Category Archives: Grocery Shopping

Recipe Borrowing: “Lara Balls” & Kodiak Cakes

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I like to pat myself on the back for expanding my recipe repertoire (i.e. the meals I can comfortably fix for myself or for Ian and me), but I can’t take credit for devising many of them. Yesterday, I made Brittany’s healthy homemade Lara balls, and this morning I made Kodiak Cakes for Ian’s and my breakfast, idea courtesy of Courtney. Even though I won’t take credit for the ideas, I’ll still show you how I emulated what these fabulous ladies do. First up: Lara balls!

During Ian’s and my adventure at Fresh Market yesterday, I picked up the supplies for both the Lara balls and the Kodiak Cakes.

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First, I pulsed about one cup of whole, raw cashews in my food processor until they were thoroughly chopped.

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Then, I added about 2 cups of whole, pitted dates and about 3 tbsp of natural peanut butter and pulsed until the mixture was wholly chopped.

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I kept having to add PB because the mixture wouldn’t form into shapeable “balls” without more adhesive. When I was finally satisfied with the consistency, I formed the mixture into about 20 bite-sized balls and refrigerated them.

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Ian declared them “very rich,” but I have yet to try them. I sent him home with six of them. I am excited to have ready-made dessert or snacks for the next week or so! I love the idea of such a simple “recipe” with so few ingredients. As you all know, I’m all about easy and simple! πŸ˜‰

Now for Kodiak Cakes! I had read about this flapjack/waffle mix on Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life multiple times, so I Googled where to find the mix in Virginia. I was ecstatic when I saw that the primary store that carries this product is Fresh Market. Helloooo, perfect Saturday! Sure enough, there it was, amidst the Bisquick and Krusteaz. (Is it just me, or is Krusteaz a gross name for pancake mix…?) Now, it’s amidst things in my pantry.

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As you can see from the directions, pancake prep is quite simple — perfect for busy mornings around here. The ingredient list is also quite impressive!

I added one cup of Cake mix with about three-quarters of a cup of water for thicker pancakes.

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And just like that, the mix is ready to be poured onto a hot griddle/skillet.

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“Kodiak Cakes are part of this balanced breakfast!”

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Ian and I both declared this “recipe” a keeper! The mix took less than a minute to whip up, and the pancakes cooked so quickly. We agreed that the whole grain ingredients are definitely noticeable in the taste, but it’s not an unpleasant taste. I can see myself whipping up batches of these mini-cakes on chilly mornings and enjoying them on my porch with a cup of hazelnut. Mmmmm!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this weekend in terms of “new” recipes. For faster picture updates on what I’m eating, feel free to check me out on Instagram — @annekendall.

I hope you have a sunny Sunday, and a great upcoming week! πŸ™‚

P.S. Have you ever tried Kodiak Cakes (or another variety of whole-ingredient pancake mix)? Either way, what’s your favorite topping or mix-in for pancakes? Mine is a toss-up between blueberries and pecans!

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Fresh Market: A Whole New World

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Today was the day, folks. The day for which I have been waiting for more than six months. The day which made me semi-envy those who were standing in line to be among the first to behold the wonder on September 11th. The day I was so grateful for a small surplus in my budget so I could indulge in a few “splurge” purchases. The day that Ian and I went to Fresh Market.

Fresh Market has revolutionized this side of town like I’ve never seen. Where I live in the ‘Burg, people do the bulk of their grocery shopping at Kroger. I thought the massive renovations “my” Kroger has been undergoing made people crazy… until I saw little old ladies ramming people’s hips with their carts, yoga-pants-clad undergrads intently forcing their way through the aisles, and small children wide-eyed and clutching large bags of candy corn.

I knew we were crazy for attempting our exploratory shopping trip on the first Saturday FM was open after just three days of business, but we set out anyway. I had my list in hand (chia Kombucha Synergies, natural PB, pitted dates, raw cashews, and Kodiak Cakes) and my budget in mind ($25 — ha!). We got a ridiculously close parking spot and forged our way inside amidst the throngs of FM-goers.

