Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Kroger Chronicles

I've been receiving requests for info and questions about where I grocery shop and the types of foods I buy, so I thought, why not write about my most recent Kroger expedition? I went Monday afternoon before class. I broke my cardinal rule of never shopping on an empty stomach, but surprisingly, I stuck to my list (my other cardinal rule).

Disclaimer: While I consider most of the following items staples in my "diet," not all of these items are ones which I purchase on every grocery shopping trip. I used Monday's trip as a snapshot of the types of foods I buy on a regular basis.

Salad fixings and fresh veggies are staples in my fridge. Sometimes I treat myself to extras to spice up a salad -- like these pecan pieces and Italian pine nuts -- but I always stock baby spinach, organic tomato, cucumber, celery, baby carrots, and vidalia onion.
I always have some type of fresh fruit. It's usually bananas that are still too green to eat, strawberries, or blueberries. Recently, I've begun buying frozen freestone peaches or triple-berry mixes. Frozen fruit is perfect for after class when I'm craving ice cream; it's cold, flavorful, and still nutritious. Unfortunately, it's also expensive, but that's where freezing my own pre-portioned fruit could come in handy.
I discovered KIND bars 8 or 9 months ago, and it was love at first bite. They're a bit high in the calorie department (120-200) for me, but they're incredibly good, and they're packed with goodies like protein and fiber. They're perfect in-class snacks, and their huge variety of flavors and ingredients (e.g. cashews, pistachios, sesame seeds, pecans) keeps me interested. These babies come in really handy in a pinch when my blood sugar drops quickly.
Since I began eating meat about 10 months ago, 90% of my cravings are for chicken. I keep a bag of the boneless, skinless variety in the freezer; this type of meat is preferable because of its versatility. I don't usually stock salmon, but it's such a great source of Omega-3s, I don't pass it up when it's on sale. I usually bake it in Balsamic Vinaigrette and eat it atop a salad. It's great fuel that keeps me full and feeling good for hours.
(Secret Time: I like the way the single piece of fish looks wrapped up in wax paper. It reminds me of old-timey movies or TV shows when everybody carried one paper grocery bag with the leafy greens of the carrots sticking out of the top.)
Odwalla and Naked smoothies and drinks are "special occasion" treats because of their expense ($3-5 apiece) and their high caloric content. They're supposed to suffice as a meal or a hearty between-meals supplement, but they don't keep me full. On the plus side, they're absolutely saturated with nutrients, vitamins, veggies, and fruit, so I can't be too mad at them...
These Greek yogurt treats are also considered special occasion goodies. Between 100-150 calories apiece, they're great sources of calcium and vitamin D. I bought these because they were 10/$10, and because they taste like dessert without the dessert hurt-factor.
Chobani, however, is an absolute necessity for me. There is never a time that I'm without my beloved Chobani, particularly the pomegranate, mango, and pineapple flavors. If I have them on hand, I love to add granola and/or chia seeds to my morning Chobani.
I alternate between SoBe Life Water, Vitamin Water Zero (and the Kroger brand), and Propel Zero. It depends on which brand is on sale and which flavors I'm craving. Generally speaking, I buy Vitamin Water most frequently. I'm quite certain Kroger misses me single-handedly keeping these sections of the store in business, but my Brita has saved me a boatload of money and tossed plastic bottles. Having a Brita also ensures that I always have cold, fresh water, which has upped my per diem water intake significantly.
 I try to buy heart-healthy soups that are low in sodium, but admittedly, my favorite flavors are rich in sodium (i.e. Campbell's French Onion, which has half of my RDV of sodium). I also look for limited-time seasonally flavored soups. I wasn't feeling risky enough to try the orange tomato variety I saw, but there's always next time ;) One of my favorite meals is soup over brown or white rice.
Milk -- another staple in my diet. I don't drink milk nearly as often as I used to, but I eat cereal quite a bit. I always buy skim, always a half-gallon. I'm that girl who elbows old ladies out of the way to strong-arm her way to the very back of the case for the jug with the longest expiration date.
I used to consume more cheese than you would ever believe. I have a mild obsession with Swiss... so anyway, I try to make it a policy not to have more than two types of readily consumable cheese on hand at any given time (e.g. Swiss slices and spreadable sharp cheddar). Occasionally, I'll buy crumbled feta or bleu cheese to add to salads or to top veggie burgers. One of my all-time favorite veggie burger combos includes a toasted bun of some sort, cucumber slices, tomato slices, baby spinach, hummus, and cheese crumbles atop the patty.
And last but certainly not least... I discovered Sandwich Thins 6-8 months ago, and I've never looked back. With all of the 100-calorie varieties, I don't have a need to buy sliced bread or buns anymore. These are versatile, too -- I use them as toast with margarine and jam, burger buns, breakfast rounds topped with Nutella and banana slices, sandwich bread, etc.
Disclaimer Two: I'm not a calorie-counting fiend, I promise! It just helps to know exactly what you're putting into your body so you know what you can expect out of your diet. I've learned so much just by reading labels and doing basic research. Once you get into a routine and you start buying a lot of the same foods regularly, you pretty much know the nutritional value without having to read labels every time.
If you had questions, I hope this helps! If not, you've gotten a glimpse into my pantry :)
Please feel free to continue emailing, tweeting, commenting or texting questions. Happy Hump Day!

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