Archive for January, 2010

Meal Planning & Grocery Shoppping 101

Meal planning and grocery shopping are a major part of “my life”, without each of them I would not only have failed at my past & present weight loss goals….I also would be very stressed on a daily basis when it comes to feeding my family of “3”!

So in light of that I have decided to dedicate a post just to Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping!

I pretty much plan out most meals, aside from breakfasts that are either; cereal, oatmeal and/or waffles for all 3 of us and my daughter’s lunches during the weekdays as she prefers to eat at school rather than taking her own lunch. 

However, I do plan out what my husband and I will have for lunch during the week.  He typically has sandwiches most days so that is pretty cut & dry and I too have sandwiches (deli meats, tuna or peanut butter) as well and always have staples for them in the kitchen at work during the week days. 

From time to time I will make chili or soups that we share between us throughout the week or longer as well for lunch.

So for me, the REAL meal planning comes into play with dinner as I plan them out for the entire week prior to making my shopping list.  I even plan “take out” or “fast food” night(s) on my calendar, as well as eating at the “mother-in-laws” or “special event nights”. 

We, my family & I, live on a very strict budget, in which $100-$150 a week is spent on groceries/household items and varies depending on the purchases (house hold & hygiene items) I make for that week, and if any special more expensive meals (steak, large ingredient recipes, etc.) or dishes (baked goods, birthday cakes, etc.) are needed to be made.

Meal Planning

  • As I stated above I plan out pretty much every meal.  However, since breakfasts and lunches are often the same items (just rotated around each day/week) my main meal planning comes into play for our family dinners. 
    • First, I start by figuring out what meals I plan to make each day (Monday thru Sunday) of the week and then I write them down on my calendar on the fridge. 

  • Since we are a family living on a very strict budget we typically have many of the SAME meals each week (i.e. tacos, homemade pizza, spaghetti, hamburgers, pork chops, etc.) so I have a few “go to” meals that I typically list weekly, however I do try to “mix-it-up” every few weeks by adding in a new meal that I would like to try that I found in my recipe box, on another bloggers posts, online or by watching the Food Network (though I will admit their recipes can be a bit pricey so I don’t choose them very often, but I love to watch what they make for future reference).

  • Next, I look in the fridge & pantry to see what items are needed for each of these meals as well as breakfasts & lunches for the week. 
    • I then make a list of all the items I will need for everything on an excel spreadsheet that I tailored to my local grocery store, Publix, by their departments that I visit first (Bakery) to last (Dairy) in order so that my shopping experience is as efficient as possible and hopefully no items are forgotten nor is time wasted going back and forth across the grocery store looking for items I missed or forgot along the way.

In addition, I list Misc. Items or items that I need to stand out to me at the bottom highlighted in different colors so they are not forgotten as they may be items I do not buy every week and would most likely forget.

  • Then I check out my grocery store’s newspaper (online) weekly ad to see if there’s anything On Sale that I can use in one of the meals I have planned out or if I should change around my planned out meals to incorporate an item that is on sale that week into my menu.

For example, BOGO (By One Get One Free), sales are then added to my list and are then bolded in red or the sale information is noted next to them so that I remember this when shopping.

  • Finally, I review my grocery shopping list to make sure all items needed are listed!  This is very important as it saves you from having to visit the grocery store again (and again) during the week, which can be very inconvenient for a busy working mom and wife like me.

Grocery Shopping

So by the time I am on the way to the grocery store, which is usually every Saturday morning for me, I have my all my meals planned for the upcoming week and my Shopping List in hand.

After arriving at the store I grab my Publix Green Bags from my trunk and head inside the store.

Once inside I follow my shopping list by visiting the following departments in the same order as listed on the list:

1)  Bakery

2)  Frozen Foods

3)  Produce

4)  Meat/Deli

5)  Dry Foods

6)  Dairy

Usually, I hit the check out with about 90% of the things I had on my original list and 10% things I didn’t, because either an item on my list wasn’t available, didn’t look very good (produce) or was too expensive for me this week and I may make a few (very few) impulsive purchases that I just couldn’t resist or were on sale!


