by Janetha on August 30, 2010

in meals

a few announcements:

i am sure there are several other announcements around blog land~ but that list will have to do for now. i’ve got some rambling to attend to!


WOW, so.. i am flattered at all the compliments you guys left me regarding my planning and organizational skills when it comes to meal plans and budgeting. BUT, i do want to clarify something, before you all think i am some mathematically organized saint.  i don’t do those calculations every week! i actually have never calculated the average price per meal and until my post last night, i had no idea how the dollars and cents actually broke down. 

the reason i started planning is because i don’t live as close the the grocery store as i used to and it is inconvenient to go every day like i used to.  yes, i used to go to the grocery store EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  by making one big trip each weekend, i am saving time, gas and energy.  plus i am less likely to make “impulse buys”.  so, in addition to eliminating extra trips to the store, this meal planning thing has also helped us save mucho dinero (lotsa money).  if we do go to the store mid-week, it is to purchase one or two items that were possibly forgotten. or a corkscrew. don’t worry, that one is covered as of last thursday.

what i do is actually quite simple, anyone can do it. yes, even YOU! (i am talking to YOU!)

  • plan 4 dinners for the week.  to do this, i ask marshall what he feels like, i ask myself what i feel like, and i try to plan a nice variety.  this week we have two chicken dishes: one with rice and one with potatoes. one ground beef/mexican dish. one tofu/italian dish. 
  • make a meal plan list of ingredients needed for the dinners (after checking what you currently have in stock at home)
  • make a meal plan list of breakfast and lunch items that you are out of (our breakfasts and lunches rarely change so this is simple)
  • make a MASTER shopping list that has each ingredient on the list only once and it appears on the list according to the section of the store.
    • sometimes you will have two dinners that call for the same ingredient. for example, chicken breasts. on the meal plan list it is written twice. on the grocery list it is written once, with a “x2” by it.
    • it is so much more efficient to list all produce items first, then canned items, then dairy items, and so on. this way i am not all over the store and i only go down each aisle once!
  • when at the store, add up the total as you go.  i admit, i don’t look at the ads or shop around for the best deal. i like to go to one grocery store and that’s it.  i will always opt for the brand that is on sale on most items (but there are a few items that i have brand loyalty to!) and i will just add the (approximate) total as i throw things in my cart.  when i am inching close to $100, i stop shopping.  usually i get everything i need before the $100 mark.  if this is not the case, i look in my cart and evaluate the situation. take out any items i do NOT need, or determine if the extra $$$ is justified.

so.. that is pretty simple! it is not a complicated process at all.  i think i made it seem complicated last night with all my numbers and prices per meal.. but i definitely don’t do that every week!  i just wanted to show you how the money broke down.  as long as i am spending less than $100 a week on groceries and no more than $200 month on staple items, i’m good to go.


this morning it was a downpour! i had blended my usual breakfast of a protein shake but decided i couldn’t drink it.  it was WAY too cold out.  i managed to suck down almost half of it and then cried “mercy!” and switched to hot coffee.  this left me starving by 10 AM. not cool.

oh, i guess i should mention, our usual monday morning sales meeting meal at the original pancake house has been canceled until the economy gets better.  we still have the meeting, just no breakfast. spending $6,000 annually on breakfast once a week was not beneficial to the company as a whole. sigh, cry, no more eggbeaters and oatmeal on monday for me. that is, unless i make it myself.

anyway, back to my starving belly at 10 AM.  i dug around the cupboards at work to see what i had to munch on until lunch time. 


i was fortunate enough to find some muesli which i combined with almond milk and a spoonful of mighty maple peanut butter.


this was about half of my usual breakfast serving, the perfect amount to tide me over to lunch.


last night i baked some sweet potatoes so i could eat them for lunch this week. i forgot about my intense love for this combo:


that right there is one baked sweet potato, 1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese, 1 TB sunflower seed butter and a healthy dose of reduced sugar ketchup.


it’s got it all: healthy carbs, casein protein, good fat, chemicals (haha) and a whole lot of flavor.


