Updated: May 21
To me, the end of the summer months marks more of a 'new year' than January 1st does. With the soon-to-be crispness of the fall weather and kids heading back to school, the busyness of life often feels overwhelming. For that reason, I have come up with a full-proof, back-to-the-basics grocery guide for all of you here at The Wooden Spoon Healthy Eating so that your shopping can be one less stressor as we transition to the simultaneously hectic coziness of Autumn.
Personally, I will be heading back to University this fall, which means lots and lots of meal prep on the front end of things. As I'll be rushing to and from campus, classes, work, and other activities, I simply don't have the time to ponder what I need to buy to cook later. For me, what works best is honing in on some easy, healthy staples that I enjoy so that the 'thinking' of grocery shopping and cooking is done away with! Yes, that does mean peanut butter and mustard, as I am nearly *positive* you all are thinking to yourselves...but those two don't exactly make up a solid, healthy...nor tasty meal. Instead, I love items that can be used for multiple meals and in different ways - an effort that streamlines my grocery list while still providing me with nutritious choices when hunger strikes!
JUST GET ON WITH IT! Am I right?
Without further ado, here are some of my essential, simple buys for busy folks like myself:
Eggs: scrambled, hard-boiled (on salads, just by themselves, used in sandwiches'), made into casseroles (also known as hot-dish for some of you all), and of course in delicious desserts... there's a reason why I listed this one first. One must always ALWAYS have a bounty of eggs!
Butter (preferably grass-fed): my favorite brand is Kerrygold, available anywhere from Costco, Lakewinds, and Target. I add a bit of butter to my sauteed veggies, scrambled eggs, baked goods, and, though maybe a weird idea to some of you, even to my coffee when I feel like it! Again, butter is an absolute must.
Cheese: this one will vary depending on what kind of cheese you prefer, but truly, you can't go wrong with some quality cheese. One of my personal favorites is the uber-basic sharp cheddar, or if I'm feeling a tad more 'adventurous', sheep's milk Manchego cheese is available almost everywhere. Some good cheese always hits the spot, whether eaten by itself, over eggs, melted on meat, or in a wrap! Whole Foods has a wonderful selection of cheeses.
Vegetables: I love going to my local farmer's market to purchase the freshest, in-season produce, but that isn't always an option as the summer transitions to the fall. With that being said, I am fortunate enough to have a local co-op near me that provides me with the same produce I relish in the hotter time of the year. As to what specific veggies? Once more, this one depends heavily on individual preference, but I typically opt for broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and particularly in the fall, squash of all sorts!
Beef, Chicken, & Fish (preferably grass-fed): One of my favorite things to do when life gets busy is to spend the Saturday or Sunday before a new week relaxing in the kitchen, cooking my meals for the week to come. There's nothing like whipping up a healthy batch of chicken parm and enjoying it later in the week after a hard day! That said, my main focus lies on the meats that will make up most of my meals, with my favorites being beef, chicken, and fish.
*Pro Tip*: For all of you snackers, here's a brief, very-useful list of nutritious, no-prep-needed snacks for those moments when you're hungry but it's not yet meal-time:
Pork Rinds: though a little off-putting since they're just fried pork skin and salt (and yes, I'm referring to myself when I hadn't eaten them all that much), these cracker or chip-like snacks always come through for me. Pair them with your favorite dip, salsa, or cheese; you've got a delicious dose of healthy fats and protein.
Nuts: my favorite has got to be almonds, but whatever suits your fancy! If you're feeling like mixing it up a bit, prep some trail mix made up of different nuts, sugar-free chocolate chips, and pumpkin seeds for a bit of a fall flair, and you've got yourself a 'fancy' treat on the go!
Nut-butter: On that same note, nut-butter pouches are one of my favorite things to bring for a fast, yummy snack during my day's chock-full of lecture after lecture and homework. You guessed it - my most-picked flavor is peanut butter, but stores everywhere make almonds, cashew, etc., varieties, some flavored with fruits or even chocolate! Could it get any better?!
Peanut Butter Dessert Bites: A perfect healthy treat for all our peanut butter lovers. Very easy to make, with few ingredients, but the perfect snack or dessert. Read the recipe here!
Foodies, the start of a 'new' year, or at least a new school year, doesn't need to induce feelings of stress in you all...well, at least not as it relates to your food! If you stick to the list above while fine-tuning it to suit your favorite staples, you'll surely manage to eat healthy even when the minutes seem to escape you.
As the leaves change color and begin to fall, let's look to the coming cooler months with excitement for the treasured holiday meals soon-to-be-shared with loved ones instead of getting lost in the fray of each day!
Here's to health,
Contributor & Founder of The Wooden Spoon Healthy Eating Blog
A note from the editor:
Whether you have a goal of eating healthier or not, these ingredients: cheese, fresh vegetables, butter, and the rest of them are important ingredients that every kitchen should have. It's important to have versatile ingredients in your pantry and fridge to take your cooking to the next level. And as usual... fresh herbs are always essential in anyone's kitchen.