A Healthy Start to the New Year by Brooke Reynolds

February 2, 2011


photo from Debbie Carlos

Note from Design Mom: While I’m busy with the move to France, I’ve got a crew of talented Guest Moms filling in for me. Today’s post is from Brooke Reynolds of inchmark. Enjoy!

January has come and gone and so have most of our New Year’s resolutions. One thing we’ve been working on at our house is living a healthier life. That includes exercise, sunshine, and good solid nutrition. And a big part is eating our meals at home.. with our family, around our dinner table. After trying several different things, I’ve come up with a solid approach to meal planning that works for me and I thought I’d share. We try to eat at home most nights, except on the weekends. I like to do my grocery shopping on Mondays so I have a solid plan for the week. And the grocery shopping goes much more smoothly when I have a thought out grocery list.

When I was in high school, my dad used to pay my sister and I to do the grocery shopping. We had six kids in our family and we bought a LOT of groceries. My dad created a grocery list that listed every item we regularly bought by aisle, so my mom would just mark what she needed. My sister and I would tear the list in half, each grab a grocery cart and spend about an hour shopping, each ending with our carts piled high. I remember lots of strange looks from the cashiers when we would check out.

I use a simpler list, organized by store. My main shopping happens at the grocery store, but I do midweek runs to places like Costco or Trader Joes. We also have a great little market called Henry’s where we buy most of our produce. When I sit down to plan our week on Mondays I write down what we’re having for dinner each day at the bottom of the list. I’ve found that shopping for four meals works well.. inevitably something will come up during the week, so if I plan five meals one always ends up being bumped.

I grab my favorite cookbooks and my recipe file and mark or pull out the recipes I’m using that week. (If I’m pulling a meal from a cookbook, I’ll note the book and page number next to the meal to help me remember. If it says AB pg. 24, I know that means it’s from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, page 24.) I keep recipes in lots of different formats, 3×5 cards, tears from magazines, recipes I’ve printed from websites, and I just store them loosely by category in a big file (main dishes, desserts, etc.) so I can flip through them quickly. The grocery list and all the recipes I’ll be cooking get clipped together and hang on the fridge so everyone can see what we’re having for dinner that week. It also helps to have a list right in front of me so that when I realize I’m out of eggs, I can just grab a pen and add it to the list for next week.

If you think this system might work for you, you can download the grocery list here or one you can edit here. It prints two side by side on letter size paper. I print 20 or so copies at a time and then cut them down the middle and store them in my kitchen drawer.

As a mom, I’m understanding more and more that it is my responsibility to teach my children about healthy eating. The habits they learn as children will be the habits they have as adults, and who has more control over what food comes into a house than the person buying it at the store? My parents taught me good habits as a child, but over the past few years my dad has gotten really serious about studying nutrition. I’ve been encouraging him to start his own blog so he can share all that he’s learned with the rest of us. It’s now up and running and it’s called Word of Wisdom Living. This is a nonprofit blog, there are no ads and nothing is for sale. It’s becoming a real community, with people asking questions and sharing what works for them.

In January he started one year of “Healthy Changes”, one small thing you can change in your diet or lifestyle each week. He’ll post a new one each Monday for the rest of the year. So far these have touched on topics like soda, fried foods, exercise and vitamin D. You can even download a little reminder card that you can hang on your bathroom mirror to help you remember. He’ll also be reviewing some of his favorite health books, sharing nutritional blogs and medical journal studies, and some of his favorite healthy recipes.

I know that I am biased, but my dad is a really smart guy. I think we all could learn a lot from him. Here’s to a healthy 2011!

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristen February 2, 2011 at 8:44 am

I’m loving your Dad’s blog. I look forward to reading it each week and am implementing his recommendations little by little.

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2 Anne February 2, 2011 at 8:51 am

Wow, I just spent waaaay too much time for a workday on the WoWL blog. Thanks for introducing me to it.

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3 Steph at Modern Parents Messy Kids February 2, 2011 at 9:02 am

Love the shopping list (I may even laminate it) and am excited to check out your Dad’s blog. Thanks for all the helpful stuff!

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4 Jillian February 2, 2011 at 9:11 am

I recently have been doing that too–planning meals and writing down which cookbook they are in and page number. It has changed my life because it’s so easy now to look at my little magnetic pad on the fridge and decide what meal to cook and I already know I have all the ingredients for that meal. Before we would just go to the grocery store and grab random things and then I’d want to make something and not have everything!

Exercise is another story…haha!

