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An Amateur Snack Reviewer Grocery Shops with a Smart Strategy — Repurposing Ingredients

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Credit: Shirley Jiang

Name: Shirley Jiang
Location: Chicago, IL
Age: 36
Number of people in household: 2
Occupation: Recruiting
Where you shopped: Jewel-Osco®

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 Shirley Jiang, those moments include meal prepping, WFH lunches, and easy dinners. And they all begin at Jewel-Osco®. That’s where Shirley knows she can find high-quality ingredients for all the meals her family loves without breaking her budget. “My local store has a lot of high-quality and healthy food selections, which is nice because I’ve been more conscious of our health and the ingredients that are in products,” she says. “The produce is fresh, and they have a good amount of organic products.” We trust her judgment because Shirley knows quality: In her spare time, she writes snack and restaurant reviews. Here’s how she does it.

Credit: Shirley Jiang

What’s your grocery strategy?

Shirley’s grocery strategy is three-fold: “I make a shopping list and stick to it so I’m less likely to make impulse purchases; I look at the store’s weekly ads to see what’s on sale so I can save money; and I go to the grocery store early, when it’s not as crowded and when produce inventory is still plentiful and less picked through.”

How do you meal plan?

We love Shirley’s old-school approach to finding recipes: good ol’ hardbound cookbooks! She browses her collection with a strategy in mind: repurposing ingredients. “I try to pick recipes that have ingredients that overlap so that I can save money,” Shirley says. “For instance, if a recipe uses cilantro, I’ll pick several recipes that also use cilantro so that I don’t have a bunch that is left over from only using it in one recipe.”

Whole Roasted Chicken: Weekend Meal Prep with Husband

This is where it all begins for the week: The ceremonial roasting of the chicken. Every weekend, Shirley and her husband make an entire chicken together. It serves as their main for dinner that night, and the rest is creatively repurposed for other meals throughout the week. It’s a routine they both look forward to!

Credit: Shirley Jiang

Chicken Noodle Soup: Marathon Meeting WFH Lunch

Shirley works in recruiting and has a super busy schedule. If she doesn’t prepare lunch ahead of time, it probably just won’t happen. She relies on quick meals, like this chicken noodle soup, to get through a day of marathon meetings.

Credit: Shirley Jiang

Chicken Lettuce Wrap: Light Afternoon Snack

On days when they have dinner plans outside of the house, Shirley knows a chicken lettuce wrap is in her future. She turns that leftover chicken into filling for lettuce wraps and reaches for it as a light snack before a big meal out.

Credit: Shirley Jiang

Chicken Salad: Healthy Lunch

If you haven’t noticed by now, Shirley likes to be efficient with her meals. On weekdays when she has a few minutes to prepare lunch and doesn’t have to eat quickly at her desk, she whips up a chicken salad with everything that’s left in her fridge. She’s big on not wasting anything, and this meal helps her use up her remaining produce.

Credit: Shirley Jiang

Chicken Tacos: Weeknight Dinner

The last of the week’s roasted chicken becomes chicken tacos, and the last of the week’s fresh produce becomes toppings. But it’s hardly a hodgepodge of leftovers: Shirley enjoys making these tacos for her and her husband as a special dinner to reflect on the week.