Spend Less on Groceries – 5 Tips for Menu Planning

Many of us look to spend less on groceries when looking to reduce our overall budget.  The USDA data shows that on average, Americans spend about 10% of their income on food.  For households in the lower tax brackets, the percentage may be as high as 36%.  That’s a lot of money going towards food!  There is one simple step that I’ve taken over the years to significantly reduce our grocery spending while not sacrificing the quality of what we eat.

spend less on groceries

Spend Less on Groceries with Menu Planning

If you are trying to spend less on groceries, menu planning is one of the easiest things you can do to achieve that goal.  Yes, menu planning can be a drag but I find that with a plan we typically eat better and spend way less.  Knowing what to buy prevents you from over spending at the grocery store.  Knowing what you are going to eat saves you from wasting food (Americans tends to throw away a lot of food!) and frees you from decision making during a busy week.

Did you hear that?  Not only does menu planning save money, it can also help alleviate stress.  Knowing what you are going to make any given night and ensuring you have everything is one way to take one stressor off the table.

Are you serious about your goal to spend less on groceries.  Do you want to take some of the anxiety out of your weeknights?  Then you need to start menu planning.

Vitamin D – Are you getting enough of it? 3 Ways to increase your Vitamin D levels

Do you know what your Vitamin D levels are?  My guess is that if you are a female living in the northern hemisphere and don’t take a vitamin supplement, it’s probably low.  However, even if you live elsewhere, it’s very likely that you too are experiencing low levels of the vitamin.  What you may not know is that low Vitamin D levels may be a cause of fatigue as well as a whole host of problems.

 

 

Vitamin D

2017 was the Year of Me. The year that I vowed to stop feeling exhausted all the time and find the energy to do all the things I wanted and needed to do.  During my quest to feel better, our workplace clinic doctor drew my blood to test my levels.  An optimal level would be about 50, under 30 is considered a deficit.  My level was 13 which is very low.  Increasing my Vitamin D levels, according to my doctor, was an essential component of regaining my energy.

According to Web MD, low Vitamin D levels are associated with cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment and cancer.  Research also suggests that having an adequate supply of the vitamin could help prevent diabetes, hypertension, gluten intolerance and muscular dystrophy.

Increasing your Vitamin D levels

If your doctor diagnoses you with low Vitamin D, he or she may prescribe a short-term, high-level dosage to get you closer to the optimal level.  My doctor had me take one pill a week for eight weeks of 50,000 IUs.  Once I completed that regimen, she told me to take one pill a day of 5,000 IUs.  Of course, I’m not telling you what YOU should be doing, just what my doctor is having me do.  There is a difference of opinion as to how much is too much so do your own research and talk to your doctor before taking increased amounts of the vitamin.

There are three ways to increase your levels.

  1. Take a daily supplement.  As I said, I take 5,000 IUs a day based on my doctor’s advice.  One thing that I did read is that Vitamin D supplements should be taken in the morning as they are a melatonin suppressant.  Melatonin helps us sleep so if you are taking Vitamin D in the evening you may find that it is affecting your sleep.
  2. Increase your exposure to sunshine.  Of course, you need to balance this with too much exposure to the sun! Typically, fair-skinned people need 5 – 10 minutes out in the noon-time sun without sunscreen to get adequate exposure.  The darker your skin, the longer you will need.
  3. Eat food high in Vitamin D.  Fatty Fish are an excellent source of Vitamin D with salmon containing some of the highest levels.  Rainbow Trout, Whitefish and Mackerel are also high in Vitamin D.  If you don’t like fish, consider eating or drinking foods fortified with Vitamin D.  Milk, cereal and orange juice usually contain extra amounts of the vitamin.

Once you start increasing your daily intake, it may take a while to feel the results.  Typically, if you have a deficiency it could take a month or more to feel the benefits.  However, according to LiveStrong, it could take up to a year to feel the full effects depending upon the reason for deficiency,  type of symptoms and the aggressiveness of treatment.

So what are you waiting for?  Start increasing your Vitamin D intake and start feeling better!

