I don't know about you, but one of my least favorite things to do is to go to the grocery store. I think back to my childhood - my mother was like a machine (meant not as a criticism in any way). She had four kids to raise on her own. She had a routine that she stuck to and I'm sure to deviate from it, would have meant disaster in her orderly world. Saturday mornings where grocery shopping days. She did not have time to make several trips per week, like my husband and I often do (very European, right?! And ridiculously inefficient!). One of my goals is to shop more like my mom - as close to one time per week with the week's food planned out in advance.
One thing that has helped me is to have a pre-printed list of things that I buy frequently. It is a help to grab a pre-printed list off the fridge, where I have several lists clipped together, when shopping on the go. Next is to integrate into my schedule weekly meal planning sessions followed by a shopping session!
When shopping WFPB, here are some tips/suggestions:
1. Produce aisle - ideally the bulk of your shopping happens here. When possible, purchase the "dirty dozen" organically and try to buy non-GMO products (discussed in a separate post). I learned recently that Whole Foods does not allow any GMO products in their stores. Even if they don’t say that specifically on the label, the product has been vetted to be non-GMO per the clerk I spoke to.
2. Grains -
+Pasta - as this is a processed food, it is best to minimize, but can be a healthier, quick option to have available on hand than many alternatives! Try to buy 100% whole grain pasta which will be indicated by a logo of a "whole wheat bunch" on the label, as required by the Whole Grains Counsel, when claiming to be a whole grain product; or there are many other pastas available that are made with brown rice, lentils, etc. if you prefer something gluten or wheat-free.
+Rice - buy brown rice. I buy organic basmati brown, as it's hard know what rice is being sprayed with these days and there is some GMO rice being grown. White rice is stripped of fiber and has a higher glycemic index.
+A few other whole grain options are quinoa, oats, millet, and farrow. For example, quinoa is cheap, cooks up quickly (15ish minutes), has a nice nutty taste, and is a source of complete protein (containing all nine essential amino acids), and tastes great warm or cold. Oats and millet are a great option for morning cereals and both are gluten-free.
3. If/when buying pasta sauces, be sure to check for sodium, fat, sugar, and animal product content. Some of the better options are: Classico, Newman's, Ragu, and Engine 2 brand (available at Whole Foods). Again, this would be considered a processed item so try to minimize.
3. For breakfast, an easy/healthy option is oatmeal, millet, or muesli. To save time, add water or nut milk to oatmeal the night before and have it ready to eat in the morning if you prefer as a cold cereal. You can also eat oats raw by adding nut milk. I like to add either chia seed or freshly ground flax seed, a variety of berries, a and walnuts to mine. For boxed cereal when in a real time pinch, some of the better options are Ezekial sprouted cereals and Uncle Sam's cereal. Again, these are considered a processed food so try to minimize.
3. Canned foods - a great thing to keep in the pantry, especially a variety of beans. Try to get the low sodium or no added salt beans. I always look for "Goya" brand as they have no added salt options as well as being non-GMO.
4. Frozen foods - frozen fruits and vegetables are a great thing to have for a quick meal. My favorite tempeh is in the freezer section: Lalibela Farms Tempeh (https://www.lalibelafarmmaine.com). You can find it in Maine local coop stores and you can also buy in bulk directly from them. Tempeh is a great source of protein as well as being fermented, therefore containing pre-biotics. I also love Blue Mango veggie burgers, also found in freezer section at Whole Foods and our local stores as well ( https://bluemangoburgers.com/). They are made in Westbrook, Maine with only 6 ingredients. They are tasty and a quick meal. I also keep stocked up on frozen blueberries and mixed berries as they are a superfood. These things generally freeze well if not already frozen and you buy/cook in bulk: nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, cooked rice, tofu. A reminder about veggie broth - freeze smaller portions in ice cube trays or small containers to have on hand at all times for sautéing vegetables in place of oil.
5. Reading labels - here are a few recommendations:
+Fat content - try to keep at or below 10-15% total fat content from unsaturated plant sources and no tran-fats.
+Salt content - the lower the better - aim for having the amount of sodium per serving be less than the amount of calories per serving.
+Sugar - again the lower the better - aim for having sugar content be less than 5% of calories per day.
+ Try to eliminate or at least minimize or processed foods (eat from the whole plant, but not from a plant, as in factory). Most processed foods are high in Omega 6 oils (like sunflower, safflower, and corn oil) and can be inflammatory in nature. It is recommended to get a ratio of 1:1 Omega 3 (the good fatty acids) to Omega 6 ratio in our diets. The standard American diet (SAD) can have upwards of a ratio of 1:15-25 Omega 3 to Omega 6.
On the topic of quick meals, by keeping stocked up on things like: pasta/grains, canned beans, rice, pasta sauce, frozen vegetables (when fresh isn't available), tofu, and tempeh, you can whip together a healthy meal in less than 30 minutes. Season with things like ground mustards (no added salt), vinegars/balsamic vinaigrette, and spices. For me, the key is staying organized and keeping some of the same go-to items available and stocked up on.
A great time saving piece of kitchen equipment is an Instapot. It can act as a slow cooker and pressure cooker and many brands even have a yogurt setting, which is how I make my home-made nut milk yogurt. An instapot can cook a batch of dried beans in minutes and you can cook an entire meal in them as well, like a crock pot. If you purchase one, be sure to get one with a high-grade stainless steal pot as non-stick coated surfaces and aluminum are important to avoid due to potential leaching of chemicals into your food. I purchased mine at a local kitchen store for just over $100.
A little work and organization up front can pay off. Please share anything that has worked for you. That's how we get the best ideas that work! I invite questions, comments, and thoughts anytime!
In good health,
Campbell, T., MD. (Center For Nutritional Studies). Interpreting Food Labels. ECornell Plant Based Nutrition Course. (Video webinar). Retrieved December 2017.
Campbell, T., MD. (Center For Nutritional Studies). Shopping for a Whole Foods Plant-Based Lifestyle. ECornell Plant Based Nutrition Course. (Video webinar). Retrieved December 2017.
Campbell, T.C., MD. (Center For Nutritional Studies). Macronutrients. ECornell Plant Based Nutrition Course. (Video webinar). Retrieved November 2017.