Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Guiding Stars: Nutritious Choices Made Simple - Giveaway!

By Wendy Kam Marcy

When our mind and body feels healthy, we feel happier overall.

For me - as a new mom juggling a career, blogging and managing what's left of my social life, I find that there are days when I almost forget to eat! So at the start of this month, I made a commitment to start planning out my meals and really try to cook more.

To keep me on track, I met up with Shannon Richter, the Dietician at my local Loblaws to chat about nutrition, how to save time in the kitchen without sacrificing health and the newly launched Guiding Stars program - that helps you sort through your nutritional confusion! We also have a contest to win a $50 grocery card so read on!

W: Let's talk about cooking for one or two. Hubbie and I are always throwing out food because it goes bad before we can finish it or we've simply had way too much. Seriously who can eat kale salad for 5 days in a row?!

S: I highly recommend batch cooking. Find 3 recipes using the same ingredients to avoid wastage. That way you have 3 different dishes to enjoy that week or freeze and store it away for next week. If you suddenly find you have a plentiful supply of fruit, juice it. If it's vegetables, throw it in a pot with a few bouillon cubes and make "bottom of the fridge" soup. For leftover kale, you can make kale chips or blend some in a green smoothie. Got too many beans or chickpeas on the go? Whip up some hummus!

W: What are must-have pantry staple spices?

S: Basil, garlic powder, chilli flakes, dill, oregano, turmeric, paprika, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and of course, salt and black pepper.

W: I honestly would cook way more if I didn't have to worry about the prep work. How can I save time prepping for meals or at least make it more fun?

S: Grocery stores are the busiest on weekends so if you can, do your shopping on a weekday. Perhaps even on your lunch break and consider it a mini workout (win/win)! Always plan ahead by making a list - not only of what you need to buy but also what meals you plan to cook (both lunch and dinner) and on which day. A grocery list is so cliché but it works in helping you save time and money! And of course, the Guiding Stars are there to help you make quick nutritional choices.

When I get home, I immediately clear out my fridge and get rid of foods past their due dates. I then wash/chop all my fruits and vegetables and store them in containers. That way when I'm on the go or cooking, I can just grab what I need.

If I buy fresh herbs, I freeze them in an ice cube tray. You can do this with water or olive oil so when you are cooking, you can just pop one in.

Invest in a good crock pot - they will be your BFF! Throw in whatever you have leftover and voila, dinner is ready when you get home!

Meals don't have to be elaborate to be healthy and good. For a healthy but simple breakfast or mid-day snack, you can make this Strawberry Chia Pudding by soaking the seeds overnight and then taking 5 mins in the morning to make this treat!

W: You mentioned that the Guiding Stars program sorts through all the "nutritional confusion"... how does that work?

Guiding Stars is our new impartial, patented food rating system that rates food based on nutrient density. It is great if you don't have time to read every label. There is a scientific algorithm behind it but essentially it's based on a balance of minerals, dietary fibre, whole grains, and Omega-3 fatty acids, and debited for saturated fats, trans fats, added sodium and added sugar.

You can find the blue and white stars on the shelf tags. 1 star pretty much means there are better alternatives, 2 stars is average and 3 stars (the highest rating) indicates a quality nutritional product.

Most items have them. If you don't see a star, it means the food doesn't meet the nutritional criteria or it's not yet rated.

W: Thank you Shannon. This was very informative, now please excuse me while I do some grocery shopping and hunt for these 3 stars.

S: You are most welcome. For more information and healthy eating tips, check out the Guiding Stars website.

We're giving away a $50 President's Choice gift card to help you kick-start your healthy eating habits!

For your chance to win, share with us your tips on how you save time on grocery shopping, prep work and/or cooking. One winner will be selected on Tuesday, February 24 at 11pm EST. Don't forget to leave your email and/or Twitter handle so we can contact you. Good luck!

Wendy is a New Mom to a curious and rambunctious little boy. Plugged in she is the Co-Founder of HUG and the Director of Marketing at Adfluent Media - an Ad Agency that specializes in Online Marketing, Google Adwords and Affiliate Marketing. She also teaches the Business of Blogging and Content Marketing workshops at Camp Tech.

