The Foods 5 Famous Chefs Never Leave the Grocery Store Without
Giada De Laurentiis, Valerie Bertinelli, and other top chefs share the everyday essentials and just-in-case goodies they always grab on grocery store runs.
If planning and executing a big grocery store run was a chore before, now it can seem like a downright feat. Navigating the aisles while social distancing and wearing a mask, adjusting your shopping list to accommodate what’s actually in stock, prepping for three meals a day at home—it’s overwhelming for even the most experienced home cooks. But not everyone has access to grocery store alternatives, such as delivery services or boutique options, so a trip to the local supermarket remains a necessary to-do. The good news is that, once it’s over with, a smart grocery run always makes the week feel more manageable—and (dare I say it?) a bit more enjoyable.
Ever wondered what A-list chefs like Giada De Laurentiis or Anne Burrell pick up for everyday snacking, meal prep, and feeding last-minute guests? Before the craziness of coronavirus, I chatted with a few famous chefs at the 2020 South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami, Fla. earlier this year. They shared which items they always reach for along the aisles of their local supermarkets. Some of them are tiny, others are indulgent, and some are just plain necessary.
“I happen to love grocery shopping, but sometimes you just don’t have time to do it,”said Valerie Bertinelli, chef, cookbook author, and the host of the Food Network’s two-time Emmy Award–winning show Valerie’s Home Cooking. “For busy moms or women trying to eat healthy, grocery shopping can take so much time.”
To lessen the blow, Bertinelli suggests getting the entire week’s meal prep out of the way in one fell swoop, if possible. “Cut all your veggies so they’re ready to go,” she told Real Simple. “I have glass containers in my fridge so when I’m hungry, or when I need to make dinner, everything is already there.”
In addition to being prepared for weeknight dinners, it’s important to Bertinelli to be prepared for drop-in guests and sudden hunger cravings. “I always have cheese and crackers on hand in case anybody just stops by,” the Valerie’s Home Cooking author said. “Milton’s brand has these gluten-free crackers that I absolutely love.”
Her final shopping cart must-have is small, but mighty. “Philly cream cheese, the chive and onion,” Bertinelli added. “It goes with everything—including those crackers!”
Chef Anne Burrell, host of Food Network’s Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, co-host of Worst Cooks in America, Iron Chef America sous chef, and cookbook author, is always prepared to satisfy snack cravings or to feed potential impromptu guests with healthy, crowd-pleasing combos like cheese and crackers or veggies and dip.
“I always have hummus, cherry tomatoes, and little Persian cucumbers because I like to snack on those,” Burrell said. “I always have a few varieties of cheese—I love Boursin cheese. My number one cracker is Triscuits, I do the reduced-fat [kind], but the original flavor.”
Molly Yeh has made quite an impact on the food scene with her stunning cakes, cookbook, and Food Network show Girl Meets Farm. Despite her penchant for decadent desserts, she’s in the habit of stocking up on fresh produce, and kale in particular.
“I get the big bags of kale that are pre-washed. I force myself to go through them before the expiration date by putting them into smoothies and making kale chips,” Yeh told Real Simple, adding that she’s much more likely to incorporate these dark, leafy greens into her diet if she can see it in her refrigerator. “It’s how I feel less bad about eating so much cake all the time.”
Chloe Coscarelli knows a thing or two about vegan cooking and dining. In addition to creating the fast-casual vegan restaurant by Chloe, she’s also written four vegan cookbooks with delicious plant-based recipes even the biggest carnivore will love. She shared with Real Simple some of her favorite vegan items to pick up at nearly every local grocery store.
The first and most versatile is cashews. “I blend them to make everything, like cheese, cream sauce, dessert creams—it’s my go-to for everything,” Coscarelli said. “Sometimes I’ll buy [cashews] in bulk.”
Speaking of items that can be used to make vegan cheese, Coscarelli also makes sure to pick up nutritional yeast. If you haven’t tried this, it looks like a seasoning salt and it’s absolutely delicious. Plus, it has several health benefits. “I put nutritional yeast on everything,” she said. She sprinkles it on popcorn, transforms it into vegan cheese, uses it to add umami to sauces, and so much more. Vegan or not, it’s an amazing flavor booster to pick up at the grocery store next time you’re shopping. “You can put it on popcorn, you can make cheese with it, you can make sauces.”