Inside a Dietitian's Grocery Cart

Hola! I’m Heather, from Dietitian on the Run, filling in for Katie today. 
I used to wonder – if I wore a hat that said “I’m a Dietitian” while grocery shopping (humor me, assume that wouldn’t be an odd wardrobe choice), would I shop differently? Would I try to set that ideal example, or would I go on about my business buying whatever I wanted? Would I choose the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude, or walk the talk?
First, I’ll assure you that my wardrobe is free of such choices. Secondly, now I can safely say I would theoretically wear it and shop fearlessly.  
But then? At one point my cart was filled with those low-fat, low-calorie, low-sugar things. I rarely looked at ingredient lists, but assumed that the things I chose were “healthy”. At a glance, the following would presumably provide healthy meals/snacks: granola bars, low-fat/fat-free yogurt, oatmeal, peanut butter, fruit, veggies, whole wheat bread, deli turkey slices, low-fat ice cream or frozen treat of some sort, diet soda and gum.
See all those low/free/ “light” choices? Yup. Me too.  There was clearly a calorie > nutrient priority. 
Fast forward a few years, and my grocery choices look like this:
I try to avoid packages as much as possible, aside from the occasional cereal, hummus, yogurt and condiments. I’ve even learned you can buy things like mushroom, spinach and salad greens by the pound (which is awesome, so they don’t wilt before you get to the bottom of the bag!). And if it’s Farmer’s Market season, I am all over those local tomatoes, peaches, salad veggies & basil bags. 
I religiously check ingredient lists, not calorie counts. I want to see things short n’ sweet, and I want to see things I could have in my own kitchen (but probably don’t). I don’t want “high fructose corn syrup” or preservatives that I can’t pronounce. I want as many fresh things as possible; by the end of the week our fridge would send the message that we’re going hungry. Don’t worry, there’s a grocery store right down the street that can save the day when needed (expensively, but sometimes I’m okay with being the Whole Foods victim). 
I’ll search grocery stores high and low until I find what I want, and I’ll go to a few different places if that’s what it takes. It requires a little more time and patience on the boy’s part, but he doesn’t complain when it’s time for dinner. 
So, what is on this RD’s “staples” list?
Bought in bulk: rolled oats, almonds / pecans / trail mix, quinoa/rice Bought in the produce section: green/red peppers, spinach, salad greens,
onion, sweet potatoes, cucumber, zucchini/asparagus/squash (seasonal)
Apples, bananas, pears/strawberries/grapes/melons (seasonal)
Cage-free Eggs, Almond Milk, Greek Yogurt, Hummus,
Natural Peanut Butter, Cheese (flavor of the week)
Quinoa (or whole-wheat) pasta, Pasta Sauce, Oils, Salsa, Annie’s Salad Dressing*
Garbanzo beans, black beans, whole-wheat bread (depends on the options available)
Dark chocolate. Oh, yes. 
*not purchased on a weekly basis
And there you have it! All my secrets, revealed. Of course there are a few seasonal and taste-bud-request changes, and you’ll see some of the above come and go. And more often than not, fresh made pizza dough will find its way on to that list. Either way, we usually make it out anywhere from $40-70 - bellies and bodies satisfied. 
Would you go shopping with an RD? 
If that doesn’t sound fun (it’s okay, I hear ya), just put it out there – what’s on your “staples” list??


  1. I'd love to go shopping with an RD. I'm veg and always looking for more help to have a delicious and nutritionally balanced diet.

  2. This looks pretty much exactly like my grocery store purchases yesterday - crazy!

    I just discovered that I can buy loose leaf spinach by the pound, which is so brilliant.

    I, too, used to focus on only buying low-cal/fat/sugar products, but now I just want "whole food" goodness and foods that don't include a long list of ingredients!

  3. I had not heard of quinoa pasta until just now. Quinoa yes, pasta, yes, but mixing the two to make a new thing entirely... You Americans, you have it all!

  4. That looks very similar to my shopping list -- glad to know I may actually be doing something right!

    And I love love love the bulk and produce aisles too :)

  5. @ Badgerdaddy - Quinoa Pasta is great! A little heartier than your "regular" pasta - maybe you can find it in a Natural Foods store??

    @ Emily Bulk food aisles are THE BEST! I spend way too much time just browsing what's there and trying to decide what I want ;)


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