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Shopping List Essentials

Updated on July 6, 2016

Where to Shop

When going to most grocery stores, you can be torn between great options and processed options. It feels next to impossible to avoid grabbing the ice cream or cheese doodles when they are sitting out on the isle shelf. But I have a way to avoid that:

Shop the store perimeter.

Seems too simple? Think about it. Produce. meats, cheeses, milk, yogurt, bread, etc. are typically around the perimeter of the store. Learn the layout of the grocery store you frequent, and only go where you need to go. If you need coffee, whole grain pasta, or something along those lines, make note of the isle numbers and only go down those isles. You cannot be tempted when temptation does not present itself.

I have developed a comprehensive shopping list for summer, with a relatively low cost, for an average couple to use weekly. Lists are always a good idea to take with you to the store; it keeps you focused on what you need to change your habits, ultimately resulting in less impulse shopping. This list is for meat-consumers, as well.

Produce- Fruits and Veggies

Buying whole fruits and veggies may make one wary at first: won't they just go bad in the bottom drawer of the fridge? NO! If you are making strides towards increased health, whole fruits and veggies give you the full bioavailable spectrum of nutrients. Canned fruits are loaded with excess sugar, and canned veggies have a lowered nutritional value, unless you drink the juice- YUCK!

Here are some cheap, whole summer produce choices you should have on your list:

  • Watermelon
  • Apples
  • Berries of various types
  • Cantaloupe
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes (for salads and sandwiches)
  • Avacado
  • Lettuce (if you do not like dark leafy lettuce, try crunchy iceberg)
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turnips and Rutabagas
  • Celery Root
  • Sweet Peppers

If you already have a large, developed palate for veggies and fruits, branch out even more. This list in intended for the beginner in the first stages of change.


Many have the misconception that the leanest meats are the only good choices, but this is not necessarily true. Choosing meat with higher fat content can make you feel full, and can help you meet the daily recommended amount of fats. Too much saturated fat, what is found in animal products, has been linked to negative cardiovascular health, but writing it off completely is not necessary, either. Here are a few meats that you may want to try:

  • chicken thighs, skin removed bone in
  • ground beef, under 10% fat
  • low fat ground sausage
  • give thin sliced turkey bacon, or turkey sausage links a try
  • beef/pork for roasts- after being in the crockpot for a while, the water in the meat and the fat separate, making the removal of significant amount of fat easy
  • fish- whatever you prefer, to keep it cheap, canned tuna is a great option
  • pork chop/ribeye, thinner slices

Again, this list is for the beginner. Another tip worthy of mention is portioning. You can either pick up a relatively cheap kitchen scale, or look online for ways to measure portions of meat. What you think is 2oz, may really be 5oz. This over portioning we see in America is one of the leading causes for our overconsumption of saturated fats.

Cooking meat to where you do not need excess oils take time and practice. Three of my favorite ways are in the crock pot, in a Dutch oven, or on the grill.

Dairy and Eggs

Both dairy and eggs are not to be avoided. They contain many vital nutrients, protein, and probiotics. With eggs, try and eat fewer yolks and more egg whites to avoid too much cholesterol. With dairy, choose low fat to avoid too much saturated fats. Instead of yogurts or cottage cheese with sugary fruits, choose a plain/vanilla flavor and add fresh fruits. Low fat cottage cheese and sliced strawberries are one of my favorite snacks.

  • cottage cheese
  • yogurt (greek or regular is fine)
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • milk
  • coffee creamer (ingredients should begin with milk/cream, not water and oil)

Whole Grains and Nuts

Choosing whole grain products over refined is not something I suggest as a modern day hippie; I suggest them because they are much more filling, nutrient dense, and contain much more fiber. Instead of sugary cereals with very little nutrient value, try making the switch to steel cut oats with a handful of berries. Try a whole wheat bread instead of refined white bread- the whole wheat does not always taste like cardboard, I promise. Keep trying different brands until you find the one you love. While nuts can add up in calories and fat quickly, making sure to only eat one serving at a time will keep you full and able to enjoy the added benefits of their nutritional value.

  • whole wheat bread
  • steel cut oats
  • granola
  • muesli, or make your own
  • nut butter- does not need to be almond, just a high quality nut butter, void of hydrogenated oils
  • mixed nuts, or your particular favorite
  • whole grain pasta
  • quinoa or bulger
  • rice, any kind is great!

Once You are Home

After choosing healthy options, make sure to store everything properly so nothing goes bad or makes you sick.

One last bit of advice for budgeting and making better food choices, try shopping farmers markets or look to see if your community has a co-op. Sometimes these options can make produce costs not as troublesome.

Enjoy your new decision to become happy and healthy!


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