Grocery Shopping

So what does someone who loves to bake and cook keep in her house all the time?  Here is an extensive list of all the ingredients I usually have on hand at any given time so that when the urge to bake strikes, I am ready.  Of course my pantry is never completely full of all these things and there are days when my fridge only has an almost empty carton of soy milk, a lemon and a few pieces of cheese, but that is when I know it is time to shop.  So here is the master list I keep in my head and the rules I use when shopping for my family.

My refrigerator after a big shopping trip
(I no longer buy Silk brand milk)


I have to admit that as a former vegetarian about half of my daily diet is made up of fruits and vegetables.  And I do believe that buying organic is often necessary and worth the expense, so the bulk of my grocery bill is often spent in the produce isle.  Of course this may not be possible for some people, and there are definitely healthy less expensive options such as buying locally, supplementing with canned and frozen items and of course growing your own!! 

When shopping for produce, there are three things you need to consider:
            1. Buying local
            2. Buying what is in season
            3. Buying organic when necessary

Depending on where you live and the time of year, the best choices can vary considerably, but here are a few of my usual year round picks:

bags of fruit ready for a busy day
weekly banana purchase
Organic apples
Organic grapes
Organic plums and berries (spring-fall)
Organic tomatoes
Organic greens
Organic carrots
Organic bell peppers
Organic saurkraut
Fresh pickles
Canned organic tomatoes
Canned pumpkin
Canned vegetable soups (organic)
Frozen organic berries
Bolthouse Farms smoothies
Tart red cherry juice

I know that organic can be pricey, so I try to stick by the “dirty dozen” guideline when shopping.  Unfortunately for me, most of our favorites are on the list, hence the large amount of organic produce I listed above.  The complete list, as posted here: is as follows:

fruit for breakfast
12 Most Contaminated:

Sweet Bell Peppers
arugula from my garden
Grapes (Imported)

12 Least Contaminated:

Sweet Corn (Frozen)
zucchini, peppers & eggplants
from my garden
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
Kiwi Fruit

for the 2014 updated list, and more information, go to:


One of the main rules I stick to in my house is to almost eliminate white flour and all packages goods containing white flour from my home.  I rarely bake with it unless making some decadent light cake and I definitely don’t buy much that is made with it.  Basically your body treats it like sugar and personally I think whole grain everything tastes better, while also being remarkably better for your health.  I also try to buy as much as possible organic, but I do have my favorite brands that are staples in my house (cheerios, triscuits, cheez its, etc…) I figure that one reasonably inexpensive way to go organic is to limit package goods and buy organic flour and bake a lot.  It does not cost much more than regular whole wheat flour, is readily available and fairly cheap.

I know that the gluten free craze is going strong at the moment and I too have experimented with other types of flours, but since I don’t think myself or my family has any severe reaction to gluten, I usually stick to what I know works best.  I am sure most of my recipes can be made gluten free if you have found a combination of flours that works well as a wheat substitute.

Besides flours, and a few packaged items, the usual sources of grains in my house are as follows:

whole grain cereal
whole grain red rice
Variety of ancient dried grains (farro, chia, quinoa)
Whole grain rice (brown, black and red)
Whole Wheat pasta 
100% whole wheat bakery bread (no preservatives)
Organic oats (regular, steel cut and quick cooking)
Whole grain cereal (Kashi brand is a favorite, and cheerios)
Whole grain crackers (Annie’s brand snacks, and other organic varieties)
Whole Grain Organic blue corn chips


As someone who eats very little meat and yet exercises a lot and needs large amounts of protein in my diet, I often find myself turning to dairy a couple of times a day.  I used to be lactose intolerant and still do not consume large amounts of plain milk, but I do love yogurt and cheeses and eat them daily, and use them in many of my recipes.  This is also an area in which I tend to by exclusively organic, except sometimes for cheeses, because even I find that a bit too expensive. J
frozen Greek yogurt sundae with
peanut butter sauce and bananas

My favorite sources:

