Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Grocery Shopping

Grocery Shopping… I know this is something most people associate with weekly “chores” or consider it a hassle. It’s true that it is an hour out of your week (usually out of your relaxing Sundays if you’re at all like me) where you have to go to a busy super market and make decisions on what to eat over the next week ahead. I think however that the best way to become a healthier and more interested cook is to first appreciate the food shopping experience. Now, with stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, or more local spots like Central Market by HEB in Texas or a nearby farmers market, it’s easier to feel inspired and invigorated about grocery shopping. For me the key is having an idea before I head to the market about what I need. I first figure out how many nights I plan to be cooking at home, if I will be bringing a lunch to work, etc. Then I go about either listing out meals I am interested in making, or just simply jotting down how much I need of each thing... ie) 3 proteins, 6 veggies, 3 starches etc.

For the most part every dinner that I make is aimed at being balanced. Not only do I think that this is a healthful way to eat, but it’s also just what I crave. My body reacts best to a low carb intake; however I can’t completely cut them out so I opt for things that aren’t empty carbs. I buy a lot of sweet potatoes, quinoa, or brown rice products.

This week at the grocery store I stocked up on all the ingredients that I used in my Dahlicious Chicken and white bean soup, as well as enough food for two dinner meals this week and breakfast (I’ve got a family friend in town visiting and I am traveling next weekend so my meals at home are limited this week). Anyhow, I knew I had some leftover veggies but decided to grab a few more to round things out; I picked up two different types of fish, and already had brown rice, quinoa, and black beans in the pantry.

What I like best about grocery shopping is the inspiration part. While I was at TJ’s this weekend I was looking down the sauce aisle and saw this jarred Salsa Verde that my mom used to use to make pulled pork burritos. She would cook the pork in the Trader Joe's Salsa Verde and I absolutely loved it. So I grabbed a jar knowing that even if it didn’t end up getting used this week I could always fit it into my meals next week! I think I am envisioning cooking the tuna steaks I bought in an aluminum foil packet with the Salsa Verde, and serve it with the organic Cuban style black beans (also a TJ’s staple), and asparagus. As I continued down the aisle I also remembered the carrots that I have left from the soup as well as the quinoa. So I grabbed some fresh salmon along with some lemons and parsley… Thinking this will become some sort lemon & parsley marinated grilled salmon, with roasted carrots and kale, and that easy TJ’s quinoa that cooks similarly to the brown rice I mentioned in my first post.

The key for me with grocery shopping is planning head. Even if you aren’t the kind who wants to plan all of your meals in advance at least get a good count of how much you need of different items to create balanced meals. Always be sure to grab some garlic, lemons and herbs because they enhance any protein. My other suggestion would be to grab things that look Dahlicious or inspiring at the moment. Just like that Salsa Verde, because even if you don’t end up using it this week those types of things last and catching a glimpse of it in the pantry might inspire you later in the week. Lastly, while planning, take into account what you already have on hand. This week I knew I had some carrots, kale, shaved Brussels sprouts and asparagus leftover, so I knew I only needed to grab some broccoli and lemons and herbs from the produce section. I also knew I had the black beans and quinoa so that crossed the starches off my list before even getting to the store.

The moral of the story is plan ahead and plan balanced. This will help you to create meals that are nutritious, satisfying, and as always, Dahlicious!

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