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19 Apr

Information Overload

Posted in Shop Smart, Smart Ingredients, Uncategorized, vegetarian, Win at Dinner on 19.04.12 by Smart Ingredients

There is so much information out there about groceries — what’s on sale — what you should eat — what you should buy. I am frankly tired of my customers being so confused about what they should buy and their general feeling of inferiority that they don’t know the “right” answer. So my guidance to them, and to you, is to not listen to anyone about what to buy, except your family. Take a close look at your family’s eating habits and learn what are your family’s Smart Ingredients. What oil to use is a great example. I can’t tell you how many times I get the questions “Does it have to be extra virgin? Should I only use olive oil? Someone told me I should only buy grapeseed oil, what do you think?” I often answer all these questions with “Use butter.” Not because I don’t love oils and think they have a superior health value, because I do. I just want to make the point that in most applications, like searing or basting foods, fat is fat and whatever you have, use or prefer will work just fine. Listening to the information overload will never get you to the “right” answers. Playing the Smart cooking game, getting in the kitchen and working hard to win at dinner will.

My youngest child is a preschooler. So if the tv is on during the day, it’s typically Sprout or the Disney channel. If I listened to the food influences from those channel’s commercials, I would be feeding my young child noodles with processed dehydrated cheeses and sauces, bottled dressings, pop tarts and frozen dinners and feeling great about doing it. I don’t feed her those things, and I am not influenced to do so by what I hear and see. Because knowledge is power, and I already know what to feed her that is healthy and she likes. I encourage you to take control over what you need and what you should buy at the grocery store.

Then, your approach at the grocery store will become what I call “shooting straight” versus “casting a net”. Casting a net means buying some of this and some of that… many things that don’t always add up to feeding your family. Shooting straight means buying more Smart Ingredients (stock up!) and less clutter. If your family is eating a lot of processed foods and you want to move into more healthful options, start by buying the same one or two things you know your family will eat and prepare them in different ways. The chance that you’ll end up using them is much greater than if you decide to try an entirely new healthy food regime with foods you aren’t sure the family will eat. Don’t try to change the world (your family’s entire dinner process) in a day. Take it one day at a time and if you are using Smart Ingredients and building off of the 3 or so favorite “types” of meals your family likes, you will have 20-30 “go to” recipes in no time.

My Mom has jumped on the green smoothie craze, encouraged to do so by her chiropractor. She loves them and feels great about what she eats for breakfast, has even got the rest of us joining in, and I’m proud of her for her dedication. Then her hairdresser — the end of all information sources — told her that by blending her produce she’s losing all the nutrition value and it’s a waste of her time. Now my Mom is doubting her efforts. I told her to hold it right there, tell the hairdresser to stick to dye jobs and highlights, and to keep drinking her smoothies. I tried to find any scientific evidence that blending changes the health value of vegetables, and I couldn’t. The safest bet is that the food is still raw, and it’s still more greens than she would have been eating otherwise. But the more important thing is that the green smoothies are working for my Mom, and they are much healthier than the scones she used to eat for breakfast.  No one should be derailed by what someone else tells you you should or shouldn’t eat or buy.

Here’s my Mom’s favorite Green Smoothie Recipe

Ratio 60% fruit to 40% greens

  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Parsley

Combine all ingredients with water and ice. Blend.


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10 Aug

Shopping Smart Means More Cabinet Space

Posted in 70 meals one trip to the store, Smart Ingredients on 10.08.10 by Smart Ingredients

Going shopping when you shop Smart can be so stress free, you may wonder what you’re missing. You know that feeling of “what am I forgetting?” at the grocery store if you’ve forgotten your list? I was hit with that feeling during today’s shopping trip, as after being out of town for a week, and with a nearly empty fridge, I expected I would need a lot of things at the store. But I quickly realized those thoughts as I knew what they meant – there really wan’t much that I needed.

I grabbed a package of fresh mushrooms knowing I have ground beef in the freezer (from last week’s stock up) and every thing else I need to make salisbury steak. I grabbed avocados, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce, knowing that with them I can make many variations of tacos/tostadas with the chicken, shrimp, beef and tortillas I have in the freezer.

Then, because I had room to spare in both the cart and the budget, I added a brisket and cranberry sauce to my cart to make my favorite elegant meal, Cranberry Brisket, from the Cook Once… Eat Twice! cookbook.

When I got home to unload, there was plenty of room in the cabinets to unload my groceries — and I don’t have that much cabinet space. The thing is, after you really get into shopping Smart, and buying ingredients that you use over and over in many different dinners, you are buying a whole lot less of “this and that”. Believe me, “this and that” can take up an incredible amount of room in your cabinets and storage space. And because it’s only rarely used, it doesn’t move. When you buy Smart ingredients, you use them. And you’re buying less clutter, so your cabinets become naturally organized.

My Smart ingredients are mostly the things on the 70 Meals, One Trip to the Store shopping lists (These can be seen, and printed, off the Smart Ingredients page of the website), along with a few of my favorite seasonings and frozen shrimp. Your Smart Ingredients can vary based on what dinners are a sure-fire hit for your family. What’s your family’s Smartest ingredient?

If you’re a blog subscriber you should have received a coupon code via e-mail for the new copy of the 70 Meals, One Trip to the Store cookbook, including beautiful photos, extras and a fantastic new design by Studio One Eleven If you own an original copy of the book, check out the Shop page for information on how to order a replacement copy at cost. Thanks Studio One Eleven, we love our new look!


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10 Jun

Shopping Smart

Posted in Shop Smart, Smart Ingredients on 10.06.10 by Smart Ingredients

The most important part of grocery shopping is to make sure you buy Smart Ingredients. What are Smart Ingredients?
Ingredients that add up. Do you know what I mean? Surely you have a lot of this-and-that in your cupboards. But do you, every night, feel like they can be mixed and matched to make dozens of dinners? I didn’t used to. Before I started Organizing Dinner, I knew I had a lot of stuff. But whenever I went to make a recipe, there seemed to always be something, some random fresh or packaged ingredient I didn’t have. I spent a few years figuring out ways to avoid the “never having the right ingredients” gap in my cabinets and fridge. What I discovered and solidified as the key to kitchen success became what I call Smart Ingredients. Ingredients that are easy and inexpensive to keep on hand, and when mixed + matched = dinner. Simple, fast, hot and healthy. Without a moment’s worry. Is it that easy, you ask? Yes. Join our blog and learn for yourself what to shop for and how to use it. Not convinced? Click on one of the subscription options at the right to subscribe, and become one of the lucky winners of the Smart Ingredients Test Kitchen who will receive free Smart Ingredients in the mail, along with the book that puts them all together in one shopping trip for 6 months worth of dinner “70 Meals, One Trip to the Store.” One winner will be randomly selected each month. When notified, we will arrange for a delivery of Smart Ingredients to your door. Use them, and hot, healthy, homemade dinner success will become a daily routine in your household. Also, each week you will gain smart shopping tips, weeknight dinner recipes, and kitchen organization tips.


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