Let’s just say I am having to re-learn how to grocery shop. My first grocery shopping experience with this new plan was, well, interesting. It wasn’t as successful as I hoped it would be, but I did learn some valuable lessons. First of all, in order to really commit to this new lifestyle, I’m going to have to devote more time to grocery shopping. I’m hoping that when Trader Joe’s finally gets to Dallas (opening in early 2013!!), it will solve some of my problems. But until then, I just won’t be able to find everything I need or want at a “normal” grocery store (aka not a Whole Foods or Central Market). I was able to easily stock up on fruits and vegetables, dairy items, and they even sold some organic meat. But certain items were impossible to find. These were the items that I had the most trouble with:
*Tortillas. I was planning on making chicken tacos for dinner one night this week, but after mulling over tortilla packages for about 20 minutes, I gave up on that dinner idea. There was not a single tortilla in the entire store that fit my criteria. Even the “artisan” tortillas had a plethora of unfamiliar additives and preservatives. This made me realize that I am going to have to shop elsewhere for all of my bread products, or make them myself. I was able to find a great bakery last week where I will now buy my bread, Empire Baking Company (they don’t use any fillers, conditioners, dough enhancers, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors period), but unfortunately they do not sell tortillas. Luckily I found a great recipe for homemade whole wheat tortillas that I will post in the recipe section.
*Cereal. It looks like I am going to have to change up my favorite breakfast staple. As with the tortillas, I spent entirely way too much time picking up cereal boxes and examining their ingredient lists. I was able to find one box of Kashi Strawberry Fields cereal that didn’t have too many ingredients, but surprisingly most of the Kashi and other “health” brands of cereal did not fit my rules. I think next weekend I will make some healthy granola to eat for breakfast instead. Or switch it up and have yogurt with honey and fruit. I will need to get a little more creative with my breakfasts, but I guess that is part of the fun of this new challenge!
*Snack Foods. I think a health grocery store will have many more options for snack foods than Tom Thumb did. But Kettle Brand reduced fat potato chips turned out to be the best thing I could find. If I had more time, I would venture into making my own baked potato chips or homemade crackers, but with a full time job I’m not sure that is realistic at this point in my life. Surprisingly, Triscuits only have 3 ingredients, one of which is whole wheat! But I was able to stock up on dried fruits and nuts which will serve as my new snack food staple. I have also heard that Larabars are considered a whole food, but I haven’t tried them. Next time I’m at Whole Foods I will pick some up!
*Lunch Meat. I love turkey sandwiches. If I had to eat a turkey sandwich for lunch every day for the rest of my life, I would be okay with that. But lunch meat is highly processed, so I was worried I would have to give up the turkey sandwich on this new diet. Luckily, I have discovered Applegate Farms. They specialize in making what are normally highly processed meat products un-scary (lunch meats, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, etc). They never used antibiotics or hormones, they don’t use any artificial ingredients and their animals are humanely raised. Check out there standards here http://www.applegate.com/about-us/our-standard. Yey!
The most interesting thing about my first shopping experience was that different brands of the same item can vary drastically. I picked up a container of Daisy 2% cottage cheese that only had 4 ingredients. I then picked up another brand (Lucerne) of the same item, and it probably had over 20 ingredients. This happened quite frequently. As I go, I’m sure I will learn which brands are the best. But for now I will just have to read every label!
Looking at the ingredients of the things I normally buy has also been eye-opening. I never knew that my favorite tomato sauce contained high fructose corn syrup or that grated cheese contains cellulose (made from wood pulp) to keep it from clumping. I’ll just shred my own cheese, thank you very much.
I stocked up on sugar in the raw and agave syrup to replace my artificial sweeteners. This morning I had my first cup of coffee with 1 teaspoon of agave syrup. It will take some time getting used to since I’m used to my super sweet stuff, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
If any readers have any suggestions for clean grocery shopping or brands of products that they like please let me know!