Grocery Diaries: A Novice Home Chef Who Makes Meals With High Blood Pressure in Mind


Thelma says there are plenty of grocery stores where she lives in Kenosha. She shops at four different stores because they can vary in price and carry different brands. Here are 10 items she picks up in a typical grocery trip.

1. Gerber’s Amish Farm Chicken: $3.74

“I love this baked,” says Thelma. She has been avoiding red meat based on her doctor’s guidance—red meat can have more saturated fat than other protein —so chicken seasoned with lemon pepper, turmeric, and garlic powder has become one of her regular meals. “It’s so good. I eat this weekly,” she says.

2. Jennie-O Turkey Patties: $3.99

“This has saved me many nights from going to McDonald’s,” she says. “When I’m craving a burger I think, Let’s just pull the George Foreman grill out, and we’re good to go.” She seasons the patties with lemon pepper and garlic and puts them in between Ezekiel 4:9 hamburger buns (these are made with a blend of grains and legumes like whole wheat, barley, millet, and lentils), then tops it off with vegan mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

3. Meijer Cooked Shrimp: $17.99

Thelma really loves deep-fried food, so she now uses an air fryer to make foods crispy instead of conventional frying. (Air fryers mainly use really hot air instead of the usual amount of oil to fry foods.) She particularly loves air-fried shrimp seasoned with garlic and lemon. “They’re just perfect,” she says.

“I use this for almost everything,” says Thelma. In keeping with her goal of eating less fat, she cooks collard greens using this broth rather than cooking it with pork. She also uses this to make homemade ramen or quick soups that include rotisserie chicken and frozen vegetables.

5. Glory Foods Collard Greens: $2.29

“Growing up, we always boiled collard greens, but I found that I like them sautéed as well,” Thelma says. Although she doesn’t prepare collard greens in the traditional way she’s accustomed to, Thelma is still able to enjoy one of her favorite foods. “I’m not missing that umami taste,” she says.

Chelsea Kyle. Food Stying by Drew Aichele. Prop Styling by Campbell Pearson.

6. Earthbound Farm Organic Farm Stand Favorites Organic Power Blend Spinach, Kale & Chard: $2.99

“Oh, it is delicious,” Thelma says of this product. “Growing up, I didn’t know about spinach. I didn’t know there was a thing called Swiss chard. I went to a restaurant and it was in a meal. The chard was sautéed in lemon and garlic, and it was delicious. And I was like, ‘What is this?’” Now she regularly eats this blend sautéed in garlic and lemon juice. “Who knew I could cook?” she says.

“I have to start my day off with this,” she says. “That with some bananas and blueberries is so delicious, and I find that I don’t miss all the butter and brown sugar that I used to eat with oatmeal growing up.” Thelma never thought about eating oatmeal with fruit until she saw people do it on YouTube, where she often finds recipe inspiration. “I barely reach for butter now,” she says.

Before tweaking her eating habits to include less sodium and fat, Thelma was a “big fan” of packaged ramen, she says. However, many packaged ramens are higher in sodium than Thelma prefers to eat. She found these packages of ramen noodles and now makes her own lower-sodium version using that trusty chicken broth.

Thelma is big on this brand of basmati rice, which she purchased impulsively. She’s now hooked. “It was on one of the sale racks, and I thought, Let’s try that.” Although some people like various brands of basmati rice equally, this one “just has a unique flavor to it,” Thelma says. 

10. Eggland’s Best Cage-Free Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs: $3.19

Sometimes Thelma adds these eggs to her ramen. Other times she eats hard-boiled eggs as a snack with fruit or cheese. “It holds me until I can really sit down and eat,” she says. Plus, she finds that eating hard-boiled eggs keeps her full enough so she doesn’t stop to pick up fast food when she otherwise might. “You can cook, girl,” she tells herself. “You can do this.”

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