Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Journey to a Healthier Me (Grocery Shopping)

I just love this pink fridge!  Not anything I would have in my own home, but it sure is cute!

So, besides asking how I have been taking off the weight, a few sweet friends have been asking me what I actually eat...

...because in the end, that's what we all want to know, right?!!!  (What she eats and how to prepare it!)

Let me preface by saying...I am a continual work in progress.  My weight loss goals are flexible as well as my eating habits and choices.  I am constantly learning about healthy eating...whole foods/plant-based diets/organic fruits and vegetables/etc., ...and I really do see sugar as the enemy (although a delicious tasting one!).  I have become even more wary of artificial sweeteners.

We've all heard about shopping "the perimeter" of the grocery store right?  (Avoiding the middle aisles filled with all the processed foods.)  Well, I hardly ever did that.  I got a few fruits from the produce aisle and that was about it.  Veggies were not my thing, and if they were they came from a can.  Not even fresh frozen!

Today I shop radically different and we eat extremely different.  Most everything I prepare is made from scratch and involves whole foods.  Nearly my entire grocery cart comes from that "perimeter" of the grocery store.  Here are a few pics I snapped of my fridge from yesterday's grocery shop.  (I try to shop weekly to save on gas...we live quite a bit away from any large grocery/retail stores.)

First stop...the top shelf.  

This is where I keep the eggs and dairy.  We used to go through tons of milk and dairy products until I realized just how much sugar (lactose) is in those products.  Did you know that one 8 oz serving of nonfat skim milk has 12 grams of sugar? I'm not saying to stop drinking milk, but I am saying be aware of how many grams of sugar you do take in throughout the course of the day...even through "healthy" food choices.

We also eat a lot of eggs at our house.  Eggs are a fabulous source of protein, but they do contain fat and cholesterol.  Although I do not have a cholesterol problem (even at my heaviest), I do have family history of issues with cholesterol.  Couple that with being in my early 40's, well...

...hello egg beaters!

Love these things!  Made with all natural egg whites, egg beaters are low in calories, contain no cholesterol and no fat.  Three tbsp. of egg beaters = 1 large egg; contains only 25 calories and 0 fat grams; 0 cholesterol and 5 grams of protein.  Sometimes though, I just love a good yolk!  Thus I do the combo thing...1/4 cup of egg beaters mixed in with 1 regular egg. 

 I recently discovered almond milk and love it.  I had seen several bloggers sharing recipes using almond milk and didn't have pleasant thoughts, but was delightfully surprised at the taste.  I will say this, I tried a generic grocery store brand of almond milk and couldn't stomach it...so I tried the more expensive SILK brand and loved it.  Sometimes it pays to not go generic!

Finally, hiding behind the egg beaters is my container of OIKOS Greek Yogurt (plain).  One cup (8 ounces) contains 190 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 9 grams of sugar.  Oh, and ONE ingredient (cultured Grade A Milk)!  Compare that with the very same brand of OIKOS Traditional Greek Yogurt (Raspberry Flavor) that hubby buys...5.3 ounces contains 160 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 17 grams of sugar.  I can't reiterate enough how important it is to read labels!  

2nd Shelf  & Drawer

Fairly self explanatory.  We eat lots of seasonal fresh fruit and veggies.  My parents turned me on to the Jimmy Dean TURKEY sausage crumbles.  I love using those in my scrambled eggs.  We also use lots of salsa on our eggs.  I used to always use bottle brand salsas until I realized how much sugar they contain.  I still buy Pace in a pinch, but have recently been buying freshly prepared salsas from the refrigerator case.

You might also see Gogurts, Laughing Cow cheeses, and um, hot dogs, bacon, and lunch meat.  

Look folks...I still have kids.  Two skinny kids and a toddler.  They get three healthy, well-balanced meals during the course of the day, but I do allow them a few "indulgences" and if that's a sugar-laden yogurt tube or nitrate-loaded hot dog...well... 

This was the extent of my "middle aisle" grocery shop this week!  These types of products used to be the bulk of my grocery shop and probably totaled 8 of 10 bags of groceries.  Yesterday they comprised 2 bags of 10!

