Grocery Shopping T(r)ips

GROCERY TIPS AND TRIPS.

For this week I had this great idea to post on best foods to buy at Whole Foods. It was a great idea until I was being scolded for at the cheese counter for taking pictures of goat cheese. Apparently it is illegal. So for the exception of the first picture (my lunch), I'll show you pictures of what's worth buying at a store like Whole Foods, and what you could just get at your local grocery store.

If you know me, you know I love to cook. Spending unecessary amounts of time cooking is necessary for me. This was until I got additional part-time work. So the "necessary" involved cooking will have to be saved for days when I'm not running from work to work. Until then I'll keep it simple.

Granted, I know not everyone shares the same strange tastebuds I have. Because then the whole world would be cooking and going to Whole Food every day! But with extra part-time work, I obviously can't do either of those right now. Still, a buys schedule and tight budget doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune at a health food store. And you don't have to limit yourself to a rabbit's diet of nothing but produce. Everything in moderation keeps things interesting and tasty.

LOCAL GROCERY STORE:

 Let's start here. I should've tried to take pictures in Publix but forgot. They probably would've welcomed it. So here's what I came home with for the beginning of the week.

Produce:

Salad- Green, fresh & yummy leaves (yes, leaves have a taste) for quick salads and to stuff in sandwiches.

Veggies- Cucumbers, broccoli and carrots to snack on or dip in hummus .

Sweet Potatoes -  You could slice and roast these like french fries with a little olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper. One of my favorites! It's delicious dipped in organic ketchup too.

Fruits -  Some fruits might be better to buy organic, but let's be honesty,  I can't always afford that luxury. Thank God blueberries are in season and half the price now!

Lemons & limes - If I was stranded on an island and I had to pick one fruit , it would be lemons. Add it for water, pastas, veggie sides, fruit salads, fish  - lemons are indispensable and really good for you.

Farmers Market are the best to buy veggies and fruit that are fresh and ripe. That will be our next grocery trip.

Canned Foods & Condiments:

Beans -  My favorites are cannellini and garbanzo beans.  Great for making a quick puree or hummus and good spread for sandwiches.

Agave - Practically the ideal sweetener  and a great sugar substitute. Though I still buy sugar in the raw for my coffee and cookies (I'm no saint.)

Dairy:

Caged-free eggs - Because a caged-free chicken is a happy chicken. Just check out Food Inc. You'll get my drift.

Fage Greek Yogurt - Life would be incomplete without it. It's the richest tasting yogurt and the most satisfying. Buy it nonfat or 2% (I prefer the latter). It's really good with fruit & nuts, granola or a great substitute for sour cream.

WHOLE FOODS -

Now just because it's Whole Foods doesn't mean everything is "whole."

Here are a few staples I seek out whenever I can get near a Whole Foods (the closest one being a 45 minute drive, sigh.)

Grains - These are really affordable to buy in bulk, which you can do at WF. There are tons of varieties that are organic and untempered, so cooking with them never gets dull.

My favorites are scottish oats, quinoa and farro (an italian grain that is delicious and hard to come buy.)

Breads - Sourdough, peasant (pictured), cranberry walnut, cracked wheat to asiago bread, there bakery is stocked full of delicious fresh breads made with organic flours and grains.

Organic Snacks - Lara bars, Newman's Own cookies and pretzels are just a few of the great snacks to have around. These aren't diet staples but great when you want a quick sweets.

Chocolate - So I know I can buy decent chocolate anywhere for about half the price, but decadent chocolate... Scharffen Berger, Dagoba, Vosgue and Greed and Black are hard to come by and simply indescribable. For me great coffee and chocolate are worth the extra buck.

Cheese - Ok, so it doesn't stop at great coffee and chocolate. Most cheeses are processed and powered with all sorts of stuff to give them longer shelf-life. So these cheeses are a lot easier for your body to process and they just taste much better. Once you start eating real cheese it's hard to go back. Manchengo and Drunken Goat are my favorite cheeses here. The varieties are endless, as are the samples.

Fish - I'm not a meat eater as you can tell, but I do like fish. Whole Foods has incredibly convenient, fresh and affordable (for the most part) wild and farmed fish. It can be tricky to understand how to buy fish safely.

Check out the Oceana organization for safe guides what to buy and what to avoid.

Unique Produce - You could just save all your produce for the farmer's market. And you may have better luck with more variety and unique veggies and fruit than me. So I love always trying new stuff like beets, wild greens, ramps, blood oranges. Yes, I like weird foods.

Dips and Sauces - This time I picked up a ginger sauce by Ginger People. I'll probably use it for a lot of stir-frys, fish and maybe even my ginger cookies (which I still have yet to show you!)

Lastly...

TRADER JOE'S  -

There is no Trader Joe's near me but my parent's and sister were really thoughtful and brought me back some of my favorite ( not-so- essential) snacks.

Ak Mak Sesame Crackers - Sometime local grocery stores carry these too. Really delicious crackers - probably because there's hints of buttermilk in them. Still they're low-fat and a nice change from my usual Wasa crackers.

Pumperknickel Pretzels - I've never tried these, but Trader Joe's hardly misses a beat on their pretzels.

WASABI Peas - Ok, we haven't hit this topic yet but wasabi... oh, wasabi. I love wasabi.

Dark Chocolate - 72% swiss chocolate with madagascar vanilla. This is such good chocolate because a) it's dark and over 60% b) cocoa is the first ingredients c) it doesn't contain vanillin - which is a cheap, nasty substitute for vanilla found in some chocolates.

Dark Chocolate-Covered Ginger - Ridiculous.

Fig Balsamic Vinegar - My sister spoiled me with this bottle of 12 year aged vinegar from California's Olive Oil and Beyond. You are sure to see this in recipes to come.