Grocery Shopping + Meal Prep

Thinking out loud about food…because duh. If I’m not eating food, I’m thinking about food. πŸ™‚

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I may or may not love shopping for groceries more than I love shopping for clothes. It’s a close competition. πŸ˜‰ There is just nothing like strolling up and down the aisles of the grocery store with a cup of coffee in your hand. Ah. My happy place.

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My go-to store is Trader Joe’s because I love their prices and I love their “specialty” foods and snacks. You know, those things you may not find at the regular grocery store. However, I am name brand specific about some things, like ketchup, toilet paper, and KCups, so that will send me to Target or Giant on occasion. In DC and northern Virginia, Safeway and Harris Teeter are also big names, but I have found their prices to be more expensive overall. Of course, sometimes I like to change it up and go to one of those other places or even venture to Wegmans in the suburbs. Because grocery shopping is my favorite activity, so I do things like that. πŸ˜‰

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So what exactly do I buy at the grocery store? Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for a little while, you may notice that I tend to eat a pretty healthy diet and I tend to eat the same meals on repeat. Exhibit A: my beloved oats with cinnamon, PB2, and coconut oil, and my egg white omelette also cooked in coconut oil with spinach and cheese. And ketchup. We can’t forget the ketchup. πŸ™‚

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So it may not LOOK like I need to buy much at the store, but every time I shop, I wonder if the cashier knows that I live alone or wonders if I’m feeding a family of four. Haha! My roommate and I don’t share food (except for maybe condiments) so I really do shop for one. This makes me question how I will ACTUALLY shop for a family of four one day in the future because I feel like I eat a lot all by myself!

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A typical grocery haul looks like this. The Trader Joe’s cooler bag is fairly large, and I also have one from Whole Foods. On this particular trip, I only had one bag in my car, so I had to make do. In this area, they charge an extra five to ten cents for plastic bags. This was news to me when I moved here last year, so I am just NOW getting in the habit of remembering to take my own bags with me! Of course five or ten cents won’t break the bank, but if I have nice bags to use and I can save the environment a liiiiiittle bit, why not?! Catch me on a day when I forget my own bags and get all plastic…it’s me, my two arms, and ten bags fighting to get up the elevator. I do NOT make more than one trip. I do not. πŸ™‚

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Back to the food! This is a pretty typical grocery haul for me:

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There are four major categories that I consider when buying food: protein, carbs, vegetables, and snacks.

– Protein –

I eat one source of protein with every meal. I have always read how important protein is in a healthy diet and I know that it is supposed to satisfy your hunger and keep you feeling full, but I really learned how to incorporate protein into every meal when I did the 21 Day Fix Extreme program. On this particular grocery trip, I bought egg whites (breakfast), a half dozen eggs (if I run out of egg whites or bake dessert),Β Applegate pepperoni (for snacking), yogurt (for snacking), and chicken sausage (for dinner). Often, I will have chicken or turkey in the freezer and I don’t need to buy “dinner” protein every week since I am only feeding myself, but it’s still nice to mix things up. πŸ™‚

– Carbohydrates –

We need carbs even though there are many diets out there that tell us to avoid carbs like the plague. Carbs are one of the main nutrients that your body needs and they give you energy (source)! For a long time, I was in the school of thought that said bread and pasta and cereal and basically all carbs were the devil. There ARE some carbs that are better for you than others. For example, steel cut oats are probably a better choice than cereal. But that’s another subject for another day. πŸ˜‰ My uncle delivers baked goods and supplies for a bakery in the Pittsburgh area and he always brings back big bags of steel cut oats from the one farm that he visits. In the oatmeal department, I am always stocked up! And that is my favorite breakfast, as you know. So since I don’t have to buy my oats, the carbs that I DO buy include sweet potatoes and some kind of cracker to snack on. I usually have bread or wraps in my freezer because I never go through an entire loaf or package in a week!

– Vegetables –

I always buy a bag of spinach. I use spinach in omelettes and in protein shakes. You can’t taste the spinach in either and it’s a great way to get an extra veggie in my meals! Not pictured: broccoli slaw. This is an easy topping for a spinach salad! I usually have two vegetables in the fridge to snack on: this week, I had half a bag of carrots left, so I didn’t buy those, but I did buy a cucumber. Both of those I cut/put in Ziploc bags to have ready to snack on with hummus. Also, I always buy two vegetablesΒ to choose as my side dishΒ with dinner…here, broccoli and asparagus. I have been buying lots of zucchini this summer because it’s in season and I love using my spiralizer to make Zoodles! Zoodles are just noodles made out of zucchini. I am not going to lie to you and pretend that they taste like REAL noodles, but they are a healthy alternative. I love them, so that is why you will notice a jar of spaghetti sauce in the above photo. πŸ™‚ My mom bought my spiralizer at Bed Bath and Beyond, but I just saw it this weekend at Marshalls if you are in the market for one!