don’t knock it ‘til you try it!


i am not going to lie. i haven’t worked out since last thursday! i usually take fridays off and then do a tough workout saturday and a light workout sunday.. but the stye in my eye left me lazy on the couch and no workout in sight.  unfortunately, i woke up this morning and the stye was WORSE. ugh. don’t worry, mama pea, i went to the doc straight from work.

the eye doc couldn’t do much for my stye, but i did get an eye exam while i was there and he dilated my pupils.  i am finally going to get some glasses.. i wore glasses from 3rd grade until 7th grade, then i got contacts and have basically left them in for the past 15  years. i am horrible at taking out my contacts and i desperately need eyeglasses so i will take my contacts out! i just hate not being able to see.

between the stye and the pupil dilation, i was a total wreck.  i wanted to work out, but my eyes were NOT cooperating. it is a pretty frustrating feeling.

i camped out on the couch with a rag on my eye, thought long and hard about going to the gym, but then realized it would be stupid to force myself to do something when i am not feeling 100%.  i will just have to hit it hard when i feel better!


marshall requested hawaiian haystacks for dinner.  i had to google this one!  come to find out, momma b apparently made it for us “all the time” when i was a kid.  i have zero recollection of this.  i guess i was just too busy making up recipes of my own to notice recipes i was eating. (doesn’t every eight year old do that?)

once i consulted the interwebs, i learned that hawaiian haystacks didn’t even originate in hawaii.. but were dubbed hawaiian due to the fact that the stack involves pineapple.  um, ok?  maybe every recipe i make with pineapple should have the word “hawaiian” before it from now on. who’s with me?

although i was perplexed by the name, i still learned the essential ingredients to make hawaiian haystacks.  turns out they are SUPER simple!


this morning, i put the following into the slow cooker on low heat:

  • 1.5 lb chicken, diced into 3/4” cubes
  • 2 cans healthy request cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can low sodium chicken broth

it was a tad too liquidy when i got home.  i added a teaspoon of xanthan gum to thicken it up and that did the trick!


i promise that is not dog hair. it is just stringy chicken. which sounds equally as appealing.. right?


i prepped and set out the following toppings:

  • brown rice
  • white rice
  • diced green onions
  • shredded cheddar & monterey jack cheeses
  • diced tomatoes
  • diced celery
  • chow mein noodles
  • crushed pineapple
  • shredded coconut
  • slivered almonds


when marshall got home from a long day’s work,(and i mean LONG DAY.. he wasn’t home until 8! sad wife) we assembled our own personal haystacks.

his (on a dinner plate):


hers (on a salad plate): IMG_1052IMG_1050

something should be said for marshall’s belly capacity.  he ate TWO full dinner sized platefuls. i barely finished my salad plate stack ‘o hay. that boy can eat!

the verdict?

i really enjoyed the topping combinations! the crunchy chow mein noodles, the sweet but sour pineapple, the crisp celery and onions.  it all worked so well together.

what i didn’t really love is the cream of chicken sauce that the chicken was in.  i do like cream of chicken sauce, but not by itself. it was just too.. blah for me.  next time, i think this dish would be fabulous with some barbecue chicken or a sweet and sour sauce!  i am excited to play around with the recipe.

in other news.. i have had a sweet tooth every night for the past couple weeks. i am trying to break this habit because i used to not require a night time treat EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.  i am not saying that dessert is bad, but when i am still full from dinner and am just eating dessert for the sake of eating dessert.. well, i have a problem with that.  so, this week, i am making a conscious effort to only eat after dinner if i am truly hungry.  i am not one of those people who think it is bad to eat after a certain time, i am all about going to bed with a full belly! but the extra bowls of ice cream and creamies and cookies are getting a tad ridiculous, so i am putting myself in check. the end.

keep your fingers crossed that i wake up with a healthy eye!


1. have you ever had hawaiian haystacks? do you like them? my answer above.

2. how is your vision? do you wear contacts, glasses, or none of the above? i am B-L-I-N-D! as i mentioned, i have had corrective lenses since the third grade. your regular four eyes! now that i wear contacts, my prescription is minus 5.0 in each eye.

xo. janetha g.

