I recently enjoyed a whole 7 days off work. It was much needed as I haven’t had a week off since last May and I started a new p/t role in December at an eating disorder clinic which has been amazing but also very tiring! So for the week I packed my bags and popped to the Cotswolds for a weekend and spent the rest of my time off in my home town Bristol. Oh and I also celebrated turning 28 in this time… #birthday.
Anyhow, I returned home on Sunday evening and between the station to my home I pondered on what I would eat for dinner. I had the option to pop into a shop at Victoria but I had a suitcase and a holdall which was a pain in the * carrying around London (one awkward moment my suitcase got caught at the bottom of the escalator and I was already travelling up, I had to let go and watch my bag get further and further away… A hero stranger saved the day and reunited me with my bag, thank you so much). So adding to my luggage with food was a thought I could not fathom and I was sure I had something at home to have instead… I was pretty wrong. No bread, no tinned tuna, no eggs (my flatmate stole them #snitch), no bananas, cheese had gone off, no fresh meat, fish, vegetables, I’d even ran out of frozen vegetables… It was a dire moment. I ended up with pasta (can always rely on cupboard pasta) with fried onion and mushrooms… I had no pesto – I dressed with vegetable oil – also ran out of olive oil – and topped with cheese (I stole back from my flatmate). Luckily I had pepper and mixed herbs to add a bit more flavour… I suppose the meal took away my hunger but it wasn’t the most inspiring, satisfying meal. That’s OK though, it happens sometimes!
I wonder how many times you find the thought of food shopping just too much and ‘put it off’ for another day meaning you have to create something at home which is extremely basic and boring. Or going round the busy isles at the end of the busy working day is an experience you wish to divert and therefore go straight to the convenience options; ready meal, filled pasta, pizza, soup, etc. and you still haven’t filled up your cupboards with essentials for tomorrows meals, so the cycle continues…
As the saying goes, you fail to prepare – you prepare to fail. Food shopping is a form of self-care and health respect in intuitive eating terms. Rather than an act of extreme planning and prep to keep up your strict healthy eating/diet regime – thinking your meals ahead and ensuring you have enough food in the house to create meals of enjoyment and satisfaction is a pretty great thing to do. Getting into a routine where you know when works best for you to shop, what time of day you find it easiest and knowing the typical foods that build up your food personality will make food shopping a much easier part of your life.
Here are my absolute 5 top tips for success at self-care food shopping:
1. Check what you have already! Look through all your cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what you DON’T need. There’s no point in getting more chopped tomatoes if you have 4 tins already. My Dad fails at this all the time… previous examples include about 5 tubs of Bisto, 3 jars of pickle and 2 big bags of RAW chick peas – not even tinned! So they need to soak for about 20 million hours and who does that, really?!
2. How many days’ worth of shopping are you buying for and how many meals does that include? Do this roughly, as we all know life happens and maybe you’ve planned a meal but end up eating out with a friend instead, or maybe an unexpected date if you’re lucky… However, this makes it less likely that you’ll under-shop and then need to hit the shops again at that time after work where you are more drawn to the convenience isle. Or you might over-shop and then food will go off and waste will happen… I’m not about wasting food.
3. Pick fruit and veg from all different colours. The colours mean they have different types of nutrients in them. Example – orangey colours means they’re packed with beta carotene – good for keeping your eye sight sharp. Greeney veg is full of folate – super great for your brain and nervous system. Deep purpley colours are rich with phytochemicals and antioxidants – fantastic stuff all round.
4. Get to know your staples. What items do you regularly use in your diet and so need in pretty much every shop? This will speed up your shopping trips. Mine include; bread (YES bread – normally the scrummy seeded loaf), eggs, milk, flaked almonds (for my porridge), onions, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, bananas, oranges, potatoes, greek yoghurt, tinned tuna and some sort of snack bars. These items keep me going and then I add to it items that I fancy depending on my planned meals or maybe cupboard ingredients that I need to top up.
5. Shop savvy. Remember the shops are designed to make you spend AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE. It’s a business, this is their sole purpose. They will use whatever techniques to lure you in; sexy packaging, money ‘off’ offers, ‘health claims’ and strategic layouts. Keep your head screwed on, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting and trying something new but if it’s as a result of a promotion or it looks appealing, first ask yourself; ‘do I need this?’ ‘what meal/snack will I have it?’ ‘is it reasonably priced for my budget?’ ‘is what they’re claiming true?’.
So there you go… food shopping Rachel Clare Nutrition style! As my intro shows, it’s not always perfect – sometimes you do run out and fail to prepare. That’s A OK – pick yourself up and plan for tomorrow, don’t think about yesterday… #inspo.
Hope this is helpful, if you have any questions please feel free to ask… If it’s a subject that you’d like to talk about in much more detail – I offer supermarket tours as part of my service. At a supermarket near you, within reason… but I’m more than happy to be flown out to your supermarket in California if you wish… I take you round each isle and discuss all the food on offer and help you develop your ‘supermarket shopping personality’.
Healthy Lives are Fruitful Lives