Grocery shopping essentials are the items that are good to have on hand at all times in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. While these items will differ from household to household, I am sharing our grocery list must haves and how we are able to grocery shop every two weeks without meal planning.
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After creating a few different meals we eat in a week videos on YouTube, a lot of you asked for me to share my grocery shopping essentials.
As much as I would love to share an actual grocery trip with you (and someday still might), in the video above I share the items I love to grocery shop for and always have on hand in our home.
While the video shares a tour of my fridge and pantry space and the specific foods and brands of foods we normally purchase, in this blog post I hope to share a broader topic that covers what we consider grocery shopping musts in our household.
Below I will cover three main topics when it comes to grocery shopping essentials:
- What do you need for grocery shopping
- What groceries should you buy every week
- What is a good standard grocery list
These three topics will help anyone as they grocery shop, whether in person or ordering a grocery pickup consider what they really need to have on hand in their home.
Not only will these topics I am sharing about grocery shopping help you shop without meal planning, it will also allow you to have an array of healthy foods to choose meals from as you consider what to feed your family on a daily basis.
What Do You Need for Grocery Shopping
This topic seems easy right? You need food that your family is going to eat in the house until the next time you go grocery shopping. I challenge you to consider what you really need though when it comes to foods you consider shopping for.
Our family is not perfect by any means when it comes to foods we consume, but we try our best to stick to whole, unprocessed foods. We make sure to have plenty of options on hand at all times that we can use for all of our meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What are whole foods? Google defines whole foods as “foods that are either not processed at all, or processed minimally. Examples include whole grains, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables. Think foods that don’t need labels listing a million different unpronounceable ingredients.”
Now as I mentioned above, we do purchase some processed foods and are no where near perfect, but you should always try to pay attention to your ingredient labels. We try to do this with any processed foods that we decide to purchase.
Are there a lot of different ingredients you can’t pronounce or identify? Or are they easy? For example, one pantry item we always purchase is organic creamy peanut butter. The ingredients are roasted peanuts and salt. That is it!
It is easier to stick to simple ingredient lists when purchasing whole foods, especially in organic form. I realize buying organic isn’t always possible and sometimes can be challenging financially, but do your own research and decide what is best for your family personally.
These types of whole or organic (when possible) foods should make up the bulk of your grocery list. They will be filling, and full of nutrients and provide plenty of healthy options for your family.
Whole foods also provide SO many more options to pull from when deciding on a meal.
When you have the right essential ingredients to choose from, the meal ideas you can create are literally endless.
What Groceries Should You Buy Every Week
When considering which groceries you should buy every week, first take inventory of what you already have. I like to try my best to keep my refrigerator, freezer and pantry organized so I know what I have and what I need to stock up on.
Our family does not meal plan. I like to always have what I consider essentials in all three areas of my kitchen; pantry, fridge and freezer. If I have these food choices in my home, I know I will be able to create healthy, delicious meals for my family.
I have enough ingredients to get creative too! I have items to make a delicious marinade for chicken, or a homemade alfredo sauce. I always have spices as well to make my own taco seasoning, or delicious roasted vegetables.
Staple grocery essentials in your home literally provide you with endless meal idea opportunities and can encourage you to play with different ingredients to try things you otherwise may have not considered as well!
Having a variety of staple items also saves money as well, when you are stuck in the rut of what are we going to eat tonight and are tempted to eat out.
There is nothing wrong with eating out, I enjoy it from time to time with our family. But when I know I have quality ingredients I can put a meal together from at home and save money, I am much less likely to eat out as often as I would have otherwise.
Grocery Shopping Essentials – Pantry Section
In our pantry, I like to ensure we have plenty of essential dry and canned goods that we will use on a weekly basis. This includes bread, tortillas, nuts, pastas, honey, syrup, oats, cereals, baking goods and so much more that I will share in the next section.
I also make sure to check our spices, oils, broths and vinegar to see what need or may be low on.
Our pantry area also stores essentials such as potatoes, onions and bananas that I always purchase biweekly for our family.
In the video above, I literally take you through each item of our pantry for you to see what I love to have at all times. This ranges from the snacks we eat to the items I use to bake, and cook our meals!
Grocery Shopping Essentials – Refrigerator/Freezer
The rest of our grocery items can be found in our refrigerator and freezer. These are perishables, but the essentials I purchase are items our family loves and are always consumed before our next grocery visit.