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Ashley August 30, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I got the PRK surgery (Similar to LASIK) a year ago and it was the best decision I have made in my life so far. I was blind as a bat before and now I can see everything. I actually have 20/15 vision. I can see the clock in the morning, don’t have to search for my glasses in case I fell asleep with them and woke up with them missing…absolutely nothing. Just get up and go. I HIGHLY recommend it and it was worth every penny. If you have any more questions about it let me know!

sophia August 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I am blind without my contacts. I won’t be able to tell the difference between my face and a duck’s.

Anyway. What I love about you is that you don’t have an ounce of snobbery in you. You give such relatable, easy to follow advices that is conversational, instead of sounding like you’re dumbing us down. And you’re so real. It shines out of your blog.

Good luck with your health goals.

Love ya, Janetha.

lisaou11 August 30, 2010 at 9:57 pm

thanks for breakin your grocery shoppin down! I have this post saved and will be looking at this weekend when I start meal planning. You’se the best :)

Lindsay R. August 30, 2010 at 10:05 pm

I’ve been visiting your blog more and more lately through my reader, I’m addicted! :) Congrats on your wedding, house, everything! Very exciting

And no, never had a hawaiin haystack, looks pretty simple and good though!

Oh, and I’m -7.0 in the Left and -5.75 in the Right. It’s super fun to be blind, right?! ;)

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) August 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm

“, i am saving time, gas and energy. plus i am less likely to make “impulse buys”. so, in addition to eliminating extra trips to the store, this meal planning thing has also helped us save mucho dinero “–


and when you do have a kid, getting thru the groc store 1-2x/week is ALL you will be able to manage. The baby stage you never leave the house or with a huge ass bag of diapers, wipes, etc just to go to the store is not fun. Crawling stage, horrible. Walking stage they touch everything and want to eat whatever they find. It’s just good you are forming new habits, now!

Your stye and your vision, glad you got them checked out.

All that soup in that recipe was making me bloated from here. The water retention from all the sodium in the soup is why I dont ever eat commercially made soup. Lol. Other than that, I would love to be able to make stuff like that for Scott…easy, no brainer stuff…but i need a slow cooker first :)

paijery August 30, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Those haystacks look YUUMMY! I loove pineapple on everything :)

I have never had glasses! Perfect vision over here!

edenseats August 31, 2010 at 12:42 am

I used to go to a few stores a day! now I’m better but I still find myself going a few times a week. You’d think I’d be better about this since I went to culinary school. but no, I suck at it.
I’ve never had any sort of haystack! but I’d love to try!
My mom’s whole side of the family is practically blind, but I think I got my dads genes since I have perfect vision. I always wanted glasses though! I spent 100 bucks on a pair on elizabeth arden glasses when I was 15!

MelissaNibbles August 31, 2010 at 2:35 am

I’ve never heard of haystacks. I should try them.
I wear glasses 24/7. If I don’t I have to use a guide dog.
I go to the grocery store almost every day. I need to do just one big trip, but I always need something!

Naomi(onefitfoodie) August 31, 2010 at 3:38 am

i am doing the same thing with grocery shopping these days! i usually go sundays for my BIG shop, then prep food for the week. I try to get everything I need, but usually end up taking one more trip later for some extra veggies etc. For teh msot part, to save money I like doing it in 1 trip! i know myself, and know I could buy the whoel store if I go too often!

I am BLIND as a bat without contacts or glasses. I really think I am legally blind without them. I will never drive without them! that would be a scary lady on the road :)

i love that dinner and how you make it so pretty! Boys are so wierd becuase they can eat SO much and not gain an oz (well that goes for Jason too!)I have had those haystacks before, they are good! adds a nice crunch to any stirfry style dish

maybe next time with the chicken try low sodium soy sauce or teriyake sauce instead of the soup?


April August 31, 2010 at 4:13 am

DUDE! My contacts were -5.75 before I got laser eye surgery 7 years ago. TOTALLY worth EVERY penny.(not your cute pup)

I’ve had the haystacks you make with chow mein noodles and butterscotch mmmm…

Jessica @ How Sweet It Is August 31, 2010 at 4:39 am

I’ve never had them! But i would like to try.
I am pretty blind too! I wear glasses but contacts during the day!

Lauren August 31, 2010 at 4:52 am

Aww, sorry to hear about the stye! I wouldn’t have much desire to workout either. Don’t blame you one bit. Just get better love! ;)

No, I have not tried haystacks but you bet your bottom dollar I’m going to try them now! They sound/look awesome!

My vision is AWFUL!!!! I can’t function without my contacts and I also have optic nerve damage that completely depletes any peripheral vision. So yeah, it sucks.

Katie August 31, 2010 at 5:12 am

I hope your eye is better today : ( I know that has to be painful

I am loving the post before this, just read it, I try to plan our meals for the week here too, it makes life easier for sure!

Oh I have been eating after dinner every nite too even when Im not hungry! I need to work on that! xoxo

Erica August 31, 2010 at 5:13 am

I am on team blind as well! -3.5 in both here. I have glasses, but I always wear my contacts instead. The Hawaiian haystacks look like fun. I like how you can choose your build up! I follow pretty much the same steps in terms of my grocery shopping. I go 1 time per week for a big shop and then usually do a veggie/fruit restock in the middle. I actually really enjoy planning out my meals. Have a great day pretty lady

Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) August 31, 2010 at 5:56 am

Never had haystacks, but they look yummy!

I hear ya on the sweet tooth. Mine has been ravaging after dinner for the last few weeks, and although desserts are totally fine… too many is too many!

I am blind as a bat. Glasses fo me, all the time.


Sarah S. August 31, 2010 at 6:30 am

-8.25 per eye.

beat that.


thedelicateplace August 31, 2010 at 6:30 am

1. never had the haystacks but i’ve been to hawaii!
2. i wear contact lenses but also have purple glasses :) i switch it up, i like think the frames enhance my nerdiness
3. as far as having a sweet tooth, i’ve noticed if i eat a lot of fruit during the day my desire for dessert increases. if i have a savory day planned, it curbs my sweet tooth

Annie August 31, 2010 at 6:56 am

I hope you wake up with no sty!

I’m totally blind without my contacts; I’m -7 in both eyes! I started wearing glasses in 2nd grade.

I haven’t been meal planning recently because my SO and I have been alternating being out of town. Now that traveling has settled down, I’ll get back into it.

julie August 31, 2010 at 7:52 am

goooood morning sunshine! do you have a healthy eye?? i hope so :)

i turned into the something sweet after dinner and to solve that (unless my bell is fulled to the maximus with food) i have a little ghiradelli square! we keep the extra dark bag in the freezer (either the 60%, 72% or 86%) and then if i want something sweet i just grab 1 square! its like 55 calories of pure bliss :)

Freckled Foodie August 31, 2010 at 8:26 am

i’m terrrrribleee at taking my contacts out tooo…can’t tell you how many times i’ve had to come in late to work because i couldn’t even keep my eyes open without them watering due to leaving them in overnight! i know, my retinas hate me.

hope your eye is healthy!

the hawaiian haystacks look good! my dad used to always make them but not homemade. he cooked some rice and used these canned veggies with chicken.

apartmentnearchinatown August 31, 2010 at 8:47 am

I’m definitely going to have to try the haystack recipe! Something my boyfriend might actually eat!

I’ve been wearing glasses and contacts since 5th grade. I finally switched to daily contacts to get out of the bad habit of leaving them in! I wear contacts 3-4 days a week and glasses the other days :)

RunToTheFinish August 31, 2010 at 9:19 am

ohh that looks totally yummy. I only remember haystacks as a chocolate treat

lowandbhold August 31, 2010 at 9:44 am

I’ve never heard of those, but they do sound pretty tasty! Not sure that pineapple warrants the term Hawaiian, but I’m down with it I suppose.

