Mr and Mrs Diet Food: 6 Grocery Shopping Strategies

In Mr. & Mrs. Diet Food: Kitchen Clean Out Part I and Part II we figured out what items to purge from your home and set up your kitchen for food prep and cooking greatness.

The next step is to venture a trip to your local grocery store to restock your kitchen. Tackling the grocery store is very important as the items you purchase will be the foundation for your continued nutritional success.

BUT BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING TO THE STORE…

 
1. Count your meals.

To make grocery shopping more like science and less like an episode of Super Market Sweep you should figure out your weekly food needs — before you go.

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Think about how many meals and snacks* you need between this shopping excursion and the next. Every meal should include a protein and a vegetable — and depending on your goals a whole grain.

Eric and I go grocery shopping once per week. During an average week we will most likely go out for one dinner or have takeout once per week, and one or both of us will eat lunch on the go 1-3 times per week.

That breaks down to around 10-12 meals for two people over 7 days.

*BTW snacks are your grab-and-go items. Here’s the trick to snacks: you must make your healthy foods convenient; otherwise you will make poor decisions when you are tired, crunched for time, or stressed.

For example: the other day I had exactly 3 minutes to get into my house, use the bathroom, eat, and then get back out of the house and get my ass to the hair salon. I threw myself through the apartment door, did my business, and grabbed a banana and a little sack of nuts. I didn’t even have to think about what to eat because my designated healthy snacks were ready to go and easily accessible.

 
2. Make a list.

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Creating a shopping list is a great way to take stock of what you already have in your kitchen. It also allows you to assume full control of what happens once inside the grocery store. If it’s not on the list, don’t put it in the cart. Simple.

Here’s an example of a weekly shop for the Bergmanns if we just came back from a holiday and there was nothing in the house.

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Protein

Chicken Breasts – 4 Breasts; 3lbs = 2 meals for 2 people
Sirloin Steaks – 2 Steaks; 3lbs = 2 meals for 2 people
Pork Tenderloin – 1 Tenderloin; 3lbs = 3 meals for 2 people
Ham – 2 Portions; 1lbs = 2-3 small meals for 2 people
Eggs – 2 dozen = meals, snacks, ingredient in cat food & general cooking

Bone in Chicken Thighs – 3lbs = 30 meals for 2 cats
Chicken Livers – 1lbs = 60 meals for 2 cats
(Yes, we even make our cat food from scratch)

Vegetables

5 Quart Chopped Salad – Red Leaf Lettuce, Radishes, Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes (also a snack), Yellow Pepper, Red Onion (also for Millet Shawarma), Avocado (also a side with eggs), Chick Peas (also for Millet Shawarma)
Honey Nut or Butternut Squash
Zucchini and/or Yellow Squash
Asparagus
Eggplant (for Baba Ganoush)
Baby Carrots (for Split Pea Soup & snacks)
Dried Split Peas
Onions (for Split Pea Soup & cooking)
Garlic (for Split Pea Soup, Millet Shawarma, Baba Ganoush & cooking)

Grains

Millet
Rice – White, Black, Red, Brown, Wild, and/or Basmati
Steel Cut/Rolled Oats

Snacks

Dry Roasted/Salted Cashews & Almonds
Dried Fruit (Figs, Apricots, Cherries, Craisins)
Block(s) of Cheese
String Cheese
Yogurt
Dry Italian Sausage
Dried Seaweed
Bananas
Pears
Apples
Grapes

Other

Lemons/Limes
Heavy Cream
Whole Bean Coffee
Tea
Oils – Coconut & Olive
Seltzer
Tomato Juice
Spices
Gum

FoodMontage

Photos of meals cooked off this list (from left to right):
Over easy eggs with avocado. Pan roasted chicken breast with split pea soup, asparagus, butter fried mushrooms, and millet shawarma. Cast iron seared sirloin steak. Mole rubbed pork tenderloin with asparagus, zucchini, baba ganoush, and cranberry sauce. 5 quart chopped salad.

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HOLD ONTO YOUR UNDERWEAR, I have one important note to add here: Eric and I hardly ever eat a ‘traditional’ breakfast meal.

 
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If you are a math wizard you might have guessed something was a bit a miss about the above numbers. Eric and I practice something called Intermittent Fasting which means GENERALLY we don’t eat breakfast… this is for a few reasons, but mainly because we have intense early morning schedules and neither of us has ever felt amazing eating very early in the day.

As a side note, most of the myths you’ve heard about breakfast being the most important meal of the day are not true.

scary eggs

In fact there has never been a properly randomized study that “proves” the positive effects of breakfast. (mic drop)

 
3. Do not go to the grocery store hungry.

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Seriously. Have a snack before you shop. Going to the grocery store hungry is like stepping into the ring with Mike Tyson. You have exactly zero chance of winning.
 

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Hunger and impulsive shopping are directly related. Do yourself a favor and don’t engage in a battle that will end at the bottom of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

 
ONCE YOU ARE AT THE GROCERY STORE…

Most days I go to the grocery store I cannot believe what I’m seeing. In a place where you can find fresh meat and produce flown in from all around the world the majority of people have only processed foods and frozen pizzas in their grocery carts.

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4. Stick to the perimeter.

In an average grocery store the perimeter will include the dairy, meat, fish, and fresh produce sections. I guarantee you’d have a difficult time gaining weight if everything you ate came from only these three areas of the store.

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Realizing there are exceptions to this rule (e.g., oils, nuts, rice, beans, grains, frozen fruit/veg, seltzer, tomato juice, and coffee/tea) try and memorize where in the store you find these items so you can avoid unnecessary trips down the chip and candy aisles.

 
5. Ask yourself — “Will this ‘food’ help or hurt my goal(s)?”

We all inherently know the difference between the good for you foods and the bad ones, yet somehow most adults chose to eat like they are at a 5 year old’s birthday party.

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Clients, friends, and family members will come to me, a packaged food cradled gently in their arms, and they will present it to me like a baby Jesus, and ask, “Is this a healthy food?”

My response: “Do you think it is a healthy food?” Because honestly, if you have to ask, I think you already know the answer.

 
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

We tend to get caught up in the minutia and origin stories of why we buy from the companies we buy from… brand loyalty and the sheer quantity of food choices can really distract us from achieving our actual goals.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight I can tell you right now fretting over finding the perfect organic, cold pressed peanut butter is not your biggest problem.

Remember, do your best. Every trip to the grocery store is your opportunity to make healthful choices for you and your loved ones. If you follow these 6 simple steps I promise your shopping adventures will get easier every time you hit the grocery store. Now, go get ’em tiger.

 
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