meal planning

5 Foods I Don’t Buy Anymore

by Sally on November 2, 2014

Since starting this blog five years ago, I make a lot more food from scratch. Perhaps it’s because my kids are older and less demanding and no longer require me to be within two feet of them at all times. Perhaps it’s because I started paying much closer attention to ingredient lists. Or because my palate is becoming a bit more refined, preferring the taste of from-scratch to the taste of shelf-stable.

That being said, I also know my limitations. There are plenty of foods I’d like to make from scratch all the time, but I don’t want to spend my whole life in the kitchen (read: From-Scratch Cooking Confession: I Can’t Keep Up!). There are many foods I’ll make if I have extra time and energy, like bread or spaghetti sauce. Then there are the foods I always make myself, because compared to the store-bought version, they’re tastier (and usually cheaper) enough to make it worth my while.

Here are my top five:

1. Vinaigrette Dressing: We eat salads almost every night, and I used to buy a lot of bottled dressings. But it only takes minutes to make it ourselves.

Recipe for Quick Vinaigrette

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

2. Taco Seasoning: Tacos are practically a weekly fixture in our house, so we used to be stocked with seasoning packets. But when I started reading the fine print, I found questionable items like preservatives and even hydrogenated oils. Now I make a triple batch of this homemade seasoning and keep it in a jar in the pantry.

Recipe for Taco Potion #19

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

3. Waffles: My kids (and husband) love waffles. Years ago, Eggos were a staple in my grocery cart. Then I upgraded to Van’s. Then I got a waffle iron and everything changed. I make double batches of these on lazy weekend mornings, then squirrel them away in the freezer for weekdays.

Recipe for Yogurt & Flaxseed Waffles

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

4. Barbecue Sauce: My kids, like all little people, love to dip their food into various sauces. Many jarred barbecue sauce contains high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, and preservatives. So we started making it ourselves and now prefer the taste.

Recipe for Homemade Barbecue Sauce

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

5. Pizza Dough: I’m a little obsessed with homemade pizza. Ever since tasting a friend’s dead-ringer-for-delivery homemade pizza, I’ve been experimenting with different crusts, techniques, and toppings (current parent favorite: spinach and sausage).

Here are the three pizza doughs in heavy rotation here:

Citizen Mom’s Homemade Pizza Dough
Perfect Pizza Crust from Dinner: A Love Story
Hometown Pizza from my book Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom NutritionWhat foods do YOU always make yourself?

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Free Meal Planning Worksheet

by Sally on September 23, 2014

Meal planning is a gift that keeps on giving. Spending 5-10 minutes on it at the beginning of the week means no more 5:30 “what’s-for-dinner??” angst.

A crucial step in meal planning is food shopping. I make my week’s dinner menus and grocery list at the same time. That way, I can avoid last minute trips to the store where I run in for garlic and come out with $150 worth of other stuff. And completely forget the garlic.

I’m old-school with my meal planning and still prefer paper to apps. I used this template from 100 Days of Food for a while, but found myself making separate columns for multiple stores and scribbling my meal plan at the bottom. So I asked my husband to make a sheet that fit the way I do meal planning.

I typically shop at two stores for groceries (usually ALDI plus my neighborhood grocery store or natural foods market). I also like having the week’s dinners right on my grocery list so I can be sure I’ve got everything I need, including sides.

To view or print a copy of my free meal planning worksheet, click HERE.

What kinds of tools do YOU use for meal planning and grocery shopping?

Meal Planning Worksheet from Real Mom Nutrition

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Why I Love My Old-School Recipe Book

July 23, 2014

Did you have a scrapbook as a child? I did. In the pages of mine are ticket stubs to U2 and Depeche Mode concerts, photos from church camp, and dried corsages from high school homecoming dances. I don’t know if kids today keep scrapbooks (at least the paper kind) but I’m so thankful for mine. It’s like a roadmap […]

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{Giveaway} A Freezer Meal Cooking Program to Help You Reclaim the Dinner Hour

April 10, 2014

Ever feel a 5pm wave of angst when you realize you have no idea what’s for dinner? I do. It’s a lousy feeling. Batch cooking and freezing is one of the best ways to replace that wave of angst with a wave of relief. Having a set of freezer-friendly recipes and expert instructions helps an […]

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From-Scratch Cooking Confession: I Can’t Keep Up!

March 3, 2014

I believe that a diet based around whole foods is the way to go. I believe we should know what’s in our food, that we should strive to eat food that isn’t laden with preservatives and artificial flavors. Over the years, my suspicion about ingredients like artificial colors has grown, and I’ve become increasingly annoyed with […]

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Make-Ahead Green Smoothie Packets

December 6, 2013

I’ve seen these make-ahead smoothie kits all over Pinterest. But I wasn’t convinced until my friend Kelly recently texted me to report that yes, freezing fresh spinach totally works. Kelly and I, who share a love of green smoothies, often bemoaned the fact that the small box of spinach was never enough–but the jumbo one […]

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One Of The Best Things You Can Do On A Sunday

September 3, 2013

If you read my last post, you may be thinking that by “one of the best thing you can do” I mean “go to yoga class” or “ignore the mountains of laundry and snuggle with your kids” (read “A Back-To-School Pledge To Myself“). And yes, do those. And go to religious services. Or watch football. […]

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Pantry Challenge: Week #2 Meal Plan

November 5, 2012

The good news is that I stuck to my meal plan pretty closely last week (read: Pantry Challenge: Week #1 Shopping Trip & Meal Plan). The bad news is that we had two last-minute events that busted my budget. One was an out-of-town trip that involved pizza delivery. Another was hosting a night time Nerf […]

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Pantry Challenge: Week #1 Shopping Trip & Meal Plan

October 28, 2012

It’s the first day of the Autumn Pantry Challenge! Today, I made trips to Aldi and my neighborhood supermarket and spent only $32 on groceries for the week (my weekly budget is $50 or less). Week One Meal Plan Sunday: Beef Barley Soup, Homemade Oatmeal Yogurt Rolls, Salads Monday: Leftovers Tuesday: Cod from freezer, Whole […]

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The Pantry Challenge Postmortem

March 3, 2011

5 Lessons Learned: 1. It is not humanly possible for me to feed my family for $25 a week unless I resort to cooking ramen noodles and off-brand macaroni and cheese for dinner. With my Pantry Challenge budget, I could barely keep us in milk and produce. $50 a week would’ve been more doable–and still […]

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