Reverse Meal Planning

I love to cook.  I love looking up new recipes to try, experimenting with different ingredients, and trying to think like a chef as I throw things together.  But sometimes that causes us to spend more money than we wanted–at the grocery to get the needed ingredients, or eating out because my experiments didn’t go well.  Oops.

This month my husband and I are challenging ourselves to spend less money on food, both eating out and at the grocery.  So, I decided to try something new this week based on a tip I saw on a Facebook moms group I’m in.  Instead of making a meal plan and then going to the grocery, I went to the grocery first.

No list. No meal plan.  It felt SO backwards to me–how will I know how much food I need?  What if I don’t buy enough?  What if I buy a bunch of random things and then won’t know how to put it all together?  It was so foreign to me to go shopping without a list, but it ended up being really fun.

First of all, I needed to have a little more faith in myself–in my knowledge of the staples we use up every week and of my ability to throw foods together to make something yummy.  I’ve been cooking and following food blogs for years now, and I’ve got a good arsenal of information in my brain to help me.

So, I got the pantry staples and produce staples that we use up every week, and then I shopped for produce and meats that were on sale.  I had already looked through my grocery’s app to look at the weekly ad and their digital coupon options and downloaded the ones I thought I might use–which means I skipped the ones for highly processed, unhealthy foods.  I’m trying to save money, but also still eat healthy.  We’re not suddenly eating unhealthy foods because there are more coupons for those kinds of foods.

I ended up with the list you see below.  I was AMAZED at how much less I spent.  We got good, healthy foods (although you can see some of the unhealthy treats my husband picked up) and spent about $30 less than normal.  I saved almost $25 between sales and coupons!  I was shocked at how much I saved this way.

 

So with these ingredients, these are the meals we made this week:

Gluten-free spaghetti with ground turkey (with sauce from my freezer)

Clean-eating sloppy joes

Smoked whole chicken with green beans and roasted red potatoes (this made a ton of food that we ate off of for several meals!)

Clean eating taco bowl with ground beef

 

It was actually a lot easier to come up with these meals than I thought it would be, and we had enough food to last us almost every meal all week.  We did eat out a couple of times, but that was in our budget, too.

I’m excited about trying this reverse meal planning more to see how much I can get and how much I can save!  Do you always shop with a list, or have you tried this way of shopping before?

Cafe Latte and Chocolate Shakeology Treats

I LOVE my daily superfood shake.  I literally never miss a single day of drinking it, so I never have leftover Shakeology sitting around my house.  It just never happens!  Every so often, though, I have some clients that ask me for ideas on how to use their extra Shakeology that aren’t just more shakes.  Luckily for them, there are a ton of awesome treat recipes out there when you need to get to the bottom of your bag a little faster.

My favorite flavors are Cafe Latte and Chocolate (vegan or regular), so these treats are for those two flavors, specifically.  You are still getting your superfood nutrition with these treats, just mixing it up from a regular shake!

All of these recipes are from The Beachbody Blog–they have so many fantastic articles and are a great resource for anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle!

Chocolate Shakeology Pudding

2 scoops Chocolate (or Chocolate Vegan) Shakeology

1 ripe medium avocado

2 large bananas, cut into chunks

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

  1. Place Shakeology, avocado, bananas, and almond milk in blender; cover. Blend until smooth. (If too thick add additional almond milk.)
  2. Pour into four dessert cups; refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until set.

 

Double Chocolate No-Bake Vegan Brownies

½ cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)

½ cup all-natural smooth peanut butter

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 scoops Vegan Chocolate Shakeology

Instructions
  1. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with plastic wrap (or aluminum foil). Set aside.
  2. Combine banana, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and Shakeology in a medium bowl; mix well with clean hands or a rubber spatula.
  3. Press chocolate mixture into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and press down to flatten into pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour so that brownies set.
  4. Cut into sixteen brownies.

 

No-Churn Chocolate Peanut Butter Shakeology Ice Cream

1 medium banana, cut into chunks

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

2 scoops Chocolate Shakeology

2 Tbsp. all-natural smooth peanut butter

Instructions
  1. Place banana in plastic bag; freeze for 4 hours, or until completely frozen.
  2. Place almond milk, bananas, Shakeology, and peanut butter in blender (or food processor); cover. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately.

 

Homemade Energy Bars

1 cup whole pitted dates (or prunes)

1 cup dried fruit (like apricots, prunes, figs, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, or cherries)

1 cup chopped nuts (or seeds) (like almonds, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, or sunflower seeds)

2 scoops Shakeology, any flavor

Instructions
  1. Place dates, fruit, and nuts in a food processor. Pulse for 1 to 2 minutes; scrape sides of bowl.
  2. Add Shakeology; process for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture becomes tiny crumbs that can come together to form a loose ball.
  3. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with cellophane. Press mixture into pan until flat. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Cut into 12 bars. Store in refrigerator.
  5. Tip: For additional flair add one or more of the following: ½ tsp. rum extract, ½ tsp. cinnamon, 1 Tbsp. raw honey, ½ tsp. vanilla extract, 1–2 oz dark chocolate chips, or 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger.

 

Tiramisu No-Bake Cookies

1 cup oat flour, gluten-free
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, divided use
¼ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
1 scoop Café Latte Shakeology
¼ cup all-natural smooth almond butter
2 Tbsp. raw honey (or pure maple syrup)
3 to 4 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk (or low-fat milk)

Preparation:
1. Combine oat flour, 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, salt, and Shakeology; mix well.
2. Add almond butter and honey; mix well. (Mixture will be dry and crumbly.)
3. Add almond milk 1 Tbsp. at a time until a thick dough forms; mix well with clean hands or a rubber spatula.
4. Roll mixture into twelve balls, each about 1-inch in size. Roll balls into remaining 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder.
5. Flatten each slightly so that it is shaped like a traditional cookie.
6. Refrigerate for a firmer cookie, or eat immediately for a softer cookie.