grocery shopping

A Complete List of Grocery Shopping Staples

For many people, grocery shopping can feel like a chore. If you have a busy schedule, it’s difficult to fit in time for grocery shopping during the week. Additionally, not everyone has the time to prepare three meals and snacks during the day while attending school and/or working. Whether you order groceries online or make one to two larger trips to the grocery store each week, this expansive list of grocery staples will make daily meal preparation so much easier. If you prefer to meal prep, there will be some tips on how to buy enough ingredients to last the whole week!

A healthy and balanced diet doesn’t exclude food groups or macronutrients entirely. Each week you should make sure that your grocery cart includes items from each of the three macronutrient categories: carbs, proteins, and fats.  While it’s important to purchase foods that will nourish and satisfy you, such as high quality protein sources and produce, you should also allow yourself to purchase foods that you might consider as ‘treats’ or ‘fun foods.’ Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be boring and should bring some excitement into your life!

Note: If you’re someone who meal preps at the start of each week, try choosing a few different breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes instead of eating the same exact meal everyday. Adding some variety into your meals, even if you cook ahead of time, will ensure that you’ll actually want to eat what you’re meal prepping. 

 

Carbohydrates 

Carbohydrates are our first macronutrient category. Carbs are often demonized by diet culture, but in reality carbs are the body’s main source of energy and should be incorporated in every meal. If you’re especially busy, choosing carb sources that are higher in fiber is a great way to feel more satiated after meals. 

  • Bread – While everyone has a personal preference on what type of bread they prefer, sprouted and whole grain bread often has a higher fiber content and a little extra protein than traditional white bread. If you prefer to buy loaves of bread, cut the loaf into slices and place the slices in a bag in the freezer to prevent the bread from going stale. 
  • Pasta – Pasta is a great ingredient to meal prep at the start of the week because it can be eaten in a cold pasta salad or can be heated with marinara sauce, grilled vegetables, and a protein source. Chickpea or lentil pasta is a great product that’s high in protein and great for anyone on the go. 
  • Grains – Rice, quinoa, couscous, farro, the list goes on! Grains are a great carb source that pair well with a variety of cuisines. Farro and quinoa are also high in protein which is an added bonus for vegans and vegetarians who might need some help in that department. 
  • Tortillas and wraps – Tortillas, wraps, and pitas are great to have on hand during the week. Use corn tortillas for tacos, pair wraps with egg salad, and snack on pita with hummus during the day!
  • Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a staple breakfast item that can have so many flavor opportunities. Place oats, milk, chia seeds, and any other add-ons of choice (berries, cocoa powder, cinnamon) in a jar in the fridge overnight. Now you have overnight oats to eat in the morning without worrying about prep time!

 

Proteins

Protein not only helps you feel satiated but is so important for muscle growth and cell repair. If you lift weights or follow a resistance training program, a diet with adequate protein helps to build up the muscles that are recruited during training. 

  • For meat eaters – Lean meats such as ground turkey, chicken breast, and fish are great protein options to make during the week. If you prefer to not cook meat, check your freezer aisle for pre-cooked proteins that can easily be reheated and added to any meal.
  • Eggs – Use eggs in breakfast scrambles during the week or buy hardboiled eggs for sandwiches, egg salad, or a convenient snack.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian options –  Canned beans, tofu, tempeh, frozen edamame, and veggie burgers are convenient ways for non-meat eaters to get in their daily protein. Try not to rely on meat substitutes that might contain fillers and additives.
  • Yogurt – Yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, can be a very high protein snack. Add yogurt into fruit smoothies for an extra protein boost in the morning. 

 

Fats

If you have difficulty feeling full after meals, you might not have enough fat in your diet. 

  • Seeds – Adding in chia seeds and flaxseeds into your meals is a great way to get in your omega-3s. Prepare a batch of chia seed pudding for the week or add in a tablespoon into your morning oats or yogurt. 
  • Avocado – Avocado really goes with anything and is a great substitute for mayonnaise. Add mashed avocado into a turkey sandwich or tuna salad. 
  • Nuts – Nuts contain important minerals and healthy fats to keep our energy up during the day. Any variety of nut you prefer will work, but walnuts are an especially good source of omega-3’s.
  • Avocado/olive oil – Avocado oil is great for cooking food at high temperatures, while olive oil is excellent for lower temperatures or for mixing with vinegar and herbs for a homemade salad dressing.
  • Nut butter – Any variety of nut butter will do, but make sure you are looking for a simple list of ingredients: nuts, oil, and salt (optional).

 

Produce

While it is best to buy produce that is seasonal, local, and/or organic, this is not accessible to everyone and can often be expensive. If you worry about produce spoiling in your fridge, stock up on a few bags of frozen veggies and fruit just in case! Frozen produce can also be significantly cheaper. 

  • Spinach – Get your greens in by adding in a handful of spinach into meals when you can. Spinach pairs well with almost everything from egg scrambles to pasta to stir fry!
  • Bananas – Bananas are the perfect pre-workout snack but taste great in smoothies, oatmeal, and cereal bowls!
  • Berries – Blueberries are high in antioxidants. Top off yogurt bowls with a handful of berries or use frozen berries in smoothies for a thicker consistency.

Bell peppers, zucchinis and mushrooms are a few other vegetables that are used in a variety of dishes and cuisines making them great vegetables to have on hand. Choosing three to four different vegetables and two to three fruits when you go grocery shopping ensures that you’ll have a wide variety of produce for meals during the week.

While the items listed above are staple items, don’t forget to purchase beverages such as milk (dairy or plant milk), snacks, dips and sauces, and dessert items. Grocery shopping should be fun and inspire you to try new items and recipes! Need ideas for recipes? Check out our blog post on no-cook meals you can make anywhere (even in a dorm!).

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Stephanie Gerson

Stephanie Gerson is an Art History student at UC Santa Barbara who is passionate about plant-based cooking, sustainability, and all things wellness. For vegan recipe ideas and intuitive eating content, you can find Stephanie on Instagram @stephliveshealthy.

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