What Goes into a Dietitian’s Grocery Cart?

I LOVE FOOD.  I also love how food makes me feel, when I choose to eat well.  Nutrient diversity is important for gut health, so I select foods from every food group and produce of every color to incorporate throughout each week.  Here is a quick rundown of foods that cultivate my cart. 

Healthy eating begins in your grocery cart!

  1. A variety of colorful fruits and veggies to serve raw or cooked throughout the week. I keep apples, bananas, orange cuties, cherry tomatoes and seasonal produce on the counter and grapes, sliced peppers and carrots in the fridge for quick, easy snacks.  (My dietitian heart flutters when my 5 year old chooses a handful of cherry tomatoes as a snack after school!)

  2. Whole grains for their natural nutrition and fantastic fiber.  This includes quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal and barley – to name a few.

  3. Lean protein such as skinless, boneless chicken breast, turkey, a variety of seafood, beans, nuts, seeds, lentils and cheese.

  4. Healthy fats including extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, and nut/seed butters.

  5. Milk, which varies weekly and includes organic cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk and plain Greek yogurt which I flavor at home with fruit, granola, nuts, honey and/or jam.

  6. Condiments and pasta sauces (low in salt and added sugar) with short, simple ingredient lists I can pronounce.

  7. Coffee and Tea leaves or bags for a fresh, warm cup of goodness when I want a change from water.

  8. Dark chocolate in the form of individually wrapped candies, mini dark chocolate chips mixed into homemade trail mix, or dark chocolate cocoa. (Dark chocolate is a must in my house!)

  9. Kid snacks like string cheese, no-sugar added apple sauce, whole grain fig bars, and whole grain pretzels and crackers.

  10. “Sometimes” treats, which vary.  If my kids shop with me and behave in the store, they can choose a “sometimes” treat which is any food or drink in the store that’s kid safe.

Helpful tips when shopping:

  1. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry – your food choices will reflect your hunger rather than your desire for health.

  2. Write a grocery list to help you stay focused and on track while shopping.

  3. Begin shopping in the produce section while you are feeling most ambitious to shop and eat well.

  4. Buy a fruit or vegetable you haven’t tried before, or one that you haven’t tasted recently, and find a good recipe for it!

  5. Set a limit on your “sometimes” treats before entering the store and stick to it.

  6. Schedule a Grocery Store Tour with me to make grocery shopping trips more nutritious, fun and efficient!


25 Meal Prep Tips for a Nutritious Week

A little advance meal prep goes a LONG way by reducing daily food prep tasks and cooking time on busy nights. Try out some of these tasty, time and money saving tips to make your snacks and meals less stressful and more nutritious!  It’s always recommended that you wash produce before use.  I prefer to store my prepped-food in glass, air-tight containers which provide a clear view of contents, are easy to clean, don’t discolor or hold odors with use, and are microwave safe for quick heating when needed.

  1. Pre-peel several tangerines and store in the refrigerator.

  1. Slice mango, melon or pineapple and store in the refrigerator.

  1. Pick grapes off the stems for quick grab snacks.

  1. Buy a bag of frozen berries and thaw some in the fridge for easy additions to yogurt, oatmeal, or to puree and drizzle over pancakes.

  1. Peel and prep carrots in a variety of sizes – shreds for salads, chunks for roasting and sticks for dipping in hummus or dressing.

  1. Peel and slice onion and store in the fridge for tearless meals and snacks throughout the week.

  1. Slice red, orange, yellow and green peppers to eat raw with hummus/dressing, on salads or sandwiches, to cook with eggs or for roasting and sautéing.

  1. Slice the bottoms off brussels sprouts and then cut them in halves or quarters (depending on size), removing any discolored outer leaves, and store in the fridge to steam, roast or sauté.

  1. Fill a sheet pan with veggies (sweet potato, brussels sprouts, apples & red onion is my favorite combo), toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees until done to your liking.

  1. Prep dry salad ingredients in ready-to-go containers. Prep wet ingredients in a separate container (or below dry ingredients if not shaken).

  1. Make your own salad dressing – experiment with different spices and flavors!

  1. Cook grains in bulk to use for multiple meals throughout the week. (Ex. Quinoa as a stand-alone side, scrambled into eggs, as a replacement for rice in a recipe, added to vegetable soup…)

  1. Make a pot of soup for quick meals and snacks throughout the week.

  1. Cook a pot of beans for the week.

  1. Hard-boil a pot of eggs.

  1. Bake a variety of breakfast egg muffins.

  1. Make extra pancakes to store in the fridge (or freezer separated with parchment paper).

  1. Pre-portion yogurt or cottage cheese into meal/snack containers.

  1. Make meatballs to be served over grains, on a salad, or with pasta.

  1. Broil salmon or a filet of fish with leftovers to use throughout the week.

  1. Slow cook, bake or roast several chicken breasts to use alone, as chicken salad or as an addition to soup, stir-fry, eggs, homemade pizza, casseroles, and stews.

  1. Bake a loaf of zucchini bread or banana bread.

  1. Make your own trail mix – ¾ nuts/seeds with ¼ carbs. (Try ingredients such as almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, dried coconut, dried banana, mini dark chocolate chips…) A serving is about ¼ cup.

  1. Make overnight oatmeal, adjusting flavors to suit your taste with added banana, berries, apple and cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, peanut butter, maple syrup or honey.

  1. Search for recipes and “meal prep ideas” on the internet to find more suggestions that appeal to you!