Fighting away those January blues in South Aylesford M&S Food Hall of dreams,

*collaborative post

January is a long, dark, cold month, there’s no escaping that. That said, I have a lot of love for January. It’s a time for new beginnings, reflection on where you’ve been and for getting your mindset into how you could take steps to get yourself in the best shape for the year ahead.

For some of us, January is one month of the year to ditch the booze; something I’ve done for a few years now. This year is a little different; January is of course dry, but so was December, November, right back through to September. With that in mind 2019 is set to be the year I really appreciate the good I’m doing to my body. Treat it with a bit of respect that perhaps it’s lacked for a decade or two before.

Weight loss isn’t really on my radar, but for anyone sober curious, you may be interested to know that before Christmas, without any exercise AT ALL, I lost a whole stone. I hadn’t even realised as I don’t often weigh myself, but someone mentioned I looked like I had lost weight, so after telling them nop, I hadn’t at all, I checked out the scales and couldn’t believe it. I guess that’s testament to the empty calories I was getting through without even realising. Of course, it’s safe to say at least half a stone went back on over Christmas! #ChristmaspuddingANDtrifle


As well as dusting off my running shoes and getting stuck right in to the yoga DVD I was bought for Christmas, I’ve also begun practicing a little more mindfulness and documenting a gratitude journal every evening. I really think these small actions have contributed to feeling, well, better, already, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by those around me who have commented on the the energy radiating from me in recent months.

So all that’s left to think about is my diet, and not to focus on shedding weight or burning calories, but to think about what I’m putting in and making sure it’ stuff my bod will thank me for. Obviously I’m only human, and there are plenty of times I go off piste, but I have given some thought to the food in the fridge and making sure it’s a good starting point for the whole family. I try to buy along the lines of food in it’s most basic and whole form and steering clear of processed foods as much as possible.

Last week I had a lifetime first, doing a food shop in M&S food hall at South Aylesford Retail park in Kent. It’s a hidden gem just outside of Maidstone which boasts a whole load of megastores (as well as a Nando’s and Costa), plus a Smyths toys where I picked up the essential weekend birthday party gifts.

With a fifty pound voucher burning a hole in my pocket, I lived the dream of browsing the food aisles, child free in the finest of food halls that there is. Here is how I got on…

Fruit and Veg

Of course any healthy food shop has to be heavy on the greens, and reds, and yellows…in fact a whole rainbow! Given this wasn’t an everyday shop, go all out on a five pound tray of the most amazing strawberries. The girls can literally inhale soft fruit in one sitting and so as well as these bad boys I also took stock of bananas, blueberries and raspberries, but not just any bananas, bloobs and raspbs…M&S bananas, bloobs and raspbs. Heaven.

As well as the fruit, the most incredible picolo tomatoes which ever graced my fridge made it home with me. You know a good tomato when it actually smells like a tomato plant in August (even when it’s January). Crunchy, juicy, the scent alone of these feel like they’re doing you some good. A perfect snack for the kids when they want something now, sweet and crisp, Tigs might have to fight me for these.

Not wanting to spend my entire allowance on the fruit section alone, I finished off with the king of January health food; the avocado. Don’t be put off with it’s calorie count, this baby spread on toast with a poached egg is my go to post run brunch. It’s greenness just oozes ‘good for you’…

Protein & Dairy

Given this golden opportunity, I was super keen to stock up on some high quality meat produce from Marks. There is a huge buzz around eating less meat lately, and I’m all for that, but of course unless you’re veggie / vegan, the kids do need a balanced diet rich in protein from a variety of quality sources. The mouse in particular is a total carnivore, so it’s about keeping the quality high and the processes low. With that in mind I popped some chicken and beef steak mince in my trolley, as well as a low fat meatball pack which will serve as a quick tea for a midweek evening.

Tigs on the contrary is 95% vegetarian, as of two years ago when she decided she could not eat the animals she loves. So cheese, eggs, dairy and nuts are a big part of her diet (as well as plenty of quorn and meat substitute products). Luckily for us she’s an amazing eater and is up for trying most things. So into my trolley goes milk, eggs, cheese, individual cheese snack sticks, mixed nuts and butter.

More for me than the rest of the fam, goes a carton of Soya milk. Hands up, I’m soya curious. Far from being tempted to go veggie with Tigs, but certainly always up for trying out a healthier alternative with less impact on the planet. It’s actually lovely! I’m hooked…

All the carbs

In our home carbs are definitely not public enemy number one. I tried a carbohydrate free diet years back and felt pretty miserable, so now I think of them as happy carbs – bringing us energy and full tummies and to be given the respect they deserve. Into the trolley goes a 50:50 loaf for the kids and a seeded loaf for us. We’re trying to get the girls more into wholegrain bread with mixed success, so baby steps.

“Are you doing dry January then?…”

Six months ago I could have happily spent my whole £50 on a premium gin, prosecco and real ales. How things have changed as I asked the assistant if they stocked any alcohol free beverages.

Hats off to you M&S South Aylesford…I picked up some amazing alcohol free bottles of wine and fizz, and some low alcohol beers for Dad Muddling Through. I’d have loved to have seen some alcohol free spirits in stock, but I was over the moon to find you catered for all.

Finally, one checkout addition…as a crisp fiend I spotted some salt and vinegar baked lentil curls. Perfect for those mid afternoon munchies or on the go to fill a hole guilt free. They’re actually amazing so I’ll be going back for more!

So there you have it…a M&S healthy food shop of weekly essentials for fifty quid. I reckon I have spent more and come out with less in some other major supermarket chains, so it was a pleasant surprise. Maybe I could even justify doing the food shopping at M&S more often. It was certainly a supreme shopping experience, and that has to be a bit of self care in itself, right? 😉


Disclosure: Collaborative post

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