The Ultimate Grocery List

The prospect of cooking and finally transitioning away from industrialized dining room cuisine sounds wonderful…in theory.  In practice, for the inexperienced, time-strained college chef, obtaining and producing healthy meals is a significant undertaking.

In previous years I have made sporadic appearances at the grocery stores close to campus purchasing the odd Honeycrisp apple, baby carrots, milk, multiple pods of Greek yogurt…perhaps some chips or cookies.  My dorm room fridge was full of food….that could be eaten without preparation.  And actually, my freezer was full of frozen meatballs that instead of being consumed got frozen stuck until May when my fridge was finally defrosted for storage.  This year, since I will finally be living fully on my own in a real apartment with a real kitchen I decided it was time to tackle the “oh so large” ability to grocery shop, cook and eat practically, healthily and quickly and to – fill my fridge with healthy, useful foods.

I decided to turn to my Mama Lise for some expert advice.  As a quick preview, Lise loves quinoa, olive oil and banana crunch muffins and she despises ham sandwiches on white bread.

Mama Lise divides her grocery list into breakfast, morning snacks, lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner and sweets.  She adapted her list for one person on a college-friendly budget.

**Mama Lise’s Grocery Tips**

Breakfast. To have varied breakfasts each morning requires some food group organization.  In terms of dairy, Lise suggests stocking your fridge full of plain low-fat Greek yogurt (which can be flavored with honey or maple syrup), milk, organic or omega 3 eggs and organic butter (butter can be frozen and thawed as needed).  With regards to breads and cereals, Lise believes college students should purchase a package of multigrain English muffins or multigrain bagels (can be frozen and thawed as eaten).  Lise also loves almond and raisin granola.  She says it’s tasty, but neutral and versatile.  It can also be easily sprinkled atop yogurt, added to muffins etc.   Fruits are also an essential part of a healthy breakfast.  Lise suggests investing in some apple, preferably Crispin’s, Delicious or Granny Smith.  Granny Smith apples are an essential because they’re good for cooking, sliced on oatmeal, in a spinach salad etc.  Apples last a long time, so buy as many as you need and can store.  To drink, Tropicana Orange or Pink Grapefruit juice are both good choices.  (Lise admits that pink grapefruit is multipurpose…it can be used later on in the day to make mixed drinks).  Lastly, some essential pantry items include almond (or peanut) butter, 1 jar of English or French jam and 1 bottle of honey.

Morning Snacks. Mama Lise makes her own trail mix which she takes to work.  She mixes some raisins, walnuts, almonds and a little piece of Lindt sea salt dark chocolate (actually the best chocolate bar ever).  Getting a package of each of these ingredients would be good to start.

Lunch. “Paninis are delicious” –Mama Lise. Lise loves eating panini for lunch.  They’re nutritious, filling and can be altered for variety.  Paninis require that you buy 1-2 multigrain ciabattas, depending on how many paninis you plan to eat in a week.  Paninis must also be filled with ample vegetables.  And while shopping in the vegetable section, you might as well also purchase vegetable for dinnertime cooking endeavors.  A good list of usable vegetables includes 1 bag of spinach, 1 yellow and green pepper, shallots, celery, 1 cucumber, 1-2 field tomatoes, 2 lemons and 1 lime, a little roasted eggplant from the antipasto counter, 1 bag of cooking onions and 1 bag of baby carrots.  Some useful items to add to your pantry are a little jar of pesto, a jar of capers, coarse salt and pepper and 1 liter of extra virgin olive oil (you will be using a lot of this).  Lise is also quite an avid cheese consumer.  She encourages trying different cheese (1 type every week or two) because they all melt on paninis.  Some highlights which she suggests include mozzarella, old sharp cheddar, feta or goat cheese.  She also encourages investing in a large chunk of either Parmesan or Romano (good quality, from Whole Foods or Costco).  These cheese last forever (aka a semester) and can be used as nice hors d’oeuvres.

Afternoon snacks. Lise has two go-to snacks when she gets peckish in the afternoon.  She either eats an apple or banana with almond butter or baby carrots with salsa.

