My Favorite Things: Easy Weekly Shopping/Cooking

The reality of a healthy and fit life is that diet is key.  You can run or do cardio all you want but if you don’t put the right foods in your body, it is nearly impossible to maintain a healthy weight.  The biggest thing I hear from most clients is that eating healthy is too time consuming.  Sure driving through McDonalds or calling the delivery guy is a sure fire way to get easy food, but truth is there are some pretty simple changes you can make that will have dinner on the table pretty quickly.

The first thing I do every week is make a grocery list.  It looks a lot like the sample below.  I always write my grocery list out according to the store layout.  Typically you will enter at the produce department and then work your way through the meat department, the staples and finish with dairy.  By building your list accordingly you can map out in your mind what you need for meals for the week and not have to bounce around the store.  This can make the entire experience way more efficient.

Grocery List

The key to a healthy diet is to have the majority of your grocery list come from the outer edge of the grocery store.  If you picture the inner workings of the store, all of the fresh food is on the outside with cans, boxes, and other staples making up the innards.  Aim for most of your food to come from the outer areas.

I like to start my day off with a warm glass of lemon juice followed by a quick shot of cherry concentrate.  The lemon juice is a way to start off on a fresh detox and the cherries are a fantastic anti-inflammatory/heart healthy diet additive.  Skip the Advil and go for the cherries!

Second I stock up on veggies.  The best way to have a filling lunch is to go with either a nice big salad or a mostly clear soup.  Salads allow you a good helping of food with very few calories.  Pile your plate full of greens and other veggies and then add some protein that we will pick up in the meat department.  All of these yummy veggies can also be thrown into a nice easy soup.  Stick to clear soups for fewer calories.  Vegetables also make delicious and easy sides for weekly dinners as well as stir fries.  I also take my left over veggies from dinner and save them to put on top of salads for a little extra flavor.  Fruits and vegetables are also full of fiber which will keep you feeling full.

While in the meat department I also pick up a few pre-grilled chicken breasts that can be thrown on my salads.  The added protein keeps you feeling fuller longer and is essential for muscle repair.  Although a little pricier, I find this to be a nice and easy way to have lunch ready during the week.  I often grab a prebaked potato or even a twice baked potato for my husband and I to split for dinner.  Stock up on boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I go for antibiotic and hormone free) as well as lean cuts of grass fed steak, pork chops, and lean ground beef or turkey which is great for crockpot recipes.

Pick out staples from the center of the store that can be used for soups, stir fries, and the crockpot.  Try to be creative when it comes to dinner.  Italian night doesn’t have to mean spaghetti.  Try couscous or quinoa.  Keeping beans, broths and other canned veggies on hand means you can whip up a soup in no time.

Grocery2

Veggies in the freezer are an excellent option.  They are super nutritious and often come in easy microwaveable options.  All you need to do is grill a piece of meat, add a side and dinner is served.  Throw some veggies on the stove with some low sodium soy sauce and you have yourself a tasty stir fry to throw over some quinoa or rice.

As soon as I get home from the store I clean and put away all the produce so that it is ready to go.  If I don’t wash the apples right away I might pass over them when I am hungry for an easier option.  Use a day off to go get groceries, prep them and then while you are at it make a crockpot recipe right away.  Keep it in the freezer for dinner or multiple dinners later in the week.  If you are home all day Sunday with the family put a soup on the stove for later in the week.  Pull out lunch containers and make salads in advance so that you just have to grab one on the way out the door to work.

I know that it can seem like a lot of work when you have to schedule everything around work, family, and extra curricular activities but with a little practice and creativity this can become just another part of your routine.  Plus if you stick to this Sunday through Thursday you will feel so much better about a few meals out over the weekend.

What are you go to grocery staples or easy dinners?

33 thoughts on “My Favorite Things: Easy Weekly Shopping/Cooking

  1. I only shop for groceries once a week, so proper meal planning and menu-building is necessary. This helps me to make sure I have everything I need for a balanced diet.
    My staples are tomatoes, mushrooms, leafy greens, sweet red peppers, some fruit, whitefish or tuna, lean ground meat, yoghurt and nuts. I usually throw in some cottage cheese and splurge on a blue. Things like onions and rice keep well, so I can buy them in bulk and shop less often.
    And if I have a mood for something sweet, like cookies, I have to bake them myself (; What I do, from time to time. I also swapped juices for “fresh lemonade” – I buy a few oranges, lemons, grapefruits, squeeze the juice out and fill with 5 (or more) parts water. I found that keeps me better hydrated through the day.

