Friday, July 20, 2007

Grocery Tips for Staying on Plan

I am a huge fan of lists. I would say there are more half started lists on my desk at the moment than actual work. It shouldn't be much of a surprise then, that making a grocery list is a top priority before I even step foot through the sliding glass doors and grab a cart.

There are a couple of basics I can't live without: whole bean coffee, chicken, low fat milk, eggs, olive oil. I either buy these things in bulk or they make repeated appearances. Another thing about my lists—they are produce heavy. Seriously. I shop the aisles first, hitting up the produce last (my mom did the same order in the very same's sick, really). Before I get to the produce my cart is practically empty. Last week I told my mom I intended to pay the $500 to get a CSA (community supported agriculture) share next year. That works about to be roughly $20 a week on produce.

"Do you really spend that much?" she wondered. The answer is yes. Yes, I do. I buy a few things from the dairy, a lean meat or two per week, and a couple of odds and ends from the aisles. That's about it. Keep in mind, I also cook for one. Shopping this way is not only healthy for your waist line, but your budget as well. Most penny-pinching folks agree that the perimeter of the store, i.e. less processed, provides the biggest bang for your buck.

Typically speaking, here are some other favorites.
PRODUCE: Mostly what's in season. Right now it's a lot of corn, tomatoes, peaches, and berries
DAIRY: Low fat plain/vanilla yogurt, low fat milk, sharp cheddar, part-skim mozarella, monterey jack, feta, goat's cheese, bleu cheese, eggs
AISLES: rice, pasta, dried spices, condiments, olive oil, the occaisonal bag of popcorn
BULK: Nuts, frozen chicken (boneless skinless breasts and thighs), coffee beans
MEATS/FISH: Flank steak, scallops, shrimp, lean pork chops, pork tenderloin, whole chickens
BAKERY: whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pitas, the occaisonal loaf of sourdough or French bread.

My best tip is to keep a stocked pantry. A good example of what you should have in a well-stocked pantry is here. Choose recipes based on what's available, and make a list to fill in the rest.

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