38 comments:

  1. I know this isn't new for most, but in 2015 I started planning my weeknight meals on Sunday before I go grocery shopping, so I know exactly what I need to buy. Then when I get home from work and I am tired, I don't have to start brainstorming what to cook. I also try to get to different dishes out of one cooking session. If I make a roast chicken and veggies, the next night I will try something like chicken pot pies, so they are totally different, but most of the cooking is done.

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  2. I read the store flyer online before I go shopping, so I can plan my meals in advance based on what's on special.

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  3. I use an app called Flipp and use it to go through the local flyers and "clip" the items I want. I then head over to No Frills and price match because then I get the best deal and I don't have to run all over town. It is a great way to save time and money! @JustPlainSuzi

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  4. I started using Loblaws Click and Collect service. I shop online and then when I go to the store to pick up my order, they actually pack it into my trunk. It's so quick and easy. I like how I can see my running total as I am shopping.

    I also like prepping and cooking most of the weekday meals on Sunday.

    @hello_leesh

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  5. I'm a list-aholic! A little prep at home can steer me away from the junk aisle and from those oh-that-looks-interesting-maybe-I-should-buy-it type purchases :)

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  6. (my twitter is @jbutlermcphee)

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  7. I check the flyers and then match up any coupons that I may have to items that are on sale for that week. I then make meals based on the items I pick up.

    brendapenton(at)gmail(dot)com

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  8. I love shopping during the week, to avoid crowds! Use store flyers, to see the best deals for produce and main staples for your pantry. Batch cooking is great, for meal planning and saving time in your busy day! @sassygirlcanada on Twitter.

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  9. I like to spend my Sundays prepping veggies for the week. I find that if I wash and pre-cut vegetables on Sunday and have them readily available for the week, I'm more like to eat them and grab to to go the rest of the week.

    nomnombearinyvr at hotmail dot com
    twitter: @nomnombearinyvr

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  10. I save time by making labor intensive recipes on the weekend then freezing them. For example, once a month, I make a big batch of eight pizza doughs then freeze. That takes some time. During the week I pop the raw dough out of the freezer, and when thawed roll it out, top it with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella and spicy salami, and into the oven it goes 500 degrees for 7 min in my cast iron. Top with arugula when done and serve with a glass of red wine. The weeknight prep time takes me only 20 min and it's a restaurant level meal. When guests come over unexpected, having homemade pizza dough in the freezer is a time and stress lifesaver. I want to try adding PC black label Peperoncini Piccanti, I think that would be delicious.

    Stephanie
    steph.christine.a@gmail.com

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  11. Similar to blogginggal I use the Flipp App as well to help me see what's on sale and also price match what I need to buy. Based on what's on sale I then decide what I will be cooking for the week. The other thing I do is stick to my list first and foremost and if there are other things that I think I will eat that week that are on sale, I may buy it.

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  12. I save time on grocery shopping by making a list. I also like to look through all the flyers to make note of what is on sale. I will then match up coupons that I have for sale items to get even greater savings!

    ajmizen(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  13. A healthy grocery haul is will do you no good if it just sits in your fridge for six weeks. Portion, wash and prep meat and produce as soon as you bring it home and have a general idea of what what meal you plan to make during the week. That way you won't be spending half an hour figuring out what to make each night and cutting corners just to have "something" on the table for dinner. Grab and go breakfasts and lunches can also be prepared and ready to take with you before you rush out the door in the morning. The weeks I do this makes life so easy...but honestly, I don't do this as often as I should.

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  14. Oops, forgot my twitter handle.

    @eyeFEEDyou

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  15. I definitely followed batch cooking and using my crock pot, so my husband and I can take the leftovers for lunch!
    graceliu999@hotmail.com

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  16. I've cooked in batches and then meal shared with friends. That way I ensure variety and it's fun.

