What to Buy at the Grocery Store if You’re Living Alone for the First Time

Hey you! Yeah, you. Are you a Sophomore in college who is moving out of the dorms next year and doesn’t know how to buy a good mix of things at the store that will be both delicious and nutritious? Are you a recent college grad moving for your first job and suddenly you are on your own and have to do the whole sustenance thing all by yourself? Have you lived in Gordon Ramsay’s basement for years (it’s okay, he didn’t notice and I only pretended to be a ghost once) and then he suddenly kicked you out for some reason (it was 100% the ghost thing), so now you have to buy and make food on your own instead of relying on his daily Wellingtons, soft scrambled eggs, and notoriously bad grilled cheeses? Well, then this list is for you—here are our picks for what to buy at the grocery store if you are living alone for the first time.

Trader Joe’s Pork Gyoza Potstickers

You may have known this already by virtue of simply existing in the year 2023, but pork gyoza have both meat and starch in them. You know what that means? If you have a vegetable on hand in your apartment, that’s a full-on meal, my friend. And not only are these dumplings from Trader Joe’s a great hack to put you two-thirds of the way towards a balanced meal, they are also absolutely delicious. They are juicy, meaty, and umami, and as senior writer Jordan Myrick put it, they are “gingery and, while super savory, have a hint of sweetness that is really pleasant.” And these bad boys come frozen, so you can always keep a pack in the back of the freezer for emergencies.

Related: Forget Takeout, These Are the 7 Best Frozen Dumplings

Kashi Go Lean Crunch

It is always good to have a tasty cereal on hand. Some days there is simply no time to whip yourself up a custardy French omelet with chives and flakey salt like Gordon Ramsay definitely does every morning. And now that you are an adult (congrats, by the way), you can buy a whole grain cereal with a solid 9 grams of protein per serving that makes you feel at least a little bit like you are taking care of your body and has the added perk of being “the best whole grain cereal for pretty much anyone,” according to editor-in-chief Justine Sterling. What makes it the best? The lovely varied textures of rice puffs and oats and the sweet sweet taste of honey and cinnamon. Stock this in your lil ol’ pantry, my friend.

Related: Best Whole Grain Cereal That Actually Tastes Good

Rao’s Marinara

You Guys. Go get pasta, then go get this sauce at Costco. Just do it. I don’t know what to say to you to convince you other than Rao’s Marinara tastes homemade and you need it in your life. This stuff is made of just tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil, onion, and oregano, plus, as Sporked contributor Danny Palumbo pointed out, the herbs in this are fresh herbs, not dried. It truly makes it taste like your Italian grandma picked some herbs from her little garden and then went inside and made you a little jar of pasta sauce to take home. Now I do not have an Italian grandma, but I can confirm that Rao’s makes me feel like I do. So, go add this to your pantry and temporarily cure your homesickness for the Italian home you may or may not have grown up in.

Related: Best Marinara Sauce: Our Updated Ranking of the Best Jarred Marinara Sauce

Jin Ramen Mild Korean Style Instant Noodles

Every newly independent adult, whether you are 20 or 26, needs to have some instant ramen on hand. You can dress it up to make it more fancy and/or healthy, or, sometimes you just need an easy, salty, comforting meal to get you through the end of the day. And whether you dress it up or not, Jin ramen will absolutely blow your mind. Jordan said these bouncy, tender, restaurant-quality instant ramen noodles are so incredibly chewy and delicious that they might as well be hand-pulled. And that’s not all: the broth is also out of this world. Up your ramen game and give this one a try.

Related: The Best Instant Ramen! College Students Rejoice!

C. Worthy & Co. Blackened Salmon

I know, I know. What if you are a health nut and up until this point either your mother or the dining hall staff were responsible for you getting all your macros, but now you need to prepare your own macros and you don’t know how to deal. I gotchu, fam. Enter pre-seasoned frozen fillets of salmon, specifically this blackened salmon from C. Worthy & Co., which Justine called “smoky,” “salty but not too salty,” and “very buttery and flaky.” Oh, you want more adjectives? She also called it “downright silky,” and “better than you could make unless you have some cheffy training.” This fish made Jordan say, “Hubba hubba.” Go get you this fish and live out your bougie, cheffy, healthy protein dreams.

Related: Best Frozen Fish Fillets That Are Seasoned and Ready to Cook

Green Giant Simply Steam Creamed Spinach Sauced

If you are wondering how you can possibly get enough vegetables in your diet and still be happy because you are eating things that taste good, go get you a pack of this Green Giant creamed spinach. If you’ve never had creamed spinach, it is wilted spinach in a sauce that exists somewhere between Alfredo sauce and pure butter, and it is so tasty I tend to forget I am eating a green, leafy vegetable. This version from Green Giant strikes that perfect buttery balance. It is creamy and savory, and, as Justine pointed out, “ there’s actual spinach in there—real leaves with real bite to them,” which helps to balance out the richness. A real home run for a frozen spinach product.

Related: Best Frozen Creamed Spinach: Sidle Up to the 5 Best Frozen Creamed Spinach Brands

California Olive Ranch 100% California Extra Virgin

Yes, you may want to actually cook something at some point, and any chef or person who likes cooking (like my buddy Gordy Rams Rams, for instance) will tell you that good cooking often starts with good olive oil. Now we aren’t saying go buy a $50 thimbleful of olive oil imported overnight straight from Barthhhhhelona, but what we are saying is get something that tastes solid even on its own with bread dipped in it, and it will make all your stir fries, roasted veggies, bolognese sauces, and various olive-oil-containing endeavors just thaaaat much better. This California Olive Ranch offering is “rich, delicate, and delicious,” and that is truly all you need.

Related: Best Olive Oil: 5 Best Olive Oils for Cooking, Dipping, and Drizzling

Good luck out there friend! You got this. And if all else fails, go buy edamame, taquitos, eggs, and Kraft Easy Mac. That’s what I did when I first started living alone and look! I’m still alive!

About the Author

Jessica Block

Jessica Block is a freelance contributor to Sporked, a comedian, a baker, a food writer, and a firm believer that Trader Joe's may just be the happiest place on earth. She loves spicy snacks, Oreos, baking bread, teeny tiny avocados, and trying new foods whenever she can. Also, if you give her a bag of Takis she will be your best friend.

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