Here is a list of the most common groceries I buy. Having these on hand will make thing faster while you try some of these recipes. I also list some of my favorite kitchen tools and appliances.
Groceries I frequently buy
White whole wheat flour- This is a type of whole wheat flour which uses an albino type of wheat instead of the traditional red wheat. The result is a flour that is soft, white, but full of nutrients found in whole wheat flour. I started using this in my baking a few months ago. You can usually buy it in the baking section next to all purpose flour, and a popular brand is “King Arthur Flour”. It is high in fiber like regular flour but it is not quite as harsh and earthy tasting. As your family is getting used to it, you may substitute half of regular flour with white whole wheat. At first they may not even noticed the substitution, and you can use more of the whole wheat as time passes.
Flax seeds or flax meal- Flax (also called linseed) is a plant native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. The largest grower of flax is now Canada. The seeds are very high in fiber and also in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important in the health of the brain, eye and heart, particularly in growing children. These benefits can be obtained the most when the seeds are ground into “flax meal”. The two basic kinds of flax are brown or yellow (golden). The seeds can be stored at room temperature, but when ground they are better stored in the refrigerator. Flax meal can be purchased ground or the flax seeds can be ground at home in a powerful blender or food processor. At Wegmans in Fredericksburg you can find flax seeds, both brown and golden in the bulk section in “Nature’s Marketplace” which is an economical way to buy them. I grind them in my Blendtec blender and store them in a jar in the refrigerator. Flax can be hidden in so many ways including in baked goods, smoothies, stews, and breading for fish and chicken. I find that the golden flax blends best with many foods.
Wheat germ- Wheat germ is the reproductive part of the wheat kernel. It only makes up about 2.5% of the kernel but it is concentrated with tons of nutrition including Vitamin E, folic acid, phosphorus, thiamin, zinc and magnesium, as well as essential fatty acids. It’s also a good source of fiber. I use it in almost the same way as I use flax meal.
Plain Greek yogurt- I buy 1-2 large tubs of this every week if I don’t have time to make my own. I use it to give my smoothies and popsicles a calcium boost and creamy texture and often use it with milk in place of buttermilk in recipes. Yogurt is a great snack, especially topped with fruit and granola. Yogurt is a source of active cultures which can aid in the health of the gastrointestinal system. Flavored yogurt is EXTREMELY high in sugar, and I don’t like artificial sweeteners. However plain yogurt lets me add flavor with fruit and sometime a wee bit of honey.
Honey- Honey is a natural sweetener that can be used to sweeten baked goods, drinks and other foods. Honey has antioxidants and other medicinal properties. I use honey a lot as a sweetener. It’s great when added to cookies and gives them a chewy texture. Some research shows that honey soothes a cough as well as dextromethorphan, a popular cough suppressant.
Extra virgin Olive Oil– This heart healthy oil is what I use for most of my cooking. It has a low smoke point so it’s not great for high heat and frying.
Coconut Oil- This is what I use for stirfrying in high heat.
Grapeseed Oil– I use this sometimes where vegetable oil is called for in my baking. I buy from a company called Wildtree, which extracts oil by cold-pressing instead of chemically.
Semisweet chocolate chips- Chocolate has antioxidants which are good for your health. Plus, who doesn’t love chocolate! I often use add chips to new recipes like breakfast foods to bait my Tiny Tasters! We also frequently make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for an after school snack.
Kale- This is my favorite green leafy vegetable for blending into smoothies. It is always in my refrigerator. It has a ton of nutrition, is especially high in Vitamin A and C, has fiber and even some calcium. Besides being incredibly nutritious, it has almost no taste when blended in small amounts into fruit smoothies (unlike many other greens which add a bitter taste). I will often buy it in a bag of bite-sized pieces. The only downside I see it that this is also a vegetable that has been found to have higher levels of pesticide residue. You might consider buying organic. Wegmans has two types of organic kale in their produce section. A great side dish I make frequently. called Kale and Matchstick Carrots is very quick and nutritious.
Baby spinach- I often keep a bag of this to eat as salad but also to blend into savory foods in a secret way. Baby spinach is soft and wilts easily with heat so it can be incorporated into a lot of foods without kids tasting it. Like kale it is packed with nutrition.
Baby carrots- Carrots are a great source of fiber and beta carotene which is converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A is important in the health of the eyes. Buying them peeled and cut saves a ton of time when you are adding them to smoothies or serving them as a snack. Grinding or cooking carrots slightly actually makes the beta carotene more available for absorption.
Grapes- Grapes are high in nutrients and flavanoids which are powerful antioxidants. I use green or red grapes in smoothies which adds a lot of sweetness. Frozen grapes also make a great snack.
Bananas- a great snack, great source of fiber and potassium. They are also great in smoothies.
