Healthy Eating: Faster grocery shopping

When I first stuck my toe in the waters of healthier eating, I was intimidated by the fancy ingredients in recipes I was looking at.

Things like turbinado sugar and shallots struck fear in my heart. Where could I shop to buy those things? What WERE they?

Here is what I have learned since then:

To eat the way I love to eat, I really only need 3 categories of food:

1. Staples

My pantry is stocked with:

  • dried beans – black, garbanzo, kidney, pinto, white
  • lentils – brown, red
  • split peas – green, yellow
  • wheat – hard winter white, hard winter red
  • oats – rolled and steel cut
  • brown rice
  • quinoa
  • popcorn
  • canned tomatoes – diced, sauce, paste
  • salsa
  • canned beans (for last minute meals)
  • nuts – pecans, walnuts, almonds, peanuts
  • seeds – sunflower, flax, chia
  • honey
  • applesauce
  • dried fruit- medjool dates, raisins, date crumbles
  • oil – canola, olive
  • vinegar – balsamic, white balsamic, rice, white wine, red wine
  • salt – kosher, regular
  • baking – soda, powder
  • unsweetened soymilk
  • whole wheat pasta – spaghetti, rotelle, penne

I buy all of the above once or twice a year, at most. Aside from those shopping trips (or online orders), I just “shop” from my pantry. All of the things in the list keep well for at least a year, so I just keep plenty on hand.

2. Produce

The majority of the time, when I walk into a grocery store I go to the produce section and then straight to the checkout. Seriously.

Because I’m only in the produce department, I know it pretty darn well and interesting veggies that crop up in new recipes like “shallots” “leeks” or “rutabaga” don’t throw me anymore.

What DOES throw me is the rare time I have to wander into the middle of the store… entire aisles full of snack crackers, cereal, soda, or frozen dinners. It boggles the mind how they can repackage the same few ingredients into so many different brightly colored packages. How could you ever choose one packaged cookie over another?

3. Spices & extras

Every five grocery store trips (or so) I’ll stray from the produce section to stock up on frozen veggies, tofu, refrigerated unsweetened soymilk, or cheese (for our monthly family pizza & movie night). Or maybe there is a sale on canned beans, tomatoes, peanuts or applesauce and I’ll get 6 months worth of those.

We also hit up Penzey’s Spices a few times a year to keep us in good spices, and we keep a good variety of asian cooking stuff on hand as well (soy sauce, curry pastes, chili sauce, wasabi paste, rice noodles).

Simple is… simple

When my shopping list consists of spinach and split peas and the like, my decisions at a regular grocery store are very few. I might have an organic option when it comes to fresh produce, but I rarely have to make a tough decision. There are dozens of kinds of bottled spaghetti sauce with varying prices, brands, and flavors, but my options when it comes to “celery” or “carrots” are pretty straightforward.

Now, you could argue that cooking from scratch takes up all the time you save at the grocery store… and you’d be right. 🙂

But right now, with three little kiddos in tow, I’m loving my 15 minute grocery store trips. Produce, potty stop, checkout, exit.


About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Healthy Eating, Life as we know it. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Healthy Eating: Faster grocery shopping

  1. Brilliant! You make things so simple. Thanks, I needed to read that. 🙂


  2. Jennifer Ott says:

    Very helpful! I have 4 kiddos under 8, and we homeschool (and my hubby works fulltime and is in school), so going shopping involves all the kids and myself. We eat similarly, but I feel I am still getting used to the whole-food vegan routine. Could you post sometime your meals for a week? It would really help me to see what another family eats over a few days… (In all your spare time!)


  3. Pingback: Keeping Fresh Produce Fresh Longer | Adventures in Beanland

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