I was simultaneously in heaven on earth and overwhelmed. There were several hundred people buzzing around the store, most of them having parked their carts directly in front of the busiest sections of the store. Go figure. No matter — we were both so excited to see what the area’s newest hotspot had to offer that we somehow remained friendly and optimistic the entire time.

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Ian readily agreed to be the basket-holder (as long as he didn’t have to hold my purse ;-)) so I could browse. I can’t even count the number of times something caught my eye and I said, “Oh, wow!” You probably would’ve enjoyed my facial expressions if you could’ve seen me marvel over the bulk bins of wasabi trail mix, the frozen kefir, the bright organic produce, the fragrant seasonal coffees, and the sample stations.

Ian *needed* to be back home by 3:30 for the A&M vs. Alabama game, so we were on a slight schedule. As a consolation prize for myself, I decided to treat us to lunch from FM. He picked up a wrap from the deli, and I had a custom-made deli sandwich. With the exception of lunch and a Clif sport energy packet to try, I stuck pretty closely to my list:

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FM total: $34.91

We made a quick pit stop at Kroger for the natural PB (I’m sorry, but $9 for a jar of PB at Fresh Market is just not my style) and syrup for the pancakes. I said to Ian, “Would you be offended if I got agave nectar instead of syrup?” and he immediately said, “…yes!” He makes me laugh πŸ˜‰

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Kroger total: $6.44

I would have liked to spend all day more time in Fresh Market today, but it was a madhouse and things were getting a wee bit claustrophobic. We hung in there with the chaos for over an hour, but we were both getting pretty hungry, and I was still, ahem, recovering from last night’s festivities with one of our favorite couples. We got our goodies to go, popped by Krogs for the final two items, and settled in for an afternoon of football at home.

I am beyond excited to make Kodiak Cakes tomorrow morning before Ian heads back to Richmond, and to make Brittany’s homemade Lara balls this afternoon! I also can’t wait to go back to Fresh Market and explore further, perhaps during the week in the morning when it will (hopefully) be less crowded. Lots of exciting stuff coming your way, so stay tuned!

P.S. Do you have a favorite grocery store that just gets you really excited about food? Or am I that crazy blogger who professes her love for grocery shopping, completely oblivious to everybody else’s groans…? Let’s chat!

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

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Maybe this makes me an extreme nerd or a yuppie foodie, but one of my favorite activities of late is meal-planning!

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I’m so serious.

I look for time during the week when I can sit down to plan my Thursday grocery shopping trip and my meals for the week. Meal prep ahead of time not only saves me time and energy when I come home exhausted from Internship, it prevents me from making lazy meal choices (i.e. canned soup) when I’m ravenous after the gym. For example, the other night I was feeling extra productive, so I sliced and diced the veggies to marinate overnight that I knew I’d need for the following night’s stir fry dinner. When I came home later than expected the next afternoon and grudgingly still went to the gym, my growling tummy was beyond grateful that I had felt so in the mood for meal prep earlier! All I had to do was cook some brown rice, saute the veggies and presto: dinner.

This week, I’ve been feeling particularly excited about meal-planning, especially with Fresh Market opening so close to school! Yesterday morning was the grand opening, and people were shoving queuing at the unholy hour of 7:55. Uhhh… no thank you!

Anyway, today I made my weekly trip to Kroger for staples, armed with my meal plan for the week and my grocery list. I am usually pretty good about sticking to my list and keeping “splurge” buys to a minimum. So, without further ado:

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Beverages: La Croix sparkling water ($4.49), lemonade mix — per Ian’s request ($1.89), O.N.E. coconut water — impulse buy ($2.99), Vita coconut water — impulse buy ($2.00), and organic milk ($3.69)

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Dairy: Chobani Greek yogurt and Chobani Flips (3/$4.00)… I misread the price tag and thought they were 10/$8.00

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Produce: bananas ($1.24), shredded lettuce ($2.99), seedless red grapes ($1.55), organic celery ($1.69), pomegranate ($2.49), cucumber ($0.75), green pepper ($0.77), Fuji apples ($3.29)

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Random: much-needed [and on-sale] highlighters ($1.29), brown rice ($2.49), organic seedless raisins ($3.49), Truvia natural sweetener ($3.99)

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Grand total: $55.83

I’m all set for the week with breakfast items I already had, fresh fruit for snacks and sides, meals for Ian’s visit this weekend, and five dinners! I’m still planning to drag bring Ian with me to Fresh Market on Saturday to explore, but I fully plan to have a list in my hand and a spending cap in my head. That place makes me giddy!

