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in need of help with groceries/meal planning

post #1 of 3
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Hi, I am a first time mom, staying at home with my DD who is now 3 1/2 months. I have VERY little experience in the kitchen and with meal planning, and I want to start to make things run more smoothly, cheaply and healthy for my new little family. But I have no idea where to start. I have a few questions and would appreciate some help getting the hang of things.

1. What do you have in your pantry? My pantry is pretty much empty- I don't even know where to begin

2. Any sources for simple recipes? I have limited time and cooking ability so far but want to make tasty healthy meals- that are quick because I have little to no patience for standing over a stove.

3. How do you know what is a good price on fruit, veggies, meat? I know everyone says "shop the sales". but how do you know if the sale price is any good?

4. When it comes to meal planning what is the best way to start?

5. I want to start buying the majority of our groceries at the local farmers market rather than the grocery store- what do I need in terms of storage to keep things fresh and the kitchen bug free?

Thanks for any tips!
post #2 of 3
Well - I have little experience with the Farmers Market - it IS difficult to keep things fresh when they come from there -
After going to the grocery store on the same day, once a week for twenty - something years, i KNOW what a good price is for my area. - You will too, maybe bring along a notebook and note the price of the same product 4 - 6 weeks in a row - you will notice it may dip once in that time frame - now you know 'the best price'!
It really does help to 'shop the sales' - i dont bother with meal planning until AFTER i have come home with my groceries. The best example I have is meat....lets say ground beef is $1.99/ lb - I will buy at least 6-8 lbs of it (feeding family of 4 BIG eaters!) i will make half of it into burgers, and use the remainder to make meatballs and then a burrito mix. Next week - it is more likely that chicken breasts will be on sale - so I purchase a huge amount of those - and make all my chicken recipes....
In my pantry - i HAVE to have flour and sugar, bread crumbs, pasta, rice,
things that will keep for long periods of time, and are used as 'fill ins' in many recipes.
It is easier than ever these days to look up recipes on the internet - its best to keep to some basic names like Betty Crocker - or McCormick - i swear i have run across recipes for tea....so you know it wont get too complicated! - You have to remember to find your own way in your own kitchen - theres really no right or wrong way. the way that keeps you coming back and trying again and again is the right way for you!
post #3 of 3
1. My pantry's got spices, flour, sugar, rice, beans, canned things. Just whatever you eat.
2. This is a blog I discovered recently that's really good. The monthly meal planning threads are a good place to get ideas too.
3. To start with, I'd go through all the ads in the Sunday paper and compare. Once you start shopping, you'll figure out what's a good deal and what isn't. Keep a price book too to help you remember.
4. I started with a list of meals we like. Then I found some new recipes that sounded good and started a plan from that. You can do weekly, monthly, whatever works for you.
5. Wash as soon as you get home to get the bugs off. You can freeze or can most produce and the rest can stay in the fridge. You'll be surprised how long really fresh produce lasts. And if you do buy something, plan your meals around that. Like a really good deal on potatoes; you can make a meal with mashed potatoes, make hashbrowns/breakfast for a meal, etc.
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