South Beach Diet - Your meal planning & shopping routine

06-07-2011, 02:02 PM
Hello ladies!

I'm curious as to everyone's meal planning and grocery shopping routines:

How many days in advance do you plan your meals?
Do you plan all of them, or just certain meals like dinner?
How often do you go grocery shopping, and do you have a shopping method that ties to your planning?

I've been moving away from convenience foods and eating out to actually cooking, and I'm not quite in a groove yet in terms of meal planning and shopping and cooking methods. As of now I pick out 2 recipes during the weekend that I plan on cooking sometime during the week. I pick them by looking at what I already have in the fridge, or if one really catches my eye then I'll go grocery shopping to get the ingredients with my next shopping trip. I go grocery shopping every 1.5 to 2 weeks. I shop for myself and my fiancee.

Every morning (or maybe night before) I plan out my meals and snacks for the day, to help keep me on track and so that I bring enough food to work (breakfast is in the car, 2 snacks and lunch are at work).

I'd love to know what you do and how you do it. If you've got a system that works for you, maybe it can work for me too!

Thanks so much!

06-07-2011, 05:19 PM
All of us (husband, son and myself) tend to eat the same things for breakfast and lunch, and my son generally eats something different for dinner than my husband and I do. So much of what I buy does not vary from week to week and it's just a matter of keeping current. I am trying to branch out into different kinds of healthy and substantial salads for lunch so that does involve different ingredients. For dinners, I generally buy a couple of different kinds of meats and always have rice, pasta and quinoa on hand for a starch, and salad or frozen veggies.

My fridge is not that large and I have a little bit of a weirdness about food that "hangs out" in a fridge so most of my stuff rotatates in and out each week. Hope this helps.

06-07-2011, 06:11 PM
I find I go more once/week so I don't have too many veggies in the fridge at one time that have a better chance of going bad. I always seem to get inspired and have to run to the store for a special ingredient, then stock up a tad.
Every week I make a crock pot recipe (usually this: which makes a huge amount so any time I'm in a rush I can just heat it up, have it on greens or in a wrap. And it is too delicious. I'll usually shop for another recipe to make as well but not always. SB has lost its paralyzing factor ("omg I dont know what to make!") and now anything feels possible.
Sometimes I'll make a broccoli salad with onion, feta, turkey bacon, walnuts and apple so its easy to pull out of the fridge and get my veggies in.
I always have a couple bags of frozen chix breast, a few lbs ground turkey or beef, turkey sausage once in a while. Never without spinach, romaine, zucchini, spaghetti squash, sweet potato, mushrooms, brussel sprouts, tomato sauce, salsa, greek yogurt, ricotta, various lf cheeses, lf cream cheese, almonds, lots of fresh herbs I chop up and freeze, and eggs and turkey bacon every morn for breaky. I am terrible at snacking. I keep almonds in my purse, but that doesnt mean I remember to eat them.
I know you didn't ask for a grocery list, but it was fun to write out and realize I have a good grasp on this thing.
And by the way, ladies! Finally tried laughing cow wedges and almost fell over they are so dang good! How are they legal??? Drooooool.

06-07-2011, 07:34 PM
Thank you so much,Matilda & YeahYeah! This is exactly the kind of info I need to get a better routine and feel more comfortable in the kitchen.

Matilda, it sounds like you and your family have your meal and grocery routine pretty well set. How many times per week would you say that you go grocery shopping? A little voice inside me is saying that I need to shop more often, since I get overzealous buying veggies but some go bad before I can use them...

YeahYeah, thank you so much for your shopping list - that really really helps me! Also, I think that your stockpile of items on hand is something I need to do. Thanks for the crock pot recipe - looks delish! How do you reheat it? Defrost in microwave then nuke in microwave? Laughing Cow really is fantastic - especially the onion flavored one, but I tend to overdo it and then not want to eat them for a few weeks!

06-07-2011, 07:41 PM
I try to shop once a week but usually end up picking up a couple of things midweek. If you plan to cook with things like spinach or arugula, or the packaged southern greens Trader Joe's sells, you can buy the fresh packets and freeze them, which I think is great.