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5 Lisa February 2, 2011 at 9:51 am

LOVE this! I have a similar method of doing my lists but they’re not quite as advanced as yours. I’m stealing this. Thanks for sharing!

Also, love your dad’s blog. I’ll be adding that to my Reader list. :)

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6 carolyn February 2, 2011 at 10:13 am

Love the grocery list but I’m wondering if there’s a way to modify it since we don’t have a Henry’s store here! Thanks!

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7 Skip Hellewell February 2, 2011 at 10:45 am

Carolyn, the weekly menu and the grocery list really simplify life. If not a Henry’s do you have a Whole Foods store? Same concept, healthier food. Best, Skip

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8 Cherrie Huber February 2, 2011 at 11:05 am

Brooke, you are so smart, love it and your dad’s site…do you have any suggestions on working moms and what they can do to prepare better instead of get home and eat an egg sandwich???? lol

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9 Ashley A. February 2, 2011 at 11:43 am

With a 1 year old daughter and another on the way, I’m quickly realizing/dreading the fact that I’m responsible to teach these kids how to eat! Thankful for your example and hoping to follow suit.

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10 arka February 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Psst: “my sister and ME” ; )

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11 Noreen February 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm

We had been creating a menu and grocery list already, but I love your idea of categorizing by store – thanks for the suggestion!

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12 Christina February 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Thanks for the tips and the shopping list. Is there any way to modify the list once we download it as we don’t have a Henry’s or a Trader Joes (sob) here in Colorado and I’d love to replace those names with other stores I frequent.

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13 Stacey February 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Oh, that list is a great idea. We shop in a few different stores for very specific items (meat at one shop, canned/boxed at another) and this would make my life sooo much simpler. Thanks for this :)

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14 Sara February 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for the great post! Love your dad’s blog, too. I’m going to share it with my dad (who is trying to live healthier) and the health and fitness group subgroup of my local moms’ group!

I started doing something similar, only on my iphone. For anyone who is looking for a paperless version, I’ve really enjoyed using GroceryIQ. Similar to the paper version above, you can create as many different custom stores that you like, and add items to each store’s list. (Unrelated to meal planning, just an aside: In our house, it has also been a huge help that my husband can add things to our shared lists from his phone. So, if he discovers he’s out of a toiletry, or notices we’re out of a food item, he can add it himself and it will show up on mine as well.) I’ve just been using my notes app to keep track of the meals I’ve planned, but I’d love to find something even better.

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15 Brooke Reynolds February 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Hi guys!
Thanks for your comments.. I’ve made an editable version of the grocery list so you can change the names of the stores to whatever works for you. You can get it here: http://inchmark.squarespace.com/inchmark/2011/2/2/the-grocery-list.html

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16 Katie February 2, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Brooke, thanks for this great post and for introducing us to your Dad’s informative and motivating blog! Plus, I love your idea for organizing meal planning and grocery shopping. I strive to plan the week in advance and I always find I arrive at the store with no plan…you’ve motivated me to give it another try!

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17 Andrea February 2, 2011 at 7:24 pm

What a wonderful idea! Thank you for sharing the list template, I have just started meal planning and think this will make my new system a whole lot easier!

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18 Melissa February 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I plan meals and a grocery list every week too! In fact, if I’m having an off week and don’t plan we end up having strange, random things for dinner!

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19 Michelle February 3, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Perfect timing. I’ve been following your father’s blog for a couple of weeks now, I’m very inspired! I’m a week from my due date with my third baby and it’s been a nauseating pregnancy and I’m can’t wait to eat good food again (goodbye toast!). Thanks for the inspiration!

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20 Barbie February 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm

This is fantastic!! Thanks for sharing. I posted it on my blog
birdsofalovelyfeather.blogspot.com/

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21 Genevieve February 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Brooke,
I am a big fan of your blog!! Congrats on the new baby, by the way!

Can’t believe I am going to say this, but I have to. I buy most staples at Trader Joe’s because they are cheaper than a regular grocery store. Thus, on your list, I would buy the whole wheat flour, the sugar, sour cream, cream cheese, fettuccine, pepperoni (they even sell Cittero pepperoni) etc. at Trader Joe’s. Just wanted to share, in case you haven’t done the cost comparison yet. ;)

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22 Nicole July 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Its funny I ran across this. I actually plan my meals every week, but I plan them around the sales ads using the fresh and whole ingredients on sale for that week. Not only do I do that for my family, I also create meal plans for other stores and have them available online. I am a trained architect and currently since I am a stay-at-home, meal planning gives me a creative and problem-solving outlet.

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23 April September 5, 2012 at 9:12 am

Thank you!

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