How can you meal plan if you don’t know how to grocery shop? One of the foundational principles of Rustic Joyful Food is utilizing what’s fresh and in-season to SAVE BIG at the grocery store. This last year we explored a new way to help families eat fantastic food for just $100 a week! Sounds impossible, but honestly it just takes a little bit of careful planning.
I’m not talking about writing out detailed lists, spending hours creating a downloadable meal prep plan, or couponing. Those are certainly valid ways to save, but I’m talking about doing your planning at the grocery store! Sound crazy? Not quite.
When I enter the grocery store, I know just how much money I have to spend. I know my family has to eat at least four home-cooked meals along with a night of eggs or cereal. Let’s be real: cooking from scratch every single night without repeating yourself can be exhausting.
Let me explain a valuable trick. When you enter the grocery store, normally you will find the freshest, in-season, and on-sale fruits and veggies taking up big bins to catch your eye, right up front. This is where your money is going to go the farthest. Pick up snack-y fruits right here! Often, the organic fruit will be right up front as well, if on sale. I make my way through produce, buying the onions and garlic that are on sale. Next, I’ll get a variety of herbs. Remember: when it comes to bargain seasonal produce, think lunches and snacks!
Next, I hit the meat department – ALWAYS. Now that I’ve picked up my veggies, herbs, and fruit I’m ready to see what cuts are on sale. Every grocery store will highlight a new cut of meat on sale each week. For example, my store was having a great sale today on organic ground turkey: $3.50 per pound. I bought 4 packages! This will make awesome meatballs and spaghetti! At the fish counter, they had beautiful wild gulf shrimp for only $6.99 a pound. I bought a pound! This will be dinner tonight.
I try to spend $100-$125 a week in groceries. I’ll pick up one fun condiment every week regardless of need, so my pantry is always stocked for fun dishes! I NEVER use a meal plan because they often cost too much money and don’t focus on seasonal or sale prices. Trust those marketing gurus at your store. If you only shop the seasonal sales, you’re going to get new, fresh items each week!
Here is your challenge for the week: go into the store, belly full and laser focused on sales! Spend $100-$125 for the whole week! I was able to showcase this in action with The Rachael Ray Show in NYC. I’d bet you’d wouldn’t think Crispy, Sweet Chili & Sesame Shrimp would be affordable for a family of four, but it’s dinner for less than $8, for all four of us! My boys will eat a couple shrimp with no sauce plus rice. And Mike and I will eat the rest with rice and veggies!
Crispy, Sweet Chili & Sesame Shrimp
1 lb. jumbo 14-16 ct. shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup neutral oil suitable for frying
2 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 red Fresno chili, sliced
1/4-1/3 cup prepared sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
1/2 cup chopped green onions
Squeeze of mandarin orange juice
Squeeze of lime juice
In a large bowl, coat shrimp with sesame oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. In a separate bowl, dip shrimp into cornstarch, then dust it off vigorously. The cornstarch will taste chalky if there is too much on the shrimp. In a large skillet, heat oil until it shimmers (but does not smoke) over medium-high heat. Add corn starch-dusted shrimp. Fry on each side until golden and crisp, roughly 1-2 minutes per side. Remove cooked shrimp and place on a paper towel to remove excess oil.
To make the sauce, pour remaining oil in the pan out into a mug for discarding, and return pan to stove. Melt butter in the pan over medium-high heat and add garlic and chilies. Heat until garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add chili sauce, sesame seeds, and citrus juice. Heat sauce until bubbling, 2 minutes. Place shrimp into hot sauce and stir to coat. Add sesame seeds and green onions, then toss to coat. Serve with rice or plain for a fun appetizer.