Kitchen Essentials

Byram is going back to his low-carb lifestyle and I am working to get back to gastric bypass dietary basics. To do this requires some shopping and some planning of meals again, and trying to accommodate my whole family’s tastes and preferences without having to make multiple meals every night. It is possible, and even pleasurable when I am in the habit, but since Thanksgiving, we have all been pretty slack. In getting back to it, I am thinking hard about what I need to have on hand for us to all be successful and what needs to get jettisoned.

What are your grocery essentials?

I never had “essentials” before my surgery. Back then, I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to what I was eating, why I was eating it, or even, as crazy as this sounds, how it really tasted. I bought what was cheap, what was on end caps, what I was familiar with, and what seemed simple.

Now there are things I really don’t like to be without in my fridge or my pantry. Here is my list that comes to mind:

In the freezer:

-boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-pre-seasoned pork tenderloin
-93/7 Extra Lean Ground Beef
-family Sized Flash Frozen Vegetables: broccoli, mixed veggies, California blend (my favorite), Brussels sprouts, peas, cauliflower, and spinach are our favorites.

Lean meats and frozen veggies tend to form the bulk of our meals. That is why I have a freezer full of this stuff because I buy large quantities of it when it is on sale.

In the fridge:

-eggs – I have between 1.5 and 3 dozen on hand at any given moment. When possible, I love having fresh eggs from the farmer’s market too. They are the best of the best.
-pre-minced jarred garlic
Sabra Roasted Garlic Hummus – NOM!
-Fage or Oikos Greek yogurt – I cannot even eat ordinary American-style yogurt anymore.
-fresh, presliced mushrooms
-cucumbers – even when they are $1.50 each, even 2 of them are cheaper than a bag of tortilla chips and make perfect “chips” for hummus and salsa dipping
-low fat 1% milk – Grace only drinks milk or water and I like it for my homemade lattes, so we go through at about a gallon per week
-shredded cheeses – all flavors, all blends, you name it, I use it
-block cheese – we like extra sharp and Colby-Jack the best
-parmesan cheese – the real stuff. This is my new best friend; you get so much flavor for so little; it is pricey but a little goes a long way and I can make a $5 wedge last 4-6 weeks or so with regular usage.
-baby carrots
-low-carb tortillas – they are good for lots of things, but I like them especially for making into chips or making breakfast burritos
-lemons and limes

In the pantry:

-dried herbs – particularly Italian blends, thyme, parsley, and basil. Seasonings are my new best friends.
-paprika – I love it; I don’t know why, I just do. I use it in everything these days, and I just discovered smoked paprika. Divine!
-canola oil – since 80% of my meals start with sautéing a diced onion and you need a little fat for the perfect sauté, canola is my choice. Olive oil is too strong a flavor, with too low a smoking point, and too expensive for me.
-onions – see above. We love love love onions, provided they are very well cooked.
-sundried tomatos – these are a recent discovery. Like the real parm, they are a little pricey, but you get a whole lot of bang for your buck. I like chopping a couple of them up and putting them in an omelet with parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese.
-canned sliced mushrooms – great for throwing into just about anything
-egg noodles – the lowest carb pasta available. When we are being very carb conscious, I don’t use these much at all, but they work very well provided we do not gorge on them. I like them in my “All-In” skillet meals or “All-in” soups. A nice way to bulk it up without excessive quantities of carbs. Only 27 carbs in a cup, which is not bad when that is the amount I add to an entire pot of soup or skillet meal.
-canned tomato products – paste, diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, puree, whatever. You name it, I use it.


-Protein Powder – Byram uses it more than me. I still haven’t quite gotten over my serious aversion I developed during my post-op 4 week liquid diet of protein shakes, this stuff is too important for me to avoid it forever. Funny story about my post-op liquid diet – around day 10 post-op, I was forcing down my shakes, gagging on them, not understanding why they tasted so violently disgusting to me. I had to hold my nose. It wasn’t until I took a sip without holding my nose that I caught a wiff of sour milk. It turned out, my milk had gone sour and I had been downing protein shakes made with sour milk for several days. I blame the Percocet for the misunderstanding. Still, a year later and knowing the reason those shakes were so horrific, I still cannot forget the gaggy feeling I had downing those shakes, and the aversion remains.
-Sugar-free syrups- I am in love with Torani’s SF Salted Caramel right now, though I had to get it straight from their website. I also have Classic Caramel, French Vanilla, and Almond Roca.
-Nuts – I like “premium” blends of nuts that contain no peanuts. Just my preference. Byram likes peanuts and almonds in particular.
-Instant espresso powder – to save me from my $5 a hit addiction at Shockoe Espresso. I greatly prefer the Ferrara brand over the Medaglia d’Oro brand, but I cannot find Ferrara locally. Mom brings it to me from Harris Teeter down her way.
-peanut butter – I love it on apple slices

This sounds like a lot, and it is. It is not even everything that goes on my regular shopping list, but it is the stuff that I subsist on or the stuff that inspires me to create new and wonderful things to subsist on.

So, what are your kitchen essentials?


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bdb on January 20, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    Thanks, you made me so hungry I had to grab some almonds!


  2. Posted by Bev on January 20, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Tons of fresh veggies & fruit. The majority of my grocery trip comes from the produce section. I don’t buy my mushrooms pre-sliced. They’re cheaper and they last longer if I buy the whole button ones and slice them myself. Just takes a second. I also buy my garlic whole and cut it up as I use it. Fresh just tastes so much better to me than the minced/jarred stuff. Plus, the fresh retains more of the nutrients. I also _have_ to have a bag of fresh spinach on hand all the time. I use it in omelets, sandwiches, salads, one-pot dishes, etc.

    And we buy frozen blueberries at Sam’s for oatmeal and adding to my plain yogurt. Those are pretty important.


  3. Posted by Kitty on January 20, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    Have you been shopping in my pantry? Subtract the sundried tomatoes, add frozen sweet potato fries and chicken nuggets for the kids and adult beverages for the grups, and that’s pretty much what we buy.


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