Frozen berries- I always have a big bag of blueberries or mixed berries in the freezer. I add these to my smoothies all the time. Frozen berries are great because they are often less expensive when berries are out of season, they don’t spoil like fresh berries, and often because they are picked when ripe, they can have a higher nutrient content. Berries have a VERY high concentration of nutrients and antioxidants.
Salad Greens- Mixed salad greens are great to have around, especially when you don’t have time to prepare a vegetable with dinner. If your kids get used to salad greens then it’s a great go-to side and can be served with their favorite fresh cut veggies.
MY FAVORITE KITCHEN TOOLS
Blendtec blender- This is my favorite kitchen tool. When my husband told me he ordered this and how much he paid for it, I hit the roof! Why pay so much for a blender? As I later found out there are two high power blenders, the Blendtec and the Vitamix which deliver over and above most blenders. This thing grinds foods to a PULP! I can hide lots of veggies in fruit smoothies because it blends SO WELL. I use it to grind flax seeds, to puree steamed foods, for sauces and soups. If your blender is not doing the trick when making certain recipes, a food processor is worth a try, too. For grinding seeds like flax, a coffee grinder is another great alternative. TheMagic Bullet is a lower cost option that many like.
Mini food processor- This thing is cheap about (30-40 dollars) and so much easier to clean than a full sized food processor. I keep mine on the counter and use it for TONS of things like grinding nuts, making salad dressing, chopping veggies. Worth the investment!
Food scale- Helpful in recipes. Mine is made by Salter. It’s digital and has a “Zero” function so that I can measure food in a bowl or plate.
A Good knife– Having one good knife is really all you need. A good sharpened knife saves you a lot of time, too. Mine is a 7 inch Santoku knife made by Wustof. My mother-in-law gave me a 5 inch Santoku that I love for smaller fruits and veggies.
Convection toaster oven- When replacing our toaster oven, I purchased a toaster convection oven (ours is made by Cuisinart). This thing ROCKS! It preheats in a snap, and because it’s convection the baking time is reduced dramatically. I use it for baking, toasting, pizzas, you name it. It saves me a TON of time. Note that when using my convection for recipes I turn the heat down by 25 degrees and usually the cooking time is reduced by 30% . I’m careful to check food often so as not to overcook.
Cutting board- A big cutting board kept out on your counter permanently makes it quick and easy to chop fruits and veggies.
Cutting mats- These can be placed on top of your cutting board. After chopping fold it and transport veggies from cutting board to cooktop without having to scoop them up with my hands-much less messy. I cut raw meats and fish on them and then put them straight into the dishwasher without contaminating my cutting board. If you get a set they are often color coded so you know which board to use with which foods.
Good quality peeler- Mine is made by Kitchen Aid and it’s very sharp.
All in one measuring spoon- Mine is bright green so it’s easy to find. It has 5 different sizes which saves me time looking for different measuring spoons.
Panini Press- Mine is the Cuisinart 3 in 1 Griddler. We use this constantly for sandwiches and quesadillas. It can be opened up flat and converted to a griddle which makes it possible to make 4 pancakes at a time.
Slowcooker- Great for all in one meals and for making tougher meats tender and delicious. I have a steel cut oatmeal recipe that uses a slow cooker. Since this type of oatmeal has a longer cooking time you can cook overnight and it saves a lot of time.
Silicone baking mats– Mine are the Silpat brand. These are great for non-stick baking, and they keep your cookie sheets clean. I found a baking mat made by Wilton that I was able to cut into a smaller size for baking in the toaster convection oven.
Breadmaker- I love the smell of fresh baked bread. Dump the ingredients in, and four hours later you have warm bread that you can serve with dinner and eat for breakfast, too. Bread is a great place to hide nutritious ingredients. I have started using it for pizza dough,too. In about 1 hour you can make a homemade pizza crust.
Pastry Mat- A smooth silicone pastry mat is a great idea for making homemade pasta, rolling out pie crusts, and pizza dough. The measurements drawn on many of these mats are very helpful as well. When you’re done, it rolls up out of site. My mat has been discontinued. The link directs you to a popular mat online which is similar and has some great reviews.
Learning Tower – When my first child was a toddler I noticed that he seemed discontent being on the floor and not being able to see what I was doing when I was preparing food in the kitchen. A friend of mine told me about the “Learning Tower” which is offered by many Montessori stores online. This is a wooden structure that kids can safely stand on. It puts them at counter height, allowing them to see and participate in cooking. The platform can be adjusted downwards as children grow taller, and mine has been used 7 years and counting. The kids will both stand on it together if they want to help me with a cooking project. A great thing to have to make it easy for kids to get involved with making food.
EasyLunchboxes 3-compartment Bento Containers (Set of 4) with insulated, non-vinyl Lunch Cooler Bag, Aqua
This great lunchbox system makes packing lunches a breeze. I love how easy it is to plan lunches, and how easy they are to clean. See more on packing nutritious lunches and how I use my lunch boxes in my post, “A Pediatrician’s Ten Tips for Packing a Nutritious Lunch”.