Tag Archives: groceries

Rewriting Your Grocery List

4 Jun
How I get down at the grocery store

How I get down at the grocery store

When I began my weight-loss journey, working out was the easy part. I knew how to walk and run. I’d seen people use gym equipment like treadmills and elliptical machines. I’d ridden a bike before, so a stationary one wasn’t going to be that much trouble.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the dietary change that came with my new outlook on life. Several times in this blog, I’ve mentioned my love of Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich and Popeye’s biscuits. Like every red-blooded American, Chipotle is my friend.

But even that wasn’t my biggest problem. I know how to cook. Growing up, my family didn’t eat out much. My parents prepared meals. Sure, every other Friday we might order pizza for movie night. But we usually had chicken or pot roast or chili or something else ready to eat in the fridge. Hell, my friends have even told me they frequented my house not to visit me, but my refrigerator.

So I took those culinary lessons with me into adulthood. I don’t mind cooking, I just don’t like doing it all the time. But with my new weight-loss plan in full effect, I had to adjust my thinking about meal preparation.

It wasn’t just cooking more often for myself. It was also cooking different food for myself. I can hook up a lasagna, but that’s not ideal when you’re trying to shed pounds. I discussed before the changes that came with eating vegetables. But I’m also a meat eater. My go-to meat dishes were perfect if I were trying to become a linebacker. Pot roast, roasted chicken, fried wings, etc., aren’t the best menu options when you’re trying to become svelte.

What I appreciated about the “Extreme Fat Smash Diet” was that it still allowed me to eat meat. I just had to cut down on my intake. Most important, the lesson I had to learn quickly was how to cook it differently. Cooking a whole bird is great if you’re cooking for a family, which I used to do. It can be hard to break that habit. But the weight-loss journey is traveled alone. And because I was living alone, my meals had to be prepared for one.

I was fortunate enough to find the American Heart Association’s “Low-Fat, Low Cholesterol Cookbook.” High blood pressure and high cholesterol are big in my family, as are heart disease and diabetes, so finding that book became good for more than just weight loss.

With the guidance of those two books, I started looking at my meats differently. I could still eat meatloaf, but I was using lighter fare to prepare it. A little tomato paste, some quick oats and tiny molds and you’ve got individual mini-turkey meatloaves.  A little butter, salt, pepper and lemon juice and you’ve got some pretty tasty sauteed tilapia fillets.

It’s not that eating meat was a necessity. It’s just that I like having the option. Just as finding the great vegetarian recipes that I’ll prepare over and over (pepper and white bean soup, spinach and black bean enchiladas), having meat options keeps my palate from getting bored and my cabinets interesting.

My regular staples of chicken wings, spaghetti, sauce and ice cream have changed to chicken breasts, spinach, chicken boullion and apples. My cupboard is always stocked with canned beans, tomato sauce and paste and a box of rotini, which I don’t even use that often. My freezer has tons of frozen spinach and broccoli, fat-free frozen yogurt and frozen fruit.

One of the fun parts of this journey was exploring new tastes. When doing your shopping, take the time out to try something different.

What do you like to prepare now that you’d never had before?

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Eating (and Shopping) to Live

21 Apr
Go ahead and fill your cart up with the good stuff.

Go ahead and fill your cart up with the good stuff.

One of the biggest lessons I had to learn on my weight-loss journey was how to grocery shop. Sure, I’d spent what felt like hours at the store with my mother as a kid, like we all did. I went up and down the aisles looking for cookies and crackers while she spent what felt like an eternity in the produce section looking for the perfect bunch of greens and fruit.

Before I began this journey, I shopped with the mindset of most post-undergrads: What’s the easiest thing to heat up? How can I get out of here quickly? It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to cook, I just didn’t want to. I knew the easy staples: spaghetti, chili, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese. I could even hook up a lasagna if the mood hit me.

Taking a bigger interest in my health required me to take an even bigger interest in what I was putting into my body. I was never a calorie counter. It just made eating depressing. Who wants to think about how many calories are in a spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s (510, by the way)?

I started off with fresh vegetables. I was the kid adults never had a problem with eating her veggies. It was no biggie as an adult. I had to give up putting cheese on my steamed broccoli, but that wasn’t so bad. Shopping for fresh vegetables was too scary for me, so I began with the frozen food section. It’s easy to heat up and you don’t have to worry about picking what’s right. The problem is that frozen veggies left in the freezer too long taste horrible when cooked. I liken it to frozen metal. Do you want to eat this?

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Didn’t think so.

I had to learned how to pick out fresh vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts and green beans. I started steaming, sauteeing and even roasting. Spritz a little lemon juice on them, and they’re quite tasty. Who knew?

Finding fresh veggies is going to be one of the hardest things you do at the grocery store. But here are some tips that can make everything else a little easier on you.

Plan ahead. If you know what your meal plan is for the week, it’s best to make a list. I scour every cabinet before I leave the house for the grocery store. The second I see I’m running low on a spice or ingredient, it goes on the list I keep hanging on the refrigerator. I’ve said many times on this blog that preparation is key, and grocery preparation is vital because…

Eat before you leave. This is true no matter where you are on your journey. Never, ever, eva, eva, eva go to the grocery store hungry. You will walk out with two roasted chickens, a Sara Lee cheesecake and none of the things you intended on buying. Hunger is mind game. Hunger will have you thinking that an entire spot of spaghetti with four slices of cheesy garlic bread is a good idea. Keeping the hunger heifa at bay will make your shopping experience so much easier

Try something new. Planning your meals for the week can be fun, especially if you’re trying something new. Look in your cookbook and see if there’s some new way to bake your chicken. Look for something that uses an ingredient you’ve never tried before. Who knows? You may see something else in the aisle that tickles your fancy.

Have an exit strategy. A grocery store can seem like a carnival (especially Saturday at Trader Joe’s). There are always samples out. You’re going to have to walk past the ice cream to get to the frozen vegetables. The universe dictates that your favorite snack go on sale at five for $5 the day you decide to go into beast mode. The best way to avoid these temptations is have a plan of escape. Cross everything off your list as you go. Allow yourself a couple extra items that weren’t on your list, but limit yourself to just a couple. And try to avoid checkout aisle snacks. Sure, a Kind bar isn’t so bad. But it’s sitting right next to the Hershey Almond bar. What would you choose?

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” This is true of everyone. But at least if you have an idea of what you’re going to do, you can be prepared for the things that will definitely go awry. Like a sale on pita chips and hummus (or is that just me?)

How do you prepare for grocery shopping? And what’s your go-to item at the store?

photo credit: Skakerman via photopin cc