Now, on to equally as exciting stuff: I spent a little time playing around in the kitchen this afternoon, and I devised my own recipe for quick and easy Waldorf salad. I’m more than happy to share!

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Homemade Waldorf Salad
1 stalk celery
1 C plain Chobani Greek yogurt
handful of raisins
2-3 handfuls of red grapes
half of large Fuji apple
1/4 C whole almonds

Slice the celery, grapes, and apple into bite-sized pieces. Mix all solid ingredients together, then add yogurt. Stir until yogurt coats all ingredients evenly. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Bon appetit!

Well, blends, I’m off to prep for a double-dose of class tonight. Have an excellent evening!

Stay tuned this weekend for a peek inside my OCD fridge, as well as my exploits at FM! πŸ˜‰

P.S. I’d love to hear about YOUR meal prep and/or meal-planning! Do you measure portions out precisely? How far in advance do you cut perishable items? Do you cater your grocery shopping to portable foods for on-the-go? Let’s chat! πŸ™‚

Lettuce Talk Greens

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If you’re like me, you can kill a batch of salad faster than you can say, “What happened…?” If you’re not like me, then just go the hell away and eat your perfectly fresh salad.

I kid! Kind of…

In my perpetual quest for foodie knowledge, I’ve read a plethora of blog posts and helpful sites recently that detail how to maintain fresh greens — IF you have a salad spinner. I’m a broke, old-school grad student, so salad spinner goes on my list of priorities right behind BMW and David Beckham. (In other snarky words, I do a lot by hand.)

Here is how I keep salad greens fresh for the long haul (i.e. more than three or four days):

First, break apart individual leaves from a head of Iceberg lettuce or a bunch of leaf lettuce.

If the leaves are a little wilted, fill the sink with cold water and soak the leaves for about 30 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much they perk right up!

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When the leaves have finished their bath, rinse each leaf under cold water, then shake it gently to remove excess water. Spread out several paper towels and place leaves individually on the towels to dry.

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I sometimes put another paper towel over top of the leaves to hasten the drying process. When the leaves are almost completely dry, arrange them as you want to use them on a clean, dry paper towel.

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Layer the leaves from first to be used on top to to-be-used-last on the bottom. Sandwich the leaves between clean, dry paper towels to soak up any remaining water.

Lastly, store the lettuce in a Ziploc bag or other airtight container, and be sure to squeeze out any air pockets before refrigerating.

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Your lettuce should be good to go for a couple of weeks!

I wanted to share this information with you because after years of magically transforming crisp greens into limp, slimy piles of earthy-smelling mush I call salads, I have finally found a system that works. Yes, it’s much more time-consuming than simply throwing a cheap bag of greens into my fridge and calling it a day. Spending the extra time on food preparation and storage has allowed me more budgetary freedom to purchase the organic goods I crave less frequently than I was buying (and throwing away) the prepackaged stuff.

If you have any tips or suggestions about rinsing or storing greens, I’m all ears! Salad greens seem to be the produce item I waste most frequently via improper care and storage.

Sorry I’m getting this post out so late. I meant to write yesterday, but it’s been another one of those go-go-go weekends! Enjoy what’s left of your Saturday, blends!

This Week’s Small Haul

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Happiest of Fridays to you, blends! The reason I’m so peppy this morning is because (1) I get to see my handsome fiancΓ© tonight, and (2) I completed — and absolutely loved — my first full week of Internship and third-year classes!

In the midst of all the hubbub this week, I still needed to replenish a few grocery items. I’ve decided that I really like doing these line-item grocery haul posts, so indulge me! πŸ˜‰

From the produce section, I didn’t need much. In fact, I’m glad I remembered to only get two bananas, since I like them “crunchy,” as my mom says. I’m leaving for Richmond this morning and won’t be back until Sunday evening. By then, any leftover bananas wouldn’t be A.K.-approved.

