This week marks my third year in NYC. When I first moved here, things were much different than they are now. I didn’t know where to live, what I was doing or how long I’d be here for. I had graduated college semi-recently and had this feeling like I could go anywhere and be whoever I wanted to be, no obligations, no ties… and for some reason I had my heart set on New York City, a place where so many have moved before me to do just that. The only issue was I couldn’t land down a job! And for those of you that know, New York City is not a cheap place to live, you have to have a decent-paying job to even afford to live here. It’s a constant struggle living in a big city, and coming from a small town I realized that getting groceries is no exception. You don’t have a car, so you can’t load up your groceries and drive home, taking them out one by one. You have to carry your heavy bags of groceries home by yourself in a city (through the subway turnstyle in the heat, wind, snow rain and everything). This means you can’t do one big shopping trip, you have to break it up multiple times a week.
Some people forgo grocery shopping completely, and you’ have no idea how many of my friends here eat out for every meal like it’s nothing. Personally, I like to make my own food because a) I know what’s going into it, b) I can have exactly what I want (I’m a picky eater) and c) it saves money.
So after three years of perfecting my routine… here is my typical shopping list. For reference, I usually try to go to Trader Joe’s as I mostly buy produce and it has the best prices around!
I like bananas for a few reasons! First, they’re a quick breakfast snack when I’m on the go. For many more of my work morning than I’d like to admit, I don’t really have time to eat breakfast. If I have a banana, I’ll quickly grab it on my way out the door and eat it during my walk to the subway. Second, I like to freeze them because frozen bananas create the smoothest texture in smoothies. And third, they are a natural sweetener, so if I’m making oatmeal or something where I’m using cacao powder, bananas are like the healthier version of sugar.
In the last few years I’ve shy’d away from traditional dairy products such as milk and started eating more plant-based wherever possible. Almond milk is a great source of protein and I love adding it to some homemade granola, oatmeal, smoothies, you name it!
This feels super basic to put on my list but it’s true! If I’m not having avocado toast I’m finding a way to incorporate an avocado into my dinner. I have a handful of go-to recipes that call for an avocado. Also, a good salad-bar hack at lunch time is to BYO avocado! I’m not kidding – some salad places (at least by my office) charge a fortune to add avocado and give you less than half of it. If I plan to buy a salad that day I will grab an extra avocado half from home if I have it!
Carrots & Hummus
This is the best quick-grab healthy snack. It requires virtually no set-up or dishes if you do it right. It’s as convenient as grabbing a bag of chips but without the guilt!
Maybe this one is more of a personal thing, but I’m a huuuge seafood fan. I’ve been known to only have shrimp cocktail for dinner. If I’m feeling super hungry, I’ll make a quick shrimp scampi, pad thai, etc. It elevates any meal.
Veggie Burgers & Whole Wheat Burger Buns
This is a super easy meal that I will often make for lunch, or dinner in a pinch. Just toast a quick whole wheat bun, heat up the veggie burger in the microwave (I prefer Dr. Prager’s), cut up some avocado, maybe a tomato if I have it, add some salt and there you have it!
Fresh Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
Whichever is on sale that day! When I make my homemade granola and eat it with almond milk as mentioned above, I’ll try to always put some fresh berries on top. Not only does it give it a nice crisp juicy taste, but it’s a great time to get your antioxidants in for the day.
If I’m being good, I’ll have hot water with lemon and ginger. Otherwise, many recipes will call for a squeeze of lemon and it’s nice to have a fresh one laying around!
I always use spinach as a base to my smoothies. Furthermore, it can be a base for a salad, or to add some greenery to my meal.
Mixed Nut & Fruit Serving-Sized Bags
Trader Joe’s does a great job at this. I keep the small portion-sized bags in my desk at work and they are the perfect pick-me-up when I’m feeling hungry. They’re also very small so great to throw in your purse on your way out the door! I like them because they’re a healthy mix of protein and good fats.
And those are my essentials! In a typical week, I would pick one or two “recipes” to make, so my grocery list would vary based on that recipe. However the items listed above are my staples for pretty much every shopping trip!
What are YOUR go-to grocery items! Are they the same as mine? Different? Did I leave something important out??? I would love to know!! Let me know in the comments 🙂