Thursday, August 22, 2013

My typical grocery list...

Oh, NPR readers, sometimes you are just  so, um, NPR-ish. 

Recently, NPR ran this story entitled "How a chef really shops: An annotated list."  It was basically a ripped-from-the-notepad grocery list of a professional chef and included stuff like sour gummi candy, Progresso lentil soup, and Honey Bunches of Oats as well as more basic stuff like Fage yogurt (duh, only the most awesome yogurt on earth) and cheap, generic olive oil.

The list didn't surprise me too much, given that a friend of mine who worked in various capacities in the restaurant industry informed me that one of his closest chef friends seemed to subside entirely on Mountain Dew and Pop Tarts. If you think about it, this is the perfect chef diet from a practical standpoint, given it is cheap, requires no preparation, is laden with caffeine and sugar, and can be eaten while cooking on the line.

However, a number of readers posted angry missives about how much processed food was on the chef's personal menu:

"How disappointing. Most of his 'food' picks are processed junk food. I thought he was going to give us an actual healthy restaurant quality selection grocery list."

I had to laugh about that one, given that according to Kitchen Confidential, the definition of a healthy chef's diet is 'not too much cocaine, easy on the heroin.'

Also, the guy was Greek and, can I say this since I am half-Greek--the Greek side of my family tends to be OBSESSED with food in a very quantity-focused rather than quality-focused fashion. Order a gyro platter at a diner, complete with traditional Greek French fries, and I rest my case.

Image credit: Yelp
Anyway, here is my typical grocery list.  I obviously don't buy everything all at once, but these are my staples.  As you can see, I have a kind of 'quasi-Paleo, low-sugar' list right now that doesn't shy away from fat and animal protein but minimizes starch.  It's working for me and although I wouldn't eat Progresso lentil soup with goldfish crackers like the NPR chef (I guess the lentils and fish make it Mediterranean) I don't judge people on their grocery lists, either.

I also should note that this isn't ALL I eat, just my main 'staples.'

Image credit: Switch to Veggies

My 'master' grocery list

Cauliflower (mostly in fall and winter)
Avocados (less frequent)

Organic, grass-fed roast beef
Organic chicken and turkey lunch meat
Cheapest cuts of organic chicken I can find (usually chicken quarters)
Cheapest cuts of organic beef I can find (usually grass-fed hamburger)

Because it is pricy, I have to limit my beef consumption and really shop for sales

Salmon (fresh or frozen fillets but usually because of cost, I have to go for the farm-raised)
Tuna (canned)
Tilapia (don't really like it, but sometimes am seduced by the price)

Full fat Fage Greek yogurt
Some kind of hard, snacking cheese, usually really sharp Provolone (or Swiss, Cheddar, Parmesan)
Some kind of moldy, crumbly cheese like Blue or Gorgonzola
Butter for cooking, but since I'm not baking that much, I don't need to buy it that frequently

Dry-roasted macadamia nuts
Raw almonds
(I used to eat more nuts and almond butter but the addiction was getting out of control to the point I was not eating other foods in a normal fashion because I was OD-ing on nuts)

Organic, salt-free mustard (which still tastes salty)--have to get it salt free because I am obsessed with mustard and can literally eat it using a few pieces of veggies as a vehicle for mustard
Thyme (dried or fresh)
Rosemary (dried or fresh)
Garlic cloves
White vinegar
Lemons, occasionally limes


  1. My List:
    Greek Yogurt


    I find it funny that people think that Chefs are some how not normal people at home, and don't crave the same things that your "average" person would crave. Besides, if you're cooking fancy (or even unfancy) food all the time do you really want to go home and do that too? I mean, I work as a developer (for the most part) I don't use my spare time at home to write SQL scripts :).

    1. I totally agree, Adam! The comments were pretty silly!

      Do you sometimes stir the cereal in the Greek yogurt? :) I love your cereal tales--you should do a post on your love affair with cereal. I went through a phase in my teens when I ate it a lot, and now I don't eat it anymore.

  2. You don't have fruit on your master list. Do you not eat much of it? I have actually been slightly depressed for the last few days because we're coming to the end of stone fruit season, and sure enough when I went to the store today the cherries were full-price and not the freshest looking. Also I realized I only had two watermelons this summer, one was fantastic and the other disappointing. I can't complain about that too much, though. Fruit's a gamble.

    1. I actually haven't been eating that much fruit lately because a year or so ago I went on a jag when I was eating enormous amounts of fruit and going into total sugar-shock and so I switched more to veggies. I also think because I have felt like eating cooked things I have been eating more vegetables than fruit. But I like pretty much all produce--with the caveat that yes, it has to be good. I think that is why some people say they don't like fruits and vegetables--they had one or two disappointing and scary experiences with inconsistency as a kid and it turned them off for life.

  3. The.Boy is greek and he definitely judges his food on whether a restaurant gives him a big portion...less so on whether or not it tastes good! He's starting to be a bit better about it since we've been together...but it's still insane.

    Love your list!

    1. So you know EXACTLY what I mean! It cracks me up when people talk about the 'healthy' Mediterranean diet when so few Greek-Americans I know eat it! From the bf's eating habits, I could have guessed he was Greek even though your mentioning it!

  4. Your list is so much healthier than mine..
    Whenever I see a chef, I automatically assume that they eat all fancy and gourmet because that is what they cook. I seem to forget that they, like us, have long days, and need quick and easy things

    1. I also always wonder about the temptation to 'snack' while preparing food as a chef. I think that is where some of them get into trouble, health and weight-wise, combined with the long hours, lots of standing, and lack of aerobic activity in a kitchen.

  5. I'm not totally surprised by the chef's list. My best friend who lives in Canada works as a chef in a major hotel seldom cooks at home herself and I totally understands why. After working 10hr+ a day cooking and baking, everyone needs a break. And I love Greek cuisines for the big portions too. :P

    Have a wonderful weekend ahead.

    1. I am sure that my list would be very different if I was a chef! I'd like to think that I would be a little bit healthier, so I probably still would have the yogurt, but there would be a much greater tendency to eat almond butter straight out of the jar as dinner!

  6. From the grocery: nuts, coffee (free trade), dark chocolate, olive oil, eggs (free range), butter (local), whole grains, salad stuff. I have a freezer, so purchase pasture-raised meat and wild salmon in bulk from a farmers co-op, in-season fruits and veggies I don't have in my garden from farmers markets. And I own a share in a dairy herd. (Don't I sound sanctimonious?) Occasionally, I indulge in hot dogs and potato chips and Snickers, but generally, try to stick with real food. Restaurant meals are not very healthy, so I don't know why anyone would expect a chef to eat healthy.

    1. Ooh, I need to eat more eggs. And I need to find a farmer's co-op for meat and dairy. Your list sounds fantastic, too, and ITA about your point about chefs...