What’s In Your Cart?

I still remember being twenty something and living on a very limited budget. After rent, clothes, gas and partying there wasn’t much left for food! OK, so my priorities were a little different back then…

Recently I spent a Saturday evening in Baltimore with a dear old friend (old = we’ve known each other a long time) and her  adorable twenty-something daughter. It may not surprise you to learn that before too long our conversation turned to the subjects of food and nutrition. When I was that age food was something that came in a can (soup, tuna) and I think I remember eating a lot of popcorn! I just didn’t know any better; nobody really talked about food and health in those days.

We all agree that yes, it is definitely more expensive to eat healthfully and it surely takes more time and planning. I suggested that it’s a good idea to take some time on a Sunday afternoon to think about your schedule for the upcoming week and make a plan of what you’ll cook and what ingredients you’ll need. That way you’ll be armed with a shopping list and will avoid aimlessly strolling the grocery store aisles throwing random items into your cart, especially after work when you’re tired and hungry. Believe it or not, you’ll also save time and money!

Ninety percent of most grocery stores are filled with junk and chemicalized food so if you enter those doors unprepared chances are pretty good you’ll leave the store with mostly bags and boxes of pretend food or food-like items.

Here’s a list of staples to fill your cart and stock your healthy kitchen:

8 15 oz. cans beans: black, pinto, garbanzo, etc.

3 cans tuna packed in water

4 15oz cans diced tomatoes

2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes

2 32-oz boxes vegetable or chicken broth, preferably organic (they are often close in price)

2 lbs. rolled or steel cut oats

1 dozen eggs

1 jar no-sugar added peanut or almond butter

Frozen corn

Frozen fruit for shakes (bluberries, strawberries)

Lettuce (large bin pre-washed, organic)

Fresh or frozen spinach

2 onions, whatever’s least expensive


Bag of carrots

Avocados, especially if on sale (good fat!)

Bag of apples (for oatmeal and snacking)


Other seasonal fruit


Sweet potatoes (easy lunch topped with salsa or steamed veggies)

Regular potatoes (great for stews and other dishes)


Bag of brown rice or quinoa

Bag of almonds or walnuts (expensive but shouldn’t be eaten by the handfuls!)

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Dijon Mustard

Sea salt /pepper


Chili powder

Garlic powder


Box of almond or other milk alternative

Trader Joe’s has pretty good prices on most of the above items but your local grocery store would be just fine too. With these basic staples I can think of lots of healthy meals and snacks to make:

Breakfast oatmeal with chopped apple, raisins & cinnamon

Mid morning snack of banana and 10-12 almonds

A large lunch salad with tuna, veggies and balsamic vinaigrette

Afternoon shake with almond milk, frozen blueberries and spinach (yum!)

Dinner of chili or bean soup

There are tons of resources available on the web. You can do a search for ” healthy bean soup recipe” and at least six websites will pop up. And if you’re interested in my new Good Food Recipe Book you can pre-order it here! It has 35 delicious and healthful recipes including beans; vegetables and grains; soups; animal proteins; and smoothies! I’m excited to announce it will be ready by next month and would also make a great holiday gift.

Stay tuned for more great recipes and health tips. Please comment below if you have specific questions.

Here’s to your health!


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