Navigating the Grocery Store

Banana Peels

I bought so many bananas!

I’ve had the most productive few days I’ve had in a while.

Thursday, after working a show at the IU Cinema, I came home to discover I had no food and 2 hours of free time before I hit the gym with my future roommate, Katie! I made giant list of groceries and headed to the Kroghetto on College Avenue. But really, it’s ghetto.

I really like going to Kroghetto better than Kroger (on College Mall Road) because it’s less crowded. BUT sometimes they don’t have everything I want, so I am forced to go to the fancy Kroger.

After my glorious shopping experience Thursday, I’ve decided to create…

THE HEARTY HERBIVORE’S GUIDE TO GROCERY SHOPPING (…and to the universe)

1. Make a list. This seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve actually gone to the store without a list in the past, and it was mayhem. When I left, I had only one of the items I originally came in for and about 20 dollars worth of stuff I just picked up.

2. Stick to the list. The only time I go astray from the list is if I see something that I couldn’t find before and it’s a good price. Example: Two weeks ago, I had rosemary on my list. Kroghetto didn’t have rosemary and I wasn’t DYING to have it, but I didn’t go to Kroger. I did really want to make some Rosemary Frocaccia, but whatever. So Thursday, low and behold: Kroghetto had Rosemary. AND all organic herbs were 3 for $5. I didn’t however, get 3 herbs. Only Rosemary.

3. Map out your plan of attack. For me, it’s always easiest to start in the produce section, work my way to the back of the store, zig-zag through some isles, and finally make my way to the cold food, like the dairy. The produce section at Kroghetto is conveniently located next to the organic/vegetarian section, so it works out perfectly!

4. Frequent the same grocery stores. I’ve found that the real reason I love the Kroger I shop at is because I know it like the back of my hand. I’m also a “Valued Customer” and save some money every time I go. Really, get a Kroger Plus Card. You can use it on gas at Shell now, too!

5. If you can splurge and get name brand things, do it. So there’ s some things I will not buy if they are not name brand. Most of those things are personal hygiene products, though. If I can afford to splurge and buy name brown flour, sugar, etc, I definitely will. SouthernLiving’s 1001 Ways to Cook Southern suggests always buying name brand ingredients to assure the quality of your recipe. Being a poor college student, I usually will buy Kroger brand flour, sugar, etc. I feel that some things, such as frozen vegetables, are the same no matter what brand, as long as the only ingredient is the vegetable you are buying.

Pomegranate Seeds

De-seeding pomegranates is actually quite the stress reliever!

6. Avoid the frozen food isle. Excluding frozen fruit and vegetables, I like to avoid the frozen food isle. I’d rather make something from scratch and monitor everything that’s in my food, rather than let someone else make it for me, with preservatives and all that jazz. One thing I will go for frozen: Schwan’s everything. Yum! The Eggplant Parm is to die for, along with the tortellini.

7. Plan out your meals for the week before you go shopping. This falls under the same category as number 1 (making a list). It’s so much easier to plan out your meals and then go shopping. That way, you know everything you’ll need for the week. See below for The Hearty Herbivore’s menu for the upcoming week.

8. Unload and go. Some things on my weekly shopping list include: bananas (for smoothies), spinach (for Green Monster smoothies), mushrooms, and eggs. After I work out and really am just dying for a post-workout smoothie, I am in no mood to cut up a frozen banana. When I get home, I unload my groceries, cut up the bananas, put them in a freezer bag, and throw them in the freezer. Unload and go. I did this Thursday, as well as de-seed 3 pomegranates! Man, am I feeling good! It’s also best to do this with raw ginger, since those are a real pain to cut.

Chopped Bananas

Chopping bananas, easy but time consuming.

9. Don’t be afraid to take your time. I’m more of a get in, get out kind of gal. I hate spending more time at the grocery store than necessary. But if you have a lot of things to get, take time, compare prices, and look at nutrition labels. Seriously, a little time may save you a lot of money.

10. Go grocery shopping once a week (or every other week). This is my favorite tip and I think the most useful. Because I’m only feeding myself (sometimes another if Julia and I eat together or if Cory comes to town), I go shopping once every two weeks. Usually on Sunday afternoon. Because I go grocery shopping so often, I find myself buying more fruits and vegetables, cooking more, and eating healthier. I’m not going to lie, I get a little scarce on food toward the end of that second week though and will be eating rice and beans for a few days.

Like I said, I got so much stuff Thursday and really didn’t spend more than usual. Somethings I bought and some deals I found:

Wholly Guacamole: 2 for $5 (I love this stuff).
Butternut Squash: 99 cents a pound (I got two!)
Kale: 99 cents a bunch
Cilantro: 2 for $1 (WUHH?! I bought two and am totally freezing one for later).
Rosemary (and other herbs): 3 for $5

I bought a lot of other things and here’s what I’m planning on making this weekend/week/next weekend!

Rosemary Focaccia (Thanks for the Rosemary, Kroghetto!)
Soft Pretzels (By Pennies on a Platter…making them for the Super Bowl!)
White Bean Chili (Trying to perfect this recipe so I can blog about it!)

Delta Tamales (Cory’s favorite thing about growing up in Mississippi. I’m making them for Valentine’s Day!) Does anyone know where I can find dried corn husks (or shucks if your from the South)?
Some Sweet Treats (Still deciding on what!)
Butternut Squash Soup (or maybe some kind of pasta)
Something with Gorgonzola Cheese…Suggestions?

I’m having such an exciting weekend and week! Yestrday, my best friend from high school came to see me! We’re ate at Dat’s (one of my favorites of 2011!) last night and Darn Good Soup today for lunch! Noms! Next weekend, Cory and I are celebrating Valentine’s Day! That means even more good food and fun! I think we’re planning on eating somewhere nice, I was thinking Farm, and going to see the re-release of Star Wars. Oh gee, we’re nerds!

Happy Grocery Shopping,

Jamie


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