Saturday, April 25, 2009

Perimeters and Planning Ahead

One of the interesting (to me) things that's been starting to change as I've been adapting to my more nutritional lifestyle is my grocery shopping strategy. I just got back from the store on a sunny Saturday morning, and while I was there I had that kind of meta-moment of noticing that the way I shop has changed.

I used to be the person that would go to the store without any list. I would just wait until my fridge and pantry were pretty empty and then I would go get a cart and roam the aisles. I had some regular things I got all the time, of course, but I also just browsed a bit each time to try and find things I'd want - not with any particular plan at all. I bought lots of frozen entrees and boxed meals, and didn't spend much time exploring the produce other than to buy bagged salads and maybe some grapes, oranges, apples, or bananas.

Well, things are different now. Really different. Before I go to the store, I usually peruse my cookbooks and think ahead about what recipes I want to make. I usually do my main shopping on either a Saturday or Sunday morning, so I think about 1 or 2 big meals to cook and save for lunches during the week, plus smaller meals to make for dinners, plus fresh things to have for lunches on those weekend days at home. Most importantly, I write a list!

While at the store, I now behave very differently. I follow that list religiously, both to make sure I get what I need for my recipes and to make sure I don't buy more than I can carry in my 2 canvas bags. I do sneak into a few aisles quickly -- the freezer aisle = frozen veggies and frozen yogurt, but no more entrees; the canned goods aisle = pasta, sauces, canned tomatoes and beans, but no more boxed pasta or rice mixes with all their sodium. I'm really now spending most of my store time along the perimeter - the produce section on one wall, the dairy/eggs section in the back, and the meat section on the far wall. And that's exactly what all the health advice has been saying for years -- shop the perimeter, not the aisles. And I'm doing it! And the stuff I'm buying is so much fresher and tastier.

Today I had a little moment where I realized how far I've come. One of the recipes I studied and planned to make was a WW version of moussaka, with a key ingredient being ground lamb. So I added all the key ingredients that I didn't already have in my pantry to the list and made my way to the store. But, alas, after 5 minutes of looking I asked the butcher -- they didn't have any ground lamb. So, scrap the moussaka idea.

But I knew I still needed a recipe in place of it for my meals for the week -- a quick mental about-face got me thinking about the turkey taco meatloaf that I now know and love so well. I did a little inventory in my head of what ingredients I already had at home and what I would need to buy - so I grabbed some ground turkey, some frozen corn, and a green pepper. Voila! No stress, I now am at the point where I have a few go-to recipes in my arsenal that are super-easy and super-tasty. And that's a huge difference from where I was just a few short month ago!

1 comment:

ScottE. said...

Good job...a list not only helps me make sure I get what I need, I tend to save money and it makes the trip to the store less stressful. And way to think on your feet!