      • Everything in moderation (: While home-made sweets are certainly less “healthy” than a kale-based salad, they are far, far better than anything you can get in a store. It’s good to reward oneself from time to time. Nothing to be guilty of!

      • I am in complete agreement with this. Denying yourself treats will just make you end up miserable or binging. Making desserts is a great way to control what goes in and also be more aware of what is in there so you don’t binge 🙂

  2. Great great list–we eat so many of the same things! Less cheese though. And we are big on liquid egg whites (I hate yolks, as you know), and we have to have Alex’s Kashi (go lean), chicken sausages. And I love me some shrooms.
    This past week I got a rutabaga, and it ROCKED. Getting it again!

    • Rutabagas are big in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I am not sure why but I think it has something to do with how easy it is to grow them up there. They put them in pasties a lot. Mushrooms are sooo good for you and your immune system, especially this time of year. I too always keep egg whites on hand because it is just easier to deal with!

  3. We do rely too much on breaded chicken and fish. Easy.
    We always have frozen vegetables and I try to eat 2-3 pieces of fruit each day.
    It’s not easy eating well but I try to be good all day.
    considering meatless Mondays also.

  4. We keep a doc in google keep so we can update what we need throughout the week. We always make sure to have veggies, protein sources on hand, almond butter, & fruit (99% of the time I buy apples since they’re versatile and travel well). Our carb sources have changed a bit since I started the whole30 (sweet potatoes, squash, and plantains mostly) and we no longer have to keep chocolate in the apartment (I used to eat some daily). I agree with all the advice about sticking to the perimeter of the store (it saves time and keeps you from being tempted on garbage).

    • That is a great idea to keep a running doc! Thanks for sharing that idea. Makes it so much easier to make sure you don’t miss anything. Apples are our staple too because they are so easy to bring anywhere and they make great snacks with nut butters.

  5. WOW, looking at your grocery list makes me feel so lazy and unorganized! you’re definitely on top of things. my grocery shopping is always very sporadic and last-minute and completely random. i have to walk by the store every day to get to my apt — it’s on block away, and on my route — and sometimes i’ll pop in and grab, like 3 things…and then two days later i’ll grab another 3 things…and my fridge never has more than yogurt, almond milk, wine and condiments in it. i know, i know. i need to change this. 🙂

    • Grocery shopping in NYC definitely is a bit different. First you have stores on just about every corner and second carrying groceries BLOWS! Years ago the St. David’s School gave Rock and I tote bags and come to find out they are huge and sturdy and work perfectly well for toting our groceries. I always looked like an UES mom grocery shopping except for in East Harlem 😉

  6. I always get thin cut chicken breasts, pre-cooked chicken sausage, whatever veggies and fruits that look fresh and are priced well, and some frozen broccoli. I always get bananas, an apple, and in the summer, berries, winter, pears. Plus bell peppers, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus. The thin cut chicken breasts cook quickly and the sausage is so versatile. I can always come up with a meal based on those staples.

  7. Have you ever tried sunbutter? I don’t like peanut butter and the sunflower seed butter is soooo good on everything! You can put in on a bagel or even make your own salad dressing out of it by adding some olive oil to make it a little more creamy, it is sooo good!

  8. I shop the same way! I went to TJ’s last weekend and didn’t really touch anything from the aisles. Other than canned black beans and garbanzo beans. I use those for a little more staying power in my salads.

    This week I picked up beets and radishes – new to my grocery bag!

  9. Great post!! I love grocery shopping!! My go to items are blueberries, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, almond milk, seeds, nuts, tofu, spinach, edamame, chia seeds, red peppers, green peppers, mushrooms, and peanut butter (just to name a few). I look forward to my breakfast each and every morning, which is always organic cinnamon spice oatmeal, almond milk, chia seesd, and blueberries!! YUM!!! 🙂 Have a happy Friday!! XOXO

  10. You are totally right about keeping to the edges. I’m all about lists – it definitely saves time (I hate the grocery store) and makes sure you only have to visit once a week. I always end up with a couple of avocados in my cart, and always eggs and Greek yoghurt.

  11. Actually your grocery list looks a lot like mine. I spend more time in the produce section than anywhere else in the store. Veggies and fruits are always most important for me and then we eat a lot of chicken over here. And I make a lot of soups, especially in the winter.

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