Monday, January 21, 2013

What's in Your Cart?

Grocery stores - a place that is both fun and frustrating for me.

Fun because I love shopping for food for myself and my family, and because I enjoy looking at new products.

Frustrating because it's an in-my-face reminder of how much processed food is going home with people (and I assume, eaten).

Now, I don't always go around watching what people put in their carts, but sometimes I catch myself doing it subconsciously. I don't set out to judge people - it starts simply as curiosity.

I also pay close attention to how my grocery cart looks. I realize I'm not, nor do I need to be perfect; however, I'd like to think that if I bumped into a client I wouldn't be completely embarrassed by the contents of my cart.

We've all heard that we should "shop around the outside aisles" at the grocery store and avoid the cans, bags, boxes, and jars in the middle. That's good advice.

We've also been told to read labels and while they're still very confusing for most people, I think people have some idea as to what to look for and they do it (at least somewhat) successfully most of the time.

But what if we made it even simpler? I mean REALLY simple?

Try this:

Always make fruit and vegetables your biggest buy. For things that don't really fit in a food group, aim to have 3 or fewer of those items in your cart (less if you don't happen to be buying many fruit and vegetables that trip).

For example, the other day when I went shopping, this is what was in my cart (don't judge - I'm going out on a limb here and telling the truth ... It's not flawless):

Red, yellow, and green peppers
Brussels sprouts
Green Beans
Ginger root
Seedless watermelon

Bucatini pasta
Whole grain pitas
Whole grain small tortillas
Whole wheat bagels*
High fibre low sugar granola bars
Whole wheat all purpose flour

Pecorino Romano cheese
1% milk
Low fat marble cheddar cheese

Lean ground veal/pork/beef combo pack
Chicken Kiev (uncooked)***
Lean ground beef****
Peanut butter

Extra virgin olive oil

Jar of pasta sauce

So why is it so helpful to do this? Because it ensures that there are more healthy choices in your home so that when hunger strikes, the healthy choice is the easy choice.

Bottom line: If you don't shop this way, you're setting yourself up for failure.

*our local grocery store stopped carrying the whole grain bagels I posted about before. My husband and I are both athletes who find these bagels effective for giving us a nice energy boost.
** I like to buy high fibre low sugar varieties, but my husband also likes to have a less healthy option available. I have decided not to fight this battle. Oh, and I bought Rice Krispies to make squares with those marshmallows
***our local grocery store prepares some stuffed meats that are tasty, affordable, and convenient. We tend to lean on these choices once or twice a week for dinner. They're fresh, tasty, and aren't loaded up with junk
****this was a weird grocery trip because there are usually more vegetarian protein sources on the list. Just happened to be the week that I was making meatballs for a dinner party.


  1. What do you recommend these days for a high fibre, low sugar granola bar? I tend to go for Kashi bars but I don't know if they're necessarily the best choice.

    1. (I do find that I tend to be less confident about my choices when I head into those inner aisles, like the granola bar aisle.)

    2. For granola bars I like to aim for at least 5 grams of fibre per bar and no more than 6-8 grams of sugar. Kashi bars usually fit that criteria. I am shocked to say that Chewy berry-flavoured granola bars also fit!

  2. I never really thought of "what goes in the shopping cart" as a step to take before "what goes in my mouth"! But it seems so obvious!
    I usually go to the fruit and veggie market near my house first, and stalk up on a bunch of (as local as I can find) staples like bananas, apples, carrots, lettuce, arugula, beans and broccoli, etc. Then, I go to the bakery and buy fresh bread, usually whole grain, but sometimes we get rye. Then, lastly, I go to No Frills and get meats, grains, nuts, cheeses, milks, and tons of chocolate. It's the only junk food we eat! My boyfriend, who is a type 1 diabetic, loves the lindt 85% dark chocolate. I like the lindt extra creamy.
    We're moving to a different area in March, and so I am hoping we still live near awesome markets and cheap groceries!