So I was reading one of my favorite blogs today, Better in Real Life, and came across today’s post about grocery store trips and food and how it can be super difficult to not waste food, etc. As I began writing my comment in response to Lauren seeking a little advice on this topic, I realized this would totally make for a (hopefully) interesting blog post about how Matt and I operate now with food and trips to the grocery store, etc. and some tips I think are worth reading.
Prior to the start of our eating healthy, I LOATHED grocery shopping and often got sick of eating similar foods all the time. This led to maybe going to Fred Meyer every few weeks to stock up on food that we knew wouldn’t spoil within a few days or even a few weeks, aaand basically that meant I wasn’t consuming fresh produce of any sort. My diet consisted of mostly boxed stuff with a serious lack of fruits and vegetables.
1. Make more trips to the grocery store. Everything changed when I decided to get healthy and also when we bought our house. We realized that we lived less than a quarter mile from a QFC. It’s on both of our ways home from work, but I usually get home before Matt does, so if we decide we want to do a protein and steamed veggies for dinner, I’ll stop and pick up a back of frozen veggies that steam in the bag, or whatever we basically need for that night’s meal. If we don’t feel like cooking, instead of going through a drive-thru, I’ll stop at QFC and pick up a rotisserie chicken and veggies… Or even just cooked chicken breast strips. With this, we can make a healthy buffalo chicken wrap, or a salad, or just eat the chicken (without the skin) with some steamed veggies.
2. Go places you didn’t go normally in the past, like farmer’s markets. We went from going to the grocery store like, once every few weeks to at least 4-5 times a week. We only buy enough fresh produce, etc. to last us a few days. We noticed when we stock up on too much stuff, it goes to waste/we forget we even bought it. I’ve also made more of an effort to go to more farmer’s markets and that type of stuff for fresh produce, as for some reason it makes me actually really want to eat what I bought.
3. Costco and other wholesale warehouses are your friend. The other place we go to once a week is Costco. Now, this definitely changed based on moving from an apartment to a house and having actual SPACE for stuff, but food-wise I’d say we buy a few items there and then are set for awhile. Fage plain nonfat greek yogurt, chicken breast, Mahi Mahi, La Tortilla Factory tortillas, and a few other things have become are staples in our diet/what we always pick up at Costco. OH and the chicken noodle soup they make there is amazing and will get eaten very quickly, providing a super easy and quick meal for a few days straight.
4. Try to eat the same stuff as your partner for dinner. Prior to us eating healthier, we ate TOTALLY different things and therefore had way more random crap to eat than we do now. Now we both eat the same dinner together, which helps infinite amounts in making sure nothing goes to waste.
5. Make enough of something on Sundays to last you through the start of the week. If you’re really crunched for time though, one suggestion I have is making a huge batch of something for the work week on a Sunday (totally learned this simple piece of advice from Kim over at Domestocrat). I’ve done this by making turkey chowder in the slow cooker, or making sandwiches, or stir fry, whatever floats your boat… I love having leftovers so I don’t have to cook every single night (like my fish taco leftovers I ate for dinner last night!)
6. Buy a new cookbook or two and try new recipes. Seriously, prior to this decision to get healthy, I very rarely cooked. Matt was definitely the cook in our family and I just never did it. Why? Because I was lazy and just didn’t think I’d be good at it. I finally bucked up and bought a few solid cookbooks, and also started doing research online for tasty recipes (Sparkrecipes.com has some great low-cal recipes). This encouraged us to try new food, new flavors, eat healthier, and also required fresh foods at the grocery store.
It also taught me that I’m actually pretty freakin’ awesome at both baking and cooking, and I’ve really started to enjoy learning about foods and how to make excellent flavors. Sometimes this will definitely eat up some of your time after work, but if you make a bunch extra, like I mentioned before, you’ve got healthy dinners for a few nights!
7. When you go to the grocery store, go with a plan and a list, dammit. I think another huge part of being successful in this is that you really need to go to the store with a plan as to what you want and KNOW that you will eat. Don’t ever go to the store having no idea what you’re in the mood for. Try your best to plan ahead and make a list.
In the past, I’d walk into the store without a list and end up leaving with dolphin-shaped crackers, chocolate bars, 1/4 pound of American cheese, bologna and some chicken nuggets. I literally walk out, get home and start to unpack and wonder what the hell just happened in there. Without a list, I got lost and bought stuff that was totally unnecessary without even realizing it as I shopped. A list keeps you on point and gives you less distractions.
Sure, it can be a pain in the ass but it also makes it so you don’t go out of control when you shop and get stuff you’ll never eat. The biggest things that have helped are flat out buying less in each trip, but making way more trips to the store, ALWAYS bringing a list, and trying to find things that I won’t get sick of.
This all takes a lot of effort, it really does. I’m not going to sit here and pretend it doesn’t. More trips and more time are spent at the grocery store, and it definitely took time to adjust, but it’s worth it and will really encourage a healthier eating regimen than before.
Feel free to toss some suggestions at me in the comments because I’m still learning a lot (I’m definitely no pro quite yet).