I like to ensure I have a lot of fruits and vegetables. I always have a variety of fresh and frozen. I love to use frozen fruit in our daily smoothies, and our boys love to snack on fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the day.
For example, a quick and easy side for dinner that we love are roasted vegetables! We drizzle them with olive oil and seasonings and bake them until slightly crispy. This can be done with basically any vegetable. We love sweet potatoes, snap peas and zucchini for just a couple of examples.
I also always purchase a variety of dairy options to have for healthy sources of protein. A variety of sliced and block cheese, cream cheese, milk, unflavored greek yogurt, heavy whipping cream (which can be used in a variety of recipes) and half and half which is what we use daily in our coffee.
We always stock up on meat as well and keep it frozen until the day we use it. We try to buy organic and free range meat whenever it is possible. I normally purchase a whole chicken, chicken tenders, thighs, breasts as well as shrimp and grass fed beef.
Deli and breakfast meats are always something we have and sometimes brats in the summer for the days here and there we want a quick and easy dinner option.
We have eggs almost daily, but purchase those fresh from our neighbor. If you are able to find fresh eggs, I highly recommend it! They are so delicious and definitely a staple in our household.
What is a Good Standard Grocery List?
Grocery lists can be created in so many different ways, by food type, by meal, by how your store is laid out – this is all personal preference.
This section provides a basic grocery list for your pantry, fridge and freezer that can help you with the essentials to have on hand and be customized for your specific family needs.
Lately our family has been doing grocery pick ups which means thankfully my previous order can be copied and I can just tweak the order as needed. Other times though, I love to have a list on hand to make sure we don’t forget the important grocery essentials we need.
I go into much more detail on the specific brands and types of items I prefer to purchase grocery shopping in the YouTube video at the beginning of this post.
I also shared some of these items in the previous section, but below try to share a few more staples that I prefer personally.
Whole Foods Based Grocery List
Dairy – eggs, milk, unflavored greek yogurt, kerigold butter, half and half, sliced and block cheese, cream cheese, and heavy whipping cream
Meat – Chicken breasts, chicken thighs, chicken tenders, grass fed beef, shrimp, deli sliced meats, bacon and sausage
Produce and Fruit – (this is based on your personal preference on flavor, but be sure to stock up!) Apples, lemons, limes, bananas, oranges, grapes, avocado, baby carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, potatoes. Also be sure to buy frozen options as well in case you run out of fresh before your next grocery trip.
Pantry Items – raw honey, peanut butter, jam, maple syrup, raw nuts, granola, oats, bread, corn and flour tortillas, high quality salts and other essential spices, coconut amino acids, vinegar, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, vinegar, all purpose flour, GF flour, quinoa, pasta, pasta sauce, enchilada sauces, broth, ketchup, salsa, applesauce, canned tomatoes and canned black beans
Once again, a lot of these items are personal preference and in the video above, I go into a lot more details on name brands and why I prefer what I prefer for our family. This list has worked for years and is something I have grown to rely on.
The main thing to consider when creating your grocery list is to be sure you have items in stock you can easily pull from to create healthy whole food based meals for your family. This list above includes plenty of items for two weeks full of meals.
Tacos, spaghetti, and alfredo are just a few of the many many options that could be made from the ingredients above if you have them on hand.
The point of your list is to be sure to have quality ingredients on hand to make meals more simple. Delicious marinades, sauces and soups can be made, and you can get as creative as you’d like!
As I have mentioned a few times now, I realize what we consider grocery shopping essentials may be completely different than what another family would purchase or stock their home with. Especially considering flavor preferences and the size of the family.
I am by no means an expert at all, and to be honest there are a lot of areas I still hope to improve on and find better options for. We live in a very rural area, and unfortunately realistically some items I’d love to have in my home at all times just aren’t possible.
Ultimately as a family though, our goal is to avoid processed foods as much as we are able to, and stick to whole food based meals. As a mother, this gives me comfort knowing I am not feeding my family foods with unnecessary additives such as food dyes, sugars and other chemicals that I am unsure of.
Thank you to all those who have encouraged me to put this blog post on grocery shopping essentials together. I truly hope it was a help to you! What other grocery items are must haves in your home and why? I’d love to know in the comments below!