Dinner. Shopping for lunch and breakfast has stocked you up for most of Lise’s dinner recipes…however to top off your cart for the last meal of the day add some fish.  Halibut is a good fish option.  Buy 12 ounces which you can separate into 3-4 ounce servings and freeze/thaw as needed.  Lise claims good halibut is essential and absolutely do not buy farm fed fish.  For poultry, 1 package of chicken breast to separate and freeze.  Pasta and rice are also necessities.  Lise always opts for brown rice pasta and has her own unique way of preparing it just right.  Otherwise, one package of regular pasta (noodles or spaghetti) will do.  She also like Uncle Ben’s brown rice and basmati rice.  Finally finish filling your pantry with 1-2 boxes of natural chicken or vegetable broth, 1-2 jars of tomato sauce or tins of tomato paste, 1 bag of green lentils, 1 tin of chunky unsweetened pineapple, Worchester sauce, soya sauce, and 1 small bag of oregano, chili powder, cumin and cinnamon.

Fill your fridge, freezer and cupboards according to Mama Lise (whose recipes will follow soon) and feeding yourself and even your friends will no longer seem like such a daunting task.

**The Shopping List**

Many of the items on this list will get you through most of a semester. Others you’ll have to replenish more frequently. Keep this list handy and check off what you need each time. Don’t forget to use your freezer!

Plain low-fat Greek yogurt
Low-fat milk
1 dozen eggs
1 lb organic butter
1 package multigrain English muffins or multigrain bagels
Almond and raisin granola
Tropicana orange or pink grapefruit juice
1 jar jam
1 bottle honey.

1-2 multigrain ciabattas
1 bag of spinach
1 yellow or green pepper
Bunch celery
1 cucumber
1-2 tomatoes
2 lemons
1 lime
Roasted eggplant from the antipasto counter
1 bag onions
1 bag carrots
1 jar pesto
1 jar capers
Coarse salt and pepper
1 liter of extra virgin olive oil
1 package cheese (try mozzarella, aged sharp cheddar, feta or goat cheese)
Large chunk good-quality Parmesan or Romano

Almond butter
Trail mix
Dark chocolate

12 ounces halibut
One 2-lb package of chicken breast to separate and freeze.
1 package brown rice or regular pasta
Brown rice
Basmati rice
1-2 cartons natural chicken or vegetable broth
1-2 jars tomato sauce or tins of tomato paste
1 bag green lentils
1 tin of chunky unsweetened pineapple
Worchester sauce, soya sauce
1 small bag each oregano, chili powder, cumin and cinnamon.


Originally posted on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

45 Responses to “The Ultimate Grocery List”

  1. Jessica

    October 5th, 2011

    Excellent, This gave me great ideas for my lunch and dinners and breakfeast. I now use these as foundations to bulit other alternatives. Thank you, for helping me lead a healthier lifestyle.

  2. Lisa

    October 5th, 2011

    What a great shopping list. I’m on a tight budget. How much money should I count on to get started?

  3. Jessica

    October 5th, 2011

    I really like the grocery list something I would add would be tumeric and Himalayan salt as my staple seasonings. The health benifits are amazing.

  4. Loreen

    October 5th, 2011

    Love the list. My son has gone away to university this year and will definately use this list.

  5. Nicholas

    October 5th, 2011

    Mama Lise,

    Interesting grocery list.
    I have never had almond butter. Other than almonds, what else is in it and what do you do with it?

  6. Laurie

    October 5th, 2011

    This is a great shopping list. Thanks. I am going to try brown rice pasta and definitely give this shopping list to my daughter who is away at school.

  7. louise souch

    October 5th, 2011

    Almond butter and bananas is how I survived college however this would be my dream list!

  8. Nancy

    October 5th, 2011

    I love this list and useful information. I am forwarding this to my two daughters who are away at school. Healthy eating isn’t so difficult! Thank you.

  9. rhianon

    October 5th, 2011

    Great list – I will send this shopping list off to daughter at school!

  10. Celia

    October 5th, 2011

    Looks like you are having fun and providing a great service!
    I’ll send this to my daughter in third-year university.

  11. Cathy Gallo

    October 5th, 2011

    Excellent list! Will definitely go shopping.

  12. Christina Burk

    October 5th, 2011

    Love these ideas. Making meals can be difficult for one person.

  13. Jillian

    October 5th, 2011

    Brilliant list full of healthy suggestions. I’ll pass it on!

  14. Anneta Kotsaftis

    October 5th, 2011

    I love all these ideas. Preparing meals just got fun!!

  15. kim McCarthy

    October 5th, 2011

    I cant wait to start cooking. There are excellent ideas. Thank you Mama Lise.

