Lil Miss Fitness Freak

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"

One Of My Favourite Things….Reader Question

42 Comments

My Friends

Laura asked me a lil while ago to do another post on my favourite activity and I was more then willing to write that on up for her and all you guys who may have questions about this topic as well.

So what are we talking about here?

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I actually love to grocery shop. I get so many cool new ideas and inspiration just from wandering around. It’s very relaxing to me…

However, I may have an issue..

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Enough said.

Anyways, so onto your question Laura.

What types of tips can you give to students for grocery shopping. What should I buy, etc? What about when I’m on a budget.

So the first thing I’m going to say is that you need to know what foods are right for you and your body and lifestyle. I will talk about what I like and what I feel makes for a healthy lifestyle, but that does not imply that I think my food choices are best. For example, I firmly believe in buying as much natural, whole and organic foods as I can afford because if your body is built off of what you give it, why not give it foods in their most natural and utilizable form?

Of course, not every student can afford or cares to buy grassfed, organic, etc things

And that’s okay.

I tend to avoid things in a box, but some people may love their cereals and such.

That’s okay too.

Take my words with a grain of salt and always, in the end, do what works for you.

Okay so here are my thoughts and tips based off my beliefs about wholesome eating and how to take those beliefs into your grocery store.

Before you go:

~Don’t be hungry. The saying is true, you will buy more things when you are not hungry or not satisfied then when you are content and therefore thinking with a more logical part of your body (ie. not you rumbling tummy). #HangryProblems

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~Plan what you may want to have during the week. The extent of this ‘food prep’ list is up to you, but food prepping and having food on hand is such a great thing for busy students as it allows for easy access to fully cooked foods that are good for you, easy to produce quick, on the go meals with and helps to save money as well due to not having to buy out.

~Write yourself a list. Especially if a budget is important, write what you need and stick with it. Bonus points if you know what is on sale! If you cannot do this ahead of time, you can generally see the flyers when you walk in and adjust your purchases based on what is on sale that you like. Things like meats, dairy and fish are great to catch on sale as those are some of your more expensive items.

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~Check what you already have. You don’t want to end up buying more then you need or more stuff that can then go bad on ya.

When you’re shoppin.

~Stick to whole foods first. That means you are shopping the exterior (with some exceptions). Meats, fish, dairy and alternatives and your produce are all around the aisles, while the convenience or processed foods tend to be centre stage. I know they seem to be easier then preppin from scratch, but those foods are filled with all kinds of nasties like preservatives, unnecessary sodium and sugars and just stuff your body doesn’t care to house.

~What’s local or in season? Produce bills expensive you say? Try to include things that are in season. If you can’t get to (or don’t enjoy attending) a farmers market, then buying local in the stores is your next best way to save money. More bonus points as you are being more environmentally friendly by purchasing foods that don’t have to travel far.

Selfish point: Buying local also generally means they have retained more of their nutrients as the time between pickin and sellin is less then if it had to be flown in. Nutrients for you, money for your community farmers. Win:win situation I think. 

~Think about non-meat alternatives. Again, if budget is your thang, these will be a life saver for you. As I have mentioned, I ain’t about that soy life so things like tofu, tempeh and the ‘fake meats’ are never going to make my list, but if you enjoy those, then by all means nab some and save some dollar dollars as they are cheaper then animal products. I will say that if you are choosing the soy route, this would be one of my staple organic choices as pretty much all soy is GMO otherwise. Even buying organic here is cheaper then meat generally. Also consider the plant based proteins such as beans, legumes and even some high protein grains and seeds such as quinoa, spelt, buckwheat (soba noodles anyone?), amaranth, etc.

~Bulk Life. Buying staple items such as rice, oats and pasta can save big bucks. Rice is another thing I would recommend buying organic and if you buy the bigger bags, they really aren’t that expensive plus they will last forever!