06-07-2011, 10:15 PM
Menu Week of ________________








Groceries needed:

Items in freezer:

I fill this out on Sunday (Lunch and Dinner), print it and put it on the fridge.

My menus are planned around several factors;
1) My spending $$ available
2) What I already have in the freezer/refrigerator
3) Special events; movies, basketball, special TV shows (Survivor, etc), guests.
4) Items I find on sale in the flyers.

I usually cook enough so that the evening meal will include enough for the following day lunch. I'll also prep for the following day dinner while cooking our current dinner-it helps eliminate the rush if I get home late and am too hungry.

Timesavers-we travel between 2 houses so I have a very small chest freezer at both locations. We're eating primarily pescatarian now so I have fish, soups, beans and rice cooked ahead and in the freezer for the days I am short on time. I make sure all my containers are marked w/masking tape.

My pantry is well stocked with non perishables;
~I am now buying very large quantities (25#) of various beans, lentils, oatmeal and whole wheat flour at a coop (and I get a great price). I keep 1/2 gallon jars of each readily available and store the rest in a downstairs closet. DH eats oatmeal every morning and I have friends who will buy 5 or 10# from me if I need to offload the flour or oatmeal faster)
~I buy canned goods, WW pasta, quinoa and various snacks at Costco. I do store the quinoa in the freezer.
~I have some jars(not cans) of premade sauces such as spaghetti sauce and Seeds of Change curry for emergencies...just add veggies, pasta or tofu.
~we're big on nuts because-I add them to lunch salad every day since we don't have a meat protein. I keep my favorite nuts in the freezer so they don't spoil.
***I make sure I'm stocked on essential salad dressings, etc. There's nothing more expensive than going to the store for a $5 item and coming out with $30 worth of stuff.

I buy my produce weekly and have come to the point of zero waste. When it comes time to plan next week's menu I will make a point to plan to use the old first. I will also wait to do my produce shopping until absolutely necessary so that I don't have stuff sitting around.

I have a kitchen sink salad every day for lunch. It's jam packed with sliced veggies and mixed greens. I slice 3-4 days of my hard veggies at once and store them in a container. I will keep 2 days worth of greens in a second container. I add the soft veggies (zucchini, cucumber, sweet peppers, green onion) every day because they'll get mushy if I put them in the 3-4 day stash.

I buy enough snacks for a month. My DH has a totally different snack protocol than I do. In the past he ate loads of junk food. I'm weaning him off of the junk one thing at a time. He no longer eats chips or candy bars. I buy his snacks at Costco/Whole Foods. Costco has WW crackers, dried fruits (although we dry alot ourselves), nut mixes and WW pretzels. I just bought a bridge mix (various chocolates) at Whole Foods which has sugar but no HFCS. I stay out of it and it satisfies DH's sweet tooth. I added nuts and dried fruit to help it last longer. I have 2 sizes of microwave popcorn; one is 100 calorie portioned and the other is much larger.

My two best friends in the kitchen;
~electric pressure cooker for beans
~VitaMix for an every morning green smoothie

We're eating 100% organic and when I plan and don't waste it's very affordable.

This is a work in progress. DH loves breakfast foods. I recently decided;
~ to make Sunday night "breakfast night." I fix him pancakes,waffles, eggs, etc. I do a gourmet oatmeal and add berries and nuts. (Sunday breakfasts are out with my mom)
~to make an effort to try new recipes

I love reading other people's tips! Thanks for starting a great thread!

ETA-Once I'm through with a weekly menu, I take it from the fridge and put it in a 3 ring binder. It's like a book of ideas for coming weeks.

06-07-2011, 10:17 PM
"How do you reheat it? Defrost in microwave then nuke in microwave?"