  16. Rocco Gallo

    October 5th, 2011

    Mama Lise I love these suggestions. Keep cooking!

  17. kelsey S

    October 5th, 2011

    awesome ideas! I love them! I am away at school currently so this is so great!

  18. Rachelle Landry

    October 5th, 2011

    Thank you for the great ideas. My nutritionist had similar food choices too. You are definitely on the right track!

  19. jazz

    October 5th, 2011

    great ideas! can’t wait to go grocery shopping

  20. Emma

    October 5th, 2011

    Great ideas! Im in college and this seems incredibly helpful! Awesome job!!

  21. Wendy E

    October 5th, 2011

    I’m sending these ideas and recipes to my son who’s in college and cooking for himself….a scary thought!

  22. Gloria

    October 5th, 2011

    Can’t wait to try this out on my boys. By the time they get to university they may be well trained!

  23. Eileen

    October 5th, 2011

    Great list…. I have 3 kids away at school And they could all use a little guidance .
    I love the list too now that I am not cooking for a crowd:)

  24. Barbara Cooper

    October 5th, 2011

    Terrific ideas-sure to be passed on!

  25. Anne Bancroft

    October 5th, 2011

    Some great suggestions – I’ll forward these to my son who’s away on his own for the first time.

  26. Judith

    October 5th, 2011

    That’s a useful list… that will lead to healthy meals!

  27. Louise

    October 5th, 2011

    I’m definately sending it to my kids! Thanks

  28. Gill

    October 5th, 2011

    Good list. Mama Lise sounds like a sage and healthy individual. The list is a bit too healthy for my university boys, but if they even use 1/2 the suggestions that will be an improvement.

  29. Charlie

    October 5th, 2011

    I went out to buy a few of the groceries that Mama Lise recommends. I’ve decided to stop eating crappy food and focus on good stuff. Geez…I would love it if Mama Lise would take me shopping!

  30. Barb

    October 5th, 2011

    Great list. This will definitely help my daughter with her grocery shopping while away at school. Thanks for the great information…

  31. Gill

    October 5th, 2011

    That Mama Lise…she’s so organized! I’m glad you’re well stocked and taken care of in the eating department. There’s some great information here. Thanks…keep on running!

  32. Ellen

    October 5th, 2011

    I love the idea of making my own trail mix as a morning snack.

  33. eileen farrow

    October 6th, 2011

    Excellent ideas!! One at college and 3 on the way! Really great!

  34. Mitchell

    October 6th, 2011

    Why does Mama Lise use organic butter. Do I have to buy organic. It’s expensive.

  35. Elisabeth

    October 6th, 2011

    I am passing this on to my boys who are in University! Thanks! :)

  36. Joanna

    October 6th, 2011

    Would love similar posts from some of the other bloggers on this site of their “ultimate” grocery lists–I love this post!

  37. Wendy

    October 6th, 2011

    I love this list! So creative! I never would have thought of these very practical but fun foods. I’m sending this list to my son and his household at University. Keep on cranking out those fabulous ideas for college kids. It sure beats the shreddies and grilled cheese we lived on.

  38. Eliza

    October 9th, 2011

    Cool suggestions, but you’re forgetting one thing – we’re college students, on a college budget.

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    November 18th, 2011

    [...] cuisine requires some thought and a little planning. The kind of thought and planning your parents mastered in your elementary school days. Think about it: your parents didn’t have oodles of time to [...]

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    November 18th, 2011

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  41. Angry Person

    December 28th, 2011

    Brb..en route to whole foods.

  42. healthy grocery list

    April 17th, 2012

    For me, personally, the ultimate and the best grocery list enumerates fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. :)

  43. Nathalie

    September 20th, 2013

    Found this through google and it seems I’m a little late, but I’d still like to thank the writer! I’m a freshman and I spent my first week just eating bread, because I didn’t know how to approach getting groceries. This has been very helpful. :-)

  44. Ray @ Make Your Hair Grow Faster

    October 10th, 2013

    Awesome tips! I’m glad I found this. We have trouble making sure that we buy things we can use within a week. I work two jobs, and my spouse works and goes to nursing school full time, so it’s essential that we have ingredients for quick, low fuss meals–otherwise it’s fast food everyday. Thanks for this post!

  45. Delariva

    October 25th, 2013

    Fantastic troubles entirely, you may acquired your emblem completely new viewer. Exactly what could you advise regarding your distribute that you produced 7 days in past times? Every favourable?

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