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~Watch your condiments and sauces. These are notorious for hiding those nasty ingredients that we are told about in the news but may not really know we are ingesting them. How about a lil MSG with your thai food? Read those labels my friends. Personally, the only condiment I use is mustard, the others are whole foods like olive and coconut oil, vinegars and such that I can make my own dressings with. If you prefer pre-made, here are some tips:

Dressings: Watch for excessive amounts of sugar, especially in the ‘lower calorie’ versions, which I would not recommend buying anyways. If they cut fat, they have to add other things to make up for it. Those other things tend to be gums, thickeners, sodium and many forms of sugar

Sauces: Sodium is the killer here mostly and potentially some unwanted chemicals. Thai and other stirfry sauces are the worst for sodium so try to stick to lower sodium options, and natural if possible as they tend to not then add weird things to make up for sodium. Also take note of ones that are MSG free. Marketers will use the many different forms of the name MSG in order to try to sneak that ingredient by you so be cautious (check out this list). This guy is one of the big ones that should be banned but still finds its way into many condiments, especially Asian food ones. BBQ sauces tend to rack up in the sugar department so try to either make your own (there are so many easy recipes out there!) or go for natural and sugar free options

Toppers. The most natural you’re gunna get is mustard. Perhaps some hot sauces, salsas and guacs can be okay if they are minimally processed and have a short ingredient list. Things like Ketchup is tough because it has both sugar and high sodium, so if you like it, try making your own version (try this page for an easy and deeper flavoured homemade ketchup!) or just be mindful of how much you use.

~Don’t be afraid of the deep freeze. I actually just talked about this with my housemate a little while ago. Don’t think that frozen vegetables, fruits, fish and meats are lower quality. In fact, sometimes frozen is better for you! In the case of vegetables and fruit, these items loose their nutrients as they ripen and so if they are frozen right after picking, they retain their nutrient value for much longer!

Quick Tip: Look for flash or quick frozen as they tend to yield better products. Other ones may have been frozen at lower temperatures causing clumping and a weird thawed product. The faster and colder they are frozen, the better they will be when they thaw due to less internal damage during the freezing process. #FoodScience.

When you get home.

~Prep some things. Before you put it all away, take the opportunity to help yourself out a lil bit. Even if it’s a small task of washing and slicing some fruits and/or vegetables to have on hand for snacks, every lil bit helps and if you do it before you put it away, you are more likely to do it period. I would also recommend portioning out your meats. Take out some to cook and baggy up some to freeze for later in the week.

Okee well those are my tips for grocery shoppin. I have a few other comments about organic food in general so if you don’t care about organics, then parooze right past this part and I hope these lil tidbits could help you out!

Okay, so I mentioned that I tend to buy as much organics as possible (for my budget) because I want to get the best for my body. Of course, this is fully dependent on the whether organic standards are true to their word

Anyways here are my thoughts.

Fruits/Vegetables: I tend to buy local first (when at the farmers market) and then organic next. If it’s a ‘dirty dozen list’ I try at all costs to buy organic. For the most part, I tend to prefer organics for things I eat the skins of so my greens, squash, sweet taters, berries, etc. Things like banana’s, avocados, etc I don’t really have a prefrence. Yes, if organic practices are truly followed, it’s not just about me, but also about the environmental impact, but if I had to choose due to budgeting, I will go for organics for the things I will be eating in entirety. Also, if I had the option of free trade vs organic for things like bananas, I would choose free trade because #PowerToThePeople..

Dairy: I don’t buy dairy as I’m lactose intolerant, but I do recommend buying organic and humane. You avoid the growth hormones and grass-fed cattle always means happier cows and more nutrients for you.

Meats: Red meat is always grass-fed for me, and in fact, I rarely eat beef, but instead go for my exotic meats from a local bulk freezer place (MacMillans) and those are always pasture raised due to the types of animals we are dealing with (can’t stuff an elk into a closed off pen like a cow..). As for chicken and turkey, I cannot afford those to be grass-fed but most of the time I’m lazy and just by roasted chicken (1/2 the time it’s from GoodnessMe! which is grass-fed, antibiotic free) and take off all the skin.