I just store it all week in a bowl in the fridge, then microwave a bowl (I triple the beans, so its pretty much a delish creamy chix chili. I use roasted red pep in the jar and canned diced chilis too, since the fresh kind left shedded skin all over the place and was very annoying) for 2 minutes. Or put some in a wrap and brown it in a skillet. Or on top of eggs in the morn, or on top of greens for a tacoish salad etc etc

06-07-2011, 11:51 PM
When I am on PH2, I just plan dinner. I have a handful of go-to lunches that I try to keep on hand. I probably shop 2 or 3 times a week because I hate menu planning and can't think too far ahead. When I revisit PH1, I also plan lunches. Often they are leftovers from the night before. Planning is really key when I am trying to stay on track. The more I plan the better I eat. For snacks, I tend to have the same things most days so that is easy.

06-08-2011, 07:10 AM
I plan for the week on Saturdays, using this cool website. MealsMatter. ( I think you have to join to see how things work but it's free.

It's so much quicker than pen and paper, and so much easier to edit when plans change during the week. I can scroll back to look at past weeks for inspiration. I can copy and paste favorite meals and there is a 'repeat every __ days' function that I can use if the mood strikes me. I plan all my meals and snacks, but I often change up the order of things during the week depending on our mood or changes in plans. When I first started planning everything out I thought of it as one more chore on my list and didn't really enjoy it much. Once I got into the routine I realized how much time and money menu planning saves and how much better I feel when the planning is all done. My DH fixes several meals a week, too and having our menus planned in advance ensures that I won't come home to an off plan dinner. ;)

We do one big shopping trip a week, but I usually save a few things on the list and pick them up on Thursday or Friday (meat/fish and fresh veggies for later in the week).

06-08-2011, 09:49 AM
I plan each night's meals, plus a selection of breakfasts and lunches that my family can choose from on Saturday and do my shopping on Sunday. I always try to choose one or two new recipes to try during the week. is a huge favorite of mine :)

My method and list coordinates to the store that I'm going to. Each aisle has it's own section on my list.

Sounds like you have a good system going for you!

06-08-2011, 10:44 AM
good morning,

I plan my meals very much like Debbie and also have a walk in storage room for all my bulk food.
One thing I would like to add is that I too store my meal plans in a binder but if I have had a particularly good weight loss that week, I mark it down at the bottom of the menu and when I go thru it and see the weight loss I will repeat that menu for some other week.
take care

06-08-2011, 11:49 AM
I usually plan Thursday/Friday when the flyers come in. I plan dinners and ingredients for lunch if we need some plus some staples for breakfast and snacks. Breakfast and lunch doesn't vary much, lunch includes stuff I have in the freezer and freshly made wraps.
Shopping happens mostly Saturdays. I use an iPhone app for my grocery list since it has a feature for favorites (aka staples) and then I add whatever else I need. I also keep my weekly plans and go back if I am at loss and check what we eat weeks ago. We have a bunch of favorite meals I ww-fied ;-) and

I try to cook something new every week. Weekends are mostly bbq or something that needs more time to prepare. Weekdays are quick and easy meals or something that goes into the oven and needs little prep.

Oh and I try to plan the week so Monday, Tuesday uses the ingredients that are spoiling quicker vs Friday dinners that mostly clean out the fridge (e.g. pasta bake or pizza etc).

Usually I plan a pantry dinner too that can be easily nixed if we go out or made when we run out of food (i.e. veggies) on Fridays ;-)

06-08-2011, 03:08 PM
Oh my goodness, thank you Thank You THANK YOU!!!

Lexxiss, thank you so much for sharing your methods - I LOVE the idea of the weekly meal plan on the fridge! And of prepping the dinner during the dinner before - brilliant! For your timesavers, when you freeze soups, since I presume they are vegetarian, how long do you allow them to stay in your freezer? Also, for your 3-4 day stash of veggies, what veggies are these and are they all in the same container? Thank you again so much for sharing this!

WaistingTime, Thank you so much - you really articulated an important point: the trade off between shopping more often and how far ahead you meal plan. I have been shopping infrequently, and also haven't been planning ahead very well, and its just not working. Basically, you helped me realize that I can break it into smaller chunks: meal plan for a few days (half a week, maybe), and then shopping twice a week accordingly. Especially until I feel confident about the true serving sizes I get out of recipes (ie, will it just be dinner for myself and my finacee, or will there be enough for lunch the next day?), this approach sounds really doable. I am the same way as you when you say "The more I plan the better I eat".