  • When planning your meals for the next week, always take a look at what you have in your pantry & fridge to see what you already have on hand.  Than try to create your meals around those items so that you can use up your supplies and save on your grocery bill that week at the same time.
  • If you find staple pantry items (rice, pasta, taco shells, tacos, spaghetti sauce, seasoning packets, canned veggies, beans, granola bars, chocolate f/the hubby, frozen waffles, eggs, etc.) on sale – stock up on them.  These are items that often used in the meals I make throughout the week.
    • In addition, I Stock Up on these items whenever I have a little extra from one of my monthly paychecks so that way when funds are tight I don’t have to worry about buying these items. 
    • I also buy these items at “Wal-Mart” as they are always cheaper!
  • Buy items like bread, cheese and meats in bulk when they’re on sale (got love BOGO at Publix) – most keep well in the freezer
    • Accept for certain fresh baked breads from the Bakery as I find they only last about a week before they start to taste stale even after freezing.
  • There’s nothing worse than buying a specific ingredient for one dish and having to throw away what you don’t use, which I avoid doing as it is just an expense I cannot afford.  I will actually not make several recipes that I have found because of this reason. 
    • If you really want to make the recipe however try and plan future meals that will utilize this ingredient.
  • If your grocery store doesn’t carry something that you’re looking for, ask the manager to start stocking it. 
    • I haven’t done this myself, however I have heard of other food bloggers that have as well as my mother-in-law who is from Montreal, Canada and has certain items she hasn’t found and requested.
    • Sometimes it can take a few months, so be patient.
  • At my grocery store (Publix) there is a flat screen that displays everything that the checker is scanning, as they scan it.  So PAY ATTENTION to what’s showing up on the screen as it’s being scanned, especially with produce and items on sale!
    • On several occasions I have been charged for the incorrect produce item.
      • Once could of cost me almost $15 extra as the checker entered the wrong fruit that had a much higher per pound price then the fruit I actually bought.
    • On other occasions I didn’t receive the sale price for an item.
      • I find this especially true if the sale item/price wasn’t listed in their weekly circular and may only be a daily special or something that wasn’t updated in the computers. 
        • This just happened to me last week with a sign that said $3.00 Post Cereals, limit one item per customer.  When the checker rang it up the sale price didn’t show and she had to send the bagger back to confirm what was posted, which he did of course as there were several signs posted.

So as you can see I am a HUGE planner!!! 

However, despite what you might think meal planning does not take that much time and in the long run will actually save you time. 

For example, you won’t have to waste time running back to the store for an item you forgot and you won’t have to spend “extra” time walking back & forth while you are at the grocery store looking for the items you need because everything you need is listed on your grocery list and in order by department so that you minimize your time at the store. 

And, the best part you will SAVE MONEY doing it! 

I have saved hundreds of dollars throughout the years and can’t imagine what I would come back with from the store or how much it would cost me if I didn’t use the above methods.

Try it for one week and see how much you save.


YEAH…it is finally FRIDAY!!!

I am totally doing a Garfield inside right now……..=)

As it has been a VERY LONG and UP & DOWN week so I am so happy that Friday, has finally arrived!

Breakfast was had at work this morning & oatmeal finally made an appears this week……….I had a big boal of maple brown sugar instant oatmeal with a ground flax seed, a spoon full of walnuts, 1/2 a diced apple, a dash of cinnamon mixed in and heated until the below appeared out of the microwave.


Lunch came a bit early on this fine day as we had a Co-Worker’s Birthday Lunch at a local restraurant called “Ember” so I got to have my favorite BBQ Chicken Flat Bread…………=)


In light of my lunch splurge I had a HUGE salad for dinner, while the hubby had Pizza and my daughter had dinner at her friends house who she is spending the night with! 


I am off to enjoy some “quality time” with my hubby while the little one is away…….hope everyone has a great weekend!  =)



Your A-to-Z Guide to a Flat Belly

X-X out sofa time.

In a Duke University study, women living la vida couch potato piled on 11.6 percent more deep-belly fat in eight months.


Just another reminder to STAY TUNED for the weekend post about Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping 101“!!!

Categories: TGIF! Tags:

2+ Hours At The Gym!


Yes, you read that right……I spent 2+ hours at the gym tonight and had an AMAZING workout!!!  =) 

Check out how much I was able to fit in during my visit, which included WEEK 2, Day 2 (Thursday) of my  Iron Pumping Challenge and tons of cardio! 