Fish: I would say about 1/2 of my fish is humane and wild caught, 1/4 is local (from MacMillans again) and 1/4 is just wild. I avoid farmed due to the heavy chemical load, dye usage and the fact that I don’t really like the practice so I don’t like to support it. There are some species of fish that I love but refuse to buy simply because of the fishing practices like tilapia and most arctic char. Lastly, I also try my best not to go nuts on the big fish despite me loving a lot of them (swordfish, tuna, etc) as they take a while to replenish their numbers.

Eggs: 95% of the time I buy grass-fed, no growth hormone eggs. I want ‘happy chickens’ people and you can actually tell the difference. Most people will shrug this off until they see the difference in yolk colour. That pale yellow conventional egg yolk ain’t got nothing on my golden to almost orange coloured free range egg. The farmers market makes these extremely cheap to buy to so it’s a win win once again.

So that is officially it my friends. Laura (and everyone else!) I hope this suffices but if you have any further questions, throw them in the comments and I will happily answer. 🙂

What are your thoughts on organics?

Do you like game meat?

-Chelsea

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42 thoughts on “One Of My Favourite Things….Reader Question

  1. Thank you for this Chelsea. I love how you mention that we can have a healthy lifestyle, even if we eat differently than you. For me a life without some processed goods like cereal, bread and crackers is unrealistic. I look towards you as a ‘health idol’ so to see that I can still eat my foods and be ‘healthy’ or reach my goal to be healthy is refreshing.

    • Aww you are so sweet! Yes, never feel the need to chance or remove things you love become some other person says something negative about them. What is healthy to you is what is important (unless of course a persons definition of healthy is something crazy like eating mcD’s for every meal haha). Everything in moderation is not going to kill you and if you love your cereal, who should tell you you cannot have it or should feel bad about it?

  2. I also love grocery shopping (when I’m not at school & have to carry it on the bus/walk home/budgeting etc). On a good day-Whole Paycheck is totally cardio- my heart rate was up the whole time 😉 Heh heh.

    • hahah OMG I love whole foods. I go when I can (every few months) set a budget for myself because you can totally just go to town in there and enjoy what I buy. I tend to go for the special items when I’m there because there are somethings I can’t find anywhere else (purple sweet potatoes, some fancy nut butters, exotic meats and fish).

  3. If you were to eat processed foods like crackers, bread, cereal, premade oatmeals, soups etc- do you have favourite brands or what do you look for. If you google Women’s Health Mag they do a ’50 best/healthist things to buy at the grocery store’…but I had to disagree with some of them and I’m sure you would to (i.e: the starbucks refresher drink packs’).

    • Thats a tough question because once again it’s based on my preferences and beliefs about ‘a healthy diet’. If I were to talk more generally, I prefer the most minimal ingredients, organic if I can get it and no weird preservatives or unnecessary sugars/salts/fats. So try to find things that are a whole as possible. For breads, look for sprouted grain (they are the most easily digestible due to the sprouting process), the same with crackers (also look for cool ancient grain ones). As for remade oatmeals, they are almost always going to have sugar due to being flavoured. If that is something you don’t mind, then go for it. I just prefer to make my oats from scratch as oatmeal is fast and easy and flavour it myself with extracts and fruits. Soups are tricky for salt, so watch that when you are looking at brands.

