These are the staples I keep on hand or purchase darn near every week.
I buy at least six every week. We use one every morning to make lemon water. Fresh lemon juice is also a staple for dressings, sauces and seasoning roasted veggies.
I like 2% higher fat content, but if I’m shopping at Aldi, I get the non-fat kind because that’s all they have. We eat this for breakfast with honey and berries or stuffed into an omelette. It also subs as the creamy base for any thick dressing or sauce I make, instead of sour cream, cream-of-whatever soup, or mayonnaise.
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries. Julep would eat a whole clamshell of strawberries in a sitting if I’d let her. They’re a quick snack for the kiddos and pair well with the yogurt for breakfast. I try to get organic if they’re on sale. Otherwise, I opt for conventional for budgetary reasons.
Call me old-fashioned, but buttered toast is a staple of breakfast in our house. I also use it in the pan to cook eggs, or any time I’m baking fish.
During market season, I opt for fresh, whole grain sourdough. When I can’t get that, I go for either Ezekiel bread or whatever is super grain-y and sprouted on the shelf. We use it for said buttered toast or the occasional sandwich.
The girls prefer the coconut water that comes in a cardboard container rather than in the can. That’s the only “juice” they drink regularly. It’s also the liquid base of most of our morning smoothies. Every once in a while, I’ll put some in a glass with lots of ice, a little mint and lime juice and pretend I’m drinking a mojito.
Unsweetened original almond milk
We use this in the more creamy, milkshake-like smoothies we make. I also mix it with chai or use it in blended roasted tomatoes to make tomato soup. We have lots of vegan and dairy-free friends, so it’s great to have on-hand in case you need to swap out an ingredient in a recipe. It stays good for a while, so if you don’t go through a half gallon every week, you don’t have to worry about it too much.
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Whichever is on sale or looks good at the market. I take them out of the clamshell as soon as I get home from the store and put them in a big bowl on the table. I let the kids snack on them pretty much at-will. In the unlikely case that there are any left in the bowl mid-week, I’ll toss them in the oven for a few minutes and add them to a grain bowl for lunch.
For yogurt in the morning, or on top of a bowl of sliced bananas with peanut butter for a healthy dessert.
I buy it with the rind on, and I don’t spend a ton of money on imported parmesan. Whatever’s available as a block and at a reasonable price will do. When the rind is all that’s left, save it in a bag in the freezer and add it to soups or stews for depth of flavor.
I buy two or three dozen every week. We eat a lot of eggs. Two-egg omelettes are a staple breakfast in our house. We often top an end-of-the-week leftover meal with a fried egg. I hard boil 6-12 at a time, peel them all at once and keep them in the refrigerator for healthy snacking or beefing up a to-go lunch.
Organic baby spinach
Mostly for smoothies. It’s undetectable when combined with berries or nut butter, so it’s an easy way to get greens into our diet.
There are only a couple of brands I’m willing to spend money on. California Olive Ranch is one, and Simply Nature Organic (from Aldi) is the other. Anything else is way too expensive or tastes like chemicals. I use this raw or in low-heat cooking (like if I run out of butter to cook my eggs). If you’re in the mood to spend real money on real good EVOO, go for something imported, in a glass container, and as murky looking as possible.
Grapeseed or avocado oil
I always have one or the other for higher heat cooking. I prefer extra virgin avocado oil when I can get it.
Unsweetened, no salt added nut butter
Almond or peanut. Unadulterated. I add it to smoothies and spread it onto PBJ sandwiches for the kids. The y don’t miss the added sugar since jam is already sweet enough.
Like 20. We eat a TON of bananas. The girls have one every morning. I use them to sweeten and bind my homemade granola. They’re great on top of overnight oats. If the bananas are ever lucky enough to survive the week, they get thrown into the freezer for smoothies or “nice-cream”.
This is the most “whole” version of an oat that I care to make time for. Oatmeal comes together in 3-5 minutes for breakfast in the microwave and can be topped with any combination of seeds, nuts, and fruit. Or, I pop it in a jar with almond milk and let it make itself overnight.
We buy whole bean and grind it at home. If you don’t have a grinder, opt for whole bean and grind it in the store. If possible, check the roast date and buy the most recently roasted coffee available.
It just makes everything taste better. A little sprinkle at the end of cooking, or mixed with lemon juice and capers for a quick "salad", or tossed into the blender with any other herb (or alone) to make a pesto.
Morton's Kosher salt
I buy a big box of it and pour it in a salt pig on the counter. Getting a feel for how much salt you’re using by pinching it with your fingers is a little bit of a learning curve, but I much prefer it to having to use both hands to grind sea salt while cooking.
Black pepper grinder
I use black pepper pretty sparingly, so I don’t mind reaching for the grinder every once in a while in order to have the pepper test fresh.
Condiments that are always in my refrigerator:
Anchovy paste in a tube
Soy sauce (or liquid aminos)
Tomato paste in a tube
Apple cider vinegar
Rice wine vinegar
Good balsamic vinegar