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Kroger brand bananas, $0.59

As far as “splurge” purchases go, I had a few of those today. As soon as I left my apartment, I could feel my blood sugar dropping. I still needed to run to the post office, which was in the opposite direction of Kroger. I loathe grocery-shopping on an empty stomach, but I couldn’t understand why I felt so yucky after a leftovers lunch of brown rice and chicken stir fry. I grabbed the first thing I saw, and the natural sugar brought me right back up!

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As I was perusing the mixed-up aisles of Kroger (which is being heavily renovated), I happened across these beauties. I liked their ingredient lists, and they were on sale, so into the cart they went! I also picked up an impromptu sandwich for dinner, since I have class from 4:30-9:30 on Thursdays.

London Broil and leaf lettuce on focaccia, $5.29; Quaker single-serving oatmeal, $1.67 each

London Broil and leaf lettuce on focaccia, $5.29; Quaker single-serving oatmeal, $1.67 each

The purchase I was most excited about? Cho, of course! πŸ˜‰

Chobani Flip and Chobani 2% Greek yogurt, 10/$10

Chobani Flip and Chobani 2% Greek yogurt, 10/$10

As far as dairy products and breakfast go, I didn’t need much. I found that I really like Simple Truth organic milk because of the size and because of the reeeeally long expiration date (October 12 on this carton). I also decided to try buying brown eggs for the first time.

Simple Truth organic milk carton, $3.49; Kroger brand brown eggs, $1.99/dozen; Morningstar Farms vegetarian bacon, $3.99

Simple Truth organic milk carton, $3.49; Kroger brand brown eggs, $1.99/dozen; Morningstar Farms vegetarian bacon, $3.99

Lastly, I needed just a few household items. Normally, I don’t purchase school supplies at the grocery store because they are much cheaper elsewhere. Being that the kids in this area have already started school, most of the school supplies had been marked way down.

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Kroger brand kitchen trash bags, $5.99/50; small spiral notebook, $2.99; Huggies baby wipes, $1.99

When my mom came with me to the ‘Burg a few weeks ago to check on my apartment and to conduct some pre-Internship housekeeping business, she insisted that I have a few Kroger grocery bags. Today was the first opportunity I’ve had to use them, and let me tell you — they are absolutely wonderful. I’m completely unashamed to admit that I use Kroger grocery bags to line my bathroom, bedroom, and laundry room trash cans, so I’m always happy to have an endless supply. However, I hate when my groceries roll around in the back of my car, spill out of those flimsy bags, and when my groceries take up approximately 546 bags that I must carry up a flight of stairs. My haul today only required two of these bags, as opposed to probably eight plastic bags.

Now I have four of them, and I plan to use them every time I run to Kroger!

Now I have four of them, and I plan to use them every time I run to Kroger!

Mom, when you read this, feel free to cheer aloud and dance around and pump your arms in the air, but don’t feel obligated to text me, “See?!?!” πŸ˜‰

This week’s total haul: $49.24

Have a wonderful day, blends!

P.S. Do you carry reusable bags to the grocery store, or do you prefer paper/plastic? I’m on the campaign trail to recruit more reusable bag buddies!

Grocery Haul Line Item

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Hello and happy Sunday, blends! I’m back at my little apartment for a long, blissful, peaceful, relaxing week of… class. Whomp.

Anyhow, I haven’t written about my grocery shopping exploits in awhile, so I thought it would be fun to update you on what I’m eating these days, how much I buy to feed a household of one, and about how much I spend per week on food. Here goes, in no particular order!

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I was falling a little behind on my TP supply. Get it? πŸ˜‰ ($7.99)

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My fridge is always stocked with Chobani. This week, all Chobani was 10/$10, so I even indulged in a few Flips.

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In the grains department, organic frosted flakes cereal ($2.50), store-brand whole wheat rotini ($0.99), spicy blue corn tortilla chips ($2.79), and 100-calorie whole wheat sandwich rounds ($3.19).