  4. Love the list!! I’ll deinfitely keep it in mind next time I shop 😀

  5. Love your grocery list girl! It’s always nice to see how other people shop..I have a question- I know you avoid soy. I try to avoid processed soy. I eat tofu maybe once a year max, same with processed fake soy (if that) but I herd ‘fermented soy’ like tempeh and miso is good for you. I’ve been using organic miso paste once a day in water for ‘probiotics’ thoughts…

    • fermented things are great because they have the probiotics BUT they do have a downside in the sense that they are often crazy high in salt. Fermented tofu probably wouldn’t probably have that same issue, but the miso will be very high in sodium I’m assuming. So check that out. If you are interested in the probiotics, which I always recommend as our gut health is something that is really not looked after these days due to all of the chemicals we take in from just living (air, water not to mention food), I would just say to get a probiotic supplement. Much more potent. If enjoy the miso and the tofu that is a different story and by all means continue to have those as you like them 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing your staples and your grocery finds and what you tend to keep on hand. I love seeing what other people buy and keep around.

    Your list is lacking in the agave, sugar, chocolate chips, nutella, and 17 versions of nut butter that I tend to keep on hand in case I get a wild hair at 3am to make some crazy concoction of a dessert. Which has totally been known to happen….lots 🙂 You probably have that stuff too but just didnt mention it. then again, I do have a wicked sweet tooth that not everyone has or stocks up for..haha!

    love the list! 🙂

    • hahah nothing wrong with a few hundred pb varieties, which I do have haha. I don’t tend to have any sugars in my pantry (including in my nut butters and such) and I’m not much of a sweets, snacks or chocolate person so they don’t appear there either. haha yeah I’m boring compared to you with your staples :-D. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and enjoy your next crazy dessert concoction!

  7. I’m addicted to cheese. Like insane (probably why I have acne)- I try to mainly only eat feta or goat’s cheese unless I’m out. All this is because personally, I think dairy is bad for you but its refreshing to see you say we can include it.

    • Why do you think dairy is bad? I have my own thoughts on the dairy industry, but if you don’t have issues with it (allergen, sensitivities, etc) then I never say to cut something out of your diet if you like it and it doesn’t bother you. Acne is a big thing with dairy, so if you really wanted to test that you would have to go dairy free completely for a few weeks to see if it improved then slowly add it back in and see if things changed.

      Goats cheese is great because it’s naturally less lactose, so even some with lactose intolerance can eat it in moderate amounts and show no bad reactions. I still have to take a lactaid for it because my stomach is a wimp with my lactose intolerance but it’s really something I rarely eat.

      If cheese is something you love, maybe try a lactaid and see if that helps with symptoms. I never really recommend having the vegan or vegetarian dairy free cheeses because they are fake and full of chemicals but maybe try nooch, or nutritional yeast, as it’s a natural vegan alternative that has a cheesey like taste but is a whole food and full of B vitamins.

  8. I noticed that like other health ‘gurus’ you dont mention ‘green juice’. Personally, I don’t buy ti because its SUPER expensive…and it wouldn’t fill me. Why don’t you?

    • A couple of reasons. One I don’t do well with drinking lots of liquids in one sitting as they make me nauseous. Two, it wouldn’t help me on the gain train (weight wise) haha. three, I love eating things in general, I don’t like drinking my meals. and finally 4. I eat enough greens without having to drop loads of money on those prepared ones.

      Also, they don’t tend to fill you up because it’s just juice. Generally juices like that lack fats and protein and if they are juiced in a conventional way, they may also be stripped of their fibre. Therefore all that is left is a quick spike of your insulin levels due to the sugars of the fruits and vegetables hitting your system without something like a fat or protein (slower to digest) to slow its release in the bloodstream down. If you have a hard time getting your greens and still want something like a shake, make a smoothie instead that is perhaps thick enough to eat with a spoon and contains a fat source, fibre source and protein. The eating part will make your brain think it’s more full and the added nutrients will keep you fuller longer and give you more nutrients.

