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How a Mom of 3 in Alaska Builds Her Meal Plan Around Weekly Grocery Store Sales

published Mar 15, 2023
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Credit: Laura Sampson

Name: Laura Sampson
Location: Palmer, AK
Age: 52
Number of people in household: 3
Occupation: Small Business Owner, Little House Big Alaska, and Palmer Folk School
Where you shopped: Carrs®

Grocery hauls aren’t just what you fill your cart with: They’re also the possibilities that spring from a single trip to the store. Inside all those shopping bags are potlucks with friends, family game nights, comfort meals when we need them most, and nutritious starts to the school day. So we don’t only want to know what ingredients folks are buying — we also want to know what moments they’re making with them.

For Laura Sampson, those moments include “edible mom hugs,” solo time with her husband, and satisfying WFH lunches between meetings. And they all begin at Carrs®. That’s where Laura knows she can find high-quality ingredients for all the meals her family loves without breaking her budget. And because her local Carrs® carries Alaskan-grown vegetables year-round, she’s supporting local growers at the same time. “The quality is amazing because it’s all grown right here in the state,” she says. “And the prices are great, too.” That’s especially true on “$5 Fridays,” the weekly rotating sale where shoppers can score excellent deals on select grocery items for just $5. (Restrictions and limitations may apply.) Here’s how she does it.

Credit: Laura Sampson

What’s your grocery strategy?

When it comes to getting the best for less, Laura has her routine down to a science. “I buy budget-friendly food I can make quickly and easily,” she says. “I shop sales and discount bins to make the most of our grocery money.” Laura also steers clear of pre-made mixes, which are often priced at a premium. “I prefer to learn how to make those items on my own using less processed foods.”

How do you meal plan?

Laura prepares for the week with a combination of tried-and-true favorites and a little creativity — plus her handy meal planner sheets. “I ask my family what they want for dinner in the next week or two and write it down on a meal planner sheet,” she says. “I have several things I do every week, like pizza night on Fridays, ‘taco-shaped objects’ on Tuesdays, and a big roast dinner on Sundays.” Between these staples and her family’s requests, Laura’s meal plan comes together easily.

Curry Chicken Coleslaw Salad: Easy WFH Lunch

When the workday is hectic, eating a proper lunch can fall by the wayside — which then only makes the day feel more hectic! Laura’s Curry Chicken Coleslaw is a quick timeout. With plenty of healthy protein and veggies, it’s a light and flavorful dish that can carry her through the rest of the day. “It’s my ‘I have no idea what I’m going to eat for lunch’ lunch. You can pull whatever you have from the fridge into it.”

Credit: Laura Sampson

Mississippi Pot Roast: Marathon Meeting WFH Lunch (and Dinner!)

If it’s not clear from all those commas in her occupation, Laura is constantly multitasking — so she loves a meal that can do the same. Her Mississippi Pot Roast is a family favorite, and the leftovers make a fortifying lunch to power her through a day of meetings. “If I know the day is going to be busy from start to finish, I defrost a chuck roast the night before and make a Mississippi Pot Roast. It cooks low and slow while I work and everyone loves it for dinner and leftovers.” It’s like a gift to her future self.

Credit: Laura Sampson

Iced Coffee & Charcuterie Board: Weekend Reconnection with Husband

Cuteness alert: Laura and her husband have a standing iced coffee date every weekend. (We know.) “I make my own cold brew, and we use cream, syrups, and a frother to make specialty drinks for our date,” she says. “We’ll also sometimes make a charcuterie board with whatever we have on hand.”

Credit: Laura Sampson

Hole-in-the-Wall Toast & Eggs: An “Edible Mom Hug” Breakfast

Laura is a mom to three boys, but only her 17-year-old still lives at home. While he gets ready for school, she will often whip up her hole-in-the-wall toast and eggs. “They’re quick and easy to make and to eat, so I can send him off to school happy and well-fed,” she says. “The boys don’t really need me, but I want them to still need me. This is my way of giving them an edible mom hug.”

Credit: Laura Sampson

Air Fryer Blackened Shrimp & Grits: Impressive Dinner for Guests

When Laura wants to wow a crowd, she mixes up her homemade spice blend for this flavorful feast, which she serves with a fresh salad. “Everyone loves my blackened shrimp, but they’re so quick and easy I can make them in no time at all,” she says. “It’s warm and filling when it’s cold and dark out in the winter. Each component is nothing special by itself, but it’s so special all together.”