Tag Archives: menu planning

Smartphone Apps for Foodies

shopping guide appThere are thousands of apps out there for smartphone users. Games, social media, tools, light sabers – but I really like the apps that help me be a smarter shopper, be a better steward of my resources, or make healthier choices for my family. I’ve compiled a list of food and health-related apps to get the discussion rolling. To download one just type the app name into your phone’s app store search box.  If you have one you particularly like please add it to the comments section below!

“Cooking” by Portable Knowledge – available for iPhone and Android FREE:  no recipes here, just lots of useful information for cooking. This app gives you measurement conversions like how many teaspoons are in a Tablespoon or how many cups in a pint. It also gives amounts such as how many banana slices in one cup, and ingredient substitutions in case you find you’re out of buttermilk but still want to make those muffins. It also gives definitions for common cooking terms and ingredients.

“Meal Planning & Grocery List” by Food on the Table                                                                              – available for iPhone and Android. FREE: this app helps you make a weekly menu and build your grocery list using recipes from websites or your favorites. It is linked to major grocery chains and allows you to shop based on sales in your area.

“Healthy Out” by HealthyOut – available for iPhone. FREE:  this app helps you find local dining out choices according to your nutrition and dietary needs. You can search low-carb, gluten-free and vegetarian as well as Paleo-friendly restaurants. Of course there’s the usual searches for Italian or other cuisines, and also a nutrition information section for popular restaurant dishes.

“Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide” by Non-GMO Project – available for iPhone and android. FREE: this app is a searchable database of all products receiving Non-GMO verified certification. There is also a listing of common crops and common food ingredients containing GMO contamination, and some history and background information on the non-GMO movement.

“ShopNoGMO” by Jeffrey Smith – available for iPhone. FREE: this app is more than just a database; it allows you to personalize with lists of your favorite non-GMO brands. There’s an FAQ section plus tips for avoiding GMOs while dining out. Find hidden sources of GMO in the ingredient database and learn ways to talk to friends and family about the dangers of GMO.

“Find Real Food” by Real Food Mobile, LLC – available for iPhone (android coming later this year) FREE: this app is the electronic version of the annual Shopping Guide for the Weston A Price Foundation. The paper version has grown so large over the years that an electronic version was needed to keep it portable. Using a “good-better-best” scale, this shopping guide lists recommended items in 30 searchable categories including eggs, dairy, seafood, meats, vegetables, nuts, fats and oils, cultured foods and breads. Use this app to make good choices at the grocery store and to find online or mail-order sources of nutrient dense real food. There’s a place to add your own suggestions. The database will be updated frequently. It also allows you to share favorite brands on Facebook and add your own comments and ratings to products you buy and enjoy.

“Fooducate” by Fooducate, Ltd. – available for iPhone and Android. FREE for the basic version but $14.99/year for the “pro” and “gluten & allergies” versions:  this app allows you to scan the barcode on a product and receive an analysis of the nutrition information and ingredients. It also give you a rating from A+ to D-.  The FREE basic version alerts you to things like high fructose corn syrup, MSG, trans fats, artificial sweeteners and additives & preservatives. The premium versions also include GMO information.  (I’m disappointed with Fooducate because the GMO info used to be part of the basic, now they are charging extra for it rather than helping the non-GMO movement by keeping that info more easily available to everyone.) Other premium versions can also alert you to specific allergens such as gluten, soy or lactose.

“Seafood Watch” by Monterey Bay Aquarium – available for iPhone and Android. FREE: this app allows you to make educated seafood choices at the grocery store and dining out. Sort by “best choice”, “good alternative” and “avoid” categories, you can use the GPS function to find regional guides for your location. Use this app to purchase sustainably caught seafood of all kinds. Add your own discoveries to the database when you find shops or restaurants selling sustainable seafood.

“Skin Deep” by Environmental Working Group – available for iPhone and Android. FREE: this app isn’t about food, but it is about keeping you healthy.  Use Skin Deep at the store to scan barcodes on your personal care products and receive green/yellow/red hazard ratings as well as ingredient lists.  Using this app can help you avoid toxic and carcinogenic chemicals and make safer choices for yourself and your family. Everything from shampoo and toothpaste to make-up and deodorant can be found in this often-updated app.

