Posted in Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks: My Family’s Shopping Habits

The goal of my blog is not to push any one type of eating style except how prep ahead cooking can change your life. But many of you have privately contacted me and have asked what products I use in my cooking and baking. I do want to say I’m not strict, but I try my best. So he is how I try to shop when means allow..

Plan Ahead – Our healthiest, freshest ingredients are found around the perimeter of the store. Here we will find all of our fruits, veggies, dairy, poultry, meats and fish. The interior aisles are dedicated to frozen and packaged, processed foods. When shopping keep in mind how often you will be dining out over the course of the week to reduce have to throw stuff out. Look for nutrient dense ingredients. My theory is if I am going to eat something it should be worth it and taste great.

Shopping Tips – Try to get as many items as you feel you will use. They should tempt you and inspire you to create multiple meals. Look for different colors, textures and flavors to keep meal planning interesting and healthy. Trust in a varied palette both visually and for your health.

Whenever you can, try to buy local and/or organic. These items don’t have fillers, pesticides, hormones and gross chemicals. Our bodies crave whole food ingredients that are closest to the way they are found in nature. Look for produce that is in season. If something is way over priced it is probably out of season, shipped from far away and probably lacking in flavor. You can always buy the frozen choice cause it is more accessible and fair priced.


Vegetables – Purchase what you think you will use, here is a list of the possibilities that are in my rotation most often. Thank goodness for my garden, farmers markets, and grocery stores in my area.

Tomatoes (Both on the vine and cherry)
Red and Yellow Onions
Red or Yukon Gold or Fingerlings Potatoes
Assorted Bell Peppers
Sweet and Hot Peppers
Sweet Potatoes
Green Cabbage (Savoy, nice texture in salads)
Lettuce (Red Leaf and Romaine hold up well with all kinds of dressing)
Zucchini or Summer Squash
Baby Spinach
Swiss Chard or Kale
Green Beans
Snow Pea Pods
Green Onions
Fresh Herbs
Mushrooms (varied)


Oranges (assorted varieties)
Green or Red Grapes (seedless)
Lemons and Limes

Protein – I try to buy local and/or organic free range meats when I can. They are hormone free and raised in a more humane, environmentally sustainable manner.

Eggs (We raise our own chicken for eggs)
Ground Turkey, Chicken, Lean Pork
Chicken – Thighs, Legs, Breasts, Whole Roasting Chicken
Beef – Ground Beef, Steak and Roasts
Nitrate free lunch meat, hot dog and sausages
Bacon and breakfast sausage
Ham – Chops, Tenderloins, Spiral Cut Ham
Turkey Breast and Whole Turkey
Fish (Try to get wild caught fish when you can. Fish is jam packed with protein and healthy omega 3 fats and oils. It’s nice to have a variety of what you like on hand. Frozen choices are great, then you always have a quick protein at your disposal. Great choices are Salmon, Halibut, Cod, Walleye, Scallops, Shrimp, Cod, Tilapia.

Dairy – It is best to have a diet low in saturated fats, but we still want healthy amounts of real fats because our bodies need it and crave it. Fat tastes great, helps to satisfy and is essential to our health and well being. Watch out for hidden refined sugars.

Cottage Cheese
Greek Yogurt
1% milk (for adults)
2% milk (for kids)
Almond Milk
Ricotta Cheese
Various soft and hard cheeses
Grated Cheese, Romano and Parmesan
sour cream
Butter unsalted and salted
Clarified Butter
Heavy Whipping Cream
Coffee Creamer

Whole Grains

Whole Wheat Couscous
Old Fashioned Rolled and Steel Cut (by the way one is not better than the other)
Oat Bran
Panko bread crumbs
Rice – Basmati, Brown long and short grain, Sushi Rice
Rice Pasta
Whole Grain Pancake mix (I prefer Oat Bran pancake mix, loads of flavor and fiber! Arrowhead Mills and Bob’s Red Mill are excellent choices.)
Various Cereals
Gluten Free multipurpose Flour (equal exchange & I love King Arthur’s brand)
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (love traders joes brand)
Corn Flour (fine, medium and coarse grinds)
Whole Wheat Naan Bread

Healthy Fats (Nuts, Seeds, Oils, etc.)

Note: To get the most flavor from your nuts and seeds: bake them on a sheet pan, in a single layer in the oven at 350˚F about 10 minutes, until fragrant. Please see Prep Time for more info. Store nuts in the refrigerator or freezer in well sealed bags to maintain freshness.

Unsalted, unroasted nuts
Sesame seeds
unsalted Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Ground and Whole Flaxseed
Natural Peanut Butter
Cold Press Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pure Canola Oil
Grape-seed Oil and some flavored Olive Oils, ie: Roasted Garlic Olive Oil, Truffle Oil etc…..
Hummus (Assorted flavors according to taste. Trader Joe’s has phenomenal Hummus varieties)
light and full fat Coconut Milk (refrigerated or canned)

Pantry Items – Look for items that are minimally processed, have lower sodium content and have no preservatives or wacky ingredients. Having pantry items handy make our lives easier because they take out some of the prep time and cook time.

Various canned beans
Puréed unsweetened Sweet Potato and Pumpkin
Some canned veggies (if you are really in a bind or need a quick “add in”: Artichokes, sliced Carrots,etc.)
Broth (jarred, dry or liquid, I mostly use chicken and vegetable broth) I prefer the jars so I can scoop exactly what I need and refrigerate the rest. organic best, NO is MSG essential.
Tomato Sauce (No added Sugars)
Tomato Paste
Canned Whole or Diced Tomatoes
Canned Tuna, Salmon, Chicken Breast
Salsa (no added sugar)
Mustard – Dijon, Yellow
Soy or Tamari Sauce (low sodium)
Worcestershire sauce
Steak sauce
BBQ sauce
Hot Sauce (So many varieties out there, choose what you like best)
Vinegar: Balsamic, Rice Wine and others you enjoy.
Various Teas
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Loads of dry Spices and Spice combinations (These are going to give you tons of flavor variety and quick! Make sure there is no MSG)
Salt – Kosher Salt, Sea Salt (fine and coarse), Smoked Salt, Garlic salt, Lemon Salt, Celery Salt
Coconut Palm Sugar (equal exchange)
Sugar in the Raw
100 % pure Maple Syrup (You can choose from Grade A or Grade B. B is darker and has more Maple flavor, A is sweeter with less maple flavor, your preference)
Pure honey
unsweetened natural Fruit Jams
unsweetened Apple Sauce (varied flavors, just apples or with combinations of fruits)
Baking powdered and soda

Happy Shopping!



I’m a married mother of 3. Who loves living in Minnesota, prep ahead cooking, and couldn’t live without them now. No more worries about the age old question “What’s for Dinner?”. I am also transitioning my family into the slow food and clean eating movement. I believe it’s best if we can eat food in it’s most natural state. I love to share the information I have been gaining through this whole experience. I’m also a trained personal chef. Cooking is a passion and hobby of mine. Hope your are enjoying the content of my blog.

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