By now, I’m sure it comes to no surprise that I absolutely LOVE going to the grocery store. It’s my happy place and the culprit that robs me of my paycheck.
I’ve always enjoyed grocery shopping. When I was younger, I think I only accompanied my parents because I knew that when we got to the checkout line, I could likely coerce my father into a buying me a Twix bar. I was a daddy’s girl who inherited his raging sweet tooth, so of course he wouldn’t say no! Now, I like going to the store because I know exactly where my food is coming from and can take time mulling over my purchases. On the weekends, I typically make one huge trip to buy most of my food for the upcoming week. (Although I frequently find myself stopping by the store on the way home from work to pick up fill-in items.)
I could spend hours roaming among the produce and organic departments, mainly because I’m so intrigued by the crazy (yet healthy) products the food industry has produced within the past decade. When I was a kid, I’m pretty sure almond milk didn’t exist—or maybe the society-proclaimed “hippies” were the only people who knew about it. Furthermore, because I’m a vegetarian AND have the most sensitive stomach in the entire world (dairy-free and gluten-free <– I’ll get into THAT beast in a future post), I’m a overly careful about the products I buy. I try to buy as raw and natural as possible, so that limits what I can buy, but not the amount. I once had an employee comment on my colorful fruit and veggie-filled shopping cart: “Wow, you just brought more produce than I eat in an entire month.” Sad, but very true. My rule of thumb is to not buy any food that has MORE than 8-10 listed ingredients. I typically stay under 5-7, but 10 is the absolute maximum. I KNOW how my body reacts to overly processed food—I’ve learned the hard way. It might sound a little insane, but it’s actually really easy: think fruits, veggies, quinoa, almond milk, eggs, etc. Sure, I’m human and my eyes will deviate to the “better” junk foods (we’re talking coconut-milk peanut-butter cup ice cream); however, I’ve realized that excruciating stomach pain isn’t worth it—unless it’s a super special occasion with foods I know I can never eat again…then I’ll sometimes take the chance, suck it up, and deal with the consequences.
Since a ton of my friends and followers always ask me about the food I buy, I thought it’d be easiest to post some visuals from my most recent weekend grocery trip. I’ll also explain my strategy for devising a shopping list. It might seem a little OCD (what’s new?) but I promise you’ll likely leave with fewer impulse buys. (Notice I didn’t say NO unplanned purchases—just less!)
This week’s fruit finds: Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, honeycrisp apples, lemons/limes, avocados, frozen fruit (for smoothies). When it comes to fruit/veggies, I’ll always buy organic on items where I eat the skin—unless the price difference is $2-3. (Then I’ll just suck it up and wash it a million times in hopes that I scrub away any lingering pesticides.) If it’s summer and the farmers’ market is in full swing, I”ll try to shop there for produce.
This week’s proteins/sauces buys: Kidney beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), black beans, low-sodium vegetable broth, lentils, pistachios, mixed nuts (raw cashews, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeks), dry-roasted edamame, Annie’s organic sesame ginger dressing, organic tomato and basil marinara sauce (for when I’m strapped for time and can’t make my own). In this department, I always buy organic, mainly because canned/jarred items freak me out enough.
This week’s “cold” finds: Organic brown eggs, red-pepper hummus, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and almond-milk yogurt (coconut flavor!)
This week’s grains finds (all GF): Mary’s Gone Crackers (these are AWESOME to eat with avocado egg salad (they’re made from flax and in a factory that ensures no cross-contamination), rolled oats, textured vegetable protein, coconut flour, quinoa and yellow popcorn for air-popping. My impulse buy = I Heart Keenwah. These are basically little clusters of quinoa, and I picked the sea-salt chocolate flavor. It was a GREAT decision and I get my “sweet treat” fix in one little bite!
The most organized grocery list you’ll ever make: When I go to the store, I’m armed with a list—otherwise, I’d spend HOURS moseying through the aisles. Below, you’ll see how I categorize my foods (produce, cold items, dry goods) and what I typically include. I obviously don’t buy EVERY item on the list each time I go to the store (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some stuff), but these are my most popular, common purchases. I’ll alternate among the produce and switch off my fruits and veggies because I hate letting things go bad. I buy salad fixings every week (spinach, butter lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers) but limit myself to two veggies that I can roast in the oven. Otherwise, I can’t eat them fast enough. I’ve never met a fruit/veggie I DON’T like. (Note: If you can eat dairy, I’d recommend including plain Greek yogurt—sweeten it yourself with steiva/cinnamon/berries. If you eat meat, I’d also recommend adding grass-fed chicken and turkey, salmon, tilipia or shrimp to the list. However, I’m no meat expert, so I can’t speak much on that!)
Clementines, tangelos, OR grapefruit
Peaches OR nectarines
Pineapple (pre-sliced, on occasion)
Strawberries OR raspberries
Bibb lettuce (for lettuce wraps)
Broccoli OR cauliflower
Butter Lettuce/Shredded Lettuce
Cabbage (I dip it raw in hummus—I’m weird)
Yellow squash OR zucchini
Almond milk (unsweetened vanilla)
Frozen fruit blends (for smoothies)
Frozen veggie blends (for when I’m in a pinch)
Hummus (my favorite flavor is red pepper)
Salsa (fresh, no sugar added)
Yogurt (on occasion—almond or coconut milk)
Almond butter (Natural, only ingredient should be almonds)
Beans (Black, kidney, garbanzo, pinto)
Chocolate chips/dark chocolate chunks for trail mix (Enjoy Life makes non-dairy, GF!)
Coconut or almond flour (for baking)
Crackers (I like Mary’s Gone—awesome GF option)
Protein powder (Plant Fusion is an AWESOME plant-based choice—DF and GF)
Nuts (I buy a different kinds in bulk and make my own trail mixes)
Raisins (no sugar added)
Rice cakes (unsalted)
Old-fashioned oats (GF)
PB2 or peanut flour (for smoothies)
Textured vegetable protein
Applesauce (Unsweetened, natural—for baking)
Mustard (spicy and regular)
Olive Oil Spray
Spices (Garlic powder, oregano, salt/pepper—you name it)
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Vegetable broth (low-sodium)
Vinegar (Red wine and balsamic)
Zico coconut water
Now whenever you go grocery shopping, you can take me (well, my suggestions) with you!
Livin’ and LOVING the [healthy] life,