 

 

 

 

Weekly Menu – Thanksgiving Week

Weekly Menu Plan

Welcome to another week of menu planning at Wonder Woman I’m Not.  Thank you for stopping by!  It’s Thanksgiving week which is one of my favorite weeks in the world.  I’m technically on vacation this week (technically because I am doing some work from home) and I have high hopes as to all the things I am planning on accomplishing.

Regular readers will notice that it’s been a couple of months since my last post.  Unfortunately, things have gotten a bit chaotic at work due to some unfortunate news and my work days have been long.  Like 15 hours a day long.  As my work days were beginning to shorten, I came down with a terrible cold (surprise!) and my recuperation has taken some time.

One thing that I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that when life hits those icy patches where you are in an uncontrolled spin, you have to learn to let go of things.  Menu planning, housework and blogging were the things I needed to let go of.

Fortunately, my husband totally rocks in the housework department.  He has kept the house clean and both of us in clean clothes.  When I whined about how useless I was, he told me not to worry that he didn’t mind carrying the housework burden when I was dealing with my work stuff.  He’s a keeper!

Another fortunate thing is that restaurant don’t mind selling us food!  We’ve done a lot of take-out and cereal in our house the last couple of months.  It’s easier to share the aftermath versus letting you know upfront my week consisted of not cooking 🙂

Now that things have calmed down and I’ve taken some time to rest up, I’m ready to start cooking again and making some progress on some projects around the house.  As I mentioned, I’m on vacation this week.  I’m hoping to get our Christmas decorations up (first time ever I didn’t get our porch decorated for fall) and do some organizing around the house.

 

Weekly Menu

Turkey_WWIN

Turkey Dinner – the kids came over last night for dinner.  The four of us celebrated Thanksgiving in a non-rushed, non-chaotic way.

Spaghetti & Meatballs_WWIN

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Steaks on the grill

Steaks on the grill

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

Cranberry Relish_WWIN

Dinner with extended family on Thursday.  I’ll be bringing the Cranberry Relish and wine.

Pizza

Leftovers

That’s it for us, what are you serving?  I hope all of you have a fabulous Thanksgiving.  Take time to stop and enjoy some time with the people you love and care about.

I’ll be linking up at I’m an Organizing Junkie

 

 

 

Weekly Menu

Weekly Menu Plan

Things have been pretty crazy here in the WWIN household.  Just when you think you’ve got your stuff together, chaos reigns and all you can do is hold on tight and enjoy the ride!

As I mentioned in my last post, Belle moved out so we’ve been spending some time helping her get her room together.  Until she could get in the house, it was hard to know exactly what she would need.  When she moved in, we didn’t have time to get any blinds up so she’s spent the last couple of weeks with white sheets hanging over her windows.  This weekend we finally got the blinds up and what a difference it makes!  She has a lot of windows in her room so the light and the breeze is incredible with the windows being open.

Mike and I had planned to take vacation last week but due to some global issues wreaking havoc at work, I was only able to take a couple of days.  We crammed as much as we could in those days and enjoyed some kayaking as well as a couple of day trips.  This weekend I’ll be taking another day trip with my parents as well.

Want to hear some exciting news?  I’ve signed up with an art gallery in town and will be displaying my photography professionally for the first time.  It’s been a little stressful getting everything prepared but I’m really excited.  Hopefully people will like my art and I’ll make some money 🙂  I also have a number of photography shoots coming up through October.

You’re now caught up on the news in our household!

This week is going to be fairly low-key.  I have a work dinner and a photography shoot.  Friday night one of my co-workers is hosting a get together so I’ll probably be baking some cupcakes for that.  Other than those few things, I plan on veggie all night and finish touching up the photos from the last few shoots that I did.

Weekly Menu

 

 

Weekly Menu Plan

 

Greetings!  Welcome to another Monday morning! The last few weeks have hit reached a frenzied pitch around here (note the lack of menu planning) but I’m optimistic that things are quieting down.

Big news at our house.  After 27 years of having our children living with us, Mike and I are empty nesters.  Belle moved out this weekend into a house with a bunch of her friends.  We knew it was coming for over a year, and on the surface I was fine with it, but last week hit a little hard and I was a bit weepy all week.  Now that it’s over, I’m fine but I think the stress of it coming was just getting to me.