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My “shame buys”: basil pesto ($3.69) for chicken pesto pasta this week, and soups ($2.69 each). I try not to buy these types of items often, because pesto is so high in fat, and because brand-name soups have a tremendous amount of sodium (34% RDV in just one of these cans!).

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In the beverage department, my impromptu purchase of Metro Mint water (on sale 10/$10), practically sugar-free and low-cal cranberry-pomegranate juice ($2.74), and store-brand skim milk ($2.19).

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I thought I was in desperate need of Orbit gum (2/$3), but it turns out there were two packs of strawberry flavor waiting for me in the pantry. Oops!

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Not-quite-ripe bananas — just how I like ’em — ($0.59/pound = $1.20), organic strawberries ($2.28), and white grapes ($2.99/pound = $5.20).

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As far as veggies go, one green bell pepper ($0.78), two Roma tomatoes ($2.28/pound = $2.51), one cucumber (4/$3 = $0.75), one Vidalia onion ($0.99/pound = $0.64), whole carrots ($0.79), baby spinach ($2.99), and Steamfresh frozen peas ($1.39) and a veggie blend ($2.69).

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One-half dozen grade-A large store-brand eggs ($0.99) and feta crumbles ($1.89).

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And last but certainly not least, my protein department: antibiotic-free, hormone-free, 100% vegetarian-fed, cage-free-raised chicken breasts ($3.95), and farm-raised boneless and skinless tilapia fillets ($3.99).

Drum roll, please……

My total haul for the week cost $83.42, and I saved $12.35 using my store points card. Woohooo!

Some of these items will last me longer than a week, such as three chicken breasts and four pieces of tilapia, a carton of juice, the TP (I should hope!), pesto, pasta, and gum. I needed to make a large grocery shopping trip today since I haven’t been at my apartment for a month and the fridge was looking pretty bare. That explains my high bill, as a typical weekly trip ranges from $40-$60. However, my fruit and veggie haul for this week was pretty typical, with some items varying depending upon weekly sales (e.g. grapes instead of pears, baby spinach instead of a butter bibb blend).

That about wraps it up! I’d love to hear from YOU about grocery shopping! Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I love seeing what other foodies and health nuts buy each week.

I Just Feel GOOD

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It probably seems like I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to. Well, that’s because I haven’t. If I thought my weekends out-of-town were busy before, I had another think coming. Most of the time, though, I just don’t have anything blog-worthy going on.

But, I’m feelin’ great today, and I want to shout it from the mountaintops!

I feel great. Like, really great. It has nothing to do with finally being able to breathe again, or my allergies having left as quickly as they came. I feel so great because of my lifestyle.

Two of my proudest accomplishments are my refrigerator and my ability to run more than a mile. (I’m still no marathoner — 5 miles is my max thus far.)

When I look in my fridge (and my pantry) and I see Greek yogurt, an abundance of fresh vegetables, seasonal fruit, whole-grain bread, water, salmon, quinoa, chia seeds… it makes my heart smile.

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It wasn’t all that long ago (well, I guess it was about 2.5 years) that I could easily fill a grocery cart by myself with frozen entrees, Toaster Strudels, Pop-Tarts, Doritos, Cherry Coke, Easy Mac, breakfast biscuits, TGI Friday’s appetizers, pints of Ben & Jerry’s… you get the idea. I’ve detailed my experience with unhealthy living before, so I won’t get into it. The point is, my changes feel great!

It also wasn’t too long ago that I couldn’t “run” more than about 10 minutes without getting winded and crampy. I’m not saying I was morbidly obese or anything, but I was desperately in need of a lifestyle overhaul. Boy, oh, boy, how things have changed! Three 5ks down, and a 10k and a 5k coming up? Who woulda thunk it? πŸ˜‰

[I know this post has become a bit of a brag-fest, but I just want to share my happiness with y’all!]

I’m also not saying that my body looks exactly the way I want it to or that I’m satisfied with having lost 35 pounds and I’m done. What I am saying is that completely altering my diet and developing an exercise regimen has allowed me to live the life I want to be living, with the energy and the mental well-being to keep up!

Well, that being said, I’m off to class in the middle of a freak April… snow?

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Have a good one, blends!