I love reading other people’s essential grocery lists – you know, the ‘must purchase’ items. It’s like peeking inside someone’s medicine cabinet at a party. Not that I would ever do that.
Our grocery list is a bit unusual in the fact that we’re both vegetarians, the Husband doesn’t eat dairy, and we try to avoid gluten (I’m sensitive, and Kristien just avoids it because it makes it easier to cook for the two of us). Fortunately, there are still a ton of delicious foods for us to eat and enjoy.
We try (try being the key word) to stick to a budget of $100 to $125 a week. It’s certainly not a cheap trip to the store each week, but we eat the vast majority of our meals at home, and Kristien packs lunch to take to work.
Our grocery ‘tricks:’
Before we leave for the store, I simply snap a picture of the inside of the fridge with my iPhone. That way, we know what we have and what we don’t. Otherwise, we end up with three bags of wilting spinach and no eggs.
I rarely go into store intending to buy specific produce (with the exception of spinach and bananas – we always need spinach and bananas!). Instead, I try to only purchase what is on sale. I won’t walk in thinking, “I need Brussel sprouts, asparagus, and raspberries;” I note on my list that we need at least two green veggies and a berry. If the zucchini, snow peas, and blueberries are on sale, so be it.
There are certain foods that are financially and time-wise ‘worth it’ for us to opt for the slightly more expensive convenience version. Trader Joe’s frozen organic brown rice is a great example.
If it’s something we buy every week, it’s on sale, and it won’t go off in the next few weeks, we stock up.
We each get to select one special purchase a week, and we jointly select an adult beverage. The Husband often opts for a pricey pre-made sauce (he really likes curries), and I always get some sort of dessert (like a chocolate or cookie). We usually get a bottle of wine, but now that it’s summertime, we’ve been opting for cider. This helps us stick to our budget and prevents us from buying a ton of expensive specialty items or treats.
There are many more grocery shopping tricks (and sample lists for various family sizes) in the Healthy Tipping Point book.
Here’s our essential grocery list. Of course, we don’t buy everything on this list every week, and sometimes we buy other items, but these are our must-have basics.
Gluten-free bread (I like Udi’s brand the most)
Cereal (I like Rice Chex; the Husband likes Panda Puffs)
Eggs (at least two cartons)
Black, kidney, pinto, and baked beans
Cashews, almonds, or pistachio nuts
Sunflower seed nut butter
Peanut butter (we always buy two, one jar is used for smoothies)
Dairy-free protein powder (not technically a grocery store item but worth mentioning)
Lentils (Trader Joe’s precooked)
Dairy / ‘Milks’
Sliced or shredded cheese
Unsweetened soy milk (we try not to go soy-crazy but appreciate the higher protein amounts in soy v. almond or rice milk)
Two or three green vegetables (usually two that are good in stir fries and one for roasting)
A berry A ‘hard fruit’ (apples or oranges)
Avocados (for the Husband; I’m deathly allergic!)
A starchy vegetable (such as sweet potato)
Butter lettuce (not the most nutrient dense but so delicious)
Condiments + Miscellaneous
Earth Balance (vegan butter)
Loose leaf tea
Orange juice (we are in an eternal argument of pulp v. pulp free – PULP ALL THE WAY!)
Balsamic salad dressing (so versatile – I use it on salads, sandwiches, and stir fries)
Ketchup, mayo, and mustard
Coconut oil (for cooking and for rubbing into skin – it’s an awesome moisturizer)
Frozen brown rice
A few frozen dinners; usually Trader Joe’s Indian meals
Frozen vegetables (good in a pinch)
Frozen berries (for smoothies)
I’m proud to say that we just got back from the grocery store and not only did I not purchase any duplicate items (wahoo!), but I stayed within budget (double wahoo!). My special purchase of the week: this cake mix – with chocolate frosting.
Now – it’s you’ll excuse me, I have a cake to bake.
More grocery posts:
Combining Grocery Lists and Meal Planning
My Favorite Trader Joe’s Products
What are some of your essential grocery items? What was your special purchase of the week?
The photo idea may be the most genius idea, ever.