This list for someone who a) doesn't have dietary restrictions, b) wants to eat healthfully, c) is cooking mostly for oneself. It assumes you already have basics like olive oil, salt, pepper etc.
  1. Healthy breakfast stuff
    This can be a box of steel cut oats, whole grain cold cereal, whole grain English muffins (I LOVE the kind from Food for Life or Ezekiel), smoothie ingredients, or anything else that is low in sugar and contains a bit of fiber and protein. Check out my list about breakfasts you can eat while running out the door for ideas.
  2. Coffee
    If you don't drink it, obviously skip it, but if you do, buy it in bulk and grind it yourself at the in-store grinder (unless you have a grinder at home)--much cheaper than buying it pre-ground in bags. If you're unsure what kind to buy, French roast is usually a good bet for most people.
  3. Coffee filters or one reusable filter
    I love my reusable one
  4. 1 dozen eggs
    Great for breakfast on a toasted English muffin, but also just an excellent source of high-quality protein. Hard or soft boil a few and keep them around as a nutritious snack, or chop them and put them over salad greens. Speaking of which...
  5. Greens you can eat cooked or raw
    Baby spinach or kale (go for dark green lacinato/dinosaur kale as opposed to the lighter green curly variety) are my picks. Use to make salads or saute in a bit of olive oil.
  6. Baby carrots, mini Persian cucumbers, mini bell peppers, or any other crunchy, easy to eat raw vegetable
    For healthy snacking, but can also be used in cooking.
  7. 1 or 2 medium onions
    I usually buy yellow, but white or red are OK too.
  8. 1 head of garlic
  9. 1 or 2 lemons
    Good for flavoring water and squeezing over cooked vegetables or salads.
  10. Apples, oranges, bananas, or another in-season, easy to eat fruit.
    If it's easy to eat, and requires little to no prep beyond washing, you are more likely to eat it, which is the idea.
  11. Half-and-half
    Half-and-half is for so much more than coffee. You can also use it to thicken creamy soups, sauces, and curries, but it can also be diluted with water (use equal parts half-and-half and water) to make milk. I know it seems weird but it totally works. I don't drink straight milk, but I keep half-and-half around for when I need it for cereal or a recipe calling for milk.
  12. Cheese
    Choose something with mild flavor that can be used for a variety of things, including snacking on, plain. Low-moisture mozzarella, mild or medium cheddar, or jack are all good options. Use it in sandwiches, shredded over scrambled eggs, cubed in salad, or stirred into pasta
  13. Pasta
    I like to buy strand pasta that can go in an Italian or Asian direction, depending on my mood. Fettuccine, linguine, and spaghetti are all good picks.
  14. Fire-roasted canned tomatoes (chopped or crushed)
    The very best kind to buy is Muir Glen. The tomatoes are slightly sweet and a little bit smoky and so delicious. Saute half a can of them with a couple of cloves of garlic and a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil and make the best quick tomato sauce ever.
  15. Fresh herbs
    Using fresh herbs is the quickest way to take your cooking from average to great with very little effort. My weekly buys are cilantro for Asian/Latin dishes and flat-leaf parsley for Italian/Mediterranean. Mint and basil are semi-regulars.
  16. Butter
    My favorite kind is Kerrygold. Good for spreading on toast and cooking, and the foil wrapper keeps it tasting fresh for a long time.
  17. Meat/fish/tofu
    I alternate between sausages (usually cheapest if you get them at the deli counter as opposed to pre-packaged--simply pan-fry or grill for a quick dinner), chicken thighs (see my list about the best-ever recipe for these), Tilapia (sustainable and easy to cook), and sprouted extra-firm tofu.
  18. Canned beans
    Pinto, black, or cannellini (Italian white) beans. Rinse them before using. Use pinto and black beans in tacos, quesadillas, and burritos. Toss the white beans with cooked pasta, olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Great source of protein and fiber.
  19. Tortillas
    Corn, whole wheat, or brown rice (the lattermost one gets really crispy when cooked in a little olive oil) for quesadillas, breakfast burritos, tacos, etc.
  20. 1 or 2 avocados
    If you think you'll eat two in a week, buy one that is ripe and one that is still a little hard (it'll be ripe by the time you're ready to use it).
  21. Nut butter
    Eat it with apples, spread it on an English muffin. mix it with soy sauce, honey, and chopped garlic to make a quick sauce to toss noodles in.
  22. Grapes
    Rinse and put in the freezer so you always have a healthy dessert option around when late-night sweets cravings hit.
  23. Need recipe ideas? Hit me up! 🔪🍴🍝🍵🍕