I've been getting feedback from a lot of you (which I love!) and the majority of what I've been hearing have been requests for tips on grocery shopping and weekly menu planning. Especially the food and prep associated with bringing your own lunch. And guess what? I love this challenge! And hey, what my people want, my people get.
So for our trial run, as it is Monday, let's put together a grocery list with a budget in mind (under $30 for the week) that will get you happily fed for a week straight, shall we?
My first step is to browse through the weekly circular for my local grocery store which conveniently has a pdf on their website to check out what's on sale. No, not all of my staples are always on sale, but it is fun to sometimes base a new meal off of something that's on special. For example, this week extra large shrimp ($6.99/lb.) and peaches ($0.99/lb.) are on sale. Two items that would typically be splurges are now a little more attainable. Additionally, sometimes it's best to segment your grocery shopping: produce market for produce, fish monger for seafood, grocery store for everything in between. A bit annoying perhaps, but it will end up saving you money and ensure the best quality.
After checking that out, it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that you make a list. Never, ever, ever go into a grocery store without a list. You will end up with a cart full of random stuff and a bill that will keep you from indulging in the next couple of midweek jaunts. Also, it's helpful to write your list according to shopping aisle/area. I start with produce, then move to meats and cheese, grocery items, then frozen section. Time saving 101.
red onion (2)
1 lb. shrimp
1 lb. london broil (around $3.99/lb.)
small log goat cheese
canned tuna (2)
(Cost? I'll get to you tomorrow.)
Cut steak in half and immediately freeze one half. Throw the other half in the fridge (it'll be fine for a day or two). Since the shrimp has the shortest shelf life, cook them all off first thing (or freeze half). Grill 'em with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, or throw them in a hot pan just until their cooked through. Toss them in a salad with some sliced peaches, avocado, and a vinaigrette for a tropical dinner that will be anything but boring. Bring the same for lunch the next day OR chop the shrimp up with a little red onion and a dash of mayo (or some vinaigrette if you're off the white stuff like me) and scoop it up on top of some baby greens.
Next day or two: sear the steak on both sides until desired doneness. Let the meat rest while you thickly slice some red onion and toss it with an ample amount of balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic, a sprinkle of sugar (belive it or not, I used splenda last time...), salt, and pepper. In the same pan you seared the meat, throw the onions in over medium-high heat and allow them to caramelize a bit. They should still have a crunch in the middle but the balsamic vinegar will reduce and become fantastically sweet. Slice the steak, put it on top of baby greens with crumbled goat cheese and the balsamic-glazed onions and dress with vinaigrette. Divine. (Note: I always have a good quality rustic bread sliced in my freezer and pop it right into the toaster oven.)
With the leftover sliced steak, toast up an English Muffin, smear some dijon mustard on top, add a few balsamic-glazed onions and greens, and you've got a darn good steak sandwich for lunch the next day that will have you begging to rip into well before noon.
The tuna can stay forever (nearly), obviously, so if you don't get to it this week, you will the following. I love red onion, celery, chick peas, and lemon vinaigrette in mine. But do as you like! Endless options here.
Cooking for one does not have to be a chore. Just get creative with the leftovers and you'll be set for a week...easily!
Let's make this a Monday ritual, shall we?