In the last few weeks, I’ve had a couple of friends and family members ask me about grocery shopping. Things like what I buy, how I save money, and where I find certain products. I didn’t really think much of it, until my friend Natalie asked me to post a list of products I use to “healthify” my meals. I thought this was a terrific idea! But…. once I started working on the post I realized there really isn’t anything special about my grocery list! But here goes!
I’ve heard the phrase “shop the perimeter” before, and I guess you could say that is what I do. Not because I’m trying to follow some guideline, but because that’s where most of the stuff I genuinely like can be found! My purchases are greatly affected by what’s on sale in any given week. I hate to say I’m a cheap ass… but.. well, I’m a cheap ass! I try to save money on things like food, groceries, utilities, etc. so that I can spend more money on FUN things like travel and going out to eat! I may really want asparagus, but if it’s not on sale chances are I’m not buying it.
When I decided I wanted to start eating healthier, one of the biggest changes for me was understanding portion sizes. For example, I really had no idea what a serving of meat looked like, and I NEVER measured out my morning cereal. Turns out I was typically eating 2 times the normal serving size on my meats and nearly 3 times the serving size of cereal! I invested in a kitchen scale which helps me a TON… and when I say invested I mean I bought one on eBay for $8. I also make sure to measure pretty much everything that goes into my recipes or onto my plate. It can be tedious, but I personally think it’s worth it. If you put 4 ounces of chicken on your plate then load the rest of with delicious roasted veggies, you’ve still got a full plate o’ food. In my book, eating healthy does not involve going hungry—it’s all about making healthy swaps.
My list typically starts off with a ton of fresh produce. I try to buy ingredients that I like and that I know I can incorporate into several different recipes. That way I can cook whatever I’m craving and not be stuck to a rigid plan. That also helps me to save a lot of money on groceries. I try to avoid buying any sort of “special” ingredient, unless it’s something I’m super excited about.
My Favorite Fresh Produce:
- Green Pepper
- Grapes (if they are on sale, of course 😉 )
- Romaine Lettuce (for salads and for lettuce wraps)
- Spinach (salads, sandwiches, green monster smoothies)
- Bean Sprouts
I’d say 75% of my groceries in any given week come from the produce section.
I typically only buy 1 package of meat a week. If I’m craving something different, I’ll freeze half and pull something different out of the freezer (which I stock pretty well when the meat sale rolls into town 😉 )
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast
- Lean ground turkey breast– I like the 99% fat-free, but it’s harder to find in my area. (For those of you in Akrowdy, check out Giant Eagle)
- Jennie O Spicy Turkey Sausage – All I can say is YUM.
- 96% Lean ground beef
- Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk – LOVE this. It’s good on cereal, oatmeal, shakes, etc. Big big fan.
- Greek Yogurt – typically Chobani or Dannon (depending on what’s on sale). Greek yogurt has WAY higher protein than regular yogurt, and to me it’s worth the extra $$
- Stonyfield Farms Plan Fat-Free Organic Yogurt – I LOVE this stuff. It’s a great substitute for sour cream and mayo and can be used in smoothies too.
- EGGS! I love me some eggs! I typically go through an 18pack of eggs each week. I use a lot of egg-whites (yes, I throw away the yolks), but I find it cheaper to buy a carton of eggs than to get eggbeaters. BTW… are eggs considered Dairy??
- Babybel light mini cheese rounds –> this stuff melts really well. Great for pizzas, oven baked sandwiches, etc.
- Laughing Cow Light cheese
- Oats! I just buy the cheap value-time quick oats. They get the job done just fine 🙂
- Cereal – I shoot for something lower in sugar. Favorites include
- La Tortilla low carb tortillas (again – Giant Eagle, acme doesn’t have em)
- Pepperidge Farm 7 Grain Deli Flats
- Luna bars (my favorites include White Macadamia, Blueberry Bliss, Iced Oatmeal, lemon zest)
- Larabars (my favs = peanut butter & jelly, cherry pie, cashew cookie)
- HERBS and SPICES! The more the better. You can add great flavor without adding calories and fat. My go-to spices include: S&P, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, garlic salt, dried oregano, dried basil, cinnamon, McCormick’s Montreal Chicken
- Assorted frozen veggies – I keep these on hand just in case I run out of fresh veggies
- Classico Fire Roasted Tomato & Garlic Pasta sauce — this was the result of me standing in the pasta sauce aisle for a good 20 minutes one day and comparing the labels on different sauces. This sauce is lower in calories, sugar, and carbs than most others you’ll find in a normal grocery store. Not to mention that it is oober tasty.
- Smuckers Low-sugar Red Raspberry Preserves
- Smuckers Organic Peanut Butter
- Smuckers Sugar-Free Syrup
- Frank’s Red Hot – this really should be the FIRST item on the list considering I use it EVERY day.
- Banana Pepper Rings – just a couple add a big pop of flavor
- Ken’s Steakhouse lite dressings (my favorites are the Balsamic and the Northern Italian)
- Heinz Organic Ketchup — tastes just like the “real” stuff and no corn syrup
Things I can only find online:
Anytime I order online, I check out Netrition first because they have $4.95 flat-rate shipping. And we all know I’m a sucker for cheap shipping 🙂
- Mama Lupe Low carb tortillas
- Al Dente Carba Nada Pasta
- Joseph’s Low Carb Pitas
- Joseph’s Low Carb Lavash
- Bob’s Red Mill Low-Carb Baking Mix
- Alternative Bagels
I’m a numbers person, so for me seeing the nutritional content of all my meals throughout the day is extremely important and valuable. I use MyFitnessPal to keep track of all this information, and I’m pretty much obsessed with it.
Question: What are some things you typically buy for a healthy meal or to healthify recipes?