It’s not always realistic that we are going to plan out every single meal in a week and have a perfectly curated grocery list. I sure as heck DON’T unless I’m entertaining, or really jonesing for a certain recipe, or feeling extra prepared and prissy and in the mood for an epic meal prep, otherwise, I’m getting what looks fresh and calls out to me to throw together for the week – but even that can be overwhelming sometimes. Like when we’re in a rush, all over the place, and just need to get in and out with some food to last us the week that we can easily make some tasty, healthy meals out of without worrying or over-thinking. Enter: THE GROCERY LIST TEMPLATE
I call this a “template” because if you can just look at the list below, and multiply by however many people you need to feed portion/amount-wise. You’ll be good to go. If it’s helpful to jot it down before you get into the store all over yes let’s do that, but you can still follow the format below to create your weekday meals. Having pantry items all ready to go will also arm you with everything you need, so that week to week, you’re just grabbing the “fresh stuff”. And don’t miss my budget saving tips for grabbing high-quality meat, fish, and finding the best prices on all the rest too. If you can do delivery, even better so it frees up more of your time and money. Do those two things, use this grocery list template, and keep at it, practice – practice. You’ll find this suddenly isn’t so challenging, costly, or annoying soon enough! Use these resources together for a healthy grocery list on a budget!
You’ll notice this is a mainly Paleo-friendly type of template, since that’s how I eat most of the time but it’s easy to adapt if grains or legumes are your thing too! No matter what, I’m after the most nutrient-dense, least inflammatory, and least processed meals I can get, so that’s how it’s geared.
THE GROCERY LIST TEMPLATE
Nutrient-dense & Paleo-friendly
3 types of protein
If you already have this stocked in your freezer, even better, but assuming you at least need fresh, pasture-raised eggs, you can add that to the list if it’s something you eat. If you’re looking for a helpful time-saving option, many stores have whole rotisserie chickens you can buy and use the parts up in so many ways! Just store in your fridge and get picking at it (just be sure to check the ingredients, sometimes oils like canola oil or even sugar is added, use your best judgement, I’d recommend against consuming canola oil and stick with healthier fats like animal fat, coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, and olive oil).
Also, try to switch it up, the amounts of the types of protein you choose depend on your schedule and how many people you’re feeding of course, but try to get 3 variations in so you don’t get sick of something.
Example of My Typical List:
Vital Farms Pasture Raised Eggs
(and for my 2nd & 3rd types: I usually have my pantry staples like canned tuna, sardines, chicken, bison, wild salmon, etc. in the freezer to defrost)
Don’t forget about canned fish and eggs as a cost-effective protein when the rest gets a little pricey!
4 types of veggies
Fresh/frozen really depends on the season and the convenience of it. If you’re the type who feels like they constantly throw away produce that goes bad because you couldn’t get a chance to cook it – you may seriously want to lean on frozen! You can sauté, steam, and roast them just the same, they’re often more cost-effective, and this is best for out of season food. Of course, some things just don’t freeze well, usually anything that holds a lot of water, like zucchini for example – so you may not find choices. Get them plain, anything with additives usually has sneaky ingredients like flours, etc. You can spice them up yourself!
As far as the “to organic or not organic”, visit EWG’s dirty dozen (they have an app you can look at on your phone while you’re in the store to remind yourself) to see what’s best. Anything on the “dirty dozen” is advised to buy organic, and anything on the “clean 15” list can be bought conventional. Seriously, do your best here, of course, quality is important, but by just getting more vegetables into your diet… you’re doing yourself a world of good. So start where you are and don’t let money deter you from eating better.
Example of My Typical List:
Frozen Organic Cauliflower Rice (Trader Joe’s has this, and the Cascadian Farm brand sells this in various stores) – it’s so easy to just sauté this with a little olive oil, spices and boom – easy side in just a few minutes. No defrosting needed.
Spinach (frozen AND fresh) – I get both because the frozen is easy to meal prep and save for later, the fresh is great for lining my plate with greens.
Fresh Lacinto Kale – I love making my sautéed greens on the regular!m When it’s warmer out, I’ll usually just get a lot of salad greens and do less cooking.
Bag of Sweet Potatoes (I like white the best)
2-3 types of fruits
I love getting whatever is in season, this makes for an easy snack or dessert. And then I keep frozen berries on hand for smoothies or “nice cream”. The same here applies for the veggies with respect to deciding on fresh vs. frozen and organic vs. conventional. I also always have lemons, so I had to make it a 2-3 type of deal, I use it in my morning lemon water and for a lot of cooking.
Example of My Typical List:
Bag of lemons
Since it’s winter, I’m coveting all the citrus! I’m grabbing Clementines, Satsumas, and whatever else I can get. They’re an easy, refreshing snack to take on the go too.
Frozen berries – they’re not currently in season and will cost you so much money if you buy them out of season! So I don’t even try, and go straight to the freezer aisle. They’re also great for topping off coconut yogurt or pancakes just as they are if you’re not blending them up somehow.
If you’re a lucky devil that happens to have an herb garden, good for you. But in my small NYC apartment… I’m only privy to that in the summer when I can have them outside because there’s no light in my kitchen to grow them indoors! So I usually have to buy them, and love to add herbs to anything and everything. They’re so healthy and delicious and really spice things up. Get whatever appeals to you and however many you like, but start slow if you’re new to them because you don’t want them to spoil.
*Bonus* A snack
Sometimes I buy dark chocolate online, but lately, my stores have had a lot to choose from and I get whatever I feel like that week! I look for the highest percentage of chocolate I can find and the best/lowest amount of sugar, and certainly no dairy. If it’s hard for you to find something like that locally, I’d say buy it online if you can stand to have it in bulk in the house! ???? Sometimes stuff like that disappears a little too quickly, so it’s best to buy one-off when the mood strikes.
I like to keep it simple here, because I can always bake if I really want something like a cookie, etc. and yes it’s extra effort, but I can trust what’s in it and nothing beats homemade… like ever.