Brandon Bosses You Around Part 2 (Minimalism and Grocery Lists)

Time for the next installment in the Brandon tells you how to live series; Grocery shopping! I can’t think of a more exciting topic to discuss (WordPress doesn’t give the option to insert the standard eye roll emoji, so just assume it to be placed here).

Picking up from the last blog,(https://brandonpeterslpc.wordpress.com/2019/08/07/brandon-bosses-you-around-1-minimalism-mental-emotional-health-and-meal-planning/) once you’ve created your menu and done a few more up front steps, creating your grocery list is mostly copy, paste, purchase. Let’s start with the “up front steps” and then I’ll move on to some examples. First, you’ll need to create what I call the “Non Menu Grocery List”. As the name implies, this is a list of items that won’t fit neatly into your menu for the week. Maybe you like Gatorade from those little bottles they sell. Maybe it’s 6 pack of beer, or a bag of pretzels or maybe it’s gum to help with your stank breath. What I’m talking about is making a list of those items that you won’t be using directly for your meals but that you like to keep on hand anyway. An example would be hot sauce. I may not use Frank’s hot sauce in my actual food prep but it’s nice to have on hand if I want to flavor up one of the meals I have prepared. Another example is chips. I love, love, LOVE store brand nacho cheese tortilla chips. I can easily run through an entire bag in a single setting if I don’t exercise some self control. I like to keep a bag or two of them on hand but I’ll never actually be using them for a recipe. (Side note: I like chips so much that a LONG time ago I wrote a stupid poem about them and posted it to MySpace. If you can find it, I’ll give you 5 bucks.  The winner of the $5 will likely be my buddy Donald who is an avid reader and frequent smart ass critique-er of my blogs. IT’S ON SON!)  

Here’s an actual copy of my Non Menu Grocery List:

Soy sauce

Banana

Blueberries

Raspberries

Zucchini

Jalapeno

Black beans

Boca soy crumbles

Habanero sauce

Taco seasoning

Garlic powder

Chopped spinach

Tony Chachere seasoning

Plantains

Morningstar chicken nuggets

Frank’s hot sauce

Corn chips

Cheese pizza

Green olives

Canned potatoes

Tomato soup

Veggie soup

Corn

Spinach

Asparagus

Trader Joe’s rice

Peas

Chopped peppers

Bell peppers 

Tortilla chips

Celery

Garlic

Oregano

Paprika

Cayenne pepper

Black pepper

Apples

Apple juice

Grape juice

Tortillas

Flour

Chickpeas

Mayonnaise

Dill weed

Lemon juice

Canned Potatoes

Cashews

Cilantro

Brown rice

Cumin

Paprika

Egg noodles

Peanut butter

Lime juice

Roasted peanuts

Seitan

Cauliflower

Gum

Trader Joe’s Mandarin chicken

Trader Joe’s Mozzarella burger

Trader Joe’s Fruit Squishee

Trader Joe’s Plantain chips

Pepperoni Pizza

Pringles

PB+J Crackers

Bagels

Almond milk

Trader Joe’s Veggie lasagna

There’s no place in my recipes for bagels but my daughter will eat them for breakfast. There’s no recipe that calls for PB&J crackers but they’re a good on the go snack. I eat cereal with almond milk 4 days a week but it’s not necessarily a “menu item” if you will. Point is, you’ll need to create a list like this to account for odds and ends that don’t fit into your menu.

