Hi friends! I've realized as I've started posting more recipes that there are a lot of ingredients I've incorporated into my cooking in the last year that I wasn't familiar with before the Whole 30, and I've gotten some questions about where we buy our food and how I stock my pantry. I hope this post will be helpful to anyone considering incorporating more paleo foods into their diet, or just re-examining how you shop for yourselves and your family.
I do all the grocery shopping for our family, mostly because I enjoy it and because I do almost all of the cooking, so it makes sense for me to also buy the ingredients. I shop in three main ways: from Amazon.com, from Thrive Market (also online) and in-person at Costco or our local grocery stores. Our menus do vary seasonally because we eat a lot of produce, but there are definitely staples that are always in my kitchen, and things I've learned to keep on hand because they make for a quick dinner when I don't have anything planned and am trying to throw a meal together at the last minute. This post is going to focus on what I buy from Amazon and Thrive Market, and a follow-up post will talk about what we buy from Costco and our local grocery stores (just to keep it from getting too long). In general, I buy a lot of snacks and staple foods from Amazon and Thrive, and then obviously buy all of our fresh foods (meat, produce, etc.) from our local stores.
The big benefits to Amazon are that they stock basically any ingredient you can think of, they ship to wherever you are (so if it's hard for you to get to specialty grocery stores, you can still access interesting ingredients from Amazon) and they don't require a subscription, so it's very low-commitment. We do have Amazon Prime because I order from Amazon a lot and the free shipping is worth it for us, but you could just as easily use Amazon without the Prime membership. I use Subscribe and Save to get a box shipment every month with some of our staple items, including:
Epic Mountain Medley Trail Mix: The obvious downside to this product is that it's expensive, but buying grass-fed beef whenever we can is important to me, and these pouches are big enough to stand in for a meal if I'm running around, or to be split into several snacks. They are re-sealable and easy to throw in a bag or keep a few in your desk drawer. Plus, with subscribe and save, I save 15-20% on my orders.
Barney Butter Almond Butter Packs: This almond butter isn't perfectly paleo because it does have some added sugar, but I love the convenience of the to-go packet and I like that these packets are smaller than the single-serve almond butter packs I've found elsewhere. It's also delicious, and makes a great snack paired with an apple or a banana. Or by itself, straight out of the pack. I also Subscribe and Save these.
Go Raw Choco Sprouted Cookies: I'll be honest, these really aren't cookies. But they're delicious, crunchy, and an easy and filling snack to keep in my desk. You get six bags of them with this order, so I subscribe and save them but only have them delivered every few months.
Wild Planet Wild Sardines: Sardines are an awesome source of protein and calcium, they're super affordable, and they're sustainable and easy to find wild-caught. They're basically an ideal food, unless you're grossed out by fish. I can't help you there. But I love them, and feel great about buying them and eating them. I like the kind with lemon, and I also subscribe and save these.
Mauna Loa Macademia Nuts: I LOVE macademia nuts, and this is the best price I've been able to find on them (especially with the subscribe and save discount).
Garden of Life Raw Chocolate Protein: I stay away from whey protein because dairy upsets my stomach, and I suspect that it's the protein in dairy that I can't deal with. This protein is raw, vegan, gluten free, and organic, and tastes good. I don't take protein every day (and i go through phases where I don't take any) but I like this one and I always have it around.
Gluten free pastas, like this one: my family loves pasta, and while I often sub spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini for myself, sometimes I want to eat pasta, too. I tend to like Amazon's offerings better than what I find in the store, especially for shapes like lasagna that I can never find, and their prices are usually better, too.
Outside of subscribe and save, I've used amazon to order lots of ingredients that I think will be hard to find in the store, from coconut aminos (the soy-free, gluten-free, paleo version of soy sauce) to nutritional yeast to golden flaxseed meal. I'm sure that I'm not always getting the best price on these items, but sometimes it's worth it to avoid the extra half hour in the grocery store (and end up walking out empty-handed).
Thrive is an online market with an annual membership fee of $59.95 that allows you to buy healthy, high-quality foods at wholesale prices. For every paying member, Thrive gives away a membership to a family in need for free (LOVE that). This membership may only make sense if Thrive offers a lot of foods that your family likes, but luckily you can find out by trying Thrive for 30 days for free before you commit to a membership. I find that tons of foods we enjoy are on Thrive, and it's also introduced me to new foods when I search by diet (you can search by "Paleo" or "gluten free" or "vegan" or "raw," "moms," or "staples"). I just started using Thrive a few months ago, but I can tell that it's going to be a good deal for us. Here's what I like to buy from them:
Lara Bars: we love lemon bar and coconut cream pie, and we rotate boxes so we don't get sick of the flavors. This is a go-to snack for both Dan and me, and Thrive offers them for $18.95 for a 12-pack. If you're not familiar with Lara Bars, they're made with dates and nuts (and a few other ingredients, depending on the flavor, but often less than five things and they're all recognizable, good ingredients).
Thrive tomato sauces: these are high-quality, organic, and delicious tomato sauces without any sugar or junk added, and the price on them is pretty good. Spaghetti is a go-to easy meal in my house--Kelly loves it, I can easily make pasta for Dan and Kelly and spaghetti squash or zoodles for me (or gluten free pasta for all of us) so having some frozen grass-fed ground beef in the freezer and this pasta sauce in the pantry is a must, at all times.
Paleonola: this is a paleo-friendly, grain free granola made with nuts, coconut, and other dried fruit (along with some coconut oil, spices, and honey/maple syrup). I almost don't have the words to describe how much I love it. It's delicious, satisfying, great straight out of the bag, or with almond milk, or with fruit. It's $7.45 for a bag, but the bag is decently-sized and a little goes a long way. I've tried the maple pancake, original, and chocolate flavors and loved them all, and I have the apple crisp flavor in my pantry to try next. I think this is going to be a regular in my pantry from now on.
Primal Kitchen Salad Dressings: these are paleo-friendly and delicious salad dressings, at a decent price-point. Sometimes I'm feeling fancy enough that I want to try to make my own salad dressing, but more often than not dressings and sauces are things I'd much rather purchase. These totally fit the bill.
Coconut butter: Thrive's price beats Amazon's. I hadn't used coconut butter until the last few months, but I'm really coming to love it.
Matcha powder: as featured in my matcha smoothie bowl. Superfood, super yummy.
Tiger Nuts: these actually aren't nuts at all, they're little tubers. They taste sweet when you chew them, but the texture is similar to eating a peanut shell. I just ordered these and still haven't made up my mind about them, but I'll follow up.
Snip Chips: These are an item I never would have discovered if I hadn't been a Thrive member (same to the tiger nuts) and they're delicious. They're little crunchy clusters made from parsnips and coconut with different spices/flavorings. They're also just flat out overpriced. This bag realistically has one, maybe two servings in it. But they're yummy, and I'll order them occasionally.
Nut-Thins: these are not paleo, but I absolutely love them and they are way cheaper on Thrive than at my local grocery store. They're gluten free and will be enjoyed here much more regularly at $2.55 a box.
Angie's Boom Chicka Pop: This is my family's favorite kettle corn, and one of my favorite (non-paleo, but gluten free) treats. Again, cheaper than at the store.
Thrive also has all sorts of other products that I haven't explored fully yet, from bath and cleaning products to essential oils, to makeup products, to baby and pet supplies.
And that's it! Are you exhausted? That was a haul. Next time I'll post about what things I buy from Costco and our local grocery stores. Promise that post will have more photos.