A common problem for grocery shoppers is getting to the store and being overwhelmed with choices. Sometimes when you intend to spend $100.00, you leave the store with over $200.00 worth of groceries, only to realize that you have nothing to show for it. There are some basic grocery items that will make shopping easier. When you leave the store, you'll know you have food items that you can use to make meals.
Try to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season whenever possible. These retain the most nutrients, but if you're afraid they'll spoil, get frozen or canned items instead. Basic vegetables to have on hand include potatoes, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, celery, carrots and lettuce. Packaged, chopped lettuces are convenient for salads. Fruits to keep in stock include apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, raisins and peaches. If you purchase canned fruits, get fruits that are packed in their own juices instead of fruits in syrup that add extra sugar.
Pantry items include canned goods, grains and cereals. The essential items to put in your shopping cart are bread, tortilla wraps, rice, hot cereals and cold cereals. Stock up on whole-wheat pastas like macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and penne for a meal that is healthy and easy to make. Don't forget to get the spaghetti sauce. Canned beans are excellent sources of fiber and iron that can be added to many meals. Canned soups like cream of mushroom soup and tomato soup can be used in a variety of casseroles. Don't forget to stock up on peanut butter, jelly, sugar, flour, coffee and tea while you're shopping.
Meat is usually the centerpiece of meals in carnivorous homes, so you'll want to make sure you have plenty on reserve. The best advice is to buy meat in bulk when it's on sale, then transfer it to smaller packages that can be stored in the freezer. Go ahead and splurge on ground beef with a 90/10 fat ratio. It costs more at first, but not as much of the product is wasted with excess grease. As a healthier alternative, you can try ground turkey. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be used in many dishes; you can purchase 5-pound bags of frozen breasts relatively cheaply. Sausage and bacon are essential breakfast meats; you can try turkey bacon or sausage instead of pork. Optional meats include steaks, pork chops and roasts.
The dairy case at your grocery store is filled with essential grocery items. The first thing you'll need to grab is milk, which is used in many recipes. Cheese and yogurt are other great calcium sources to keep in stock. Eggs are also found in the dairy case and are a must for any refrigerator. Other items you might want to get include sour cream and orange juice.
A well-stocked spice cabinet will make it easier to create that recipe you just found in a magazine. In many cases, you can find spice blends that combine the basic spices to save you time in measuring. Things you'll need include black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme are common herbs found in many spice cabinets. Many desserts call for cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. You'll also want to make sure you have lemon juice, vinegar, cooking oil and vanilla in your stock.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.