11 Things You Should Buy At The Grocery Store This Sunday (To Save You Money This Week)


Here at TFD, grocery shopping, cooking, and eating well, are all integral parts of how we live life and balance our budgets. Aside from our grocery hauls, and recent foray into entry-level crock potting, we simply enjoy putting a good meal together and entertaining guests. Cooking is one of life’s great pleasures, and an area in which we feel everyone should possess a few skills to make their lives better. When Seamless is no longer a go-to every time because you have an arsenal of awesome recipes you can whip up at a moment’s notice, you know you’re on your way to becoming a fully functional #adult.

Each week, we hit the grocery store in search of staples that make feeding ourselves simpler and easier, and which also make our work week more enjoyable. Little kitchen hacks, from knowing (and having) the essentials every home cook should have on hand, to learning the basics of how to put together a simple salad dressing, have made the world of difference for us. We strive to be better home cooks because it means gaining control over the way we spend our money on food and eating out. For example, a while back, we started swapping mid-week nights out with fun cocktails and homemade popcorn, which quickly became a weekly ritual.

Below, we’ve rounded up 11 of the TFD essentials that we think you should start buying at the grocery store. These items and strategies are huge parts of a typical TFD grocery shopping trip, and have been huge in upping our collective home-cooking game! Check them out.

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  • I wouldn’t call most of those ‘essentials’ especially the brownie mix. I’d say always have the following on hand: fresh (in season) and frozen veggies and fruit, meat on sale, flour, salt, backing powder and baking soda, eggs, lemons, milk, plain greek yogurt, rolled oats, chicken stock, curry paste, coconut milk, breadcrumbs, 2-3 cans of beans or dry beans, parmesan, pasta or rice, olive oil, pepper and salt, buy a plant of the herb you like the most and keep it alive, and 1 prepared food vice for minimal cooking nights (mine is KD (mac and cheese) and my BFs is frozen pierogies).

    We buy extra veggies and fruit at farmers markets all summer and freeze loads, so we live off frozen kale, berries, and tomatoes all winter.

    If you want to save money and be healthy – Learn to cook!

    • Kendall

      Jen, I had the same thought as you (brownie mix?!).

      My go-to homemade fast food meal is a kale and egg burrito, so I always have tortillas, eggs, cheese, and kale (or other fresh green) on hand. I also whip up biscuits from scratch fairly regularly — all you need is flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, butter and yogurt (I use a Stonyfield recipe). These ingredients feel a bit more essential — and multi-purpose — to me than brownie mix and flowers. 🙂

      • I agree, i mean, if you get great joy from flowers, by all means splurge on them, but not an essential.

        • meep

          i will say i like the buds over flowers idea. at the trader joe’s in NYC, they were selling 12 daffodil buds for $1.50 this week– gorgeous and they barely cost anything.

    • jdub

      I work for a natural foods company and so get a lot of close-dated things that we can no longer sell at the grocery store– and I can’t tell you how often those boxed mixes have saved my ass when I get invited last minute to some shindig, or have someone coming over and want to do a nice dessert, or just have a mad craving for brownies and am too lazy to make the real thing.

      I agree with pretty much the entire list the ladies provided, only wanting to add to stock up on baking ingredients (flour, sugar, butter, etc.) just because they’re so versatile and you never know you’re out until you’re in the middle of a recipe and realize you have no brown sugar.

      • To each there own, I just know how easy it is to make a cake, pancakes, or brownies without a mix, and so I avoid it myself.

    • Erin Williams

      I had a similar thought—frankly my whole life is better when I can just avoid the sweet stuff. My grocery store essentials are: eggs (just get the 18 pack, because not having eggs in the morning means starbucks which means $$), giant tubs of coffee, the boxes of crushed tomatoes that are perfect in everything, tomato paste, olives, olive oil, vinegar (I use white, apple cider, and balsamic for different things), the good fermented pickles if they’re ever on sale, quinoa and/or brown rice, big packs of chicken breasts that I freeze individually, and then whatever veggies look good that week. Brownies and noodles just aren’t a part of my life.

    • I also avoid sweet things. I actually made a post on my blog about essentials which mainly includes a lot of starches (rice, pasta, potatoes) and antipasti stuff (olives, capers, sun-dried toms, grilled artichokes), fresh and frozen fruit and veg, coconut milk, oats, seeds and nuts, veg stock, olive oil, seasoning, herbs and spices, canned tomatoes, dried and canned beans, and general baking things.

      Also coming from an Asian background, I always have to have sesame oil, coconut oil and soy sauce. I think a well-stocked pantry is key as flavours can easily be incorporated using products that you’re able to buy in bulk (herbs and spices). You can also up your veg and fruit count easily using frozen/canned options. Corn kernels are a good shout actually, only realised my need to snack at ridiculous times after stovetop popcorn has become a regular feature in the evenings.

    • meep

      yes! this is a fantastic list and i totally agree! having the basics and then a set of seasonings/flavors on hand and knowing how to use them is the absolute best way to cook more at home.

  • Colleen McFarlane

    Great list! Even though it seems so basic, frozen veggies have recently been a major budget saver for me. For some reason I was such a snob about them forever, always figured they wouldn’t taste as good as fresh, but when prepared the right way they come so close. Plus as a cost-co lady I hate how I can’t get through bulk produce before it starts to go bad, but with the frozen stuff I am covered for months.

  • George Town

    Brownie mix. Mmm,I never thought of that before. This might be useful for me to avoid expensive trips to the bakery and appease my sweet tooth.

  • meep

    re: the fresh v. frozen aspect– i see a lot of this list is like buy x frozen thing on sale and save it or buy x sale item and store it. while there is definitely a place for this, i will say in my own experience, the biggest amount of food waste comes from buying either fresh food i dont have a plan for (which then rots in my fridge) or buying frozen food that i ultimately forget about or don’t use until i open my freezer and find there’s no more space left.

    I think a better plan when talking about cost-savings is to have a really really clear meal plan laid out in advance. do your research, pick the recipes you want to make, plan for when this week you’ll cook, maybe buy a couple frozen meals or snack-y things like popcorn if things get derailed– and then stick REALLY REALLY HARD to that shopping list. if for instance your normal brand of rice is 2 for 1 this week, by all means but don’t be like oh those frozen brussels sprouts are on sale and i will absolutely use them at some point so i’ll buy them. i’ve never found that this strategy saves me money in the long run.

  • Keisha

    One thing I’d add: canned chickpeas!!! So much love for versatile, delicious canned chickpeas. Also, canned tomatoes do absolute wonders to roasts, crockpot recipes, and stews. I never run out of either. Actually they are the only things I buy canned!