Archive for the ‘Food + Fitness’ Category

Whole Foods vs. Trader Joe’s Pricing

04 | 5 | 2017 | Wednesday

After 3 rounds of Whole 30 and a year of Paleo, I started tracking my spending and noticed that I was spending quite a bit on food every month, especially in comparison to the days of “regular food”.  My average is about $600 per month, but March was a record high of $900 (I was experimenting with treats and had 2 dinner parties). The $600 includes 1-2 breakfasts, 1 post-workout shake, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners daily – 7 days a week with about 3-4 lunches and 2-3 dinners out per month. This is about $20 per day on average.

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I’m in the habit of reading all labels and only buying Whole 30 compliant items (which often times are more expensive). I shop exclusively at Whole Foods because it is the closest store to me. For this experiment I started comparing items between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s only. I have no interest in shopping at huge stores like Safeway, and places like Costco are unfair in comparison because you buy in higher bulk which essentially means more upfront and doesn’t take into account any potential waste.

I started this list organically looking at the prices of things I was buying in the past week. It isn’t complete yet, but this is an idea of some of the items I buy on a weekly basis and/or always have stocked in the pantry. All items are the Whole 30 approved versions, and are compared to an item with equal weight/measurement/ingredients list. There are likely cheaper versions of some items, but that isn’t what this is about. I’ve organized by items I should be purchasing at each store.

TRADER JOES:

As I mentioned, the closest Trader Joe’s is about 15 minutes away, but is right next to my yoga studio. So I have to think a little further in advance, create a list and stop in after class, but with the price differences, it is worth it.

TRADER JOES: Whole Foods Trade Joe’s Measurement
Bananas $0.79 $0.49 Per Pound
Green Beans $3.99 $2.99 1 lb
Fresh Basil $3.99 $2.99 1 clamshell
Russet Potato $1.19 0.49 Each
Russet Potato (bag) $3.99 $3.29 5lb Bag
Sweet Potato 0.99 0.79 Each
Sweet Potato (bag) $3.99 $1.79 2lb bag
Yellow Onions $1.69 0.59 Each
Chicken Breast $4.49 $2.69 per pound
Ground Turkey Breast $7.49 $4.49 Per Pound
Prosciutto $6.99 $3.99 4 ounces
Almond Butter $7.49 $6.99 1 jar
Almond Flour $12.99 $7.49 1lb bag
Coconut Cream $3.99 $2.29 1 can
Coconut Flour $5.39 $2.99 1 lb bag
Coconut Milk $2.29 $1.29 1 can
Coconut Oil $6.99 $5.49 1 jar
Coconut Sugar $5.99 $3.99 1lb bag
Olive Oil $6.99 $5.99 Liter
Olive Oil Spray $4.99 $2.99 5 ounce
Maple Syrup (Sm) $7.99 $4.99 12 ounce
Maple Syrup (Lg) $18.99 $15.99 32 ounce
Cauliflower Rice (frozen) $2.29 $1.99 1 bag
Eggs – Cheapest 12 Pack $3.69 $1.59 12 pack
Raw Almond Bag $6.99 $5.99 1lb bag
Cottage Cheese $4.49 $1.49 Medium

WHOLE FOODS:

For me, it will always be easier to shop at Whole Foods so while things are a little more expensive, it is worth it to be able to drop in and buy these items here. I find the produce at Whole Foods to be better quality than Trader Joes, so I’m happy to spend a little more to get better produce.

WHOLE FOODS: Whole Foods Trade Joe’s Measurement
Asparagus $3.99 $3.99 1 bunch
Avocado $1.99 $1.79 Each
Brussel Sprouts $2.99 $2.25 Per Pound
Cauliflower $2.69 $2.99 1 head
Honeycrisp Apple $1.99 $1.29 each
Zucchini $2.99 $2.49 Per Pound
Bone In Pork Chop $7.99 $6.99 Per Pound
Free Range Eggs (12 pack) $3.69 $3.99 1 dozen eggs
Kombucha (GT Daves) $2.99 $2.99 Synergy
Brie Triple Cream $6.99 $6.99 per pound
Frozen Cauliflower Florets $1.99 NONE 1 bag
Eggs – Free Range 18 $5.49 NONE 18 eggs

In conclusion I have found that staple items, pantry items and items with a longer shelf life (potatoes, onions, etc.) should be purchased at Trader Joe’s. Whole Foods will be for items I can’t find at Trader Joe’s (like the frozen cauliflower I use for my post-workout protein shake)  fresh produce, and things I prefer the taste of (like the type of almond butter I love) from Whole Foods.

I’m trying this out and will report back with exact numbers at the end of the month.