My vision in TERRIBLE!! I had bottle-rim thick glasses since 1st grade and now I wear -6.50 contacts. Blah. I wish I could wear glasses by they hurt my nose and give me a huge headache and I feel like I can’t really see well out of them.

I hope your stye gets better soon! I bought some stye drops a while back at the pharmacy to have on hand in case I ever got another one. Not sure if it works or not… but perhaps an option?

Sara August 31, 2010 at 10:13 am

Plus, by not going to the gym while your eye is all busted, you didn’t have to freak anyone else out with thoughts of “am I going to get whatever she has in her eye?!” :P hehe. Hope your eye gets better fast! :)

coffeeandthepaper August 31, 2010 at 11:15 am

I need to try that sweet p combo. When I am able to find the single brand of cottage cheese that I like, that is.

Girl, I am blind as a bat without my contacts! Totally Thelma from Scooby Doo.

Kristy August 31, 2010 at 11:18 am

I used to get stye’s in my eyes all the time, one eye doctor told me to heat up a regular potato in the microwave for a few minutes then wrap it in a warm wash rag and put it on your eye. I guess the starch in the potato is supposed to help the stye.

Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) August 31, 2010 at 11:28 am

I seriously prefer glasses to contacts. I would just forget to take them out. I’m horrible like that. Plus glasses are sexy. Right? hahah I started wearing glasses when I turned 20.

I think it’s smart not to force yourself to workout when you’re really not feeling it. I hope that stye goes away ASAP!

I’ve never heard of a Hawaiian Haystack but it looks pretty delicious. I’ll need to try it! I make dinner with the slow cooker on nights when I have class till 7. it’s so handy.

I’m still working on the dessert thing. I want to have dessert/sugary goodness twice a week. It’s a process. I didn’t do dessert last night and I’m super proud. it’s the little things!

GetHealthyWithHeather August 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I’ve never had Hawaiian haystacks and was actually expecting to see some kind of chicken pineapple stack hehe… Guess I didn’t know what to expect but it looks tasty. I’m note a huge cream of chicken fan but sweet n sour chicken would be super good I bet.

Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine August 31, 2010 at 12:46 pm

i love the idea of hawaiian haystacks!! i’m sure it would be just as good with tofu, too. bookmarking now!!

sorry to hear about your eye!! i have really weird vision- one eye is nearsighted, the other is farsighted. i have glasses but rarely wear them because it just bugs me to have them across my face!!

Paige (Running Around Normal) August 31, 2010 at 12:54 pm

What a bummer the breakfast is cancelled! I can definitely see the logic though.
Once you get in the habbit of dessert every night, it’s very hard to break. I know first hand, heh heh
My visions pretty ok. I have glasses but I don’t wear them, and my eyes regurgitate contacts.

Tina August 31, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I did the same thing. I would always wear my contacts and never let my eyes breathe. For years! I finally got some to have when M was born and love having that option now.

Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary) August 31, 2010 at 3:51 pm

When I go to the store I always organize my list like that. I thought I was the only one. I mean, it saves SO much time when you have it all in order. My list is divided by: produce, dairy/ meats, dry goods, frozen. I’ve even had some fellow shoppers laugh at my list a few times ;P

I’ve never heard of hawaiin haystacks, but they sound pretty damn good. I love things I can either throw in the crockpot and/ or do all the prep work ahead of time. Looks like hawaiian haystacks are a win – win in my book. I’ll have to agree with you on the cream soups. To me, it tastes salty, but flavorless. *shrugs* What if you use teryaki sauce instead of those soups …? I think I may have a recipe idea brewing!

When I was 18 I noticed that if I sat at the back of the class the board was starting to get a little fuzzy. I got glasses and contacts for my teeny, tiny correction (ie -.5 & -.75) and have been wearing them ever since. I have REALLY dry eyes and that means I can’t leave my contacts in for very long, esp on windy or hot days (or in rooms with fans), or it feels like my contacts have been blow dried to my cornea… it sucks. Recently got some new glasses and don’t mind wearing them as much… Brian says I look like a sexy librarian. Such a sweetie!