– Snacks –

Fruit is one of my favorite snacks. I always buy bananas, but my second or sometimes third choice of fruit varies from week to week depending on the season. Watermelon won out this week! I also bought hummus, as I mentioned above, and snack packs of guacamole. This makes guac easy to pack in my lunch and makes it much more likely that I will eat theΒ correct serving size. πŸ˜‰ Give me a big container of guacamole (or salsa) and it’s all over!

This might not seem like a lot of food, but again, I am only feeding myself. Also, there are always things that you don’t have to buy every week and things left over from the week before. For example, my jar of salsa, pancake mix, frozen fruit, and snacks like pretzel thins or popcorn. Some of my favorite snacks, like Quest bars, I have to buy somewhere else because not all stores carry them. Although recently, Quest bars have been popping up in more “regular” grocery stores. This makes me happy because I’m pretty sure the guy at GNC knows my name. Hahaha

In college, I was pretty good at making one “big” meal that would last all week long. My mom used to do this often when I was younger. She would make soup or a casserole of some kind that would give us lots of leftovers. I want to get back into the routine of doing this once school starts because from my grocery trip, you can see that my meals are very predictable. That is something you kind of have to get used to when you are just buying food for yourself. Otherwise, it all goes bad! On the flip side, I personally like knowing what I’m eating for almost every meal because then I know that I am making pretty good choices most of the time. But making one big meal on Sunday to last all week would be a good way to mix it up a little bit during the week!

One last thing to share with you: I mentioned cutting up or putting vegetables in Ziplocs as soon as I buy them. I do this on purpose. When I’m starving, there is no way I have the patience to stand in the kitchen and chop something up. It sounds crazy, but it’s reality! Similarly, I have zero desire to stand in my kitchen every night and make a salad for lunch the next day. Salad is usually what I eat when I am packing lunch for work, but you can apply this technique to anything you are packing. For vegetables to snack on: decide if they are better stored in Tupperware or Ziplocs. If I’m going to eat carrots as a snack every day, they go in Ziplocs. Then I just throw an already measured bag in my lunchbox! If you’re going to cook with the vegetable, then put it in Tupperware. Now it’s just already chopped for you. πŸ™‚ Salad making –> Set out five Tupperware containers and make your salads on Sunday night. I use spinach and broccoli slaw as my “base” in my salads. These sit in the fridge all week and I add toppings (like chicken, cheese, etc.) the night before I eat the salad. Dressing is stored in a separate tiny container so my salad isn’t soggy at lunch time.

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But the most important note of all in cutting and storing vegetables ahead of time is this:Β paper towels.

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Check that out! Believe it or not, paper towels are your savior. Vegetables tend to get soggy in the fridge, even if they’re in the crisp drawer in the fridge, so put a paper towel in your Tupperware or Ziploc to soak up the moisture. Take the paper towel out right before you eat that snack or salad and it will seem as fresh as the day you made it! Of course, vegetables do have a shelf life, so be mindful of that, too! The paper towel trick doesn’t make them last LONGER, but it does make them stay fresh for their designated amount of time. πŸ™‚

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Have you ever put this much thought into your grocery shopping or food prep habits…ever?! I hope you learned a new tip or trick. πŸ™‚

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17 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping + Meal Prep

  1. Um, yeah I do put that much thought into it. And I told you, Mason Jars. It’s amazing how long lettuce will last in a mason jar — no paper towel required!

    There’s only the 2 of us, but our food bill tends to be more than our mortgage. Although I would MUCH prefer clothes shopping to food shopping. I don’t really enjoy food shopping that much. I like trying new stuff, but the actual shopping is a pain.

    I have a thing for insulated bags (and have that same TJs bag), so I just keep like 6 in my trunk. Voila! There’s always a bag. Unless I miscalculate and buy more than will fit in one bag, which is typically what I bring into the store with me.

  2. Wait… I’m so glad you just told me about this paper towel trick! I am definitely going to be using that next week. I spend a few hours every Sunday (if I’m good) shopping and meal prepping for the week. It’s important especially because I like to pack my lunch for work in order to save money!

  3. We have to pay for bags here too! They don’t have regular plastic bags though, it’s like 5 cents for paper bags and 75 cents for a super fancy heavy duty reusable plastic bag. I’ve gotten pretty good at remembering bags, but I need to leave some in the car for when I make unexpected trips.

    • I do too! It’s just hard because when you get home and unload the groceries, you don’t feel like taking the bag back to the car then…or at least I don’t because there is an elevator involved hahaha

    • I think I read your blog the day you posted about your favorite TJ’s finds! I’m trying to like Whole Foods but I feel like I can find some of the same things for a cheaper price elsewhere!

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