The past few months have introduced many changes to our lives. For some, this means stepping into a kitchen and picking up a spatula for the first time. For others, it means having more time to explore and experiment with fun new recipes.
Whoever you are, we’re here to help you build the “Mother of Grocery Lists” so you can minimize the number of trips you take and make the most out of each grocery run.
Start with the basics
Before you start adding anything to your list, look through your pantry to see if you’re running low on any of these essential items: cooking oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar (balsamic, rice, and/or wine vinegar).
If you’re planning to do some baking in the coming weeks, pick up some all-purpose flour, butter, baking soda, baking powder, yeast, and sweeteners as well.
Reach for canned goods
High in fiber and protein, chickpeas, beans, and lentils are great canned options that make for quick and hearty meals. Add in some boxed broth and turn it into chili, or run it through the food processor to make a healthy dip.
Need more protein? Stock up on some canned tuna, salmon, anchovies, or sardines. Throw together a salad, sandwich, or even a “fancy” spaghetti with anchovy butter using nothing more than the ingredients we’ve already included in this list.
Save some fridge space
Instead of regular milk, try getting almond or oat milk, which generally have longer shelf lives and are just as versatile. Yogurt lasts for several weeks and can also be used in salad dressings, smoothies, or even as a healthier substitute for sour cream — the possibilities are endless.
When properly stored, eggs can last three to five weeks in the fridge. If you’re nearing the expiry date, crack them into a muffin tin and pop them in the freezer for later use.
Moving on to condiments that need to be refrigerated: Check to see if you have ample supply of ketchup, mayonnaise, hot sauce, nut butter, and hummus. Tahini, soy sauce, and sesame oil are also handy for stir fry dishes and don’t need to be kept in the fridge.
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Freeze your fruits and vegetables
Whether you want to whisk up a quick soup or some stir fry, frozen vegetables are great when leaving home isn’t an option. If you prefer them fresh, root vegetables are always a safe bet. Beets can last up to four months in your fridge (but make sure to cut off the greens if they’re still attached). Store onions and potatoes in a dark, cool cabinet and they should sustain you well over the next two weeks.
Apples and citrus fruits, including limes and lemons, can last for several weeks if kept refrigerated. You can also keep leafy greens and carrots dry by placing a paper towel in the bag to absorb the moisture. And keep the plastic wrap on the cabbage so it stays fresh for longer.
Another pro tip: buy bananas in bulk and freeze when they start to brown, especially if you want to hop on the banana bread bandwagon. You can also enjoy them in smoothies as a natural sweetener, or even just by themselves as a healthy snack, topped with a spoonful of nut butter.
Get that bread (and those grains)
Stored in an airtight container, white rice can last for years (brown rice won’t keep for as long). While bread is more perishable, you can always keep it in the freezer and pop a slice in the oven whenever needed.
Let’s not forget the holy grail of pantry staples: pasta. Whether it’s penne, spaghetti, or fettuccine, keep a variety of pasta in your pantry at all times so you can whip up an effortless meal in no time.
Spice things up
Sometimes, all you need is that extra kick to get your taste buds in action. Cayenne pepper, paprika, curry powder, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, dried thyme, and dried oregano are always great to have on hand. Onions, shallots, garlic, and ginger will also last you for weeks.
Make room for snacks
Crackers are highly customizable with various toppings, whether you’re looking for something sweet or savory. Layer it with some sliced cheese and cured meats, or get creative with whatever you have in the pantry.
Dried fruits and nuts are perfect for when you’re in a pinch for a quick snack. They can also be added to almost anything: salads, smoothies bowls, baked goods, you name it.
The same goes for chocolate — grab some for baking or just snacking, and don’t forget to fuel up with coffee and tea.