Thursday, June 7, 2012

Weight Loss Pantry Staples

The topic for this blog entry was inspired by a comment that a reader left on my post “Unhealthy Health Foods”.  The commenter spoke about how she had dwindled her grocery list down to about 10 items that she trusted, and was slowly adding back in well-thought-out items.  I loved this comment because it made me think about my own weekend dance at the grocery store, and how it has evolved over the course of my weight loss.

Looking back, I can now smile at some of the awkward grocery phases that I went through on my weight loss journey.  One that I remember vividly was when I would only eat canned soup for lunch. This lasted for months.  I would walk around the store with my shopping basket filled to the brim with soup.  Come to find out that I was carting around enough sodium to kill a small animal. This is a learning process, and it takes a long time to educate ourselves (and our palates) as to what is going to make us healthy.  We will make mistakes (thinking about that canned soup again), but we will learn from them.

In general, I tend to stick to the outer edges of the grocery store where the fruit, vegetables, meat, bulk bins and dairy are kept (I just have to watch out for the bakery, which is so thoughtfully placed right next to everything that I need).  I add variety to my diet by trying different vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Although my grocery list is ever evolving, there are a few items that have become standard in my kitchen.  I find that these are the items that really help me to maintain my weight loss.  Perhaps you may find them useful as well!

Nonfat Plain Yogurt-  This is my absolute, number one standard. I have eaten it for breakfast pretty much every day since I began this journey.  I have found that it is a great source for lean protein, and the perfect way to start my day.  I also use it as a topping in place of high fat items like sour cream.

Cooking Spray-  I use this in place of butter and bottled oils when I am cooking.  It really works to prevent sticking, and works especially well when making oven roasted vegetables.  

Well-Stocked Spice Rack-  Low calorie cooking has a reputation for being bland, and therefore unsatisfying.  I fix this problem by adding a lot of herbs and spices to my cooking.  

Hot Sauce- Just in case the herbs and spices aren’t enough, I always have a bottle of hot sauce handy to give a dish an extra kick.

Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar- A balsamic vinegar that has been aged becomes syrupy and sweet.  Its flavor becomes very concentrated during the aging process, so only a little bit is needed to add intense flavor to low calorie dishes.  At only 20 calories a tablespoon, it makes a great substitute for salad dressing (you will only need about 1-2 tbsp for an entire family size salad).  I like Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve.  You can get it at Whole Foods on sale for about $7.50.  It sounds pricey, but the bottle will last you forever.  It is also a great low calorie topping for chicken, vegetables, etc...

Popcorn Kernels- Air-popped popcorn is my go to snack when I am having cravings for carbs, or just need to munch.  It is high in fiber, which makes you feel full, but very low in calories.

Baby carrots-  Carrots are another one of my favorite low calorie, healthy snacks.  I find the crunch, and the natural sugars, to be very satisfying.  I prefer the baby kind because they are super convenient.  If something healthy is easy, I am more likely to grab that than a few mini Snickers bars.  I always have a bag of these little guys in the fridge, ready for snacking.

Peppermint tea-  When I first started watching my weight, I drank a lot of Diet Coke.  I drank it because I thought it fixed my sugar cravings, and stopped me from nibbling on sweets.  After my dentist told me that the acidity was ruining my teeth, and I read more about the questionable effects of artificial sweeteners, I stopped drinking it.  I started drinking more peppermint tea (hot and iced), and found that the refreshing flavor calmed my cravings and caused me to drink more water.  As an added bonus, the peppermint oil released in the tea helps to reduce stomach bloating, where Diet Coke actually increases stomach bloating.

What are the go-to items on your grocery list?  I love your comments, and look forward to hearing your ideas/suggestions!


  1. Hi u look great.. how long will it take u to be size 0.. Give me some tips on eating and excercises
    many thanks

    1. Thank you for the complement :). It took me about a year and a half to lose all of the weight. I talk a lot about the different methods that I used on this blog. A good post on exercise ideas is:

      Some tips on eating can be found here:


      Keep reading, there is a lot more to come!

  2. I mean how long did it take u to size12 to 0..?

  3. Thanks for posting this. I really needed it today. I followed the link in your story at Weight Loss Success Stories. I'm so glad I did because I'm starting my own weight loss journey.

    Reducing Joy: A Weight Loss Journey

    1. Hi Joy! I too am glad that you found my blog. In order to lose weight we have to have the right knowledge and tools. I hope that this blog will help give you some ideas for your journey! I wish you all of the best. Let me know if I can help in any way :).

  4. I, too have made small changes in my pantry. Thanks for the inspiration.