  • Sit Ups
    • Seated Leg Tucks Off Bench
      • 3 sets of 15 reps
    • Stability Ball Crunch
      • 2 sets of 15 reps
    • Straight Leg Pullover Crunch
      • 2 sets of 15 reps
    • Toe Touch Crunch
      • 2 sets of 15 reps
    • Weighted V-Sit Twist
      • 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Legs, Back & Biceps 
    • 21s
      • 2 sets of 21 reps w/10 pound dumbbell
    • Hammer Curl
      • 3 sets of 20 reps w/10 pound dumbbell
    • Hamstring Curl
      • 3 sets of 15 reps @ 50 pounds
    • Lat Pull Down
      • 3 sets of 15 reps @ 60 pounds
    • Leg Extension
      • 3 sets of 15 reps @ 65 pounds
    • Lunge & Lift
      • 1 set of 15 reps (forgot to repeat)
    • Stability Ball Back Extension
      • 2 sets of 20 reps
    • Stability Ball Ys & Ts
      • Ys & Ts
        • 2 sets each of 20 reps
    • Step Ups
      • 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Treadmill 
    • 2 Mile “Fast” Run
      • 19:50 minutes
        • Mile 1 – 5.7mph
        • Mile 2 – 5.8 mph to 8.5mph
    • 3+ Mile “Incline” Walk
      • 60 minutes
        • Mile 1 – 2.5mph @ 2.5 incline
        • Mile 2 – 3.0mph @ 3 incline
        • Mile 3 – 3.0 to 3.5 mph @ 5 incline

Let’s not forgot my EATS for the day! 


I had 2 slices of the always “yummy” Publix Breakfast Bread with a glass of orange juice for breakfast


Can you see a lunch theme this week???  

Yes, I had another turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato & a little mayo on a whole-wheat thin bagel with a sliced pear on the side this time. 


Due to my 2+ hour gym visit I did not get home until after 8pm, I was also in great need of a shower when I got home so dinner had to wait until after that…….so I didn’t get around to eating until almost 9pm and seeing as it was so late I didn’t feel like making anything so a small bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats and 1/2 a sliced banana became my dinner. 

Do you ever eat cereal for dinner???

I used to in the past a lot, when I was “single”.  However, ever since I got married I have made dinners and haven’t in a very long time. 

A bit of TV followed dinner until I started to fall asleep on the couch and finally headed upstairs around 11pm.



Your A-to-Z Guide to a Flat Belly

W-Work the bicycle crunch.

This move—touching your left elbow to your right knee, and vice versa, while crunching up—gives your stomach muscles more than twice the challenge of a traditional crunch, a study from San Diego State University reports.



STAY TUNED for the weekend post about Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping 101“!!!

Been Busy……..

……if you could tell from the lack of a post yesterday!  =O 

The following kept me away from Blogging…….=( 

  • Getting my work computer back up and running normal after crashing on Monday!
  • Catching up on the work I got behind in due to that.
  • All day training class on Wednesday.
  • Doctor’s appointment that made me come in late this morning.

So that I can get caught up quickly I will sum up my eats over past two days  below: 

TUESDAY, 1/26/10 


Morning Snack


Afternoon Snack


WEDNESDAY, 1/27/10 


I also had the following throughout the day but couldn’t take pictures due to my Training Class

  • Dunkin Donuts ~ Medium “Hazelnut” Coffee w/Cream & Sweet 
  • Plate of Mixed Fruit (Strawberries, Pineapple, Melon & Blueberries)
  • 1/2 a Pork & Red Bean Wrap w/Chips, Sour cream, Pico & Gauc
  • Piece of Apple Pie


On Tuesday, 1/27/10 I hit the gym after work and completed my 3rd Iron Pumping Challenge and a fast run after.  Check out what I did below. 


  • Sit Ups
    • Bicycles
      • 3 sets of 50 reps
    • flutter kicks
      • 3 sets of 30 reps
    • frog crunches
      • 3 sets of 25 reps
    • knees up crunches
      • 3 sets of 25 reps
    • oblique v-ups
      • 2 sets of 10 reps each side
  • Shoulder, Chest & Triceps 
    • Bench Dips
      • 3 sets of 10 reps
    • Lateral Raise
      • 3 sets of 10 reps
    • Overhead Press
      • 3 sets of 15 reps
    • Overhead Cable Triceps Extension
      • Missed
    • Plank
      • 3, 1 minute poses
    • Stability Ball Leg Lift
      • 2 sets of 5 leg lifts each side
    • Stability Ball Push Ups
      • 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Treadmill 
    • 3 Mile Run
      • 32 minutes
        • Mile 1 – 5.5 mph
        • Mile 2 – 5.5 to 5.6 mph
        • Mile 3 – 5.6 to 8.0 mph




Your A-to-Z Guide to a Flat Belly 


U-Unhook that bra. 