After moving her on Saturday, Mike and I spent Sunday getting the house back in order.  Even though she left her bed and desk (we bought her new ones), the house feels empty with all the other furniture we gave her.  I can’t believe how empty the family room is without furniture in it.  We won’t even talk about how de-cluttered my shower is without all her stuff in it!

I’ve also been busy taking senior pictures.   In the past I’ve talked about finding multiple income streams, I decided photography is something that I’m good at and could get into with relatively little investment.  I have a few more shoots that I’m doing this month so I’ll be busy the next couple of weeks but them I’m sure it will quiet down.

Menu planning has been a bit lax around here given the chaos.  We’ve been getting Plated and Hello Fresh boxes (yes, I’ve tried another box) so we’ve had food even though I hadn’t put a whole lot of thought into it.

This week I’m not getting a box but I have a couple of meals left over from last week that we’re finishing up.

Weekly Menu

 

Weekly Menu Plan

Greetings!  I hope all of you had a fabulous week last week.  Mike and I were off most of the week enjoying a small staycation.  It rained off and on all week so we were only able to get out on day trips two of the days.  The other days we hung around the house, took in a couple of movies and ran errands.  It beat working!

One of the things we did was check out Bergsbaken Sunflower Farm.  I have been wanting to take sunflower pictures and ran across the festival on Facebook.  Since it was one of the nice days we headed up to Cecil to check it out.  It was pretty low key but seeing that many sunflowers was neat and I definitely got a bunch of pictures.

Lone Sunflower

We also went over to Spring Green where we checked out the House on the Rock.  There were some neat aspects of it, but I was disappointed.  They did have a nice Oriental garden as well as the Infinity Room. The best part of the trip was having lunch at Freddy Valentine’s in Spring Green.  If you are in the area and are looking for a great place to eat, that would be it!

House on the Rock_Infinity Room

As you know, we are a Plated.com family.  However, our son has recently been ordering from Hello Fresh.  He had a couple of free weeks to give away so he gave me one.  I choose to use it this week, I was all excited about saving money on groceries.  That is, of course, until I found out I was a bozo and am also getting a box of Plated as well.  Oh well, I guess I’ll be able to do a side by side comparison as to the differences in the two meal delivery systems.  My guess is that a couple of the meals will be carried over into next week.

I don’t even know why I got a box this week considering how busy I am.  Tuesday I’ll be getting home late because I have a senior photo shoot after work.  Wednesday I’m planning on trying out a restorative yoga class in town and there will be at least one dinner out with friends.  Sometimes I think if my head wasn’t screwed on it would fall off!

Oh well, without further ado, here’s the menu.

Grilled Pineapple – A sweet and healthy summertime side dish

During the summer, we make grilled pineapple so often that I don’t even think about the “recipe”.  I don’t usually even bother to put it up on my weekly menu because it’s just one of those sides that I guess I assume every makes.  Until, that is, I was talking to a group and friends and they looked at me like I had sprouted a second head.  I guess not everyone serves grilled pineapple almost weekly!

grilled pineapple

 

Since I knew I had shared how to grill a pineapple before, I figured that I would just pull it up and share it in my weekly menu.  That is until I took a look at what I originally posted and decided it needed quite a bit of updating.  Let’s just say that my picture taking skills and sharing skills have greatly improved since 2012, which is when I originally posted it.  Below is an updated version with pictures for your viewing pleasure 🙂

We were off this week and grilling quite a bit, so even though we had already had grilled pineapple once this week, I decided to do it again so that I could take some pictures.  Given how much we like grilled pineapple, there were no complaints from my family!

Picking a ripe pineapple for grilled pineapple

 Pineapple
Picking a ripe pineapple is key to a good grilling.  You’ll want a fresh pineapple that is firm with gold to brown skin.  The leaves should not be brown or wilted (if the leaves are brown and wilted it means that the pineapple is over ripe and starting to rot inside)  The outside of the pineapple should smell like pineapple if you give it a whiff.
Before we begin, you’ll want to heat up the grill on high so that it will be ready for you.

Weekly Menu

 

Weekly Menu Plan

Some weeks I feel like I rock star when it comes to menu planning, other weeks I wonder how I manage to keep my family alive.  This week was definitely shaping up to one of those where I was wondering how I was going to keep my family alive, until I looked in the freezer and realized how much food I had stuck back.  Thank goodness for over buying!