Next step:

Once you have your menu and your non menu list completed, start copying and pasting! Here’s my menu for week 37 of the year (which it happens to be right now, Check out https://whatweekisit.com if you don’t want to calculate it) for this 2 week grocery shopping cycle. (I like to buy a few things for that 3rd week just in case something puts grocery shopping behind):

WEEK 35 Trader Joe’s Enchiladas, Side of the week- Broccoli and Cheese
Dinner – Chickpea Curry 

WEEK 36 Veggie Spaghetti, Side of the week– Columbian Lentils
Dinner – Potato Curry

WEEK 37 Veggie Tacos, Side of the week- Spanish Rice
Dinner – Bean and Salsa Torta 

Here then is my grocery list, copied and pasted from documents I created and then saved in my email (thus giving me easy access at all times):

Trader Joe’s Enchiladas x 6

Broccoli and cheese x 6

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

4 teaspoons curry powder

4 teaspoons garam masala

1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

1 (15 ounce) can peas, drained

1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk

Spaghetti noodles

Uncle Ben’s Spanish rice x 6

1 15-ounce can black beans, or pinto beans, rinsed

3 tablespoons prepared salsa

1 tablespoon jalapeño

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 ripe avocado, pitted

2 tablespoons minced onion

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 16- to 20-inch-long baguette, preferably whole-grain

1⅓ cups shredded green cabbage

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 whole cloves

1 white onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 ounces tomato paste

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 pinch ground allspice

1 pinch salt

3 cups warm water, or as needed

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

1/3 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed

1 cup frozen peas

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup lentils

1 1/2 cups water

1 small tomato, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 small yellow potatoes, cubed

Tortillas

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Trader Joe’s peppers

Taco seasoning

Habanero sauce

Frank’s hot sauce

Olives

Boca soy crumbles

Now add on the Non menu grocery list Items:

Trader Joe’s Enchiladas x 6

Broccoli and cheese x 6

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

4 teaspoons curry powder

4 teaspoons garam masala

1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

1 (15 ounce) can peas, drained

1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk

Spaghetti noodles

Uncle Ben’s Spanish rice x 6

1 15-ounce can black beans, or pinto beans, rinsed

3 tablespoons prepared salsa

1 tablespoon jalapeño

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 ripe avocado, pitted

2 tablespoons minced onion

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 16- to 20-inch-long baguette, preferably whole-grain

1⅓ cups shredded green cabbage

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 whole cloves

1 white onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 ounces tomato paste

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 pinch ground allspice

1 pinch salt

3 cups warm water, or as needed

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

1/3 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed

1 cup frozen peas

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup lentils

1 1/2 cups water

1 small tomato, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 small yellow potatoes, cubed

Tortillas

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Trader Joe’s peppers

Taco seasoning

Habanero sauce

Franks

Olives

Boca soy rumbles

Soy sauce

Banana

Blueberries

Raspberries

Zucchini

Jalapeno

Black beans

Boca soy crumbles

Habanero sauce

Taco seasoning

Garlic powder

Chopped spinach

Tony chachere’s

Plantains

Faux chicken nuggets

Franks

Corn chips

Cheese pizza

Green olives

Canned potatoes

Tomato soup

Veggie soup

Corn

Spinach

Asparagus

Trader Joe’s rice

Peas

Chopped peppers

Bell peppers X 2 (for stuffed peppers)

Tortilla chips

Celery

Garlic

Oregano

Paprika

Cayenne

Black pepper

Apples

Apple juice

Grape juice

Tortillas

Flour

Chickpeas

Mayonnaise

Dill weed

Lemon juice

Canned Potatoes

Cashews

Cilantro

Brown rice

Cumin

Paprika

Egg noodles

Peanut butter

Lime juice

Roasted peanuts

Seitan

Cauliflower

Gum

Trader Joe’s mandarin chicken

Trader Joe’s mozzarella burger

Trader Joe’s fruit squishee

Trader Joe’s plantain chips

Pepperoni Pizza

Pringles

PB+J Crackers

Bagels

Almond milk

Trader Joe’s Veggie lasagna

DEAR GOD WHAT A LONG, UNWIELDY LIST! THAT’LL COST A ZILLON DOLLARS A MONTH! Calm down, there are a few more steps. Go through and eliminate any duplicates, things you may not need for this particular menu cycle, as well as the measurements and such from your list and you’ll have this:

