A pantry full of salty ramen noodles with absolutely no nutrition, and some Natty piss... I mean Lite, Natty Lite! Does this sound like your kitchen?
Well, I would really hope not, but no matter if it is or is not, keep reading! I guarantee you're doing groceries all wrong!
Typically, college students will excuse their empty, and malnourished pantry because they are "broke college students," but is it actually because of money?
First, let me clarify that food is a complete necessity, and I don't think many people would argue with me on that, but I am not talking about just any food.
Let's compare the care of an old beater car vs. the care of a brand new Porsche. If you invest in a brand new and shiny Porsche, you're most likely going to invest in proper care as well; feeding it the premium gas, car washes, and on-time oil changes. Now let us compare this care to the old beater car. If you invest in a small beat up, old, and rusted car, you're more inclined to treat it how it looks; regular gas, little to no washes, maybe 2000 miles overdue for an oil change. I have news for you; YOUR BODY IS THE NEW PORSCHE!
Buying your groceries to tend to your body is investing in proper care to yourself; so the next time you're thinking about whether or not to buy the fresh fruit for a dollar extra or not, think of it as investing in yourself for profit. You may be a dinged up, and dusty Porsche right now, but after today you will be all fixed up!
So, how do you invest correctly? Because you don't want to just invest in anything!
We're going to go through, step-by-step, how to grocery shop and properly invest in your body and see if you're currently killing yourself.
First off, let's go through mapping out the grocery store. Rule of thumb here, typically the perimeter of the grocery store is where all the fresh stuff is! Try and avoid the middle aisles at all cost! If you have to go through the middle aisles, for things like pasta, seasonings, and drinks, save it for last! Make your way around the perimeter of the store first! While going around the perimeter you will encounter many things!
Look for fruits and veggies! I know what you're thinking, "Fruits and veggies; I think I know that I'm supposed to eat fruits and veggies," but it's more than that! Buying dense fruits, and more veggies actually save you money!
Looking at it completely financially, with nutrition aside; you should invest in buying dense fruits and veggies to save you money in the long run. Dense fruits like pineapples, apples, bananas, and green veggies will keep you full with a smaller amount of food, and longer period of time! While the price tag may look expensive, think of it as priced upon how many meals it will serve.
If the price is a large factor for you, buy fresh fruit rather than pre-cut fruit. While fresh fruit may be less convenient due to the man labor of cutting it up yourself, it is actually more fresh, and cheaper by a large factor! Not only is this a good investment for your pocket, but also for your body!
Making our way around the perimeter you're going to approach the deli! The deli is a great spot in the grocery store and investing that extra $.75 is worth it in the long run. Try to avoid pre-packaged lunch meat and cheese; these are loaded with sodium! A healthier choice and better investment for your body is to buy it at the deli, where they will cut it and bag it for you!
Along this meat section, there are also things like turkey and Angus sausage! These are also some great investments on your journey of grocery shopping and self-care. I typically buy the turkey sausage and will put it over salads, with eggs, on sandwiches or wraps, and more! You can buy it plain for you to season, or pre-seasoned packs like taco sausage or Italian turkey sausage. I typically go with the turkey sausage vs. the beef for less fat. I also pick up a pack of raw chicken breast. Typically, I buy a pack of four, but I slice it in half making it into eight different meals! Sometimes you can find these chicken breasts pre-seasoned for you, but if not keep reading until we get to spices!
After passing through the meat section, head on over to the dairy!
You've heard the term "milk does a body good," but does it actually? In my opinion, milk is disgusting. Why? Let's leave it at, there is an FDA regulation for exactly how much blood and pus can be left in the milk from the cow's udder from milking them so long; but, I will save all of the details for another article.
Bringing me to plant milk!
In this aisle, I grab the plant milk (almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk, etc.), and some eggs! Plant milk is loaded with nutrients, more protein, and absolutely no cruelty, blood, or puss! And now stores like Walmart and Schnucks carry their own generic brand of plant-based milks, so they won't break the bank.
While being in college, I commonly skip breakfast trying to get to class on time, but an easy way to cook yourself breakfast before class is to buy the carton of pre-seasoned "southwestern eggs." These take little time to cook and taste delicious. I just throw them on the pan, then slide them on to a tortilla with cheese, and head out the door!
This brings me to grains!
My go-tos when grocery shopping are a pack of tortillas and a loaf of bread! But not just any bread; as I said earlier, we're investing in our body, and buying bleached white bread does nothing nutritious for you! Look for the 21 whole grain bread, this provides you with grains and nutritiousness! A specific brand I recommend looking for is, Dave's Killer Bread; this brand shows exactly what the bread is made of, and nothing is better than food that is actually what it says it is! In the grains, I also like to get some brown rice to eat with some chicken over it and a special sauce, or as a perfect dinner side!
Now that we have made our way around the perimeter, let's peak in some of the aisles! One specific one is spices. When buying fresh meals to make, spices are your best friend! Even with fruits; one spice to look for is Tajin Classico. Try this on some pineapple, and your world will change! This makes a bowl of pineapple much more exciting and for a perfect and filling breakfast! I also always have garlic salt and fajita seasoning for things like chicken or turkey sausage. Seasoning can change a whole plate! It can make a dish tastier, and make nutrition fun.
This brings me to creating a plate when you get home!
When you grocery shop, think about your pantry as a wardrobe! Pick pieces that you can mix and match with! Buy some tortillas that you can make a breakfast wrap with, or an evening taco. Buy some chicken that you can zest up on a plate, make some evening chicken tacos, or throw over some pasta! Make the kitchen your therapeutic spot to recharge both physically and mentally! Try getting different spices and sauces to compliment your essentials, like chicken and rice, and special sandwiches and wraps!
Create your map before entering the realm of grocery shopping, and take this article to help you create your map for getting the best out of your groceries. Lately, many grocery stores have created their own app platforms which allow you to make your grocery list ahead of time, with each item mapped out for you by aisle.
Now that you know how to fill your kitchen with the things you need, stay tuned for my next article on making the kitchen your happy place with cooking!