Kailey (SnackFace) August 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm

JANETHA PETHA!!!! (that’s peetha, I swear…and I don’t know why I want to say that URRTIME I write/read/say your name, say your name.)

First things first, I miss you. K. I feel better now.

I’ve had a mayj sweet tooth after dinner lately, too, and I used to not always require a dessert. I have no problem with assuaging it, though, because then I’ll just think about it all night. No bueno for me!

1. I have never even heard of a hawaiian haystack prior to this post!

2. I have some v. stylish glasses for distance. I barely need them. I lost my last pair and when I went to the Dr., he said, “I see why you lost them, you don’t really need them!” Little does he know how difficult it can be to read boards, signs, etc., especially if I’ve been reading/looking at a computer all day.

Anyway, hope you’re having a lovely evening! Luuub you!

Katie August 31, 2010 at 5:46 pm

I have had a Hawaiian haystack – but I think I called it something different, I can’t remember what…anyway, it was yummy.

I’ve work glasses/contacts since 6th grade. I mostly wear contacts now, I think I’m at about a -2.5 in both eyes. Not positive though, they change constantly.

BroccoliHut August 31, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Ooh!! I MUST try the cottage cheese/ketchup combo on my next sweet potato…midnight snack?

balancejoyanddelicias August 31, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I can’t believe you never take out your contacts!!! I’ve been wearing it for the last 15 years but I religiously take them out EVERY NIGHT and whenever I work at home, I wear glasses.
I love love love your lunch combo… first I though what’s the green thing there? woooo… sunflower seed better , green? really? cute! I’ll definitely try this combo out!
I know what you mean by eating dessert just for the sake of eating it. It’s annoying. There’s one thing called habit! good and bad habit. And you know what? if you put enough effort on not eating it for 1-2 weeks, new habit kicks in! :D
2) I’m blind without contacts/glass.

Mary (A Merry Life) August 31, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I love your process for meal planning shopping. That’s the general way I did it when I lived alone and probably what I’ll go back to once I get married and move out with Kepa.

Never had hawaiin haystacks.

I wear glasses and contacts too. My prescription is close to yours, just .25 better. ;)

elise September 1, 2010 at 1:43 am

duuuude. thank you so much!!! hawaii is fab and i only wanted to pop over to say thanks for the nice message. we are now old married maids together :)

Jen September 1, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I just started meal planning about a year ago and I have saved SO much money I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this earlier!! I make a menu for dinners for 4 nights during the week, a loose menu for breakfasts and lunches and snacks are always fruits and/or vegetables and then base my shopping list off of the menu for the week

I had never heard of a hawaiian haystack until I met my husband, I have had them before, but have never made them, I think they will be going on a future meal plan :)

I am blind, just got my first pair of glasses in March when I barely passed the vision test to renew my driver’s license. Yikes.


Heather September 1, 2010 at 3:01 pm

i’ve never heard of or tried hawaiian haystacks but i would love to try them now! also, i am completely blind without my contacts. one day i’ll get lasik…one day :)

StephanieinSuburbia September 1, 2010 at 7:36 pm

My eyes were negative 7! I got lasik a few years ago…best decision I ever made!!! I see 20/40 right now and my life feels 1,000 times less complicated.

closet365project September 2, 2010 at 8:41 am

OMG! I thought my mom invented Hawaain Haystacks beacause everyone I ask has NEVER heard of them. They’re a family favorite in my family. We still eat them on special occasions. Your pictures totally captured what they are and I am so hungry for them now! Ha!

Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) September 2, 2010 at 11:14 am

Why oh why does Sunflower butter look like barf yet taste so good? Just curious.

Never heard of Hawaiian Haystacks! I guess I’ve lived under a rock!

Love you!

Jenny September 2, 2010 at 7:35 pm

omgsh I adore you so much it hurts!

Barbara September 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I hope that by the time I read this (3 days behind) your eye is fine! Otherwise- CAMOMILE! Either make a double strength tea, let it cool and soak your eye with it using a cotton ball, or make a concentrated version, and mix it with some eye soother liquid. It works wonders!

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