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Confessions….one of my favorite parts of teaching cooking classes is the pseudo therapy the women in the class give one another. Sometimes its hard to quiet people down because they are so passionate about the topics from how to feed picky eaters, how to make healthier meals without a fuss, dinner and Shabbos recipe suggestions, and very often lately, how to save money and still feed a family in a nutritious way.

I think these are very relatable. I very often go to the store for one or two items only to spend much more money than I planned for a couple of groceries. And I like to cook wholesome and healthy for a big family and often lots of company on Shabbos and want it to be affordable and time efficient.

As I've become more experienced in the food industry, I've come to realize there are lots of ways to make grocery shopping quick and less expensive (this applies to healthy eaters who like specialty stores like Whole Foods Markets, as well those who are looking for ways to spend less on organic and nutritious groceries).

Here are my tips on how to grocery shop efficiently and affordably without over spending:

1. Meal Prep! I cannot stress this tip enough. Every Sunday, take 10 minutes and create a few weeknight and weekday (for lunch makers) meals for that week. I usually plan Monday through Wednesday and then create a grocery list from these meals. I add in snacks, and the regular items that are standards, like milk, fruit, salad vegetables, and juice. It may seem a bit ridiculous, but meal prepping saves you time by not having to decide what to make each night and money by not over buying and shopping carelessly. It may be hard to incorporate what you want to make for Shabbos in your preparations, so don't worry you can also think about Shabbos meals on Wednesday or Thursday and shop for Shabbos then.

2. Order Online if possible. Unfortunately, many markets do not have this online feature. However, if your market allows you to make an order through email for pickup or delivery, I strongly suggest it. It saves both time and money. Most people walk through the grocery store and select unnecessary items that add up. Even sale items that you do not need, will add to a bill. How often are you surprised at the grocery bill when you check out? Some of that overspending at the market can be avoided with online ordering. Of course, I enjoy trying new products that catch my eye, but try to keep the "extras" to a minimum when I’m actually in the market.

3. If you are a fruit and vegetable lover like me, this tip is especially applicable to you. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Many times we go to the market looking for artichokes, persimmons, cherry tomatoes, or mangos, look down at the price and they are double the usual cost. This is because fruits and veggies work with supply and demand. If they are in season, there is a greater supply so the cost goes down. And the opposite, when they are not in season, causing the prices to jump. Therefore, try to buy fruits and vegetables that are seasonal to get the best value for their cost.

4. Look for sales- this may seem a bit extreme, but don't ignore super market sales. Follow the advertisements and buy items on sale in bulk. I buy cereal on sale, always, granola bars, flour, sugar, and yogurts too. I don’t run from market to market because it just takes too much time, but I do watch the sales at my favorite market and make sure to put away my staple items at those time when I see a great sale. Even markets like Whole Foods has great sales. Last week I saw Kind Bars for 3 for $1, and Chobani yogurts for $.89.

5. Certain stores provide cash back for bringing your own bag (to avoid using plastic). This is a great and easy way to save money. Don't forget your canvas bags! And many markets have school “give back” programs where they give a % of the proceeds from every sale to the school of your choice. That way you can feel good about all that grocery shopping.

I love hearing your thoughts and learn so much from all my readers! Share the way you save time and money to become a pro shopper in the comments below. Happy shopping!

Asian Panko Crusted Salmon

Adapted from original recipe by Ina Garten

2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/2 inches thick)
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste, or chili garlic sauce
1/2 cup sliced scallions (2 scallions)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (8 large cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups Jeff Nathan’s Gourmet Panko

Line an 8 by 12-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the salmon in the pan.
In a mixing cup, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Pour 1/3 of soy sauce mixture over the salmon fillet. Sprinkle the panko evenly over the fillet. Pour the rest of the soy sauce mixture evenly over the panko. Be sure to soak the panko completely and if any runs off, spoon back onto the salmon. Set aside for 15 minutes, leaving all the sauce in the pan.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Roast the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes, or for about 12 minutes per inch at the thickest part of the salmon. Remove from the oven, wrap tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets


4 tablespoons unsalted Mehadrin butter
3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Mehadrin sour cream
Vegetable oil, for brushing
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 1/2 ounces mild goat cheese, softened
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 large eggs, separated
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Chopped chives, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a clean surface (cover the other sheets with a damp towel), brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon parmesan. Cover with another phyllo sheet, brush with more butter and sprinkle with another teaspoon parmesan. Top with the remaining phyllo sheet and brush with butter. Cut the phyllo stack into 24 squares, about 3 inches each. Brush a 24-cup mini muffin tin with oil, then firmly press a phyllo square, buttered-side down, into each cup. Bake until golden, 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until translucent. Stir in the flour, then add the milk and stir until the mixture is smooth, 1 minute. Add the nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the goat cheese, lemon zest and vinegar until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat and mix in the egg yolks, sour cream, then the spinach.
Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into the spinach filling. Spoon about 1 tablespoon filling into each phyllo cup and top with the remaining parmesan. Bake until the filling is set, 15 minutes. Cool slightly in the pan; remove and top with the chives.