• Ellen

High Impact Grocery Shopping

A window into the pantry of a culinary healing chef designed to survive and stay healthy during a pandemic


Grocery shopping has become a whole new experience, For me- a source of pleasure is now a scenario that creates anxiety -

waiting in line to get in, hoping the items I need are in stock, did I remember my disinfecting wipes?

Is my mask snug enough around my face? How can I be most efficient but also comply with all the new rules?

Get in_get out - hold my breath - just grab what I need and feel the rush of gratitude when I make it safely back outside.to my sanitized car


We are advised to shop only once every two weeks which is hard to fathom for most of us.

While some of us fondly remember the days of leisurely strolling through the store, finding inspiration in the produce section, diligently reading labels, deciding what to eat for dinner on the fly, or running into friends to share a hug or chat with

we are now adjusting into a new phase I am calling "survival shopping".

As someone who grocery shops as part of my profession, and Having lived in what I would call "survival mode" all my life

there are several strategies I've developed in my instinctual approach to stocking my pantry

that I can say were finally validated amidst this pandemic pandamonium.


Even Before everything really got serious, I had a pantry bursting with mostly organic items such as

- canned and dry beans - black, white, kidney, adzuki, three different kinds of lentils, 9 cans of chickpeas

- dry pasta in 6 different cool shapes, as well as corn, chickpea, lentil, bean, quinoa, pea and seaweed pastas

- violet rice, green rice, sushi rice, basmati, jasmine, brown, white, wild and arborio

- whole grains such as farro, buckwheat, kasha, barley, quinoa, millet, amaranth

- I had oat flakes, barley, millet and buckwheat flakes, 8 different kinds of flours, mostly gluten free with high nutritional value

- I had canned tomatoes, a plethora of vinegars and oils, bbq sauces, mustards, gourmet treasures, olives, pickles, spices and seasoning sauces

- I had canned coconut milk, baking supplies, honey, maple syrup (about 6L), chocolate, jams, jellies, 6 kinds of nut and seed butters

- sunflower and pumpkin seeds, chia, hemp, flax, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamia, pine, and brazil nuts

- dried apricots, bananas, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, goldenberries, pineapple, coconut, goji berries

- I had herbal teas, healing teas and herbs by the pound, matcha, mushroom (chaga and other) beverage powders

- In my freezer I had 10lbs of coffee, I keep my nuts and bulk bags of seeds in there, bottles of coconut water, E3Live liquid Brain On*,

I keep a good stash of frozen fruit - mango, berries, cherries, cranberries, and veggies - squash, corn, peas, edamame on hand


With such a pantry, I only had to sock up on some meats:.

For as long as I can remember I have purchased my meats from Dan at Fieldgate Farms Organic meats in London

(now Mark's Fine Meats involving an old mentor Mark Kitching, but I still call Dan).

A simple phone call with my order brought in a month's worth of organic beef and pork sausage, ground beef, pot roasts and bacon.

On my first trip to the grocery store I was able to get frozen organic chicken breasts and thighs,

salmon, cod and rainbow trout completed my list.


maybe some good cheese.

I made sure I had a block of good parmesan, goat feta, mozzerella, smoked cheddar for meal enhancing

and a block of delectable eating cheese like the creamy Cendres Des Anges from Loblaws or that divine goat gouda from Briwood.


I ask for my baguettes or artisan bread before it is baked and put onto the shelves.

This way I can buy several loaves at a time - I cut them in half before putting them back into the freezer at home.

They take 10 minutes to bake at home, and are fresh this way.

I buy pitas, wraps, Naan, burger buns and keep them in the freezer.


and most importantly fresh produce:

While during a pandemic we naturally think of stocking up on the non-perishables and frozen items

however we should be focusing on eating more fruits and veggies to keep our immune systems strong.

When I shop, I choose certain items to eat the first week, and heartier ones for the second week.

I decide what to make from my meal plan each day, according to what needs to be used up first.

For example,

Week 1

leafy greens, baby spinach* and romaine* (baby spinach can be added to soups, eggs, etc once it stops being salad worthy), avocados, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers*, celery*, green beans*, snap peas*, mushroom*, asparagus*

mangoes, grapes, persimmon, berries, bananas, kiwi*, dragon fruit, pears...

Of course some of the starred items can make it into the beginning of the second week if refrigerated, yes, even romaine.

Week 2

sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, parsnips, carrots, beets, squashes, cabbage, kale, chards, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, fennel, celeriac

oranges, apples, lemons, grapefruit, pomegranate, pineapple and melons (if kept in the fridge once just ripe)...

Lemons are also very high in vitamin C and can help to increase oxygen into your blood. In the fridge they will last a few weeks


It is worth a special shout out to garlic and ginger

packing huge healing benefits, and will keep for a few weeks at room temperature.



A note about herbs - I don't know how I would survive without them.

I stocked up on sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, parsley and cilantro.

Partly for their culinary delights, but also for their detoxifying and healing attributes

I store them in a damp paper towel, inside a sealed tupperware container in the fridge.

I usually use the cilantro and basil up within the first week.

Mint will start to go at the halfway point, the rest will likely last almost two weeks.

If you don't use them in your cooking you can infuse them into honey, booze, a sugar syrup for desserts or cocktails

Make an herbal paste for meat of veggies, or into vinegar for a fresh all purpose cleaner.


Without getting too weird, I admit I always have a good supply of super foods and magical powders on hand

just in case fruits and veggies become harder to access. It's all about keeping your immune system strong no matter what.

Some of my favorite powders with a high antioxidant value are acai, aronia, baobob, dragonfruit, noni, blueberry, hibiscus, rosehip, matcha

I also love beet powder, not just for its color

high in proteins and vital greens are powders such as spirulina or chlorella, which also come in tablet form

*E3Live powders or frozen liquid - blue green algaes can add so many benefits to your diet, or sustain you if that was all you had left to eat.

Seaweeds are usually purchased dried and are high in essential minerals - try dulse, kelp, nori, wakame,

Natural gelatin or collagen powders for fun cooking or smoothies

ground nuts for baking or adding protein to smoothies - pumpkin, almond, brazil, hemp, chia, flax - I freeze mine

nutrient packed Fermnted foods such as saurkraut, miso pastes, even a few kombuchas can last months in my fridge


Ordering seeds and planting a garden is a great way to make sure you have life-giving fruits and veggies in your diet,

not to mention all the other well known benefits of gardening.

In Canada for a great selection of organic fruit, veggie, herb or edible flower seeds I love

West Coast Seeds, The Cottage Gardener, or Richters all offering online ordering

If a garden isn't possible you can still grow sprouts or micro greens indoors, both are packed full of nutrients and vital life energy.

For instructions on how to grow micro greens see my blog (back on the blog page)

Many natural foods stores carry seeds for sprouting, or I order online from Mumm's in BC


Even before this pandemic started I would buy 2 or 3 toilet paper or paper towel packages when they were on a good sale

always keeping this many in the house.

I order my favorite organic cleaners and soaps, toothpaste online in multiples or by the case so I never run out

thus eliminating all of these items from my in store experience

I make my own skincare products with a years supply on hand of ingredients (many ingredients are already in my pantry)

and essential oils which can also be used for therapeutic purposes.





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