Food & Nutrition

Supermarket savvy: How to shop once and eat for two weeks

During sick season, it pays to stock up on groceries in case you catch a bug and can’t go out. Here’s how to minimize food waste—and simplify meal prep—with versatile items that won’t spoil quickly.

How do you grocery shop to cover a couple of weeks without all that food going bad—or your meals becoming boring? It’s a handy skill no matter what’s keeping you home, whether you’re dodging a virus, recovering from ankle surgery, or simply averse to trudging through the supermarket every three days.

The secret to a two-week supermarket haul is to shop for items that have a long shelf life and are versatile, says Leslie Fink, MS, RD, a nutritionist and recipe editor at WW. “Think about foods that serve multiple purposes.” For example, plain Greek yogurt—generally good for at least 14 days from purchase—is useful in sweet and savory dishes alike, while canned diced tomatoes are a base ingredient across cuisines, including Italian, Mexican, Greek, and Spanish. 

Once you tick those boxes, opt for items you already know and like. Sure, canned green beans might help you survive being sequestered, but if you wouldn’t eat them otherwise, they might languish in your pantry once the need for preparedness passes.

Another tip from Fink: Make friends with your freezer. Frozen, pre-cut fruits and veggies are generally as nutritious as fresh, so grab a few bags of your favorites. And you can freeze most refrigerated items nearing expiration—from sliced bread to fresh chicken—for later use without undermining quality, which is reassuring to know in case illness saps your appetite.

If you do end up stuck at home, don’t pressure yourself to prep fussy recipes. (Chances are, you’ll have enough to worry about.) The following shopping list is made for mixing and matching, so let yourself improvise with combos. Read on for Fink’s list of supermarket staples that stay good for at least 14 days (here’s more on nutritional facts to look for), followed by a few toss-together ideas for meals and snacks. 

 

Long-lasting groceries to toss in your cart

 

Fresh produce

Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons

Crunchy apple varieties such as Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp

Carrots 

Celery

Uncooked beets

Cabbage

Potatoes

Onions 

Garlic
 

Meat and dairy 

Firm or semi-firm cheese, such as cheddar, Parmesan and part-skim mozzarella

Plain Greek yogurt

Uncooked chicken breast

Vacuum-packed pre-cooked sausage

Eggs
 

Frozen items

Bell pepper strips

Cauliflower rice

Broccoli florets

Edamame

Shrimp

Veggie burgers

Meal-starter kits (such as a veggie fried-rice kit to which you can simply add oil and eggs) 
 

Canned and jarred items

Diced tomatoes

Pasta sauce

Chicken or vegetable broth

Beans

Corn

Fruit, such as pineapple, packed in juice

Salmon and/or tuna

Salsa

Prepared soup
 

Grains and other pantry items

Dried pasta

Vacuum-packed milk

Dried, uncooked grains such as brown rice, farro, and barley

Breakfast cereal

Oatmeal

Unsalted nuts, such as sliced almonds

Peanut butter, powdered or regular

Dried fruit, such as cranberries or apricots

Crackers or rice cakes

Tortilla chips

Protein bars

Stir-fry sauce

Pre-sliced bread

English muffins

 

Simple meals to make from foods in your pantry

 

Easy breakfast ideas

  • Scrambled eggs with sauteed sliced onions and frozen peppers, served with toasted English muffin
  • Oatmeal prepared with frozen berries and vacuum-packed milk, topped with sliced almonds
  • English muffin breakfast pizza made with part-skim mozzarella and tomato sauce

 

Easy lunch ideas

  • Tuna salad made with Greek yogurt, diced celery, and diced onion, served on toast with a cup of prepared soup
  • Tex-Mex bowl with sauteed chicken, brown rice, black beans, corn niblets, shredded cheese, and salsa
  • Pasta tossed with tomato sauce and sauteed frozen veggies, then sprinkled with cheese

 

Easy dinner ideas

Easy snack ideas

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Erin Quinlan is a freelance editor and journalist in New York City.

 

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