Use the comment section below to add your favorite food or health-related app. I’d love to hear from you and how you use your smartphone to make shopping easier. I’m not receiving anything from any of these app producers – I’m just interested in learning more!                             seafood watch app

A Week of Menus

a week of menus titleRecently I wrote how our family had implemented a more strict grocery budget and how I was working out the purchase of healthy, mostly organic, frequently local food within the new parameters. (Read here  )  So here is an example of a week’s worth of dinner menus including links to recipes when available. I just wanted to give you an idea of how we normally eat.  Everything is just plain, wholesome real food for the most part. There are occasional instances of a package or can of something, but even then those items are usually single-ingredient items such as canned tomatoes.

Don’t stress, be happy!

I’ve been told one of the frustrations of cooking from scratch is the amount of prep time it takes. My advice for getting around that is this:

1) put on some happy music and pour yourself a glass of something (kombucha? wine?) and let the prep time be a relaxing time rather than a stress-filled time

2) practice your knife skills and make sure your knives are always sharp so the chopping and slicing goes easily and quickly. Many people don’t have any knife skills or even know which knife to use in which situation. Thankfully we have You Tube! Go here to watch Alton Brown explaining the many different kinds of knives and their uses. And here is Simply Ming showing good knife holding technique.  And here is one more showing how you can put a little skill into good use by making quick work of mincing an onion.

List of Menus

Chicken Oreganata  I made this with skin-on,  bone-in chicken thighs instead of boneless because bone-in are cheaper, plus meat on the bone (and with skin) has more nutrition than boneless skinless (and you can save the bones for making homemade stock, another really nutritious and frugal thing to do!) Just extend cooking time another 10 minutes or so.   I served it with another Greek-inspired side dish called Fashoulakia which is a green bean and tomato dish flavored with dill and other herbs. You can make the green beans ahead and serve them chilled or room temperature.

Salmon Cakes with mashed potatoes and a tossed salad plus some Bubbies fermented sauerkraut was the menu for Tuesday. I used the Salmon Cakes recipe from the Well Fed Family Eating With the Seasons cookbook. I am currently sold out of the cookbook, but will have a new e-book version available soon. In the meantime use this recipe for salmon cakes from Practical Paleo.

468238_10151606270214040_291514107_oLemon Rosemary Roast Chicken with Red Potatoes was Wednesday’s dinner. Here is a link for a similar recipe although mine used more garlic, rosemary and melted butter. I doubled the recipe and saved the meat from the extra chicken in the freezer for later, and then put all the carcasses in a big stockpot to make broth. I can’t remember what we had along with this, but broccoli or a salad or some kale would go well.



Hotdogs with oven fries and coleslaw was for Thursday. My son makes great spicy oven fries and that is a big help when I’m trying to get a quick dinner on the table before a ballgame. I like to make homemade hotdog and burger buns in big batches (using the recipe from my Breads DVD) and then keep them in the freezer, but in a pinch you can also find sprouted hotdog buns from Ezekiel or Alvarado Bakery in many health food stores and groceries. Homemade is much cheaper! Here is a simple bun recipe from King Arthur

Chuck roast in the crockpot was an easy supper for Friday. I put quartered onions and several chunked up carrots in the pot first and then put the grass fed chuck roast on top. I sprinkled the whole thing generously with an herb blend from Simply Organic called Spicy Steak, put on the lid and that was it. That evening we made some smashed potatoes to go with it, sliced up some tomatoes and cucumbers and had an old-fashioned Southern supper.  Here’s a similar recipe for how I make mashed potatoes, however I don’t peel the potatoes, and I just mash them right in the cooking pan instead of dirtying another bowl!

Each week when I make up my menus I try to have at least one night of beef and one night of fish. When I have access to good pasture-raised pork I also include that.  Using homemade bone broth several times a week, whether in a soup or cooking rice with it, is also something I try to do. We work on having fermented and raw foods every day whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Sometimes every meal!

I have learned the hard way that planning a menu for each week will save me money in the long run. If I come up with a really good menu that everyone loves I will stick it in a folder so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every month.

Do you have menu planning tips to share? How do you live frugally and still eat well?

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