Trader Joe’s enchiladas x 6

Brocoli and cheese x 6

Potatoes

Vegetable oil

Onion

Garlic

Cumin

Cayenne pepper

Curry powder

Garam masala

Ginger

Diced tomatoes

Chickpeas

Peas

Spaghetti noodles

Spanish rice x 6

Black beans

Salsa

Jalapeño

Avocado

Lime juice

Hoagie rolls

Cabbage

Olive oil

Cloves

Tomato paste

Flour

Turmeric

Garlic powder

Basil

Allspice

Red bell pepper

Green beans

Vinegar

Lentils

Tortillas

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Trader Joe’s peppers

Taco seasoning

Habanero sauce

Franks

Olives

Boca soy crumbles

Soy sauce

Banana

Blueberries

Raspberries

Zucchini

Habanero sauce

Taco seasoning

Chopped spinach

Tony chachere’s

Plantains

Morning star chicken nuggest

Franks

Corn chips

Cheese pizza

Green olives

Canned potatoes

Tomato soup

Veggie soup

Corn

Asparagus

Trader Joe’s rice

Chopped peppers

Tortilla chips

Celery

Garlic

Oregano

Paprika

Cayenne

Black pepper

Apples

Apple juice

Grape juice

Lime juice

Gum

Trader Joe’s plantain chips

Pepperoni Pizza

Almond milk

Okay, that’s a little better. But there’s one more step and it may be the most important one. It’s the step that eliminates duplicates, eliminates waste and brings the cost down significantly; COMPARE THIS LIST TO WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE ON HAND!!! If you already have enough of that item to get you through the next 2 weeks, cross it off the list. When I do it with the list above, here’s the result:

Trader Joe’s Enchiladas x 6

Broccoli and cheese x 4

Spanish rice x 3

Cabbage

Tomato paste

Red bell pepper

Green beans

Tortillas

Trader Joe’s peppers

Banana

Blueberries

Raspberries

Plantains

Corn chips

Cheese pizza

Tomato soup

Veggie soup

Tortilla chips

Gum

Trader Joe’s plantain chips

Pepperoni pizza

Almond milk

Look how short that list is! We went from roughly 167 items to around 23 items and from well over $100 to less than $50! Remember, Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of stuff, it’s also about eliminating wasted time and money and unnecessary actions. When you have less externally to focus on, you can be more mindful of what’s going on in the present. Research suggests that mindful living helps us live longer and be healthier and happier while we’re doing it. With a menu and a grocery list, you save money. You reduce food waste and food storage. You waste less time at the grocery store. Potentially, you eliminate unwanted calories and pounds (by eating only preplanned, healthy foods and keeping on hand only the ingredients for such). Having less to focus on externally, be it actual objects or unnecessary practices, helps you live in a simpler, healthier way. The brain space cleared up by simplifying your grocery experience opens up new areas for mental and emotional growth and development. Reducing the external makes more room in the internal for gains. 

Unrelated Song: The Melvins – Boris. If you know, then you already know. If you don’t sit back and find out.

Unrelated Book:

The Myth of Sisyphus – Albert Camus
Maybe I already did this one but it’s still been a major influence on my life both personally and clinically. You should read it too!

About Brandon Peters, LPC

Brandon Peters began his career in mental health approximately 11 years ago while pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Arkansas. During his training he worked as a psychiatric technician at the Piney Ridge Treatment Center for adolescent sex offenders in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He later relocated to Houston, Texas and obtained his master's degree in counseling from the University of Houston. Since then, he has worked with clients in residential treatment, psychiatric hospitals, school based therapy, home based therapy, support groups and outpatient therapy. He has worked with children as young as 4, adolescents, and adults in areas such as individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, case management, play therapy and crisis intervention. Brandon Peters now owns and operates a private psychotherapy clinic conducting individual, group and family therapy and specializes in Existential Therapy. Additionally, he is a board approved LPC Supervisor.
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