Here are the staples you need to make healthy meals happen: use this go-to list for when you didn't have time to plan.

You're heading home from work when you realize your fridge is empty and you've got nothing for dinner tonight. To make matters worse, you need something for lunch and snacks tomorrow too. What are you going to do? You're going to head to the grocery store, that's what you're going to do! And you're going to use this super-simple grocery list to create some awesome, easy meals that are nourishing and delicious. Even though you may not feel prepared, you are prepared because with just a few ingredients combined with pantry staples, a great meal is never far away. Pull up this grocery list on your phone the next time you find yourself at the store with no plan in place, and see just how easy it can be to get healthy meals on the table all week long.

What to Buy When You Didn't Make a Shopping List

The key to quick meal prep is keeping things simple. Elaborate weeknight meals aren't necessary. In other words, why work harder than you have to? The simple and versatile ingredients in this list make it easy to quickly pull together healthy and delicious meals.


In a time crunch when it comes to prepping produce? Choose precut versions and consider using the grocery store salad bar to pick up items. Keep versatility in mind. We love ingredients that can be used in several different ways. For example, apples can be enjoyed as a snack and also make an excellent topper for salads or your morning bowl of oatmeal. Got leftovers? Great! Turn them into a big salad or toss extra veggies into stir-fries. Is that banana super-ripe or do you have fruit that needs to be eaten ASAP? Use it for your morning smoothie or slice and enjoy on top of toast.

  • apples
  • grapes
  • berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • avocado
  • bell peppers
  • cucumber
  • mixed baby lettuce
  • baby kale
  • carrots
  • onion (red or white)

Recipes to try:


Just a few basics in the dairy department can help with creating delicious meals all week. For example, plain Greek yogurt is a great base for your morning smoothie, but also makes a great salad dressing.

  • plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • mini mozzarella balls
  • flavorful cheese (such as feta or goat cheese)
  • milk (or a dairy alternative)

Recipes to try:


Put a limit on the number of ingredients you use for a meal. Many great meals require only a handful of ingredients, half of which should be pantry staples. This will ensure less food waste and also keep that grocery bill low. If they're not already in your pantry, plan on picking up these easy ingredients for meals this week.

  • almond butter (or other nut/seed butter)
  • granola (compare labels and go for the option that's lower in added sugar)
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole-grain bread
  • whole-grain flatbreads (such as naan or pita bread)
  • canned beans (garbanzos, black beans, pinto beans, etc)
  • whole-grain pasta
  • pasta sauce
  • whole grains (such as quinoa or bulgur)

Recipes to try:

Meat & Fish

Go for precooked options from the deli counter (like a rotisserie chicken), canned fish or quick-cooking meats, like ground turkey or beef. We like small cuts that cook quickly or canned items that don't require any cooking! Canned tuna can be turned into tuna salad or be enjoyed in a Mediterranean-inspired pasta dish.

  • canned fish (such as canned salmon or tuna)
  • lean ground turkey
  • chicken tenders

Recipes to try:

Refrigerator & Freezer Section

A smartly stocked refrigerator and freezer means meals can be ready in no time. Choosing foods that can be enjoyed many ways is the key to success! Eggs are the base for pancakes (breakfast for dinner!), but also great for frittatas. Frozen, filled pastas can be turned into pasta salad or topped with pesto or tomato sauce for an easy weeknight dinner.

  • eggs
  • hummus
  • fresh pesto
  • frozen ravioli
  • frozen mixed berries
  • frozen mixed vegetables
  • frozen sweet potato fries

Recipes to try:

What a Day of Meals & Snacks Looks Like

West Coast Avocado Toast

You can create a ton of different delicious combinations using just the ingredients listed above. Use this sample meal plan as inspiration for creating your own day of healthy eating.


  • Any fruit can stand in here for the strawberries-fresh or frozen-making this a super-easy breakfast to make morning after morning.

Morning Snack

1 cup sliced veggies, such as cucumbers and bell peppers, plus hummus

  • Mix in smashed cooked chickpeas to the hummus for more protein, or choose plain hummus and use your own herbs and spices to customize it!


  • Topped toast is the way to go for a quick and easy lunch. For more protein, add 3 ounces canned tuna and add a serving of fruit to round out the meal, like 1 cup of grapes.

Afternoon Snack

1 apple, sliced and topped with nut or seed butter

  • Top with a dusting of cinnamon as well as chopped nuts and/or seeds.


  • For more veggies, add a side salad topped with a simple vinaigrette.

Don't Miss!