Grocery Shopping

Foods I Always Have On Hand

Do you have certain foods that you try to ALWAYS have on hand? Recently I wrote a post about foods I don’t buy at the grocery store anymore. Most of it was what you’d imagine: stuff from the bakery, junk food, juices, and processed crap I don’t eat anymore. Well, what about stuff I always buy?

This post is about the food I try to always have on hand. It’s stuff that we eat all the time. I’ve said before that our meals are pretty boring. My snacks are a daily rotation of whatever fruits are in season and dinners are a protein + seasonal veggie. Having something basic like that makes it easy to always have healthy things available. NOT having junk food in the house makes it easier to choose a healthy snack if that’s the only option!

Foods I always have on hand:

CANNED

One of the things the Slow Carb diet taught me (or reminded me of, either way) was how magical beans are. They are so filling, healthy and really versatile. I love having a variety of beans in our pantry because in a pinch, I always have a meal I can make. Our “Mexican salads” are a favorite (salad, veggies, black beans, salsa), quick and easy black bean quesadillas or burritos or enchiladas are also an option. I went through a phase where I put chickpeas on my salads every night. There’s just an endless number of things I can do with beans.

I also have soups available. This works great for me when I’m running late and want to grab something quick and easy for lunch. Tomato soup is my favorite, so I always have a few cans.

Canned pineapple of various types are always in my pantry, too. I like to add some chunks of pineapple to my plain Greek yogurt for a snack. Or as a homemade pizza topping!

Tuna is also in my pantry because I like it (Michael never eats it). I either make tuna salad sandwiches or I add the plain tuna on top of salads for some protein.

Did you see my tip about pickles? Such a good snack to have available!

FRUITS and VEGGIES

We buy our lettuce or spinach at Costco. It’s a huge vat of greens and most of the time we eat it all before it goes bad (sometimes we’re not as good at that). Salads are often my go-to dinner when I’m home alone and don’t feel like cooking, or for a quick lunch at work.

I tend to always buy broccoli. I don’t know why that’s the veggie I always buy but we nearly always have some in the fridge. Dinners are a protein + salad and + steamed veggie (and yes, it’s usually broccoli!).

I’m especially looking forward to Brussels sprouts being back in season again, soon. That’s my new favorite thing. Winter is approaching, so the veggies I am starting to buy and keep handy are things like squash and cauliflower.

For the fruit, I buy whatever is in season. Berry and cherry season is my favorite!

PROTEINS

There are a few things that we always have on hand. In terms of seafood, we ALWAYS have salmon, shrimp and tilapia in the freezer. It works great having something healthy we can quickly defrost and fix for dinner.

Michael buys our chicken, ground turkey and pork chops at Costco and puts them in the freezer. Those usually take some planning to defrost but it’s nice having a complete meal always available. It means we’re less likely to say “dang it, let’s just get pizza.” Tip: the pork chops at Costco are humongous, so cut them in half lengthwise to make a proper portion size AND double the amount of chops you have! The ground turkey is good for turkey burgers (pre-make the patties and freeze them for easy cooking later), taco night, taco salads, enchiladas or turkeyloaf.

OTHER

Some other things we buy at Costco because we eat a lot of it and it’s cheaper to buy it in bulk are eggs, string cheese (easy snacks), plain Greek yogurt and hummus.

Make it Easy For You to Make Good Choices

I can’t stress enough how much it has helped me NOT having trigger foods in my house and always having healthy options around. This is not to say there are not days when I grab some tortilla chips instead of Greek yogurt and fruit, but I do my best. When you get used to having healthy foods in the house, it becomes a habit and not really a hard choice to grab that apple or string cheese.

QUESTION: What are some things you try to always have available in your house?

Things I Don’t Buy in the Grocery Store Anymore

Grocery shopping was one of my favorite things for a long time. I loved going to my favorite store and exploring all the new items and things I wanted to try. I ate a lot of processed foods and had a fistful of coupons to save money on them. The advice that most “lose weight” articles give is to stay in the perimeter of the grocery story: the produce section, dairy, meat and seafood and avoid the middle of the store. The middle of the store is where all these processed, not-so-good-for-you “foods” are found.

I’ve mentioned many, many times that I don’t deny myself things I want now, I just eat them in moderation. I call this my 90/10 Rule. I splurge, I eat treats, I drink beer and go out for pizza. But instead of gorging myself on massive amounts, I do so in moderation. 2 pieces of pizza and 1 beer are the perfect amount of food for a dinner out. I don’t feel deprived, I don’t feel like I’m denying myself “Bad Foods” and I enjoy myself. This works for me and has worked well for 4 years now.

While I do not “deny” myself food or label foods as good or bad, there are a lot of things that I just don’t eat anymore. Part of that is because I know how many calories are in things now. It’s honestly difficult to enjoy something knowing that it has like 700 calories in it and it’s double the calories I’d normally eat for a meal.

One of the big things I avoid in the grocery store now is the candy/cookie/treat isle. Don’t get me wrong–I still eat candy and cookies and treats but I eat different kinds now. Instead of getting an entire box of Oreos and eating them all in one weekend, I get the take-n-bake type cookies and only bake a serving at a time. Just last night I made Michael and I some chocolate chip cookies: I baked 6 total and we enjoyed our little serving of cookies for dessert without the temptation to eat 5 more.

The other big one is the juice isle–frozen and bottled. I used to LOVE juice. Lemonade, guava juice, orange juice–I always had my freezer stocked with a few options because I usually had some kind of juice with breakfast every day. I’ve told you before that I had a bit of a “drinking problem.” Now? I rarely have that stuff on hand. When I get sick I usually buy a small single serving container of orange juice and every once in awhile I will make lemonade in the summertime. Usually the only thing I have in the house is the unsweetened iced tea I made.

Finally, the bakery. It’s almost always skipped in the grocery store. In the old days, I used to get the single serving slices of cake or cheesecake a few times a week. I told myself I was doing “good” because it was only one piece. Until I started buying several at a time and eating two slices of cheesecake from the bakery instead of one.

One thing I don’t avoid anymore (but did while I was trying to lose 100 pounds) was the ice cream isle. For 2 years I couldn’t eat ice cream because it was a trigger food–if it was in my house I’d eat all of it and probably in one sitting. After I maintained my weight loss for awhile I realized I was able to eat ice cream in moderation. I COULD have it in my house and eat a little bit here and there and NOT the entire thing!

Of course, now I eat the lower calorie ice creams and not the crazy treats that are high in calories. And my trip the ice cream isle does not happen every time I got to the grocery store! Once a month is about the average now.

You can do so well in the grocery store and make your way to the checkout with lots of fruits and veggies and seafood and other healthy options. And then be faced with this:

The last minute, impulse buy crap! Dang it! Too bad the grocery checkout lines don’t look more like this:

Oranges, apples, and other healthier options. Oh well, in a perfect world I guess. I do pretty well with resisting the impulse buy candy section.

QUESTION: What things in the grocery store do you avoid now?