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FEATURES Jan 9 2013 1:07PM

Healthy Ways to Upgrade Your Shopping Cart

By Jessica Jones of FoodHeavenMadeEasy.com

Let’s be honest, grocery shopping can be a pain. As a nutritionist, it took me years to come up with a supermarket game plan. My strategy is simple: Focus on buying healthy foods that are nourishing for your body, while leaving the “less healthy” options on the isle. I consider my grocery shopping a success if I’m able to 1. Buy enough food for the week 2. Spend less than $50 bucks, and 3. Be in and out in 30 minutes or less.
One thing that helps me stay on track is dividing the week up in terms of “quick-fix” weekday breakfasts, weekend breakfasts, lunch/dinner and snacks. Here are 12 of my favorite go-to items that leave me nourished and satisfied while keeping my wallet in check.
1. Oatmeal OR Peanut Butter + Whole wheat bread
This falls into the “quick fix” breakfast category. I like to buy something that will last Monday through Friday and won’t take long to prepare. My new favorite oatmeal is “Organic Raw: Pure and Simple multigrain hot cereal with flax.”  For $2.50, you get a mini box of oatmeal that comes with 5 pouches (one for each workday). If I’m not in the mood for oatmeal, I opt for whole-wheat toast with peanut butter on top (add banana slices for extra oomph). This is so easy to make and it keeps me full for hours because it provides a healthy dose of carbs, fiber, fat and protein.
2. Potatoes + Extra Firm Tofu
This is my weekend go to breakfast/brunch. I love to make tofu scramble with roasted potatoes. This meal takes a little longer to prepare, but it’s very satisfying. Check out 5 of our tofu scramble recipes here. 
Give your potatoes a kick by adding garlic, rosemary, and/or chili powder.
3. Carrots + Hummus
This falls under the “snack” category. If I don’t have time to make homemade hummus (recipe here , I buy a container of hummus at the grocery store and a bag of baby carrots. To make things easy, I take the bag of carrots and hummus to work on Monday and leave them in the office fridge. This way, when I’m craving potato chips after lunch, I’m already prepared to eat something healthy instead.
4. Greek Yogurt
What can I say? Greek yogurt may be one of the best things on earth. Why? Plain, non-fat Greek yogurt provides almost twice the amount  of protein as regular yogurt but half the sugar without compromising any of the taste. If I have the money, I’ll buy frozen fruit and granola to remix my Greek yogurt into a parfait. Assemble your parfait the night before work and store it in a mason jar to keep it fresh. Make sure to add the granola right before serving so it stays crunchy. I promise, this snack tastes like a dessert and it will keep your full between meals.
5. Seasonal vegetables
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that we eat at least 3 servings of vegetables per day. Buying vegetables in season will ensure lower costs and better flavor. In the winter, stick to root veggies like squash and beets. This chart provides a list of the different fruits and vegetables in season during various months. [Insert hyperlink: http://cuesa.org/page/seasonality-chart-vegetables]
6. Seasonal Fruit
The USDA recommends that we get at least two pieces if fruit in our diet per day. If you are living with diabetes, I recommend not exceeding that amount because fruits are high in fructose (also known as fruit sugar). During the winter months, I buy a big bag of apples or pears and I take a couple with me to work everyday to make sure I eat them.
7. Seltzer water
I generally don’t buy any beverages because I like to stick to water. One way I spice up my h20 is buy buying seltzer water and adding lemon or lime to it. If you are a soda drinker, I suggest buying seltzer water and adding 1/5 a cup of orange juice to it to give it more flavor. This way, you get the bubbles and hydration but not all the sugar and artificial flavors that are found in soda.
8. Quinoa
As I mentioned above, it’s great to plan your meals around vegetables. It’s also important to provide your body complex carbohydrates, as they are the preferred fuel of the brain and central nervous system. Make sure to include whole grains in every meal. Quinoa is my favorite because it is also a complete protein. Here is my Quinoa and Cajun black bean recipe.
9.  Beans, beans, beans
Beans are always one of the most important items in my cart. Not only are they jam-packed with protein and fiber, they add great texture and flavor to any meal. I like to add them to salads, pasta dishes, tacos and even in my breakfast burritos.
10. Corn tortillas
At about $1 a bag, this may be the cheapest item I buy all week.  If I’m feeling tired after work, I always fall back on tacos! Heat the tortillas in the oven to make them crispy without adding any oil. Then top with beans and your favorite raw or sautéed vegetables. One bag comes with about 30 tortillas and they last for months.
11.  Avocado
Avocado may be my all-time favorite food. It instantly makes any meal more satisfying. I like to buy about 3 avocados per week and add them to my salads, tacos, sandwiches, vegetables dishes, etc. There’s a way to incorporate avocado into ev-er-y-thing.
12. Treat yourself
Each week, I try to buy one special splurge treat for myself. It’s important not to deprive yourself of something you like that may not be as healthy. If you are eating well-balanced, nutrient dense meals most of the time, a little treat won’t do you any harm. My favorite treats are sweet potato pie, Haagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream, ginger candies and carob covered raisins. 


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