Grocery List for Bachelors
Whether you’re aware of it or not, our options for truly healthy eating have become more and more difficult to find. If you eat out often, chances are you’ve frequented a few food chains that cater to your particular taste buds. If eating out regularly isn’t damaging your pocket book, it’s certainly damaging your chances for achieving optimal health.
You may not partake in junk food from McDonalds or Burger King, but those aren’t the only restaurants that use lesser quality meats, produce and highly processed foods. The fast food industry has had a major effect on our national food industry as a whole, “streamlining” the way in which major food suppliers produce and distribute all of our nation’s food to your local grocery stores, restaurants, and, of course, fast food restaurants.
Most packaged foods nowadays are chock full of food additives that should be considered unfit for human consumption – and in fact, many of these substances have been banned in most other developed countries (and as a side note, when mainstream media outlets like Shape and Chicago Trubune report on this phenomenon, you know the situation is probably much worse than even they reveal!).
But maybe you’re doing your best to change your eating habits, cooking most of your meals, switching from fried to grilled, using olive oil and eating more salads. And here come the health foodies to tell you that the olive oil you just bought is probably fake, and the bag of pre mixed salad has nowhere near as many nutrients as you think it does. So where does that leave you in your quest to nourish your body and keep it healthy for years to come?
Depending on where you’re at in your journey toward optimal health, your grocery list will likely change drastically by the time you reach your health pinnacle. Along the way, however, we’ll take it in stages. Baby steps to weaning off of the most toxic food and drinks and changing your tastes so that you actually begin to crave the things your body truly needs to thrive in your later years.
So in this post, we’re going to give you some basics so that you know how to shop – where to find the freshest foods, what to look out for, and how to find nutritious “fast” foods so you won’t give up before you begin to reap the benefits.
Where to Find the Freshest Foods
If you live in a state like California, you’re fortunate enough to live among an abundance of farmers and a resurgence of farmers markets. Many of these markets are open year round, although in the Spring and Summer you can find one virtually within every 5-mile radius. This is without a doubt the best place to find the freshest foods. It may seem like a stretch to go from shopping at big name grocery outlets to frequenting the farmers market, but your body will thank you for the trouble. And after you change your routine, it will cease to feel like trouble and become a way of life.
Beside the enhanced nutritional value of the foods you find at the farmers market, you’ll likely also find it much more refreshing to shop outdoors as opposed to being enclosed beneath fluorescent lighting, and to get to know the people who are responsible for growing your food. Additionally, most farmers at the market grow their food using organic practices, so you don’t have to pay the high price tag that most conventional stores charge for “organic.” Even if they haven’t gone to the extensive trouble of becoming a “certified organic” grower – just ask and they’ll tell you whether or not they use pesticides or if they follow organic growing methods.
However, if you missed the farmers market this week, or if you just can’t find one, look for a local co-op grocery store (yes, the one where all the “hippies” shop). Second to that would be a Nugget or Whole Foods, although those stores often price their local produce much higher than what you’ll find at the farmers market.
Trader Joe’s is a good place to find packaged foods, meat, dairy and snacks that aren’t riddled with additives, and at a pretty decent price. But most of their food is shipped from afar (this is the premise of their stores, to bring you exotic foods from a variety of locations), so you won’t always find the freshest produce here. Still, this is where I go to buy pantry staples that I can’t find at farmers markets, and in a pinch their produce is still better than what you find at most mainstream grocery stores.
If you absolutely have to shop at a commercial grocery chain, then do your best to purchase organic across the board. This is the only way to decrease your odds for consuming harmful genetically modified organisms and other chemical additives.
Healthy Grocery Shopping: What to Buy – Grocery List for Bachelors
Here’s a basic list for weekly items that will keep you from frequenting restaurants!