  9. This is only the best shopping list in the world. You are so so honest about everything and I love it so much
    xx

  10. You dont have to answer, but do you mind me asking how much you spend on groceries/how long it lasts?

    • hahah a lil bit more then I should be, but I tend to justify my overspending on food for my lack of spending elsewhere lol. To be honest it’s probably around 120ish on my own each week (and I tend to do it in batch pickups as I run out of produce and such). It doesn’t have to be that high, but I buy things like scallops and lobster weekly so then it adds up slowly…

      Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive I promise you, but I tend to splurge on myself more often then maybe my wallet would appreciate

  11. avocados always have a place in my cart. I love snacking on them because they’re SO filling. Cut one in half, add chile flakes, sea salt, & lemon and ENJOY! Healthy fats are so good for your skin…

  12. LOVE your list!! I’m obsessed with adding coconut sugar to oatmeal & berries as a snack! & agreed with never going grocery shopping whilst hungry. I’ve made that mistake way too many times haha!

  13. I am trying to ‘clean up’ my diet. I eat out once a week as a social thing, but I hardly ever ever ever buy fast food. When I do it’s subway because thats whats close to me….but I’ll admit I don’t buy the healthiest sub (I usually buy 2 footlongs- one cold cut combo with mayo + cheese & one meatball…. yes I eat both…but those are on super bad binge days). Anyways I try to only keep ‘clean/healthy’ foods at home to avoid to urge to eat poorly….and yet I find myself just letting it spoil and I go to the convient store for bad foods, or subway like I mentioned…or worse…I turn ‘good foods, bad’ like eating bread with tons of cheese etc. Any tips on how to CRAVE good food

    • When you say binge, do you actually feel as if you are binge eating? If so, you need to figure out what that trigger is because it’s not longer about the food but about some feeling of loss of control. You need to get creative with your foods at home so that you can make them something you might want to eat. Just because it’s wholesome doesn’t mean it will be tasteless and also don’t feel the need to cut out the things you love, like the subway, because that will leave you feeling deprived and set a bad relationship with food.

      Craving “good” foods comes with eating them often and cooking them the way you like them to taste. You will never like something if you don’t prepare it in a way that you will enjoy it. Also try to find balance but ensuring you have some vegetables in your meals and then you can try to find creative yet easy ways to make them tasty to you.

      Are you buying ‘clean foods’ that you really don’t like? that would have to change. Buy some sweet potatoes, cut them up into wedges and broil them (around 400 degrees) with some seasonings of choice and a lil bit of olive oil to have them like fries. Examples like that are ways to make fun with whole ingredients.

  14. This list is pretty on par with mine! I’m not actually a huge fruit gal believe it or not, but a few of my other staples are cherry tomatoes, celery, multi-colored carrots, and cukes (ALL organic) to chop and bring with me in tupperware with a drizzle of dressing for part of my afternoon snack that usually includes hardboiled eggs or oatmeal 😀

    • That sounds great! I don’t tend to eat a lot of fruit either, but I do enjoy it, just more so to fuel or refuse after workouts so I tend to stick with mostly the nanners. Bringing veggies as a snack is such a great thing because it’s easy, doesn’t make a mess and does not spoil! If you ever want to switch it up, you can cart around hummus as well that you can either make (it’s super easy! just chickpeas + lemon juice +garlic + water/olive oil is the basic idea but you can add other things like sundries tomatoes or roasted red peppers are my favourite add ins). Gives you another option that is good for one the go and is more protein. 🙂

  15. Hi Chelsea, I am a struggling med student in the USA so here produce is insanely expensive (also fun fact, I learned Canadians pay for bananas in a group…here we pay per banana). Anyways, what I’ve been doing is doing a huge grocery haul at Costco when I go visit my uncle and buy meats, cheese, and veggies then, and try to let that last MONTHS. I don;t eat meat often (once a week or two max) but I rely on eggs a lot (costco has a good deal on them & egg whites). Moving on…sorry I ramble… when the ‘fresh’ stuff is gone like my cottage cheese, fruits, veggies (I ALWAYS try to buy ones that last the longest) I rely on my frozen stash and my pantry. There have been times when I’ve had to rely on the ‘on campus food bank service’ to get me through a week. Do you have tips for someone whose essentially eating a ‘food bank diet’ so think of living off non-perishables?

