Grocery and Pantry Checklists

Let me start with some checklists. I am extremely methodical in my meal plans. It is a blessing and a disguise. But it works for me and my lifestyle. I need to know by Sunday night what my meals for the week will look like. If I don’t know that, then for sure I will be eating out at least once in the next five days. I have built my pantry and grocery checklist over a period of time and it is finally at a point that I have identified sources that I trust for each of my ingredients.

Any given weekend we visit at least two of the four stores I procure my ingredients from. That is a lot more work than what most people like. But I enjoy grocery aisles and I married the guy who doesn’t mind walking through them with me. And slowly we are building Tara’s patience in this area as well. Food is the most important element in our lives. And we take out time for it.

Here’s a quick intro to my staples and my grocery lists at the stores I shop from.


I buy from Whole Foods(WF), Trader Joe’s (TJ), Indian grocery store (Madras Groceries on Bernardo and El Cam, Safeway and the farmer’s market(FM). I am a lil anal about my store choices and don’t budge easily. As an example, I’d rather eat less salmon that eat it from Costco. It is a rule I have come up with and I just follow it. It doesn’t have to be the same way with you. Our menu and budget allows for one serving of fish and one serving of meat/poultry for our weeknight dinners. And I stick to my rule. Weekends are for experiments and eating out. No rules apply to weekends.

  • Pesto. Kirkland has some pretty good Genovese pesto that I recommend. Of course you can make yours at home. I do that sometimes. But remember this is about making your life easier and NO making your own pesto is not a step I recommend if you want to get a meal on the table in 30min. I have tried Whole Foods pesto and I find Kirkland to be more flavorful.
  • Soy Sauce (Tamari)
  • Fish Sauce
  • Champagne Vinegar
  • Mirin
  • Grey Poupon Mustard paste
  • Honey
  • Palm Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Tamarind Paste
  • Agave Nectar. I like 365 Organic Nectar at WF.
  • Chicken Broth – I don’t like using bouillons in my food. I have no specific reasons against it. So if it suits you,great. When one of us is sick, I make my own broth. But for regular soups I buy the Whole Foods 365 Brand Low Sodium Chicken broth.
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Candied Walnuts – Farmer’s market usually has some good ones.
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Korean Spice Paste
  • Cumin Powder
  • Dried Rosemary and Thyme
  • Dried Oregano
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Peanuts
  • Vanilla Essence
  • Walnuts
  • Pine Nuts

Dairy We mostly buy our Dairy from WF or get it delivered via Farmstead.
  • Vanilla Flavored Greek or Regular Yogurt
  • Ricotta Cheese – Added nutrition in Tara’s french toast and pancakes. Also not bad as a spread over toasted bread with some fresh berries on top.
  • Shredded Cheese – Clover (Costco Wholesale)
  • Cheese singles – Tillamook (Costco Wholesale)
  • Milk
  • Laughing Cow spread swiss cheese – Costco has a big pack. Love it as a subs for Mayo on vegetable sandwiches.
  • Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – Costco has some good options. But you can buy these at any local grocery store. We LOVE Caprese salad and these are my best friends when I am hungry and don’t want to think too much. Add some avocado to it and voila.
  • Ghee

Produce – I usually have most of these in my fridge every week. I procure from either FM or WF. We buy organic, after we had Tara. It is not so much more expensive. As long as I don’t waste, I end up spending the same as I would at Safeway or TJ.
  • Mushrooms (Crimini or Shiitake)
  • Asparagus (not so much in Winters) I love to pair them with fish or use it in stir fry or frittatas
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Coriander
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Green Beans – FM usually has a great quality
  • Red Onions
  • Few Yellow Onions
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Basil
  • Curry Leaves
  • Berries – some variety of it
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Cauliflower
  • Sprouts – FM is a good source. Indian store has these too
  • Potatoes – I just boil a couple over the weekend and keep them ready for quick snacks.
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Bok-choy
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Celery – I prefer to buy the chopped ones. Since I only use some in my soups, I don’t like to buy the entire stalk of it at Safeway or WF. I end up wasting most of it. So I buy the smallest possible pack at WF/Safeway.
  • Grapes
  • Baby Spinach or some sort of a salad mix. Farmer’s market has a bunch of options and they are so much cheaper than WF or Safeway. Always buy salad from FM.
  • Mint. I wash the mint and dry them on a kitchen towel and then seal them in ziplock bags for longer shelf life. It last two weeks in my fridge. You can store coriander the same way too.
  • Yellow, Red, Orange peppers – I buy at FM or the bags at TJs.

  • Squash
  • Parsnip
  • Carrots
  • Turnip
  • Okra – Indian store
  • Taro – Indian store
  • Any other seasonal veggie or fruits (peaches,nectarines,oranges)

  • Berries from Costco
  • Mango Chunks from Costco
  • Juliennes Multi Grain Garlic Bread – Available at Safeway and WF. Pairs amazingly well with Fish our Soups or Salads. It is a staple for me. I sometimes get the baguette and keep the garlic spread in the fridge. But I am lazy and prefer to pop open the pack and put in the oven.
  • Juliennes Belgian Waffle
  • Carrot and Peas Mix – for Poha, Upma, Pulav etc

Specifically from TJs
  • If you are looking for shortcuts and don’t have time to prep your meals for the week, I recommend washed and chopped veggies at TJs. Their shelf life is literally 3–4 days. But it’s a quick way to get your veggies in your body. I have used their chopped cauliflower, cabbage and green beans and never regretted it.
  • I specially like their roasted beets in serving size packs. Beets are great as a salad and I hate to peel and boil them.
  • Amazing variety of salad tomatoes. Pick any and you won’t regret.
  • TJ’s Baking mixes are pretty good. I like the cornbread mix a lot. Add some diced jalapeños and enjoy warm corn bread at home 🙂

Specifically from WF
  • Most of our meat, seafood and poultry comes from WF. I just don’t trust anything else. But I am cheap in my own way. I buy farm raised salmon, knowing that farm raised at WF is different from farm raised anywhere else. I was once buying fresh salmon when the butcher told me about their frozen filets. I like filets since we enjoy salmon with salads quite often and individual portions are very easy to manage. The frozen filets are exactly the same quality as the fresh. Just frozen. They sell 6 filets for $20. A steal in my opinion
  • We don’t buy juices. But every trip to WF ends with freshly squeezed OJ. It cannot be more real than you running the machine yourself.
  • I buy all flours, flaxseed, almond meal, corn meal, wheat germ from WF. The 365 brand is economical and trustworthy.
  • I even buy their animal cookies for Tara. Makes for a fun simple and reliable snack.

Specifically from Indian Store


  • Beans and Lentils
  • Spices – Cumin, Coriander and Red Chilli are my staples. I am steering away from Garam Masala these days.
  • Dosa, Idli and Adai batter
  • Shredded Coconut
  • MTR Almond Milk Mix for Tara – Loves it!
  • Deep’s Dahi Wada (frozen)
  • Deep’s Ras Malai (frozen) for Agam
  • Nanak’s Gajar Halwa – I use this as the base, add my own milk and cook it on the stove for at least 45min more. Add some mewa and it becomes close to how my Mom makes it at home.
  • Milkmaid – Tara’s kheer is made in milkmaid.
  • Nanak’s Moong Dal Halwa
  • Sooji, Besan, Atta, Rice

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