer:  I think they have some great frozen products.  

Here is what I usually have in my freezer:

broccoli, fries, corn, green beans (haricot vert), orange chicken, Jasmine rice, turkey corn dogs.  I’m trying the cauliflower gnocchi for the first time and I’m trying the soft pretzels for the first time (Excellent – have already tried)

produce:  bananas, potatoes, avocado, lemons, limes – I like all of their produce!

bakery:  Everything bagels

canned:  black beans, green chilies

dairy:  don’t like their string cheese, whipping cream, butter, cheeses

snack:  corn puffs, restaurant style tortilla chips, haven’t tried strawberry cereal bars yet


I tried to take photos of my last trip.  Now, I realize this means nothing to you if you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s!  

Let’s talk about how to meal plan.  I like the idea of themes and I’m going to try to have loose themes this school year.  I might add that my husband wants meat at every meal.  I will also add that I like cooking, meal planning, grocery shopping, and it’s fun for me to try new recipes.  I hate cleaning, though.  We all have our strengths.  If cooking isn’t your thing, that’s o.k.  Most of what I talk about will be loosely referred to as cooking – it is more like heating up many nights!  

Here is a recent and typical meal:

frozen tortilla encrusted tilapia from Costco, mashed red potatoes (homemade – super easy – just boil for about 20 minutes, drain, mash with a masher and add buttermilk, butter, and spices), Trader Joe’s green beans, boxed couscous (didn’t really need but had on hand)

I start dinner around 5:30 every night and we eat around 6:15.  My boys have activities after school but not many evening activities so we can usually eat at home.  We don’t eat out because it takes too much time away from homework and everyone says “my food” (remember I use a lot of shortcuts) is better.

Loose themes for this year:  

Sunday – restaurant leftovers or sandwiches (This past Sunday we had BLTs, frozen                  TJ’s fries, cucumber salad

Monday – pasta

Tuesday – Mexican/ Taco Tuesday but will do different things – Mexican lasagna or                        burrito bowls instead of tacos sometimes      

Wednesday – chicken with 2 sides

Thursday – fish with 2 sides

Friday – order pizza or other takeout

Saturday – go out sometimes/home sometimes

What do you think of the theme approach?  I use themes for each day in my classroom and it’s been really helpful for me and for the students.  Have you heard of decision fatigue?  The more decisions you have to make in a day the more exhausted you are.  Make as many things in your life automatic as you can.  Anyone?  I like this concept and believe that it’s true.  

How to Meal Plan Another Way:

Take some time on Friday night, Saturday morning or afternoon, or Sunday morning to look at the week ahead in your calendar.  You don’t keep a paper calendar, you say?  O.k,, look at your phone, but I would argue that seeing the week laid out on paper is helpful.  You could print out a template to write on.  

What nights do you have to be out of the house at dinnertime?  Make those soup and sandwich nights or something that can be prepared ahead of time like a pasta bake.  If you have time in the mornings, can you go ahead and cook and then just microwave at dinnertime?  Also, when you brown your ground beef for spaghetti, brown more to have in the freezer.  Go ahead and add taco seasoning to some.  

When I was very organized last winter, I had 3 pounds of cooked ground beef and taco meat labeled in my freezer.  Talk about easy!  

You don’t have to cook as many nights as I do.  You can just cook three nights a week and use leftovers.  If you only cook for two people, maybe you could make grilled chicken and use it in two different ways or make a weekly soup to eat a few days.  

I hope this helped someone!

Leave me your best dinner tip in the comments!



4 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip – Trader Joe’s and How to Meal Plan

  1. Great tips! The TJ’s closest to us is about 30 minutes away so I don’t go as often as I’d like. I love their salad dressings – they have so many great low calorie options! I love seeing what everyone buys there!


  2. I love these ideas. I have been straight up awful at meal planning. I would love to have meal themes too because it makes dinner so much more fun!


    1. Thank you! Maybe you could do themes by main things you eat and what shay eats? Or just rotate through your blog recipes? It’s a struggle when you work full time again and it takes awhile to get in the groove!


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