And find a better size. The proper one will lift the girls and give you a longer, leaner look, so get professionally fitted. “That can be like six months at the gym,” says Kendall Farr, a New York City fashion stylist and author of Style Evolution. 



V-Vino, but just a little. 

Folks who enjoy one drink of wine per day are leaner all over (middles included) than those who drink more heavily, multiple studies say. 

Up & Down…..

…….Monday, 1/25/10

Basically, my day started out good……. 

  • Got out of bed on time.
  • Left the house one time, despite the rain!
  • Arrived to work on time.
  • Had a quite morning.

………then around noon it happened, however I will explain that down further!  1st lets see what I ate during my morning bliss.  =) 

I had a bowl Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds in 2% milk and a glass of orange juice for breakfast


It was a yummy bowl, just got soggy a little to quickly for my liking and I also was hungry a few hours later.  So I snacked on some whole-grain pita chips and a little roasted red pepper humus (no picture, ate quickly in the kitchen) until I finally made my lunch around 1pm. 

Lunch was a thin whole-wheat bagel with Boar’s Head oven-gold turkey, swiss cheese, a tomato slice, romaine lettuce and a little mayo.  I also had some baby carrots and 1/2 an apple on the side


Then it happened…….the DOWN part of my day!  =( 



Which, left my computer in need of an IT Specialist who would be coming at 5pm to fix…….so the next several hours of work were spent catching on up some paper work aka filing and working on another computer in the office.Once 5pm hit, actually a bit before it, I picked up my daughter and headed home.  Unfortunately, the house was a bit quite when we got home as my hubby was at school.  =(  We’re greeted by our dog Peanut though, who is always happy to see us.  =)

Next I did the following:

  • Took a shower.
  • Put some laundry away.
  • Did some ironing.
  • Then I started dinner.

It was Taco night again (yes, we have it every week) in our house and I had a huge taco salad that was oh so YUMMY. 


I only ate about 3/4’s of it though, as I feel guilty eating the entire thing because it is so BIG……=O

My hubby got home just in time for dinner, which was nice as we like to all eat together…..though it was a bit late, 8pm!  =O

We ate slowly too, cleaned up and talked about his evening.  Then the little one went to bed and we talked some more before watching a little TV and hitting the hay around 11pm.




Your A-to-Z Guide to a Flat Belly 

T-Try a harder plank. 

Increase the belly benefits by replacing your usual plank pose with this variation, recommends Stuart McGill, PhD, author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. Kneel and put forearms on a stability ball, elbows bent and hands clasped; roll forward and straighten legs behind you. Move the ball in little circles with forearms, keeping the rest of your body still. 

Spring In The Winter!

The weather was AMAZING over the weekend!  =)

Warm & breezy in the low to mid 70’s during the day and cool & breezy in the low to mid 60’s at night

So let me take you through my weekend……. 

Saturday, 1/23/10 

I slept in until 9:30a.m. when my husband finally woke me up.  I have not been getting much sleep lately, waking up a lot during the night, so the extra sleep was needed. 

Once I finally made it downstairs I made myself a pre-run breakfast that included a toasted whole-grain waffle with peanut butter, a sliced banana and a little syrup on top


About an hour+ later I headed outside from my run, in which I ran 3 miles in just under 35 minutes.  I usually do longer runs on Saturday mornings, however in light of my knee hurting on long runs recently and my up coming 5K Race on 2/6/10 I decided to do just a 3 mile run.  Since I typically do not run as fast outside on the pavement as I do on the treadmill I finished slower than I would have liked but not as slow as I had thought I might.  Next Saturday I plan to try to do it closer to 30 minutes and the same on Race Day! 


Upon my return home I showered and headed straight to the grocery store as we were in great need of FOOD!  =O  

***Stay tuned for a future post called Meal Planning & Shopping 101,  in which I take you through exactly how I plan my healthy meals and then shop for them on a very limited budget! 