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  17. I check the flyers before heading to the store and make a list. I also do batch cooking a few times a month, so I have something ready to go when I have a busy day. Thanks for the chance.
    @carollushka

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  18. Flipp is a really useful app because I can go through all the flyers I want and just select the items I want from each store...great way to find the best deals that are out there! email: kamp22@hotmail.com

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  19. I keep track of my grocery list on my phone. When I run out of anything I make sure to put jot it down right away so I don't forget and do not have to go through the fridge and cupboards last minute. I always go to the same Independent Grocer so when I make my list I make sure to put all the grocery items in the correct order to the layout of the grocer so when I reach the end of my grocery list I am not left with a few items I have to go back for. I am collect their PC points so I make sure every week when they have a new list I compare it to mine and write down the items that we need that you can get points for (kristennowak@hotmail.com)

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  20. I make a meal planning chart. Also I keep an eye out for sales. @jnunavut

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  21. I don't always meal plan but we usually have a few go to meals that we cycle during the week.
    I will make a list of items that I need at home and in addition I use the Flipp app to search flyers do I know what is on sale at my local grocery store.
    - CL Chin @citygal28

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  22. I plan my week's cooking ahead of time and buy all the meat and veggies and freeze what is necessary. It means I get everything in one shopping trip rather than going a few times a week. Then I just put the meat to thaw in the fridge when I go to work in the morning and its ready to start cooking when I get home in the evenings. I also make extra's so we can use them for lunch the next day.

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  23. Oops, forgot to add my twitter handle. @ZdenoZ

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  24. I just submitted a previous comment and forgot my Twitter handle... it is @erikakomori

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  25. Large batch cooking of ground turkey or beef and freezing it Saves on time and if you buy on sale saves money. I make make divide the large batches of ground meat into 1 dinner sizes (in my case 4 servings = family meal) of pasta sauce, sloppy joe mix (meat & sloppy joe mix) , taco mix (meat & taco mix) , to use for quick meals. I also buy large blocks of cheese and shred it myself so fast to use but much cheaper than shredded cheese at gorcery shop. Even better if the cheese is on sale. @cantoncathy on twitter

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  26. When buying large packs of chicken breasts or ground meat, pre-package them into single servers and throw them in the freezer. You won't have to worry about using it before it goes bad, and it makes portioning and following recipes SO much easier! Whether it's for one or for four, you'll always have exactly what you need. :)

    Thanks for the fantastic article, this has given me a ton of tips! Fingers crossed!

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  27. Plan what I want that week. Cook it all during the weekend. All I have to do is heat it up during the week.

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  28. Planning is the key, when I shop, I plan to double the recipe, some for that night and some for a time when you just don't have the luxury and time to cook. Shop specials @Harriette106742

    thanks

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  29. I try to menu plan on the weekend. After grocery shopping I chop my veggies and prep meat and put both in the freezer. Then I take each pack out the night before and pop the ingredients into my slow cooker in the morning.

    @JubleeW on twitter

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  30. Wonderful article on Guiding Stars. This is something we're all able to impliment on each and every shopping trip. My time saving tip grocery tip is to download a shopping app like Flipp. It has every current weekly flyer and you can make and update your shopping list all in one place. It saves time wondering around the store trying to remember what it was you needed! Thanks for a great read and giveaway! @JodiMitro

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  31. I wash and cut up veggies for the week so they are at your fingertips for snacks or part of a meal. I also use the slow cooker tons so that our meal is close to done when we get home from work (making sure to make extras for leftovers!)

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  32. oops forgot to include contact info. It is @prairiebelle on twitter. Thanks for the chance

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  33. I always make sure to do a bit of homework and planning before I head out to the grocery store. That way I have a shopping list in hand and a rough idea of what my menu for the week will look like. This saves time wandering in the store and I don't have to worry about forgetting to pick up certain items. As much as possible, I try to cook one or two big meals on the weekends so I can have leftovers during the week. And if I do "cook" on a weeknight, it's usually something simple like a healthy salad or a frozen pizza that I add extra veggies to myself.

    @FabAndSassy (Twitter)

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  34. I buy my large packages of meat (cheaper) and package them in meal size portions and freeze. I also buy extra when it's on sale. @tlee351

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  35. For me, the best way to save time is to plan ahead. Check the flyers for ideas and then choose dishes with shared ingredients. Prep food ahead of time, if possible. I also like simple and easy to cook dishes...pizza!
    @PillyJ

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  36. I would have to say that I use coupons , buy low and on sale .
    shaunie twitter.com/sandyhills25

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  37. This contest is now closed. Our winner is Leesh from Toronto - congrats! :)

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