July 13, 2006

Shopping the perimeter

When you grocery shop where do you spend the most time? For me, when I am good, we try to shop the perimeter which means majority of our food comes from the outside aisles of our store. This being produce, refrigerated and frozen sections for us (as we skip meat altogether). We do get a few items from the middle but try to limit the amount we get from there.

Take yesterday for example we went grocery shopping and spent most of our time in the produce aisle. When the kids were real little I started the produce "treat". As kids always ask for something I told them as their "treat" they could pick any one thing from the produce section (fruit or veggie) bagged candy does not count! Then I stuck to it. We tried and discovered we liked mangoes, papayas, blackberries and lots of fresh pineapple! It works great and sometimes you come home with interesting selections. Yesterday's treats included cherries (Sirah), watermelon (Ciaran) and green beans (Rhiannon - no joke). Sometimes it is normal things like bananas and oranges but the kids have learned I am probably buying them anyway so don't tend to choose them. We shop for a lot of items in the produce section especially in summer when fresh veggies actually can be a centerpoint of our meals and snacks!

Our only middle of the store purchases yesterday included: flour, cold cereal (I concede to this for my convenience, taco shells and tortillas, black beans, box of pasta, and bread. Everything else was fresh ingredients (except the bags of frozen veggies I keep on hands for lunch - do they count as fresh?). I have learned that the secret of shopping on the perimeter is fabulous. It does two main things for you. First it forces you to eat more whole foods and natural foods as you skip most of the processed and packaged meals. Second it forces you to eat healthier. Look at your shopping pattern the next time you go in the store. Do you spend more time on the outside or going up and down all the aisles in the middle? If you decrease your middle time you will find you eat healthier and often tastier meals and they are cheaper. After all the bag of cherries I bought on sale yesterday was cheaper than a bag of chips and I had a cart full of fresh fruit and veggies (some though not all organic) plus all my staples and we came in under 100!

Even better I can not tell you how many times my kids have asked today "Mom can I have a piece of fruit?" Enjoy the fresh bounty of summer and use fruit as treats use veggies as main dishes or atleast main accompaniments and shop the perimeter. Give it a try!



  1. Tenniel - what a wonderful idea to make a "treat" for the produce section. How cute. Do you like enchilladas? I made them tonight. I didn't know if you ate cheese. I'm going to post the recipe tomorrow on my foodie blog... along with my Spanish Rice and we had blackbeans with it tonight (which is what reminded me - from your post). I tend to stick to a grocery list and do about 50%/50% on perimeter and middle. I think some grocery stores are set up much differently than others, though. We had one in Houston once that wound around like a snake (HEB).

  2. Our grocery store has around 12 aisles and we go in maybe four of them. We do the same sometimes, pick any fruit/veggie you want. :)

  3. I'm curious, are you vegetarians, or do you get your meat from a meat market/butcher?

  4. We are vegetarians :)