My grocery shopping routine has become almost like instant easy therapy to me. I’ve mastered the art of avoiding the hectic crowds and filling my kitchen with good foods without breaking the bank. Still, every once in a while, I find myself pressed for time, wandering down isles hurriedly. The result of those trips is usually that I get home and find I forgot about ten things that I needed. Typical.
Regardless, on the days when I wake up and head to Trader Joes *gasp* without a grocery list, I know there are some staple items that always ensure I can make easy and simple meals for the week ahead.
That was honestly the biggest part of transitioning from take-out/college meal plan life to grocery shopping, keeping a stocked kitchen and cooking meals each night. Luckily, I grew up with parents who always made sure to create delicious and balanced meals. For a while, my mom was obsessed with creating her own version of Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals segment. Which was great, and something I’ve sustained as a cooking standard –simple, easy and less time consuming.
I used to stick with the brands and dishes I recognized and enjoyed at home. But in the past year or so, I’ve definitely established my own brand relationship and favorite quick meals.
Granola has become a huge staple for me, whether I’m eating in solo as a snack, using it as a topping for fruit and yogurt or having it with milk as cereal. My current favorite that’s been in rotation for the past few months in the Trader Joe’s Just the Clusters Vanilla Almond Granola.
Brown rice is another big item for me. When the week get’s crazy but I still want to make a filling meal that creates well traveling left overs (for lunches and easy meals later), stir-fry and rice bowls are the way too. I’ve been enjoying a brown/wild rice/quinoa mix for a while now which has been great. Black beans (usually canned) are also a great way to add a bit of protein and deliciousness to your plate.
I wouldn’t have a complete pantry without having some coffee on hand. I definitely don’t have one brand that I’m fully committed to –but I’m definitely bound to medium roasts with full aromas.
Last but not least, peanut butter. I won’t disclose how much peanut butter I actually eat in one week, but it’s insane. Apples and peanut butter, pb&j and and dollop in yogurt with granola…okay I’m drooling.
I always have a container of plain greek yogurt on hand. I use it in place of sour cream for tacos and quesadillas and as a dip for wraps (turkey & veggie wraps with a side of greek yogurt = win). It’s also great with fruit and yogurt or on it’s own. Shredded cheese is also a staple — usually a Mexican blend and then a mozzarella. My love for cheese runs almost as deep as my love for peanut butter. I’ve been on a pizza making kick lately and the sauce/cheese balance is key.
Also half & half… because coffee. Oh and bonus, non-dairy item: a container of Oregon Chai –because it’s summer and ice chai lattes are a summer essential.
Fruits & Veggies
Apples are my favorite fruit to have on hand because they’re available year round, always delicious (and can be enjoyed with peanut butter…). I try to keep at least 5-6 a week in the fridge. Baby carrots are also a biggie for me because they’re so easy to toss in a bag and snack on throughout the day.
Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite veggies (sautéed with a bit of garlic, pepper and olive oil). I buy them frozen for convenience reasons. Spinach and kale I buy fresh and add to almost anything (egg, spinach and sweet potato scramble is true love). Same goes for broccoli, which I grab fresh or frozen depending. I used to avoid buying bell peppers because I could never eat them fast enough but I’ve supplemented this by opting for the big bag of frozen ones instead (about $2 at Trader’s).
What are your go-to grocery list items?