Friday I popped up to Door County again with my parents for the Lavender Festival at Fragrant Isle.  During the car ride I start getting texts from Mike about food.  Namely, our lack of it.  At least any food that he was interested in eating.  In addition, our grill ran out of gas so there wasn’t a convenient way to cook the food that we did have.  He’s been working a lot of hours and asked if I could go grocery shopping on my way home so that he would have food for Saturday.

Here’s the problem.  1) I had done no menu planning at all.  2) We grocery shopping about 30 miles away from home and we would be driving by the grocery store on our way home meaning my parents would have to wait while I grocery shopped. 3) The lack of menu planning meant that I had no idea what to buy, other than the few items that Mike wanted.

Grocery shopping on the way home was definitely appealing because it meant I wouldn’t need to leave the house on Saturday but it also meant that I would totally have to wing this week’s menu plan.  Long story short, I ran into the grocery store after my parents dropped me off, doing my shopping like an episode of Super Market Sweep.  I’m sure I was definitely a sight but I got it done and was back in the car within 30 minutes.

Of course, when I got home I then needed to decide how to turn my hodge podge of food into a cohesive menu.  Fortunately, our freezer is well stocked and I was able to pull the menu plan together with mostly food I already had although I do still have to make one more run out to pick up a few things.  So, although I may not be a rock star this week I feel like I make a fairly decent back-up singer!

Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm

While at the lavender festival at Fragrant Isle, we sat in the processing barn to watch a demonstration on how they make lavender.  Let me just say that it smelled so wonderful I didn’t want to leave!  We had some lavender ice cream, I brought home some lavender tea and I bought the yummiest smelling drawer liners (affiliate link) for my clothes and sheets.  Even though it was a long drive, it was a nice day and I’m glad we ran up there.

Asian Shrimp Salad – An easy summer salad

Do you like light, summer salads?  If you do, then look no further than this Asian Shrimp Salad!  Bonus points for this being a super easy recipe!

Asian Shrimp Salad

Long time readers won’t be surprised to find out that this Asian Shrimp Salad recipe originated from one of our Plated.com boxes.  My husband and I love Plated to the point where even on the weeks that we don’t get a box, at least a few of the meals I make are originally Plated meals.

This one is a particular favorite since it takes our love of Asian flavors and mixes it with a healthy salad and protein.  I also like this recipe due to that fact that it can be made on the grill which is my favorite way to cook in the summer.  Oh yeah, it also has fresh mint which I absolutely love!  Seriously, you can’t go wrong with this recipe!

Unless you already have skewers (which I don’t know how many of us do) I would recommend a grill mat (affiliate link) as an easy way to make these on the grill.  If you don’t like to grill or don’t have a grill, these are just as easy to make on the stove top.  Either the grill or the stovetop use medium high heat with the shrimp being on just long enough to turn opaque.  Usually a couple of minutes on each side.

One other bit of advice, keep in mind that red onion has a strong flavor.  I tend to like to keep my red onion to a minimum so I actually add the onion after I plate it so that I can control how much I add to each of our plates.

I hope you that your family enjoys this as much as Mike and I do!

Weekly Menu

 

Weekly Menu Plan

 

Welcome to a new week!  I guess it comes whether we are ready or not 🙂  The Northern Lights were suppose to be visible from Wisconsin last night and I fell asleep and missed them!  I’ve only seen them once and I was hoping for another glimpse last night.  Bummer!

This past weekend we celebrated Mike’s birthday, it was a wonderful day.  We spent the day out on the lake kayaking with our good friends (my arms are about to fall off!) and then wrapped up the evening with a cook out with the kids (they bought steaks and corn for Mike’s birthday present) ending with a fun game of Yahtzee.  Now that the kids are older, we don’t quite get those family dinners as much so it was so nice to spend the night relaxing and having a good time with them.

Coming up, this should be a fairly quiet week.  My parents are taking the kids and I for a nice dinner on Wednesday which should be fun.  I’m also thinking about running up to Door County on Friday (depending upon the weather) for the Lavender Festival on Washington Island.  I was up there last weekend with Belle and my parents but I thought it would be nice to run up there again for the festival.  There’s also a smooth rock beach that I thought would be interesting to check out.