Add the Finishing Touches

by karen on November 9, 2018

Part 4 in our 4 part series on cooking at home. Find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

If you missed any of the last three week’s blogs, go back and take a look (find the links above). We’ve covered the benefits of eating from all 5 food groups, provided some sure-fire ways of getting rid of empty calories from fat and sugar, and looked at numerous ways of saving time when cooking at home. We provided a simple, 3-step process of planning a week’s worth of dinner menus—including ideas for keeping the stress and time to a minimum—and shared the fact that a couple can save over $4000 in one year by cutting back from eating out three days a week to one.

Our last steps, after planning our dinners for a week, are to create a grocery list to shop from and to do some prep before starting our new week. The time and money saved, along with the satisfaction of knowing you’re eating healthier at home, will help you cement your healthy eating schedule at home.

Create your list

Here are two template grocery shopping lists, one simple and one more extensive, with detailed food lists.  From our blog last week, take your week of dinners you’ve planned and, with recipes in hand, transfer the foods you’ll need to your grocery list. If you’re just getting started with cooking at home, there will be some up-front costs associated with building your staples, including items like herbs and spices, condiments, flour, and the like. However, these items do last a long time and therefore won’t hit your food budget again for quite a while.

Once you’ve transferred your dinner ingredients to your grocery list, go back through and add the foods you always use, like milk, cereals, breads, nut butter, mustard, and so on. Then, figure some breakfast and lunch staples, a few healthy snacks, and you’re on your way to the grocery store. Your grocery list will get you out of the store quicker with the plan for your home eating taken care of for the next week, and will help keep your expenses lower at the check-out line because you’ll have fewer impulse buys.

Prep for the week

You’ll save a lot of time and energy doing some of the work in advance of dinner time. Wash fruits and veggies that won’t spoil, cut the meat for your stir-fry, complete combination foods like enchilada casserole up to the baking step, and you’ll be able to quickly put dinner on the table when you get home. Rather than running out for fast food or waiting in a restaurant for your meal to be prepared, you can run a load of laundry, catch up on your emails and talk with a friend while your food is cooking. You’ve not only put a healthy, home-cooked meal on the table but crossed a few items off your to-do list at the same time.

Bon appetit!

Karen Fisher, MS, RDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website at

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