Oh, and a word about cheeses.  I LOVE cheese.  But it is high in fat and Mary told me to cut waaaay back on it.  So, I switched to feta and I love it. Gives a kick to my salads, burgers, scrambled eggs,etc. 

Finally, my crisper drawers.

I have really begun to experiment with fresh, seasonal veggies.  I won't lie, I'm still trying to develop a LOVE for them, but I'm closer and much more adventurous!  I love eggplant Parmesan in the restaurant so I bought my first fresh eggplant.  I have no idea what to do with it.

And a note about salads...

I use to really dress up my salads with lots of hard boiled eggs, cheese, croutons, salad dressing, etc.  I no longer do that.  Today, my salads are typically a mix of iceberg lettuce with fresh spinach our romaine.  I use almonds, sunflower seeds, shredded chicken, canned chicken, black beans, refried beans, sliced steak, feta, Roma tomatoes, and avocado to make up different types of salads.

And one more thought...a few friends have commented that they just don't bother with salad.  That it has no nutritional value (iceberg is the reference) and so it is not worth the bother.

Mary, nutritionist extraordinaire begs to differ.  I shared with her those thoughts and she disagreed.  She says anything that comes directly from the earth has nutritional benefit.  Even if it just provides some trace minerals and vitamins.

I find that salads allow me to fill up/bulk up and really CHEW my food!  No liquid meals for me!

So there you have it...a quick tour of my fridge.  Below is my typical weekly shopping list. Feel free to copy and use for reference!

Fresh or frozen strawberries
Fresh or frozen blueberries
Fresh or frozen blackberries
Peaches, Plums, Nectarines
(No grapes or bananas (too high in sugar for me), but I do purchase for Mary, Ben, and Luke)

Fresh or frozen broccoli
Fresh or frozen green beans
Iceberg lettuce
Hearts of Romaine
Summer Squash


Fresh or frozen chicken breasts
Steaks (fillets, strips, flank)
Kabobs (chicken or steak)
(side note...one benefit of our small-town living...a real BUTCHER shop...I really don't buy meat from the grocer anymore)

Lactaid (lactose free) milk
Shatto Brand (hormone free) skim milk
SILK or BLUE DIAMOND almond milk
DAISY brand (light) sour cream
OIKOS Plain Greek Yogurt
Cottage Cheese

Hope this gives you a feel for what I eat and how I grocery shop.  I occasionally choose an indulgence (like a birthday cupcake and scoop of vanilla ice cream to celebrate Luke's big day!), but I just can't celebrate every single day WITH FOOD even though every single day is certainly a celebration of life!

Hugs and kisses,


  1. Your fridge looks yummy! I love salads and could live off of them. SO good. I also love eggs with Salsa. YUM! And Silk Almond Milk is delicious. I sometimes get the chocolate for the kids as a treat.

  2. On the right track alright!

    Salads I love--but have to watch how much--tummy rebels.
    It is amazing how much sugare and salt are in the stuff we eat!

    We have been going to the farmer's market each Saturday to get goodies for the week.

    You could saute the eggplant or grill it.

    M :)

  3. Your fridge makes me hungry? Can I come over to eat?!

    Unfortunately, I have a terrible thyroid problem. Have had it my entire life. Even the littlest amount of almond milk/soy milk will throw my thyroid out of wack, and even effects the medication I take.

    You inspired me to clean out my fridge :)

  4. What great tips here! I'm going to write some of them down. I could definitely make healthier choices at the grocery store. I too would have no idea what to do with that eggplant Valerie!

  5. Thanks for sharing your refrigerator contents and grocery store strategies! As I lost weight I too radically changed how I shopped and how I cooked. So important for long-term health and weight loss success!!!

  6. This has been most helpful for me. I am so glad you are sharing everything, so I can learn to.

    Gave ya an award over at my blog.

  7. This is great Val, what a smart idea to share the details, that's what I should do! I love Feta too and I agree about Iceburg lettuce...we get that alot, people telling us not to bother, but we mix it in with Romaine and spinach and my boys gobble it up. Iceberg is a water-rich food and that's always a good thing!:)
    Thanks for sharing your goodies!
    Enjoy the weekend.


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