Once I was back home about an hour+ later I whipped up lunch for everyone and had my favorite go to BBQ Chicken Salad, which is always good & very filling at the same time! 


The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, doing a bit of laundry and running to Walmart for a few things I forgot at the grocery store.  I then made dinner, which was an old favorite of ours that I haven’t made in awhile……homemade Salisbury Steak with brown rice & broccoli on the side. 


Here is the recipe link below that I found at 

There wasn’t much on TV so we decided to rent District 9 and I must admit I was not excited about seeing this movie at all, but it ended up not being too bad and had a good message. 


The husband didn’t like it too much though as he kept dosing off during the movie and then right before it ended he was passed out cold. 

On to……… 

Sunday, 1/24/10 

I slept in again until 9am today!  =O 

Wow, I guess I really needed some Zzzzzz’s badly! 

After waking, later than I had hoped, I quickly got to cleaning the house….doing the following: 

  • bathrooms
  • dusting
  • vacuuming

Then I finished up some laundry, ran to Publix for some eggs that I wanted to use to make breakfast with this morning and then came home and made my very late breakfast at 11am, that consisted of a veggie omelet with a toasted piece of Publix breakfast bread and melon on the side. 


Some laundry called my attention after breakfast, then I ran some errands with the family and stopped to have lunch with them at Wendy’s.  

I had the Taco Salad, YUMMY! 


After lunch we went home and  got dinner prep-work done, read a little bit and headed over to visit my mother-in-law for a few hours while dinner was in the oven. 

A few hours later we were back home and dinner was done, don’t you just love one pot dinners!  =) 

We dinned on London Broil w/potatoes and some of my mother-in-laws green bean salad she sent home with us. 


*I forgot to take a picture of my plate before I started eating, so you only get to see the above picture of the London Broil after I took it out of the oven.

Some quality time with my hubby followed dinner and then bed!



Your A-to-Z Guide to a Flat Belly


Choose brown over white so you’re getting whole-grain benefits—and make it your starchy side dish of choice. Unlike potatoes and pasta, it doesn’t produce gas as your body breaks it down. (Translation: No bloating.)




Subjects who got 40 percent of their daily calories from protein shed more belly fat than those whose share was only 15 percent, a Skidmore College study says. Choose lean cuts, like sirloin or tenderloin.


Can you spell it!?!

Yes, that is it………it is FINALLY Friday!  =)

Ok, I know it was a short week (only 4 days) and all…….but those are usually the “craziest” ones for me so I am looking forward to the weekend & yes I will rub it in yet again the B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L weather we are supposed to have as well!

After getting to work I quickly whipped myself up a nice bowl of instant oatmeal for breakfast that I added the below to:

  • walnuts
  • 1/2 a diced apple
  • cinnamon
  • ground flax seed
  • brown sugar
  • a little sweetner


I did a ton of work in the a.m. as I planned to leave a bit early today and didn’t want to get caught off guard later with it………and I also registered for the below:

Then, I meet my friend Kelly at BJ’s for lunch at 1pm, which was really nice as I haven’t been able to get together with her for awhile.

We chated for over and hour while we ate the below:

    A lunch size portion of a Garden Fresh Specialty Salad from the selections below. Add a large bowl of soup for $1.00.

    • Garden Fresh Specialty Salad Choices
      • BBQ Chicken Salad
    • Soup
      • Tomato Bisque

***Sorry no pictures as my camera died!  =(

I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some things for dinner tonight after lunch.  Once a home I spent some “quality” time with my hubby & daughter for the rest of the afternoon.

Then around 6pm I started dinner, which was PIZZA!  We each had our own version (as you can see by the 3 seperate parts below).  I had the following on mine:

  • mushrooms
  • green peppers
  • onions
  • sweet sausage
  • pepperoni
  • cheese


We watched Pandorum after dinner! 

It was really good, we really just love these kind of movies……..=)  And, can’t wait to watch “White Out” next.

P.S.  I forgot to mention how sore I am after Thursday’s work out!  I just LOVE that feeling!



Your A-to-Z Guide to a Flat Belly

Q-Quit smoking.

Smokers sport more deep-abdominal fat than nonsmokers, according to research from the Netherlands.





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