Heidi58, thanks for recommending MealsMatter. I'll definitely check it out. Maybe because I'm new/not confident with cooking, I feel like it takes up so much time! So saving time with this sounds really appealing. Also thanks for mentioning that you have your husband cook too - I need to revisit that discussion with my fiancee!

Zeff, planning your shopping list with grocery store aisles is brilliant! I bet it saves lots of time shopping. For some reason I seem to go to the store when everyone else and their mama does, so not having to go back to certain areas for missed things sounds great. I'm glad you also try new recipes - variety is the spice of life. At this point I just need to get to a base line repertoire of SBD allowed recipes - I've printed out dozens, but need to actually get comfortable cooking them. I'll definitely check out tastespotting. Thank you so so much for sharing.

Sophie, thats a fantastic idea of noting weight loss with weekly recipes! Talk about figuring out what works. And buying in bulk to (A) save money and (B) ensure you've always got food on hand. Thank you!

Josey, Thank you so much for your tips! What iPhone app do you use? Pantry dinners are a fantastic idea! I do have one recipe for that but definitely need to hunt for more. Your weekly schedule sounds very practical - easy during the week, longer/special on the weekend. I think I need to keep that mindset when I pick recipes and meal plan: if I get too overambitious during a weeknight (especially when I have horse riding and get home at 9 PM) then it becomes unrealistic and that's when its more likely for me to go off plan.

06-08-2011, 07:21 PM
Josey, Thank you so much for your tips! What iPhone app do you use? Pantry dinners are a fantastic idea! I do have one recipe for that but definitely need to hunt for more. Your weekly schedule sounds very practical - easy during the week, longer/special on the weekend. I think I need to keep that mindset when I pick recipes and meal plan: if I get too overambitious during a weeknight (especially when I have horse riding and get home at 9 PM) then it becomes unrealistic and that's when its more likely for me to go off plan.

The iPhone app I use for shopping has the most creative name: Groceries :-)

One of my favourite pantry dinner is Olive Chicken. Not sure if that fits into your diet plan but it is simple, quick and easy. Skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pan fried in olive oil, add tomato juice or sauce and olives. Simmer. Done.

Horse riding? Sigh. That will be my final reward when I reach goal. I am going back and start horse riding again. I CAN'T WAIT!!!

06-09-2011, 09:45 AM
Lexxiss, For your timesavers, when you freeze soups, since I presume they are vegetarian, how long do you allow them to stay in your freezer? Also, for your 3-4 day stash of veggies, what veggies are these and are they all in the same container?

I freeze soups, rice, and beans. I have masking tape/marker handy and label them with the month/year. I really try to cycle stuff through and use the frozen items when I know I'll have a busy day and want to make preparation time minimal.

Veggie stash-cauliflower, radishes, shredded cabbage (green and purple), swiss chard, carrots, celery...anything else that's solid. I put them all in the same container.

Chop each day-zucchini, cucumber.

Greens mix (separate)-lettuces, spinach. I keep several days worth in a separate container so I don't have to open my sealed bags every day.

This is what keeps my greens looking good; I wash them when I get home then drain them a bit. I then wrap them each in a kitchen towel, put them in a plastic bag then press to push the air out and twist tie. The towels seem to absorb the extra moisture and the lack of air helps them to stay fresh. This works especially well with spinach, swiss chard and kale. Oh, and I try to buy spinach with the roots on and I leave them on until I put them in the greens container. They seem to last much better with the roots on.

06-10-2011, 06:33 PM
Thank you so much, everyone, for your posts and for elaborating when I had questions. I've been re-reading this thread almost every day and I'm feeling so much more empowered and in control. There's a million great ideas in here and I'm putting them together to create a system that I think will work for my lifestyle. Having a plan is really helping me stay on track. Thanks again, everyone! =]