September 7, 2014

How I Eat Healthy: #1 Stocking Up

To eat healthy now a days takes time, skills and effort! You’ve got to stock up, plan, navigate the supermarket aisles, chop (I do lots of chopping!), prep foods and cook. And if you eat restaurants foods (in or take out), another feat is to put together healthy restaurant meals. Yes, a constant, but rewarding, challenge!

In this blog series, How I Eat Healthy, I’ll share how I, as a mother, wife and chief of shopping, planning and cooking for my busy family, make eating healthy happen every day (or at least most days – no claims of perfection here!). I’ll offer up my time-honed tips and time-saving tactics you can use to set yourself and/or your family to Eat Well, Live Healthy! And please share your tips and tactics on twitter using #howIeathealthy.

#1 Stocking Up: To eat healthy day in, day out, you’ve got to set your home up for success. Step one is to regularly stock up on the foods you’ll need. Yes, this requires a bit of time and organizational skills. The good news is that when your home is stocked up you’ll save time...and money. Yes, fewer trips to the supermarket and healthier meals on the table! 

One of my secrets to healthy eating success is staying stocked up. To achieve this goal I developed and use what I call my Food Shopping Inventory. Nothing complex, fancy, sophisticated or app-like, but it works for me. It’s just a document I print and keep copies of on the kitchen bulletin board. I tweak the list on occasion as we add and delete foods we commonly eat. You can easily do the same. Or your can take advantage of one of hundreds of apps to help you put together a solid list for your supermarket trips.

List on bulletin board

My Food Shopping Inventory contains the foods and ingredients I want to make sure I always have in the house. It lists both the foods and ingredients I use regularly, day to day, and those I use on occasion but I want to always have on hand. Plus week to week I buy items I'll need for dinners. (Read more about these steps below.)  This is the list I take to the supermarket weekly.

Completed Shopping List

Yes, I’ve got an inventory list for Costco, too. Now that we've got a Costco within a few miles from us (I know be jealous!) we're buying even more produce there, from berries to oranges, apples, mushrooms and more. We also stay stocked up on items like coffee, tunafish, cheeses, vegetable and chicken stock and boulillion, peanut butter, frozen shrimp, fish, meats and more. (Stocking up at Costco means fewer items I need to buy at the market and carry home.)

Before I do a weekly shop (try to keep it to once a week) I take stock. I think through the foods we’ll need for the week – breakfast, lunches (home or carted to school), dinners, snacks, etc.


If you are like me you’re a creature of habit when it comes to what you eat and ingredients you’ll want on hand. Most of us are. Use this to your advantage when you stock up. For example, when it comes to fresh produce, I’ll most always need apples, bananas, mangos, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and others.  

For breakfast and lunches we’re pretty much on auto-pilot. That helps because I know what foods I need to keep in stock. (Yes, it's oat bran with raisins and nuts or oatmeal with apples, raisins and nuts, a couple of mornings a week.)

Dinners vary the most. To make sure I have the foods and ingredients I’ll need for the week (to avoid those time-consuming extra supermarket stops) I plot out how many dinners I’ll need to make based on our schedules. I might make a family favorite one night, pull together a tomato-based veggie loaded sauce to serve on pasta another (with leftovers to feed the freezer) and grill fish the next night with complementary starch and vegetables. If I’m going to try a new recipe, which I love to do, I’ll write in the ingredients and foods I’ll need to have on hand.

Tomoto Sauce

To keep stock of the basics, from frozen spinach to pasta, brown rice, etc., I make notes on my Food Shopping Inventory for the next week’s shop of foods or ingredients which are getting low or we’ve finished. (Yes, got to always have that basic frozen pizza on hand which can be topped with veggies.) 


Now, I’m ready to shop just once for the week (hopefully!). Off to the market I go…

Please share your tips and tactics for stocking up a healthy home in comments or on twitter using #howIeathealthy. Also view How I Eat Healthy: The Shopping Trip and How I Eat Healthy: Chop Once, Two Tricks to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables