Resiliency in Challenging Times
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CNW, CGP
Our grocery stores have changed a lot over the last 20 years. Gone in many areas are the local specialty grocers like seen in films from the 1950s, replaced by mega Walmarts or warehouse stores. The hardest part about this change is the overwhelming volume of food products. In these vast stores, you may feel like you need a GPS and a sleeping bag before you find your way out of the jungle of shelves, freezer cases, and focus-grabbing end aisle displays.
When you are tired and stressed from work or family needs, trips to the market are even more problematic. This is prime time to be tempted by those cleverly colored and displayed industrial foods. Market researchers fully understand what is happening inside your overwhelmed brain; they know what colors, flavors, and even sounds will attract you to buy. Just like a skilled hunter knows how to find and lure the food sources in the wild – so do modern food marketers and retailers in the wilds of the grocery store aisle.
Shopping the outer rim
For decades we have told clients to limit their shopping to the outer edge of the grocery store – the problem is marketing experts know what we are telling folks trying to regain control of their diet. With increasing frequency, ultra-processed food items are making their way into the produce area. Additionally, now produce can be divided up by companion ingredients such as salad dressings and dips, croutons, and shredded cheese interspersed with vegetables, colored sugar glazes, and caramel dips and chocolate with fruit.
When pandemics take over our lives, it is even more critical than ever to be resilient. Now is a perfect time to turn to local farmers’ markets and butcher shops for our food. Not only does it support the businesses in our communities, but it also increases the nutritional value of the foods we consume. This is a win-win when we are looking at cost; our communities are a big part of who we are, so keeping the local economy healthy involves more than supporting franchise chains. The closer the food is to us, the higher the immune-boosting nutrients.
Where to begin?
Plan your excursions into the grocery stores just as you would a family camping trip or vacation. Planning ahead, buying dry goods, and staples in bulk saves money and frustration.
Change the frequency of trips to the market. We are far more prone to spontaneous unhealthy purchases when we shop for food daily or even weekly. Limit your weekly shopping to fresh produce, make an event out of farmers’ markets or farm stands over the added exposure of megastores. Don’t be afraid of blemishes on fresh produce at farm stands or markets. Save money by buying seconds; produce that has defects are called seconds, they may be too large or small, have bruises or scars on the skins or be older. Seconds work great for smoothies, hot cereal, compotes, desserts, and salads.
Buy in bulk: flour, rice, beans, lentils, pasta, oatmeal, sugar, tea, and coffee
Take advantage of sales on favorite canned goods and condiments. Depending on the best buy dates, these items may last 6-12 months, saving you trips to the store and allowing for creative flexibility in the kitchen. Limit the food-stuffs that are a specialty; it is better to have tomato sauce over spaghetti sauce, for example. A simple base food such as tomato sauce can be used in meatloaf, soups, sauces, and made into tomato soup.
Buy large cuts of meat: by buying a whole chicken, turkey, fish, and roasts, you can downsize your purchase into a multitude of meal options and save money. One turkey thigh in an instapot with vegetables and water makes several meals for one or two people. A pork loin can be cut into chops, roast, stirfry, and ground meat. One pork loin 3-pound roast can produce up to twenty meals. A whole chicken can be boned and sectioned, the bones and trimmings make broth, breast meat shredded for tacos, thighs for pot pie, and so forth.
Utilize leftovers for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks
Buy organic quality cooking oils and butter – the healthy fats we consume are worth the extra money.
All of these suggestions save you money, time, and frustration, especially when local stores are having a hard time getting shipments. When you keep a well-stocked pantry and freezer, hoarding and unscrupulous purchases driven by fear, are kept in check.
To a Healthy Spring, Real Foods and Resiliency