    • I’m so sorry that you have to worry about food shortage for yourself. I can’t even begin to imagine how stressful that would be but it’s amazing how you are doing this on your own and how inventive you can get when thrown into these types of situations. The idea of doing a post using non-perishables is an amazing idea so I thank you so much for bringing it up. Even here in Canada I know there will be students living off of mostly canned goods and such so it will be a fun challenge for me to come up with some cool ideas for recipes using only those things. What about things like tuna and such. How are those in the US? They are pretty much a staple (it’s a joke here too about living off of tuna haha) here for students who are on a budget and looking for something easy to eat.

  16. This was such a fun list to read, is that weird? It´s kind of like “What´s in my bag” but instead “What´s in my grocery cart?”.

  17. Like you- I’m busy. I sit on a counsel, I work 7 hrs a week, I have classes and I practically live in a library (my home isn’t exactly the best place) so I am never really home until 8pm or so before bed. I purchase food I can ‘take with me’ like granola bars, apple sauce, baby carrots etc. Fortunately, I do have access to a bar fridge most days.

    Any ideas of ‘school’ means or snacks?
    Also I know you bring full on meals to school…do you eat them cold or microwave in plastic at schooL?

    • Busy busy yes for sure! I do bring meals along with me and if they are in a container, then I heat them at school (glass containers please!!) but I have actually been loving my new massive thermos as I can just eat it when I’m ready and don’t have to stand in line for microwave or travel to get to one. I refuse to eat food cold ;-). As far as school snacks and meals, because you have access to a fridge leftovers can be your best friend for meals. Even without a fridge, salads can be awesome as if you keep the dressing separate and stick to more ‘temperature safe’ proteins (I feel better with chicken and turkey rather then fish that makes me nervous carting around unless it’s an unopened can of tuna or something) then they hold well. Just if you do a salad, make it a meal not leaves haha if you know what I mean. Toss in a fat source (dressing, nuts, avocado, etc) + lots of good protein + carb source (roasted vegetables like sweet taters, squash, etc are amazing) like veggies or cooked grains. Snacks could be anything from veggies with a natural hummus or something like that, rice cakes and a spread, fresh fruit, etc. If you’re really struggling you can always pick up a can of tuna, some avocado and some lettuce leaves and make cute lil wraps. Simply mash the avocado into the tuna and throw on your wraps with some mustard or something if you like. The avocado makes it like a healthy tuna salad that is filling due to the healthy fats and finer.

  18. Love this list total inspo for my next shopping trip! I always get the same foods every week it makes my life easy and keeps my kitchen healthy! Xo

    • What ever works best for your life and tastes is always perfect. Why fix something when its not broke eh? haha. But I’m glad I could give you some inspiration for a few new items to add to that staple list 🙂

  19. I can’t stand the taste of arugula but I definitely need to start eating more kale! Thanks for sharing, gave me lots of reminders of what I should be eating!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it!
      Remember that it’s about you too. If you don’t like something, don’t try to like it just because someone else says it good for you. I’m sure there is something else dark green that you like that will give you the same nutrients as those greens if you don’t like them. Broccoli, swiss chard (was my fav!), spinach, brussel sprouts (in season right now), there are even hybrids now like kalettes which are a mix of brussels and kale I believe

  20. I was wondering if you could do a post of what a typical day of eating is for someone who maybe isn’t as ‘strict’ as you, or someone with crazy long hours and maybe a typical day of eating on the weektd our ? Maybe even what to eat at various chains like McDonalds, or Jack Astors I think that would be something all us readers would LOVE! 🙂

  21. I go to costco once a semester when I go home to my parents…and yes..the total is usually 700… well okay… but 200 max…just for one student.

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