When I 1st started on the 21 Day Fix, one of the hardest things for me to do was to go in a store and pick something off the shelf and put it in my cart with confidence. It was like I had not been making grocery shopping decisions my entire adult life… but my food “rules” had changed. I knew nothing about turning a package over and examining the ingredients list or nutrition panel.
After losing 55lbs and living this lifestyle for almost 3 years now I have learned how to do just that! It is important for me to help teach you how you can too.
We have some foods on our lists that are always going to be premade. Most of them are on our yellow container food list. When you get past the yellow made from nature, the top 23 foods on the list. You are left with the bottom 14 foods that are processed and prepackaged.
****This post is not about gluten-free options. That will have to be its own post****
I did an entire post about cereal and so I am not going to go back over those. I am going to cover almost everything else at the bottom of the list tho.
Let’s talk about ingredients for a minute. Our list gives us the clues we need to determine what is approved. Eleven times is says the words”whole grain or whole wheat” after the food. Example: Bread, whole grain, 1 slice. So that tells us that every bread that has whole grain as the first ingredient is approved. Water is sometimes the 1st ingredient and that is fine. Do NOT be fooled by words like “multi-grain” or “12 Grain” because the word WHOLE is nowhere in sight! It just means it is made up of more than one grain but none of them are whole.
We do have the other “rules for all foods” that apply here too though. For instance the one about sugar. Bread and things like waffles or pancakes all have to have sugar in them in order to rise or crisp up, but we have to remember “no more than 8g of added sugar per serving” and no artificial sweeteners either.
Often times the amount of sugar in a recipe can greatly increase the number of calories in one slice, as can the size of the slice or thickness of the slice of bread. So right here I am going to talk about calories.
Our list gives us an amount for each one of the foods on our list. Remember the example of bread “whole grain, 1 slice”. But like I just said it doesn’t take into account for thickness or width or ingredients at all.
I have referenced a chart in a number of my posts because it is an important piece of research into our containers.
Thru her research, we know to use the numbers of 90-130 calories for the yellow container. Altho the high number is 130 calories, I only use that number about 1 in 10 times that I use calories as my guide. I feel that if I pick 130 calories over and over as the amount my yellow can be, ignoring that “calorie range” that my bracket gave me and it will probably impact my weight loss.
What number do I use regularly? About 100 -120 calories most of the time.
” What does all this have to do with bread?” you might ask. Well, the “average” slice of whole wheat bread according to Google is about 70 calories. To make a sandwich requiring 2 slices of bread would put the calories at 140 and that would put it out of the range of 1Y (130 calories) To those of us that only have 2Y for the whole day having a sandwich can be difficult!
I am going to talk about those yellow STRETCHING products the most because those are the kinds that most of us are looking for!
Enter the container hack of finding a loaf of bread that is low enough in calories to have 2 slices for less than 130 calories.
Let me use an example of what I am talking about here: Dave’s Killer Bread brand, the 21 Whole Grain variety. It is great bread, but at 110 calories per slice, I am not about to make a sandwich out of it.
BUT, the exact same bread comes in a thin-sliced version and it only has 60 calories per slice, so a sandwich is much more doable!!
Is this “hacking” the system? Yes, it is! But I know a bunch of people who have lost a significant amount of weight (50+lbs) using this exact hack 😉
I am going to share a few pictures of some of the brands that will let you have 2 slices for your yellow. These are only a FEW “examples” I can NOT possibly list every single approved loaf of bread in this post. The true intent of this post is to get you to go to the store and start turning over your packages and finding the brands in your area that fit the criteria I am giving you.
This brand is available at most stores.
This is Aldi’s store brand.
I have seen this brand in Sprout’s Health Food Stores.
The same things apply to things like pita bread and wraps. If you can find a brand where the calories can give you more per serving, then why wouldn’t you??
My all-time favorite brand of wrap or pita is Joseph’s. The wrap is HUGE (10×7) and the entire thing is just 1Y. The same with the pitas, a whole regular sized pita is just 60 calories. That means on “pizza night” I can have 2 whole personal pita pizzas for 1Y.
They even have mini pita pockets that make the cutest snacks and you can have 5 of them for 1Y.
I can usually find them at my Walmart. They are usually on the bread aisle with the rest of the wraps.
Whole grain English muffins for about 100 calories can be a little hard to find. I usually have to settle for 1/2 of one or just count 2Y. But the 100 calorie range ones do exist.
And there are Sandwich Thins for whole sandwich options too, again check those calories cuz a few brands are higher than others.
Walmart brand hamburger and hot dog buns both are a whole bun for 1Y!
There are other wraps/tortillas that are good options too.
Once again these are just examples… I have no idea if you can find these products in your are or if they are even approved in your area. I say that because in Canada Joseph’s products are NOT approved. The recipe is different and the whole grain is not the 1st ingredient.
Right here with tortillas, we will cover corn tortillas. Corn is a whole grain. So corn tortillas are almost all approved. Our list says 2 and most brands 2 fits into the calorie window.
Sometimes you can come across a “thin” version of them.
Street tacos size is fun too and 3 or even 4 of them are 1Y!
On to the next few things on our list “crackers, whole grain, 8 small”. This one again is pretty simple. 8 whole-grain crackers that equal about 100 calories.
I use Wheat Thins or some generic version of them. They are about 10ish calories per cracker so 8 is about 80 calories.
Because we know that as long as the cracker has whole grain that we can have them, we can now go in search of another kind.
My next go-to is Triscuits and about 6 of them is 120 calories, well within the “limits” of the yellow.
I would caution that the food industry is coming out all the time with some “super” new products. The cracker aisle at the store has filled its shelves with products touted as healthy. Some are made of corn which is a whole grain, others may be made of brown rice which is also a whole grain, both would be approved. I see a bunch of brands using seeds along with grains. Seeds are counted in our orange container and whole grains in our yellow. The rub with these products is we have no real numbers about how much of each ingredient is in the product. How much of an orange and how much of a yellow? There is no way of telling. So we just have to avoid them… or guess….. but this program doesn’t rely much on guesses.
The next few things I want to touch on is waffles and pancakes. We are usually talking about the frozen variety and our list says “whole grain, 1” for waffles.
A quick note about the wording on the front of packages vs. the ingredient list. “Made with whole grains” is NOT the same thing as “whole grain” being 1st on that ingredient list.
But you can find brands with real whole grains as the 1st ingredient and as long as there are no artificial sweeteners some of the flavored ones are approved. Even the flavored ones of this brand are clean.
There are some frozen waffles and waffle mixes out there that have extra protein in them. The rules about the yellow container still apply but you may be able to count some of a red container in there too.
Pancakes can be trickier to find but there are some out there.
These are mini-sized and I would have 6 of them for 1Y…if I could find them! HA
I know there is no way I covered every product out there that you see. What I hope I have done is taken some of the mystery out of how to go grocery shopping with confidence.
I am working my way thru all the processed foods on our lists!