2% organic milk (for my kids)
Plain kefir (my usual early morning drink)
Organic full fat plain Greek yogurt
Cheddar cheese slices
Cheese sticks (variety of types)
Organic shredded Parmesan cheese
Organic cottage cheese
Organic half & half (for coffee)
Organic cream cheese (for baking)
Organic butter (for baking)
variety of cheeses (my favorite food group)

nuts & seeds for trail mix bars

Beans, soy, dairy, fish, nuts and small amounts of lean organic meat are my main sources of protein.  That sounds pretty basic, so let me break it down a little bit.  Basically since starting to work out intensively this past year I was advised by my trainer to consume my body weight in grams of protein at least a couple of times a week.  It sounds extreme, but it really does help with energy, muscle tone and fitness results.  But as a semi-vegetarian it is not always an easy feat.  I can only eat so many beans without feeling bloated, soy in large amounts can affect hormones, dairy can cause stomach upset, fish can contain mercury, nuts are high in fat, and meat, well meat comes from beautiful living creatures… so my solution?  Try to eat a little bit of all of those sources without going overboard on just one.  And make sure that EVERY time I go to eat something, I am consuming something with an adequate amount of protein.  I used to love drinking almond milk and do prefer it’s taste over soy milk, but plain organic soy milk has 7g of protein per serving, so I stick with that.  Same goes with plain versus Greek yogurt.  I have a much easier time finding organic plain yogurt than I do organic plain Greek yogurt, so I have to decide each week whether the protein or the organic factor is more important. (I go back and forth on that one).  I definitely eat a few servings of fish a week (usually canned light tuna in olive oil- delicious) and eat nuts or nut butters, or something baked with them, almost every day.  The meat option is a bit trickier because after having spent about 8 years as a vegetarian it is hard to not see a face when I am eating meat.  Even my daughter who is 4 asks me every time one of us is eating meat, “is that an animal?”  She eats nothing but dairy and crackers and is most definitely a vegetarian, which is fine with me, but it makes it even harder for me to want to eat meat.  I usually just stick with small amounts of organic chicken when I feel the need for some high quality protein, and the occasional (twice a year) bite or two of good quality organic steak.  My husband and son are not always happy with this arrangement, but they understand that a healthy diet does not require large amounts of meat and usually eat whatever I serve.

What I usually buy:

Canned organic beans (dark red kidney, cannellini, garbanzo, pinto and black)
Organic plain soy milk (no carrageenan)
Organic tofu (silken is great in recipes, and extra firm is good for pan frying)
lentil soup with spinach &
organic chicken sausage
Dairy (listed above)
Canned light tuna (in olive oil) and salmon
Frozen shrimp
Fresh salmon and other fish
Raw almonds, walnuts and pecans
Mixed gourmet nuts
Sunflower seeds
All natural nut butters (peanut, almond, chocolate peanut)
Organic chicken 
chicken enchilada soup

Organic chicken sausages
Organic beef (occasionally)


Oh that dreaded word.  I too used to “fear fat” until I realized how vitally healthy it is for the body, both internally and externally.  The trick is to eat the right kinds in the right amounts.  My usual sources are:

Nuts (bulk, or from baking aisle)
healthy fat sources
Nut butters
Extra Virgin olive oil
Organic canola oil
Organic virgin coconut oil
Organic butter
real infused truffle oil

Baking supplies:

Dark chocolate (chips and baking bars)
some of my baking necessities
Hershey’s special dark cocoa
Raw organic cocoa powder
Raw chopped nuts
Organic or wild dried fruit
Organic unsweetened shredded coconut
Wheat germ
Flax seed
Chia seeds
Pure vanilla extract
Pure almond extract
Baking powder
Baking soda
Organic sugar
100% pure maple syrup
Organic brown sugar
Organic coconut nectar
Honey (usually raw)
Apple cider vinegar 

I hope that this information helps when shopping for healthy meal choices.  It is a lot of raw ingredients which means that some cooking is of course required.  I too rely on store bought meals on occasion and having two young children, organic pizzas, frozen organic burritos and frozen organic mac & cheese meals are favorites.  I prefer to buy Annie’s or Amy’s brand, as I have always found their products to be both healthy and delicious.

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