The Fresh Stuff: Produce, Dairy, Meat and Bread
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 1 – Leafy green veggies: Spinach, Kale, Chard, Red Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, and the like. The farmers market shines here – but you can usually find these greens at your local grocery store – just make sure you buy organic to avoid pesticide consumption. Throw these in a green smoothie for a healthy breakfast – you’d be surprised at how good you’ll feel (and you’ll probably also be surprised that when combined with apples, bananas and lemon juice, the taste is not bad at all!), saute greens in coconut oil with garlic and sea salt, or use them for salads.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 2- Organic Celery: Not only are these a main ingredient in your green smoothies, but combined with a high quality nut butter or mozzarella cheese, they can add some crisp refreshment to a high protein midday snack. Be sure to buy organic, because commercial celery is often highly contaminated with chemical pesticides.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 3- Yams: Yams are a perfectly simple side dish for dinner, or you can bake a few at a time and reheat them for lunch. Feel free to add pastured organic butter and sea salt for flavor, or if you grew up loving candied yams, add a little maple syrup for a sweet treat.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 4- Avocados: Avocados are amazingly healthy and delicious. Stir them up with lime and sea salt to make a quick guacamole, or slice them and add to sandwiches, tacos, burritos, and anything else you can think of. A great source for healthy Omega 3 fats, which are good for your brain and joints! The softer they are, the more ripe they are, so it’s best to buy a couple firm ones to sit out on the counter (they’ll ripen in a day or two or three) and one or two that are soft enough to consume right away. You can stick ripe avocados in the fridge if you need to get another day out of them.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 5- Mushrooms, onions, garlic and herbs: Depending on how much and how often you cook, these are good to have on hand to enhance any meal. Throw them into an omelet, saute and eat them with a good steak, or toss them with some olive oil and brown rice pasta and you’ve got a quick and easy dinner.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 6 – Organic apples: To keep these fresh longer, and to avoid over-ripening any other produce you may keep in a bowl on your kitchen counter, store them in your crisper in the fridge. You can toss them into your green smoothie and eat them as a quick snack.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 7 – Bananas: Since the peel is so thick and inedible, the fruit inside is protected from pesticides, so you don’t have to buy your bananas organic. Add one to your smoothie or just eat one on the go.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 8 – Lemons: A squeeze of lemon in your water will not only liven the taste, but it will add a detoxification bonus! Lemon juice is a great flavor enhancer for meals (especially fish) and salads, and another great addition to your green smoothie. They’ll keep well in a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter (away from direct sunlight).
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 9 – Eggs: Look for organic and free range. I like the brown eggs best. Yolks should be a deep golden orange color, indicating a higher level of nutrients than conventional eggs. Boil half a dozen when you get home and eat one a day for a high protein snack. Keep the rest for weekend breakfast omelets, or prepare an egg scramble with spinach, mushrooms and cheese on sourdough bread.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 10 – Organic Butter: Butter that comes from cows that were grass fed and pastured will provide you with a good amount of healthy fats to keep your heart and body healthy. Again, the color will be a deeper golden yellow than conventional butter, indicative of the amount of nutrients that passed through the animal to eventually reach you.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 11 – Organic greek yogurt: Greek yogurt has a higher protein content and is a bit thicker and creamier than standard yogurt. Try to buy it plain and add your own fruit, honey or maple syrup for flavor.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 12 – Organic cheeses: Mozzarella is great with celery and apples, cheddar is perfect for sandwiches, monterey jack for a snack or shredded for tacos, and parmesan is a must for pasta, omelets and sourdough bread.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 13 – Meat: Your call on what type of meat you like to eat, and how much. Just make sure to always buy organic, and when it comes to beef, it has to be grass fed. Cows were not meant to consume corn and other grains, they were meant to graze on grass. Chicken is best bought whole, because there are more than a few chicken producers that will package and sell the otherwise “healthy” parts of a sick or dying chicken. There’s a really simply way you can roast a whole chicken (literally rinse the bird, dry it with paper towels, coat it in salt and pepper and stick it in the oven. One hour later you’re eating a really moist and tasty chicken), then cut it up and add it to your meals over the next few days. Lamb is also a really healthy choice, but it can be pricey. Again, you’ll want to buy it grass fed and, if possible, local.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 14 – Fish: If you like fish, try to buy the ones labeled “wild” rather than “farmed,” and be careful not to over consume. Although fish is an ideal source of protein, it’s unfortunately difficult to find any waterways that aren’t highly contaminated, and that means most fish contains a high level of toxicity. If you can find a local fish farm that uses ideal growing conditions for their fish, by all means go the farmed route. But most conventionally farmed fish sold in stores comes from fish farms that are simply unclean.
