When you work long hours and try to simultaneously maintain a consistent workout regime, eat healthy and get enough sleep, doing your grocery shopping on weekends can be a serious life saver. Many people plan their meals for the week and write their grocery lists accordingly, which is an especially great strategy if you’re cooking for a family, interested in making sure no food goes to waste and/or sticking to a budget.
I tend to be a bit more lackadaisical when it comes to grocery shopping for a couple of reasons: (1) I’m only cooking for myself so I have more flexibility with my meals, which means that if I want to eat nothing but sugar snap peas and jalapeno hummus for “dinner” no one can say anything! (2) I try to eat seasonally as much as I can so I like to see what’s available in stores/at the Farmer’s Market before deciding what to eat. (3) I get a CSA basket every other week so I have to factor in its arrival when I consider what I’ll need for a given week. (4) Finally, I only spend every other weekend in San Francisco since I spend the other half in Sacramento with my boyfriend, and obviously if I’m coming back on the train at 7pm on a Sunday there’s no hope of grocery shopping.
In all of the situations above its great to have some basic staples and emergency items in your pantry. Just in case.
I like dipping.
Hummus is a non-negotiable staple in my life and I usually have a couple store-bought varieties on hand at any given time. I also like to get sprouted garbanzo beans at the Farmer’s Market to make my own hummus, though I that I must warn you, sprouted hummus has a very distinct flavor. I’ll also dip virtually anything (including a spoon and/or my finger) into nut butter, so I usually keep a jar or two of sunflower seed butter in my pantry (and under my desk) as well as cashew butter.
Dipping time! Lydia's kale chips & juice pulp crackers/flatbread from TwinCakes
I like crudities and/or apples for dipping in hummus and nut butters, as well as kale chips (Lydia’s Organics can be hard to find but all of her products are worth the effort) and juice pulp crackers. I mentioned TwinCakes
post, they are a vegan/gluten-free/mostly raw East Coast bakery that you can order from online. I adore their crackers, flatbread and snack bites, all of which are parfait pour dipping!
Another staple that I keep in the pantry are various gluten-free goodies, pastas & grains for quick meals, breakfasts and snacks.
Gluten-free goodness: Brown rice pasta from TJs, Quinoa pasta from Real Foods, Mary's Gone Crackers chia seed Sticks & Twigs and Glutenfreeda Oatmeal
The gluten-free snacks that I keep around vary depending on what I find in stores and what I’m in the mood for. My last trip to the Farmer’s Market yielded a ton of new products so I had to move my stash to the freezer for safe keeping, so in addition to the above I have sprouted garden burgers, chickpea flour naan, spicy Moong Dal and GF falafel in the freezer.
Healthy raw or dried snacks and canned goods that can easily be added to/used as the base of a meal are also good to keep around.
I always have tons of nuts, chia seeds, dried fruit, lentils, beans, seeds, quinoa, couscous and canned beans & tomatoes on hand. These might not seem like much but adding kidney beans to a salad can be the perfect topping, dried pineapple rings (no additives) the most amazing dessert when sprinkled with cinnamon or quinoa the ideal base to your grilled vegetable dish.
Two other quick meal basics that are absolutely necessary in my kitchen are nooch and Braggs, which can both be used for a variety of dishes.
I couldn't live without Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids (less sodium than soy sauce & ideal for a quick stir fry) and nutritional yeast from the bins at Real Foods
Nutritional Yeast (aka Nooch) is deactivated yeast, available as a powder or in flakes, either pre-packaged (looks like parmesan cheese cans) or in the bulk bins at a health food store. Nooch contains protein & vitamins and is a complete protein, in addition to being free of sugar and allergens like dairy and gluten. Vegans, vegetarians and raw food enthusiasts often use nooch in place of processed cheese substitutes like soy cheese and Daiya to achieve “cheesiness” in their recipes. If you checked out the Oh She Glows
Mac n’ Cheese recipe that I talked about here
, you’ll see that nooch is a major ingredient.
While I’m not a ‘replace my meals with bars’ kinda girl, I do always keep bars of some sort in my purse, desk and pantry.
I go through phases with my bars, and while I will always LOVE Larabars, I'm deep in Raw Revolution devotion right now
I’ve also made two batches of these super easy raw cacao snack bars
from Choosing Raw
in the past few weeks. You can easily add/subtract flavors based on what you have on hand (cacao & coconut turned out SUBLIME) and these are delish after being frozen.
In addition to the dry (i.e. pantry) items that I like to keep on hand, there are also a few perishable staples that I consistently keep at home. Hummus (as lovingly mentioned above), spinach, firm pressed tofu, onions, ginger, garlic, large dates (always key for raw dessert recipes), sprouted garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, dipping veggies like celery, carrots, cucumber, cabbage & peppers, Daiya (Pepperjack is AMAZING) and berries to throw in the freezer for smoothies.
After the weekend shopping I cut up my fresh veggies and store in two ziplock bags, one to take to work (with a tub of hummus) and one to keep at home for snacking. I also cube 1/2 my sweet potatoes and any squash I may have picked up, to make them easier to prepare mid-week (I love baked sweet potatoes as a side so usually keep one or two whole). I also make big batches of black beans (try this recipe for Cuban black beans
) and lentils to be added to wraps, stir-fries, salads and eaten as sides during the week (small containers of each go to the office with me as well).
Other than this minimal prep I tend to just eat what sounds good on any given night, since I have all the necessary ingredients on hand!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this peek into my cupboards and I’ll be back at a later time with a look at the goodies I keep stored my office for mid-day snacking.