To be truthful, as much as I love Whole Foods, I can’t afford to shop there exclusively. If money was unlimited, I would buy only organic and local foods, but let’s get real, I am a student and supporting local farmers isn’t always possible. I wish I had brought my camera on this last trip (All my photos were taken using my iPhone) so that I could have captured the crispness of the fresh fruits, and quality in each of their home products. Typically before heading to grocery stores, I look at flyers to find what is on sale and where it can be found. Some places, for example the Loblaws Superstore, allow me to price match, so I do make the most of deals. As much as I love sales, I don’t limit my shopping to discounts or else I would lack a lot of nutrients in my diet. I am by no means an extreme couponer. One day I hope Trader Joe’s makes its way to Canada, since I have been once before in California, and absolutely fell in love.
Don’t get me wrong, Whole foods is a great grocery store that offers so many interesting products. It’s excellent for buying supplements or finding “health products” that aren’t accessible at large grocery chains. I love that they place “featured” products at the end of each aisle, usually with a sample accompanying the display. They offer freshly squeezed juices, or “make your own” nut butters, which is pretty cool. The Whole Foods in Oakville also has a large assortment of meats and fish at reasonable prices.
I could probably spend an entire day looking at their fruit bar, olive selection, hot foods and cold salad bar. I don’t let my nut allergies stop me from my occasional meals there, as their chefs are great at assuring no cross-contamination of ingredients happens in their kitchen. My only concern is individuals mixing up spoons, so I never grab items that are situated directly beside a recipe that contains peanuts, pecans, walnuts or sunflower seeds. While I don’t typically eat almonds, I find I am growing out of this allergy, because when touching them, I don’t react. Their combinations often inspire my own creations, as they list all the ingredients in each blend. Sometimes I wish they used less sauces when cooking certain items, but for the most part their choices suit my taste palette. Artichoke, Tempeh and Falafel are three of my favourites, as I never seem to cook those items on my own. This week, I went to Whole Foods for dinner with Joyce and Chelsea. I had snacked before hand (whoops) so I wasn’t overly hungry, but my meal still managed to add up in price! I got plain endamame, roasted beets, tomato/onion/basil/cucumber salad, tofu, radishes, kale salad in apple cider vinegar, black beans/corn/onion/red pepper salad, steamed broccoli, sliced mushroom, roasted yam, and two sautéed garlic cloves. My selection had enough flavour that I didn’t top it with any dressing or spices.
Do you ever feel like grocery stores are great at “grabbing” your money? I always go with a few items on my list, and manage to leave with way more than I intended to. It’s a bit overwhelming to see so many delicious foods. To make the most of my shopping trips, not only do I plan ahead with “Flyer hunting”, I stick to a few rules that I have picked up over the years. Here are my tips for effective shopping!
- Don’t go to the grocery store hungry! You’ll end up wanting to buy everything, including pre-packaged muffins or cookies that you are better off making from scratch.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That is where the freshest foods can typically be found (meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, breads). The inside aisles are where junk food is often hidden.
- Try to purchase fruits and vegetables that are in seasons as they’ll be tastier and more affordable! You can always freeze the extras for later.
- Convenience isn’t everything. Switch to whole oats instead of instant.
- If you have trouble with serving sizes, buy pre-portioned packages. While it is more expensive, you’ll save money by eating less. Don’t hesitate to buy full-fat products, just make sure you have a smaller quantity.
- Buy the basics and stick to the four food groups.
- Don’t purchase foods that have unpronounceable ingredients. The less ingredients, the better. 100% fruit juices, 100% whole grain and foods with less additives tend to be better for you.
- Choose the least processed foods that are made from whole grain, have less sugar and offer more fiber.
- “Fat Free” or “Sugar Free” can be deceiving. Food companies know how to fool their customers. Just because it is ____ free does not mean it is healthier. GMO free, additive free, hormone free however, are usually great things to look for.
- When possible, make your own soups to save yourself the sodium.
- To save money, try and eat vegetarian protein sources (legumes, beans) several times a week.
- Pick a rainbow of fruits and vegetables as the colours represent different vitamins and minerals.
- What you buy is what you’ll have to eat. Choose foods that you genuinely like, not just those that are on sale.
- Whenever possible, choose foods without added salt. Salt is often added for flavour in packaged items. Get unsalted butter, so that you can control how much you want to add when baking or cooking.
- Try having tuna or fruit packed in water, instead of oil, broth or juice. Choose frozen vegetables without sauce and frozen fruit without added sugar. This will allow you to have more flexibility when adding dressings, because you can add fresh salt, sauce or sugar without worrying about the pre-existing dressing.
- Keep staples on hand. Oils, Nut butters, Canned Vegetables, Lentils, Beans, Quinoa, Couscous, Oats, Vinegars can be kept in the pantry for prolonged periods.
What are your favourite grocery stores and why? Have you developed good shopping techniques? Some grocery stores now offer clothing or and house products. Do you enjoy looking in the home sections or does it distract you from the purpose of your trip? I love grocery shopping with my dad as it’s one of our weekly bonding activities. We bring reusable bags (At some grocery stores you save money, plus it is environmentally friendly) and a cooler bag so that none of our foods get squished or go bad. ♥ Molly
“I can spend hours in a grocery store. I get so excited when I see food, I go crazy. I spend hours arranging my baskets so that everything fits in and nothing gets squashed.” – Cameron Diaz