- Grocery List for Bachelors Item 15 – Sourdough bread: There’s been a lot of talk lately about wheat bread and the dangers of gluten to a healthy diet. If you are allergic or sensitive to gluten, you’ll want to look for a good rice bread, or other gluten-free variety (I like Udi’s and Food for Life brands). But Sourdough is another great alternative, because the method of preparation cuts down on the amount of gluten you receive, and also ensures additional health benefits. Sliced sourdough is also highly versatile – it can be toasted with butter for breakfast, combined with lunch meat for a sandwich, or coated with butter and parmesan cheese and set beneath the broiler for 4-5 minutes to eat with pasta and salad at dinner. If you really want to take it up a notch, try sprouted whole grain bread. Whole grains are actually not too good for you unless they’ve been fermented (Sourdough) or sprouted, so you can skip the regular wheat bread. You can usually find a good sprouted grain bread at health stores, and even in the “natural foods” section of some major chain stores. These breads have a lot more texture, but when toasted and buttered they taste pretty darn good.
Grocery List for Bachelors “The Staples”: Canned foods, grains and snacks
- Cooking oil: The best oils to cook with are coconut oil, palm oil or avocado oil, because they remain stable at high temperatures. If you’re shopping at a health food store, you might also see something called “ghee” (clarified butter), which is also great for cooking. A high quality extra virgin olive oil is best suited for salads and dipping.
- Canned beans: Although beans are best prepared from fresh or dried beans that have been cleaned and soaked, the ease of canned beans make them perfect for the bachelor’s grocery list. Black beans can be added to salads, cooked with salsa and cheese to eat with rice or tortilla chips, or thrown into tacos and burritos. Just be sure to rinse them before you cook or eat them.
- Rice: If you enjoy the texture of brown rice, then try to get in the habit of soaking it for at least 12 hours before consuming. Otherwise, get a good organic Basmati rice (it’s lower on the glycemic index) and rinse it a few times before cooking to get rid of excess starch. Better yet, rinse it then soak it for 20 minutes, rinse one last time and it will cook in half the time.
- Brown rice pasta: Brown rice pasta is the best alternative to regular pasta because there is no gluten in rice, and it tastes much better than wheat pasta. There’s a common misconception that whole wheat pasta is the healthiest, and although it’s a step up from regular pasta, it still contains gluten, which creates inflammation in the body. It’s best to avoid gluten as much as possible, and brown rice pasta tastes much better than whole wheat any day.
- Salsa: Try to purchase organic because the thin skin on tomatoes absorbs and retains pesticides.
- Tortillas and tortilla chips: Be sure to buy these organic, because most conventional corn has been genetically modified. Consume chips in moderation because most (even organic) are cooked with unhealthy vegetable oils that become toxic at high temperatures.
- Trail mix: Trader Joe’s is a great place to find a variety of trail mix at a good price. It’s a great healthy high protein snack to keep on hand throughout the day that can satisfy your need for crunch, salt, and even sweet.
- Nut butter: If you like this with celery or on crackers, it’s a good high protein snack to have on hand. However, peanut butter is often contaminated and some say it can disrupt your body’s absorption of healthy Omega 3 fats, so almond butter is a better alternative. In either route, stay away from commercial brands and go organic.
- Whole or steel cut oats: Stay away from “quick” oats, as they are way over processed. The whole oats only take a few more minutes to cook on the stove, and the nutritional benefit is well worth it. If you have even more time, or don’t mind soaking the night before, use steel cut oats for the maximum nutritional benefit.
Grocery List for Bachelors “Frozen Foods”
- Frozen Veggies: It’s always a good idea to have a few bags of frozen veggies on hand, for those days when you haven’t had time to buy anything fresh but you still want a healthy meal. Frozen spinach can be added to pasta, omelets, or sauteed with garlic, salt and pepper. Frozen mixed veggies are also great in pasta or as a simple side. Again, be sure to buy organic.
- Frozen Berries: Also good to have on hand to add some variety to oatmeal and Greek yogurt. If you’re not into the green smoothie thing, you can throw some berries, bananas, yogurt, lemon juice and ice in a blender and pretend you’re at Jamba Juice!
- Frozen Yogurt: If you have an ice cream craving, frozen yogurt can serve as a healthy alternative. It can also be added to fruit smoothies for a little creaminess – but again, avoid the commercial brands that are loaded with sugar and food additives. Trader Joe’s has a great plain frozen yogurt that you can add to sparkling fruit juice for a refreshing summer dessert that won’t give you immediate love handles.