Assembling the Perfect Shopping List

One question I’m commonly asked by friends is, “What do you eat?”  It’s actually a very simple formula for me when I go shopping: 1) Keep to the perimeter of the grocery store and 2) if you can’t pronounce or define an ingredient, you shouldn’t be putting it into your body.

That being said, we’ll break it down by macronutrient (Protein/Carbohydrate/Fat):


This is going to be (financially) the bulk of your list.  I follow the rule of thumb that the fewer legs the source has, the leaner it is.  Obviously there ARE exceptions to the rule (dark meat vs. white meat in poultry, CLA content in red meat), but for the most part, this is a good rule of thumb.  That being said, this is my hierarchy of proteins:

  1. Fish (Salmon, Tilapia, Tuna Steaks)
  2. Poultry (Chicken, Turkey)
  3. Red Meats (if you’re going to go this route, make sure it’s a lean cut.  Buffalo is expensive, but totally worth the investment if you’re looking for a lean meat chock full of CLA, which is a great for burning that pesky fat)
    • Things to Avoid:


You should try to stay away from the starchy carbs, as they’re refined and been through more processes than the word count on this blog will allow.  Stick to the following stuff and you’ll be in good shape:

  1. Oatmeal (go for the tubs of the stuff, not the packets.  Packets are usually with sugar and other refinements, whereas the tubs of oats are just that: oats)
  2. Brown/Wild Rice
  3. Sweet Potatoes
  4. Produce.  Not only do some of these fill you up with fiber, they also contain just the right amounts of sugars that you need as a fuel source.


Yes, you do need fat as a fuel source!  That being said it should be of the unsaturated variety (both poly and mono), as not only does it create an efficient fuel source, but has been linked to healthy heart function.  Aside from the fatty fishes like Salmon (or an Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplement), here are some good ones to consider:

  1. Avocados:  Make your own guacamole or even just cut a few slices to put into a salad or tacos!
  2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO):  Rachel Ray uses it in basically EVERYTHING and it’s been linked to healthy heart function, as we mentioned already
  3. Unsalted Nuts:  Almond, Walnuts, Peanuts:  Any nut that is unsalted works fine (just make sure to keep it to the suggested serving sizes)

With all this, I do have some other good pointers when choosing what to buy and what NOT to buy:

  • Always check the sodium & sugar content of any sauces you use.  Low-fat or fat-free foods can have a tendency to replace the fat with tons of refined sugar or salts.  Take a look at a cup of Yoplait Fat-Free yogurt and you’ll see what I mean.  You’re better off with a little bit of fat if you really need the yogurt (I tend to stick to Greek Yogurt, since the source of sugar is strictly lactose, unless you go for the flavored stuff).
  • Make the checkout person’s life a living hell.  Now, I don’t mean be an asshole to them.  What I mean by this is to make them look for codes to as much of what you buy as possible (i.e. your produce or if you’re buying nuts/beans in bulk).  You can’t do this for everything, obviously, but definitely something I try to do every time I shop.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  This should be a good starting point for you to refine your diet.  We’ll touch on other topics later on.  Any other suggestions or sources that I may have missed (and let’s face it, I am human), leave in the comments section!


2 responses

2 05 2012

I also love lentils and beans (black, pinto, kidney etc) which are great sources of protein and a good choice if you are a vegetarian/vegan. Also quinoa is amazingly good for you – and delicious. And don’t underestimate the power of the lowly chicken egg for the non-vegans (organic, free range of course 🙂 ). Thanks for the great info.

2 05 2012

You’re absolutely right, Janine! Those are sources that I completely spaced out on! As long as you have the time & patience to cook your own vs. canned, those are fantastic choices 🙂

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