Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Which I Share the Secret of the Sustainable Shopping List

This is a nerd post. It's about one of those little, nerdy things that makes me happy. And that is: my shopping list.

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to re-commit myself to healthy and sustainable eating. Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a teensy weensy obsessed with healthy food. So why, oh why do I need this re-commitment? Why do I need to renew my vows to broccoli? (Because broccoli didn't cheat on me, friends. I cheated on broccoli).

How did it happen? Slowly at first. Just little things. A cookie from the tray at the office. French fries in the airport. And before I knew it, it was dark-thirty on a North Carolina morning and I was biting into a Bojangles Cajun chicken biscuit for my breakfast and thinking what could be better than this? (Not much, actually).

So, I need to lose some weight, get healthier (hear my arteries screaming?) and really get back into the healthy eating practices I have written about at length in these virtual pages.

Keeping this resolution had to begin with planning. And planning to cook is one of my favorite things, just short of actual cooking.

I begin by thinking about what I'm going to be doing during the week and how many meals I will eat at home. To be more sustainable, one has to cook more and buy fewer processed and packaged foods. The fun part, however, is thinking about what those foods are going to be. I get out the cookbooks and start perusing.

What's that cookbook upside down? It's The Gorgeously Green Diet by Sophie Uliano, a great book with six easy principles for eating sustainably. And recipes. This week I made the delicious and easy "Lemony Chicken Thighs", and followed Sophie's advice to buy the thighs from the butcher counter, instead of pre-packed in a foam tray.

Once the meals and snacks are planned, it's time to make the shopping list. And here's the magical secret of the sustainable shopping list.

Divide your paper up into sections, giving yourself the most room for the foods that are healthiest and most sustainable. Give yourself the next largest space for minimally-processed and packaged foods, like canned goods. And save just a little room for the most highly-processed and least sustainable: meat, dairy, frozen, and breads.

Set up your shopping list in this way, and you have a visual reminder of the principles of more sustainable eating, as Michael Pollan outlines them: "Eat food (not processed crap. My addition). Not too much. Mostly plants."

Plan in hand, you're ready for sustainable shopping.


Caroline said...

Oooh!! Catlin, I love this way to organize a list. I am just getting into meal planning (for similar reasons), and this is sooo helpful!

Catfish said...

Thanks, @Caroline! It's such a good reminder for me. Fill my cart with fruits and veggies!

Ramsey said...

Catlin-I use the exact same format for my shopping list and just finished In Defense of Food two nights ago. An instant favorite. I'm feeling anxious now as I sit in Roanoke Rapids amidst the land of fast food and Bojangles.