Favorite Weeknight Paleo Dinner Recipes

12 | 8 | 2016 | Thursday

These are a few of my favorite Paleo dinner recipes, all of which are quick and easy for weeknight meal planning, and they save well for lunch leftovers (which is just about my favorite thing ever). All of these have a fair amount of veggies in them, but a little side salad never hurt anyone.

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Chicken Fried Cauliflower Rice - One of my current favorites. Incredibly easy recipe that can be saved and eaten for days to come! I pretty much follow this recipe with the exception of omitting cornstarch (using tapioca flour if you want a replacement, but I don’t think anything is needed) and use Coconut Aminos instead of the Soy Sauce. I add Peas (up to you if that is part of your Paleo diet) but up to you! You can get frozen cauliflower fried rice at Trader Joes/Whole Foods in the frozen veggies section (SO much easier than trying to grind your own!)

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Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti - One of my favorite recipes. It takes over an hour due to having to roast the spaghetti squash, but it is a great one to make in large batches and even freeze. I roast half of a spaghetti squash and wrap/freeze the other half for another time. It actually makes the squash a bit more moist.

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Shrimp + Sausage Paleo Skillet - Oh man, THIS. (Apparently I have a lot of favorites…) I use Spicy Italian Pork or Chicken Sausage from the Whole Foods meat counter (it is delish and compliant) but any sausage will do (just check those ingredients, a ton of sausage has sugar and a bunch of other random stuff in it). If you save this for leftovers later, just make sure you eat all the shrimp, it doesn’t save as well.

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Chicken Piccata - Easy weekday recipe with so few ingredients. This is one of those that I can often make quickly because I already have everything the house. I use the chicken in my salad the following day for lunch. It might be even better cold.

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Salmon – We have salmon a couple times a month. I use a dill + salt  + ghee (or butter….) and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. I roast some brussel sprouts or asparagus (you could add cauliflower fried rice or potatoes if you want more). We don’t eat too much fish, but it is great to have in the rotation due to the health benefits and how simple it is!

WHOLE 30 – My Story

07 | 18 | 2016 | Monday

8 months ago I hit a point in my life that can only be described as my personal rock bottom. Among other things, I was binge eating, drinking too much too often, and generally trying really hard to act like everything was ok.

My mental health was suffering and it was deeply affecting my personal life, my marriage, my friendships, and finally, it was starting to creep into my work. I saw Whole 30 as a way to control something in my life. Anything. I just needed something to hold on to.

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It all started on one of audio book binges when I discovered “Why We Get Fat“. It was extremely eye-opening and changed many of my eating habits overnight. Then a friend recommended “It Starts With Food” (the Whole 30 book), and after reading it, I knew I needed to try it. I didn’t plan in advance, wait until a certain date, or until I had a free social calendar. I read the book and I started.

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I wasn’t 100% compliant. I had a few dates on the calendar (dinners/birthday parties) that I decided I would give an exception to (I was mindful of what I ate, but not compliant). Also, I didn’t stop putting cream in my coffee. I know this isn’t Whole 30, and that was ok for me at that time in my journey. I don’t regret it at all. I simply needed to start changing my life and my habits despite anything else. I wouldn’t recommend going this route, unless you are about to explode (which I was). These were the results:

Non-Scale Victories:

  • Clearer Skin – I’ve always been acne-prone and still struggle with annoying skin but noticed 15 days in that my skin was smooth, I had no blemishes and the redness was drastically better. And it hasn’t changed since, still totally clear!
  • Better Sleep- I used to get 12+ hours of sleep, wake up late, and still not have much energy. On Whole 30 I started noticing I was waking up earlier with more energy. Now I consistently wake up around 7am with a lot of energy and it lasts through the day. My sleep patterns have been so different, and I never even tried to change anything!
  • Way more energy - Like I’m talking so much energy to workout, get more done, take on hobbies, go walking and then some.
  • Excitement about life + things again – This one is a whole subject in and of itself. After a slump into some deep depression and anxiety related issues, I finally found a small glimpse at excitement for life again.
  • And the biggest of all (this might be TMI!) zero cramps. Once a month for the last 10 years I spent the day in bed throwing up every hour and take about 15 advils just to manage said pain. On Whole 30…..I felt nothing. NOTHING. Anything that can cure the torture of that wins big in my book.
  • There were many other small victories throughout the 42 days (not craving carbs or sugar, losing weight, etc.) but these ones were the most notable.

My Before & After:

6 Weeks

After  6 weeks of psuedo-Whole 30 and a couple of completely off diet vacations, I started my second round of 100% compliant Whole 30 (goodbye cream in my coffee!) mid-May. My goal this time was 100% compliance and a full food reintroduction after the 30 days. (THIS IS THE WAY TO DO IT PEOPLE!)

I became obsessed with reading ingredients (I literally can not believe how many things have sugar in them!), I read and participate in many online forums, am constantly searching out new Whole 30 recipes, and even created a spreadsheet to track compliant brands, recipes, and just about everything else Whole 30. I’ve fully enveloped myself in clean eating, learned so much about myself and food in the process, and loved every minute of it.

I didn’t have as much physical progress, but mentally, my entire relationship with food changed. I did a full re-introduction after this round and have a much better idea of what and how much of any food is good for my body. A month after completing this and I still follow the rules about 90%. I’ve found a balance but am still very aware of exactly what I am eating. The first round was what I needed at the time, but this round actually changed everything for me in terms of creating a lifestyle.

Before + After – Whole 30 Round 2:

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I get asked about about Whole 30 or my weight loss journey daily. Some people have been encouraging and others…well, I learned not to care what people think and just do what makes me feel good. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Making the decision: This program has really worked  for me. It actually changed my life, and that is not an exaggeration. That being said, no amount of inspiration or progress pics could have made me do it before I was ready. You truly have to make the decision for yourself. I wasn’t ready for a long time (I could never have imagined I’d EVER put my health first), until one day I was.

I was able to acknowledge my own reality, and only then was I ready to make actual changes to my diet and lifestyle with determination. The “one bite won’t kill you” thought process is more detrimental than you might think and won’t work with this program. That decision, the one to change your life, that is always always always the first step.

2. Read The Book: The first thing out of my mouth when someone asks me about it is “READ THE BOOK” (It Starts With Food). There is seriously no substitution for it. Without it I never would have understood WHY I was doing what I was doing. This is the biggest key to it all for me.

2. Community: I’ve actually learned not to talk about my progress because of the remarks, comments, eye-rolling,etc. that come when mentioning a diet. The judgement used to drive me nuts, but I’ve learned to tune that out and focus on making the best decisions for my body. I turned to blogs, facebook groups, and other online resources for help and inspiration.  I’ve found that friends/family can actually be incredibly unsupportive for whatever reason, but that might not be the case for everyone. Find whatever community works best for you!

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3. Prepare! The best way to do Whole 30 is to make it work with your lifestyle. Keep things as simple as possible by finding easy recipes, sticking to the same salad every day (change up the dressing if you need a change), and prepare some on-the-go meals when needed. Before heading to the grocery store, do a little research on ingredients and prepare a list. Before going to a restaurant, look over the menu or call the restaurant. It can be very hard to “be that person” special ordering everything, but you are worth it.

At the beginning of every week I spend a little time working on a weekly meal plan, taking a look at the calendar to see which days I need to prepare extra for (tons of meetings, not at home, etc.). I don’t stick to it completely, but it helps to have something to fall back on. Planning is so important in the success of this program, don’t underestimate how much it can help!

4. You Can Do It: Don’t underestimate yourself. You have full control over the decisions that you make. It is 30 days, it isn’t that hard. Change your thought process, stop making excuses and just start. Oh and check that “one bite won’t kill you” attitude at the door and commit 100%. Restart if you eat something you aren’t supposed to, do the re-intro. It is worth it.

My Go-To Foods:

Breakfast: Every morning I have 2 scrambled eggs and about a 1/2 cup of breakfast sausage (I make my own – this recipe is delish!). To help with my vegetable intake, I have raw carrots/cucumbers on the side. (I never liked eating anything before noon so this whole eat breakfast thing is HUGE for me.) If you are one of those people that can eat dinner for breakfast or have leftovers, this is a great way to switch things up a bit.

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Lunch: Salad. Salad. Salad. I prep the basics of my salads at the beginning of the week (lettuce, cut carrots, cucumber, and green beans) and place the tupperware in the fridge for the week. At lunch I cut up whatever leftover meat I have or grill a chicken breast, cut up some avocado and a little fruit and top it with TesseMae’s Lemonette dressing and a little salt! Easy. Sometimes I will have dinner leftovers for lunch, but for the most part it is salad central!

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Dinner: This is where things vary most. I have a Pinterest board of recipes and I now spend some time finding, prepping and making completely new recipes at least twice a week. But if I am short on time, didn’t prep properly, etc. I BBQ or grill some sort of meat, steam veggies and call it a day! I have watched a couple YouTube videos on how to grill, some simple stove techniques, etc. which has helped improve my cooking game. Since I have to eat this food every day, I might as well stop overcooking things!

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DISHES: Chicken with Masala Spices, green beans + sliced cucumber | Roasted Salmon with steamed brussel sprouts + salad | Chicken Piccata with steamed brussel sprouts

Some Favorites: 

Here are some of my favorite online resources, recipes, and staple items that helped me with Whole 30. Everyone has different tastes so it is wroth doing a little research of your own to at least find some recipes that sound interesting. There is a ton of great inspiration out there that will help make Whole 30 anything but boring!

Online Resources:

Dinners:

Staples: