We live in an area with a high cost of living. We went to the regular supermarket (like a Ralph’s/Kroger’s) and a gallon of milk was $9, a box of cereal was $7, and so on. Therefore, the place everyone goes to for groceries is COSTCO. It is so much cheaper there. I also had the insane idea of making school lunches for both my kids, every day, for the entire school year. I totally regret it, but Costco makes it so much easier!
I hate feeding my kids processed junk as much as the next crunchy, hippie parent, but sometimes you have to take shortcuts to keep sane. I also enjoy that Costco offers so many organic options.
- Dino Nuggets – this is a perennial favorite! I heat them in the toaster oven at max temp for like 10 minutes. They’re done when they sizzle and they are delicious dipped in honey! Yes, honey! But for a school lunch, I pack them in a thermos funtainer. It keeps it somewhat warm, and does get a little soggy, but my kids still eat it! Also, it’s made in Canada – that makes me feel better!
- Chef Samy’s Garlic Butter – I ate this as a sample on french bread in-store and it was AMAZING. The ingredients say it’s just butter, parmesan and basil, but they must put something else in there because it’s SO GOOD! I add this to my MARINARA SAUCE (Marcella Hazan told me to do it)!! And in every single one of my chowders! Spread on a grilled cheese sandwich, and my daughter who hates tomato sauce will gobble up plain pasta with this garlic butter mixed in. It gives every dish an amazing richness and restaurant-quality taste. I use globs of this stuff but it’s whipped, so I don’t feel bad – it’s basically delicious air 😉
- Organic, frozen chicken breast – I cook this from frozen in the instant pot. Use it poached and shredded. If you have a few hours, you can also thaw by putting in a bowl of cold water and changing the water out every 30 min or so. I like that it’s individually wrapped. I HATE touching raw meat. I cook chicken breasts whole, then after it’s mostly cooked, I’ll actually slice it up with tongs and kitchen shears.
- Heavy Whipping Cream – I drink heavy cream with my coffee because I love myself, haha. Also, I like to bake drop biscuits on the weekend (bakes in less than 20 min), and the recipe calls for heavy cream instead of lard. I also use it in my french toast recipe and add a splash to soups and pasta sauces. One of the things I love about this whole clean-eating movement is the reminding that FAT IS FLAVOR. When we took fat out of all the foods from the 80s and 90s, they had to add flavor back with sugar, and as we all know, sugar is evil. So, I’ll gladly use fat and not feel bad about it, thank you very much!
- Canned Wild-Caught Albacore Tuna – this is one of the culinary wonders of the world. It adds protein and flavor to anything. You could make an entire blog about 5 minute meals with tuna. In our house, our favorite thing is to cook the tuna in some soy sauce and black pepper, mix with cooked white rice and furikake, and eat wrapped in seasoned seaweed with dollops of sriracha mayo (mix equal parts sriracha and mayo). It’s basically Korean spicy tuna rolls. Even my kids love the sriracha mayo! Mix tuna with bell peppers and onions, dredge in flour and egg, and fry in a pan for instant tuna cakes. Add to any pasta dish. Add to kimchi chigae! Eat with a cracker for crying out loud. We <3 tuna!
- Better Than Bouillon Chicken Broth – I used to buy the Kirkland organic boxed chicken broth, but it takes up so much space, and I wasn’t too keen on the taste of it. And with an Instant Pot, you need chicken broth for everything. I tried this one out on a whim because it was so much cheaper, and I love the taste! It makes amazing one-pot pasta dishes (sub chicken broth instead of plain water), and makes your mashed potatoes and soups taste 100x better. I also like that you can mix to taste so you control the pungency of the broth. This made an amazing base for my mushroom soup and corn chowder.
- Lawry’s Garlic Salt – the best seasoning in the world. I use it on chicken, fish and all my roast veggies. It’s so good and flavorful! Sprinkle liberally on salmon and pan-fry for a quick and easy dinner! I also feel like this would be amazing on roast potatoes and curb cravings for garlic fries, for those times you can’t make it to Dodger Stadium.
- Peeled Garlic – when we lived abroad, I had to peel and mince all my own garlic by hand. It took over an hour to get a cup of garlic. It was insane and tedious. I always buy peeled garlic and keep this bag in the freezer, and throw whole cloves into my recipes. You can also mince the cloves with a little bit of water in a blender to keep on hand in the fridge. I know the Christopher Ranch garlic is legit because it comes from GILROY, CALIFORNIA, the garlic capital of the world. You can smell garlic miles away from the city!
- Organic Frozen Berry Mix – Mom confession: when we don’t have fresh fruit in the house, I just make my kids a smoothie and pat myself on the back. I love this mix because it has strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate and cherries. I also like to make “juice” out of it by blending the fruit with plain water and a squeeze of lemon. It is so refreshing and has no added sugar and makes me feel super healthy. I also pretend that the punch of Vitamin C makes me get over my colds faster. My mom gave me her old Vita-Mix, but if you don’t have a really good blender, you might want to strain the seeds – there are a lot from the raspberries and pomegranate that kids will probably hate. In a pinch, you could also cook it down over the stove and puree to make jam to mix into yogurt or spread on toast.
- Wine – last but not least, of course! We all know good parenting runs on drugs 🙂 I’ve never met a wine I didn’t like. Also, feel free to pour some Sprite into a glass of red wine, stir with some apples and oranges, and call it sangria! I’m not judging 🙂