October 2, 2014

How I Eat Healthy #2: The Shopping Trip

 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 the hashtag: #howIeathealthy.

#2: The Supermarket Trip: As I said in How I Eat Healthy #1 Stocking Up you’ve got to set your home up for success. Step two in this process is to shop regularly and, even more importantly, shop smart. With my completed shopping list in hand, it’s time for my weeking trip to the supermarket. My first stop is to stock up on produce for the week. When it comes to vegetables I look for what’s freshest. I also strive to serve a variety of vegetables (they’ve all got different nutrition assets) and mix them up from week to week. On my list I’ll note how many vegetables I’ll need for the week for side dishes and salads. (Working at home I eat an entree salad pretty much every day. It's a great way to strive for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day - at least) I also pick up the vegetables and fresh herbs I’ll need as ingredients for recipes I'll make that week.. 

Next it’s on to filling my shopping cart with fresh fruits. Unlike with vegetables I’m pretty much on autopilot when it comes to fruits…apples, bananas, oranges and grapefruits, some type of berries (they’re just so healthy), a mango for cut up fruit (more about that in How I Eat Healthy #3) and lemon and limes for cooking and to squeeze on foods to add flavor with no calories. Then I might add kiwis, pears, or grapes on occasion. I’ve got the numbers of apples, bananas, etc., we’ll eat for the week to a pretty precise count to cut down on food waste and dollars spent. From the produce aisle I pick up a few packaged, canned and frozen foods along the way, depending on what I need for recipes and to stock up on. It may be dry and hot cereals, salsa, tea, pasta, brown rice, dry beans, and/or a few frozen vegetables (to always make sure they’re on hand). Yes, and as you’ll see (from my shopping cart further down) a small amount of great tasting ice cream might make it into the cart on occasion.
But then I steer pretty straight on to the dairy area (skipping many of the middle aisles - not much healthy there!). I’ll pick up eggs, yogurts, cottage cheese, and cheeses – from feta, to extra sharp cheddar (for added flavor with less cheese), parmesan and then any I’ll need for a recipe or two I’ll make that week. (However these days most of our cheese is purchased at Costco.) From there I’ll pick up the breads I keep in stock if we’re running low.  

Then after I’ve checked my list to make sure I’ve got everything I need (invariably I’ll have a bit of backtracking to do) it’s on to the check-out aisle hoping for a short line and efficient cashier.

The groceries go into my reusable bags (I’m finally in the habit of keeping these in my trunk and remembering to bring them into the market). Using these bags makes me feel I’m taking care of our health in another way...doing my little part to protect Mother Earth.Then it’s back to the homefront to empty the bags and put the groceries away in their proper location – the refrigerator, freezer or pantry. Thank goodness for that extra refrigerator and freezer downstairs. It makes stocking up so much easier.

Stocking up, thinking through meals and snacks for the week and shopping smart leads to healthy and time efficient dinners on the homefront.

Please share your tips and tactics for shopping smart on your shopping trips in the comments below or on twitter using #howIeathealthy. Also view How I Eat Healthy: #1 Stocking Up and How I Eat Healthy: #3 Chop Once, Two Tricks to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables