The Lifestyle

What’s In My Shopping Cart

August 19, 2019

Certified Health Coach and Bar Method NYC-Noho Instructor, Marissa Vicario McFarland, shares her weekly grocery haul.

Long before I started teaching The Bar Method, I was teaching women how to make slimming, nutritious and energizing choices without fad dieting via my health coaching programs and cooking classes. And before I started supporting other women in this endeavor, I was figuring it out for myself. It’s true, once-upon-a-time, I was relying on takeout, fast food and restaurant-prepared meals far too often. In my mind, making a home-cooked meal meant a time-consuming trip to the grocery store, expensive ingredients and slaving over a stove after a long day at work. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

With a burgeoning interest in nutrition and wellness, one of the first lifestyle changes I made was to eat more real food and that meant making more meals at home. When I did the math, I realized that dining out or food delivery costs about $15 per meal – not to mention the unspoken cost to my waistline – but for $15-20 worth of ingredients, I could cook once and eat two or three times. Moreover, the onslaught of grocery delivery services save time and local Farmer’s Markets are a fun weekend activity that keeps me feeling connected to my food. 

These days, meal planning and cooking at home is a way of life. Keeping my refrigerator and pantry regularly stocked with healthy, wholesome ingredients is an act of self-care – something I do for my own health and longevity and that of my family.  

Take a peek at my shopping list. These are the many items you’ll find in my shopping cart on any given week.

Meal Starters

  • Garlic, onion and ginger: Used together or alone, these meal starters are best in stir-fry, sautés, sauces, and salad dressings. As an added bonus, they contain anti-inflammatory properties that fight infection.
  • Lemons and Limes: Add zing to salads, fish, vegetables, salad dressings, and plain water. Citrus alkalizes the blood, aids digestion, and promotes weight loss.

Cruciferous Vegetables and Leafy Greens

Arguably, the most important foods you can eat! Eat your greens daily and often. They’re great blood purifiers and detoxifiers, key for disease prevention, and immune system boosters. I keep two or three types of leafy greens on hand from week to week for vital energy and blend them into juices, smoothies, salads and sautés. I rotate my greens to try different ones each time I shop based on seasonality and my meal plan for the week. 

The possibilities are endless but these are a few of my favorites: 

  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Dandelion greens
  • Beet greens 
  • Cabbage


Typically, I load up on fresh, organic berries – strawberries, blueberries and blackberries – which I use on oatmeal or yogurt, or for snacks on their own. I also look for fresh, local fruit in season. Frozen fruit is great to stock in the freezer for smoothie. I always have at least one bag of frozen berries for that purpose.

Fresh & Dried Herbs

Herbs are the perfect way to naturally season your food. Try different types. You can extend the life of fresh herbs by storing them in the fridge in a few inches of water, as you would flowers. Dried seasonings last longer and are a great addition to your spice cabinet, while fresh herbs have a brighter flavor. 

A few common ones include: 

  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

Bulk Bins

I like to scour the bulk bins for nuts, whole grains, and beans & legumes. 

  • Whole grains: I always have whole grains at the ready because they provide long-lasting energy, fiber and plenty of other nutrients like fiber and B vitamins. 

My go-to grains, include: 

    • Brown rice
    • Quinoa
    • Millet
    • Amaranth
    • Wild rice
    • Oats
  • Beans/Legumes: Canned or dried, beans are an often-overlooked source of protein as well as fiber, iron, and folic acid. Served with whole grains, they make a complete protein. I use them in soups or salads, or puree them for dips. 

The beans you’ll find in my shopping cart, include: 

    • Lentils 
    • Pinto beans
    • Black beans 
    • Cannellini beans
    • Chickpeas 
  • Nuts/Seeds: Great for snacking, baking and garnishing, nuts are a source of healthy fat which your body needs for energy and plenty of nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins. 

The nuts/seeds you’ll find in my shopping cart, include:

    • Walnuts
    • Almonds
    • Cashews
    • Pecans
    • Brazil nuts
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Chia seeds


As a pescatarian, I rely on seafood for protein. I usually buy it fresh and will often stock up if it’s on sale and freeze it to use later in the week. I also love canned fish like tuna, salmon and sardines. I’m also a big fan of tempeh, which is a fermented soybean cake with a nutty flavor that’s incredibly versatile. And you’ll always find a dozen free-range eggs in my cart. I eat the whole egg, which is where you’ll get the most vitamins.

Milk and Dairy Alternatives

I don’t eat much dairy because it doesn’t agree with me but I do love full fat yogurt. It’s high in protein and makes a satiating snack with fruit and nuts. You can also easily use it in dips and dressings. I like to use different types of unsweetened non-dairy milks for different purposes most commonly almond or oat milk. I love sesame or flax milk for its high protein content.  

Pantry Staples

While re-stocking the perishable food is a must from week to week, there are several healthy pantry staples that I re-stock less often, but still always make a point to have on hand. 

  • Miso: There are so many uses for miso, which has an umami flavor – slightly salty and a little sweet. It’s a paste made from soybeans, which is traditionally used in Asian miso soup recipes. Miso is fermented so it’s easy to digest and imparts a slightly rich flavor to seafood and vegetables. I like to spread it on salmon or cod right before baking. I choose the sweet white miso, but red miso is also a great option! 
  • Tahini: Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds – similar to how nut butter is made – and can be used in sauces and salad dressings, even smoothies. I like to drizzle it on steamed veggies like broccoli, kale or carrots to keep it simple but dress them up a little.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Another simple ingredient with strong digestive health benefits, a bottle of apple cider vinegar (ACV) goes a long way. Take it in the morning as a shot to stimulate digestion or use it in salad dressings and sauces in place of other vinegars.
  • Coconut Aminos: With far higher amino acid content than soy sauce, coconut aminos are made from the sap of a coconut tree. It’s slightly sweeter and less salty than traditional soy sauce. I use coconut aminos in stir-fry, sauces and dressings as a gluten-free, alcohol-free, soy-free replacement for soy sauce.
  • Dijon Mustard: I’ve never liked mustard, but Dijon is an entirely different ball game. It’s lower in acidity than other mustards and is a natural emulsifier making it an ideal replacement for cream or butter in sauces, dips and salad dressings while adding a tangy flavor. 

So there you have it, a peek inside my – often very full – shopping cart! If this list feels intimidating, start small. Try a new leafy green vegetable and a condiment you’ve never had before. As you get comfortable with trying new foods, you’ll begin to fill your fridge and pantry with foods you love and make you feel your best. 

Health Coach Marissa VicarioAbout the Author

Marissa Vicario McFarland is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Bar Method Instructor at Bar Method Noho.

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***Enjoy a complimentary download of Marissa’s eBook- How to be Holistically Hot