How to Be a Savvy Grocery Shopper…and What Is In Janine’s Cart?!

By: Janine Serio


We get these questions a lot…”So, what exactly do YOU eat every day?” I mean, how are you able to navigate the grocery store without feeling overwhelmed and not be tempted by all of the goodies?”

We get it; it can totally feel overwhelming and tempting. You go in for a handful of items and come out with twice as much (oh, hello candy bar that I did not need yet ended up in my cart). This is all part of the process of making a lifestyle change. It may seem a little silly to think but it is totally true. Half the “junk” that ends up in your cart is not necessarily because you WANT IT, NEED IT, or OMG, I HAVE TO HAVE IT! It has become a learned behavior; we have become programmed to walk down the chip aisle, or find our way over to the bulk candy bins, just because! *Quick Tip: Try to avoid going to the grocery store #hangry…this will only set you up for a salty/sweet palooza!

It is true what they say, you should do most of your shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store. Yes, we know that, sometimes, you need to venture down one or two aisles but, for the most part, the “lead characters” will be found on the outskirts (kind of sounds like an oxymoron, huh). These include your fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy products, etc.

This, probably, comes as no surprise but grocers are pretty strategic with their item placement. For example, the next time you peruse the cereal aisle, scan the shelves. What cereals are at eye level? If your kiddies are with you, see what cereals are at their eye level. If you think what you are seeing is nothing but sugar, sugar, and more sugar disguised as “healthy,” wait until you see the pretty packaging of marshmallows, chocolate, and frosted “goodness” that adorn the cereal boxes your children will see. Yeah, I doubt the Shredded Wheat and All-Bran look half as exciting, especially when they are on the top shelf and in a boring box too 😉

Ready for a sneak peek into my shopping cart? While there are many other fat-loss friendly (and fun) food items that I rotate through on a week to week basis, these are always the staples I revert to when at the grocery store. Remember, these are what I have found to be beneficial and key in my nutrition and fat loss efforts. There is no right or wrong, “good” or “bad” foods. The “perfect” foods are the ones that work for you and allow you to reach your goals without feeling deprived or restrictive, but satisfied!

  1. Eggs – A nutritional powerhouse, eggs (yes to the yolk) should be consumed on a daily basis! An excellent source of high quality protein, eggs contain all the essential amino acids, in the right ratios, so the body is well equipped to make full use of them in the body. Although eggs are high in cholesterol, they, actually, have no adverse effects on cholesterol levels. In fact, research shows that they actually help to improve your HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels. Filled with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, their satisfaction level is high so you fill up, quickly, without too many calories. On mornings where I have a little more time, I love making frittatas…protein + veggies = major score. When on the go, hardboiled eggs make for a great snack!
  2. Sweet Potatoes – An awesomely clean, starchy, and hypoallergenic carbohydrate source, these tubers make their presence on my plate almost everyday. Since I am monitoring my gluten intake for many reasons, I have become quite a fan of this tuber. These spuds are a great source of beta carotene, Vitamin C, and potassium. I have found them to be extremely beneficial both pre and/or post workout. Check out our recent blog post, “Oh, Sweet Potato of Mine” for more reasons why this has become such a “go-to.”
  3. Vegetables – These mostly include cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, spinach, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts. Here, I have covered all of my bases…veggies for hummus, salads for lunch, and side dishes for dinner. Vegetables should be an essential part of your nutrition plan; I am totally on board with striving for 9. Veggies provide a host of vitamins and minerals, a great source of fiber, and will help to fill you up with less calories too. Whether you consume your veggies raw, steamed, sauteed, oven roasted, etc., make sure they fill up a good portion of your plate (and at MOST of your meals)!
  4. Apples & Berries – While I need to be mindful of how much fruit I consume – I notice my hunger, energy, and cravings get out of whack when I eat sugary foods – apples and berries are a great go-to for me. Both provide a healthy dose of fiber and are low on the glycemic index, which helps keep blood sugar levels from spiking too high upon consumption. Additionally, the antioxidants found in berries, especially blueberries, give me a “2 for 1” deal. I will pair an apple with nuts or nut butter for a morning or afternoon snack (if needed), and berries are, usually, added to my protein smoothie.
  5. Lean Chicken & Turkey – From breast to thighs, ground to whole roasters, these two powerful proteins are consumed a handful of times throughout the course of the week. Extremely versatile, finding new recipes is key to keep these “fresh” and not boring.
  6. Lean Beef – Hello carnitine and taurine, two nutrients that are, generally, only found in red meats. Iron is another awesome nutrient that red meat supplies. Hearty and satisfying, some favorites include bison and filet mignon.
  7. Salmon – Okay, I have a little obsession with this fish but I love the taste and how satisfying it keeps me for hours after eating. A great source of lean protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, strive to purchase “wild caught” vs. “farm raised.”
  8. Avocado – This is a wonderful source of Vitamin E and Oleic Acid that pack a healthy fat punch, help maintain overall health, and protect against many diseases. You will find me adding this “fruit” to salads, on top of my eggs/frittatas, and even as a base for salad dressings.
  9. Assortment of Nuts & Seeds – A fabulous source of healthy fats, you will find a combination of raw, unsalted almonds, cashews, Brazil Nuts, and pumpkin seeds in my cart. I will eat stand-alone (high in calories but keep me satisfied) or paired with fruit or veggies, tossed in a salad, or topped on my smoothie for an extra crunch.
  10. Ghee Butter – This clarified, antioxidant rich “butter” is an absolute MUST in my pantry. Originated in India, It is made by removing the milk proteins and water from raw, unsalted butter. The result?  A lactose-free butterfat that is packed with nutrients! With a plethora of vitamins, Ghee works well at high heat (great for cooking and/or sautéing) and aids in digestive health.
  11. (Unsweetened) Almond or Cashew Milk – A great alternative if you are lactose intolerant or just cannot tolerate dairy, in general, almond & cashew milk are low in calories, provide a healthy dose of fat, aid in digestion and weight management, and will barely impact your blood sugar. Even though they do not yield the same amount as Cow’s milk, they do provide a decent amount of Calcium & Vitamin D per serving. Although I have never tried, making your own almond and/or cashew milk is pretty easy. If you do decide to purchase pre-made from the store, make sure there are minimal ingredients and there is no carrageenan in the list. While most companies are removing this thickening agent, please be mindful. My favorite brands to use in my protein smoothie(s) – Silk, Wegmans, and Whole Foods 365.
  12. Protein Powder & Bars – Although the 2 Health Nuts have wonderful partnerships with companies such as RxBars, JimmyBars, Onnit, Vega, and Metabolic Effect (click here to check them out), I still find myself picking up a few fill in supplements “just in case.” While the RxBar is pretty popular in my book, I do love the variety and consistency of Quest bars. High in protein and fiber, and on the lower end of the caloric spectrum, they come in a wide variety of flavors to satisfy any sweet tooth. I will also grab a couple single serving packets of VegaOne protein powder to have on hand if I am in between shipments. While not all grocery stores may carry these brands, try to find supplements with as few ingredients as possible, and as “clean” as these products can get. One of the reasons I gravitate towards Vega is because it is a plant-based protein and a great alternative if unable to tolerate Whey.

Additional items include bottled water, coffee, organic heavy cream or half & half, Apple Cider Vinegar, various spices, and kefir. If you have not checked out last week’s post on the benefits of kefir, take a peek HERE!


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