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Grocery Spending/Menu Plan | Plastic vs. Cloth Edition

Both when I posted this photo in September (while we were on vacation) and when I used it as an illustration for my Walmart post, several people have been vaguely horrified at the pile of plastic bags in the back of my van.

So, to make you feel better, here is a picture of what the back of my van usually looks like after a grocery shopping trip.

See? I really do think reusable bags are the way to go (yay for reducing plastic consumption!). I bring my reusable bags with me when I shop, almost without fail. It’s only on vacation that I end up using plastic bags, and that’s because my reusable bags are filled with beach towels, sand toys, and shoes (they double as luggage in our house!). Incidentally, I ended up being highly grateful that we got plastic bags because on the way home from vacation, one of our kiddos came down with a stomach bug, and reusable bags are nowhere near as handy as plastic bags in that situation. 😉

Here’s the stuff that was inside my reusable bags (I apologize for the dizzying effect this photo angle may have upon you…I will not do that again!).

You might be wondering why in the world I bought 3 whole bags of candy…stay tuned, and I’ll show you later this week. 😉

For breakfast this week, we’ll be eating muffins, oatmeal, toast, yogurt, bananas, and maybe some granola if I manage to make some.

Lunches will be homemade yogurt, yogurt smoothies, fruit, sandwiches, and leftovers as necessary.

And here’s our dinner plan:

Saturday-Due to a belated menu planning session, we ended up having our usual Saturday night pizza on Thursday (this confused Zoe no end…she was sure it was Saturday night because we were having pizza!). So tonight’s meal is the meal originally slated for this past Thursday.

  • Seafood Subs (on purchased buns, no less. Chalk this up to chef who is a little overwhelmed right now!)
  • potato chips
  • fruit salad



  • Chicken Tacos
  • fruit salad
  • chips and fresh salsa

Tuesday-This is Sonia’s birthday, so she’s picked this meal. 60,000 bonus points to her for choosing such an easy meal, because her birthday falls on my piano teaching day this year!

  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (that’s what the loaf of purchased bread is for)
  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Jello (a combo of Berry Blue and Rasberry…she chose these at the store herself)
  • Birthday Cake and Ice Cream




  • Orange-Honey Glazed Chicken Breasts
  • Challah
  • green beans

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Sharon Lea

Wednesday 3rd of March 2010

It's taken this ole' Nana quite a while to get used to remembering the bags - so here's what finally did the trick. I keep two or three tucked under the right floor mat withthe handles in sight. Somehow that finally got it through my thick skull to remember the things. I truly feel virtuous carrying them in my hand like a good little girl. Love your work. I really enjoy the entries and am snacking on cheap homemade yogurt as I write this. It is truly amazingly delicious. Blessings, Sharon Lea


Sunday 28th of February 2010

I'm so glad that you use reusable bags too. It's reassuring that there are other frugal moms out there who take the time to use them. I feel guilty if I ever forget them. I'm reading a book called "No Impact Man", have you heard of him? He's trying to live one year without waste. It's pretty good. :) He also talks about reusable bags. I have a video from YouTube on my blog about him. Check it out.


Sunday 28th of February 2010

I am new reader, joined after you were on TV last week. Great Job! Wondered about how much of your shopping is done at Aldi vs. Weis? And which one do you go to first? I went to Aldi yesterday and really liked the price of their produce but they didn't carry everything I needed for the week, so I ended up going to Harris Teeter because I don't enjoy Walmart especially on Saturdays.


Sunday 28th of February 2010

I also use reusable bags. But I have a concern about them. They obviously can be reused many, many times, but eventually they also will get holes/break past the point of fixing or sewing them back up and I hate to think how many of them will be filling landfills in 5 - 10 years' time. The upside of using plastic bags is that they are recyclable (at least they are here in New Zealand)


Sunday 28th of February 2010

That's a really interesting point, Franci; hadn't thought of that before. You make a good argument for using sturdy cotton bags or something else that's long lasting and recyclable.

If not, them if your bags are cloth, they could become rags or composted. If they're plasticy, then they may be recycled plastic already - at least they often are in the US. If that's the case then you've saved the world the need to make 5-10 years' worth of plastic bags for one household, which isn't perfect but is an advance over what would have happened otherwise.

Thought of another use: to stuff things, like draft dodgers or stuffed animals.

Katie Roberts

Saturday 27th of February 2010

Kristen, I love your blog, read it daily, and often recommend it to family and friends. I'm especially curious about your Sunday menus...they always seem quite light (this week just breakfast?). Do you eat Sunday dinner out? with family? fast?

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