Millennial Grocery Guide
Middle Eastern Grain Bowls
How this guide works: Ingredients are broken down into approximate location in the grocery store, by order that you'd usually purchase them (produce first, chicken second, over to the canned goods aisle, finishing up in dairy). There is also a cost of ingredients scale ranging from $ (very cheap) to $$$$ (extremely expensive - I'm not sure any of my recipes even have an ingredient like this yet).
About Millennial Pantry Staples: These are items you should always keep stocked in your fridge or pantry. It will make throwing together a quick dinner easy and simplify grocery shopping. It allows you to purchase food on sale, and all these items are extremely unlikely to go bad before you use them!
- 1/2 cup cubed eggplant (roasted, instructions in recipe) $$ [Optional] I always struggle with eggplant because there are no tiny eggplants when you're cooking for one. Last time I paid extra for a tiny specialty eggplant because I didn't want the waste. But roasted eggplant is delicious, so if you buy the smallest normal eggplant you can find, you might as well roast it all and use it as a side dish the next night for dinner or just snack on it the next day! If you don't like eggplant, you can leave it out. The za'atar spice really complements it nicely, though.
- juice of 1/2 of a lemon $ [Optional] If you don't have a lemon, the dish doesn't need it. But lemons are a Millennial Fridge Staple , so you should!
- Fresh Parsley Optional $$ If you have it, use it. If not, don't worry about it. It mostly just makes it look pretty. And adds about 5% more flavor. Your call.
- Handful of cherry tomatoes $$ [Optional] I don't always add these if I don't have them on hand, but if the plastic containers of cherry tomatoes are on sale, then I'll buy one and try to use recipes that require them (or just eat cherry tomatoes as a snack!)
- Goat cheese - to taste, approximately 1/4 cup (Substitute: feta) $$$ [Optional] Little did you know, goat cheese (and feta as well, actually) is in the deli/specialty cheese section of the grocery store, not in the dairy aisle with shredded cheeses or cheddar cheeses. Goat cheese is definitely a splurge item, but it's my favorite and I think cheese in general completes the dish (since you can do feta as well). I normally buy a small log, which is often the least expensive, but look for sales to see if anything is cheaper.
- 1/2 cup cooked, shredded chicken $ My obsession with rotisserie chickens from the deli section will be the subject of a future post (Subscribe to read it right when it's posted!), but for now, trust me when I say the best effort:cost ratio here is the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken in a bag (should be $5-$7 at a typical grocery store, more at a Whole Foods) in your deli section. It's juicy, flavorful, cheaper than the fuss of literally roasting a whole chicken yourself, and it's ALREADY COOKED. What more can you ask for? I buy a whole one and use my trusty FoodSaver (this is exactly Why Every Millennial Needs a Food Saver) for the leftovers, or make chicken salad for the week for lunch. If you'd prefer to buy chicken breasts or already have some on hand, that's fine too. For this recipe, you'd just need 1 small breast.
- 1/2 cup pearled farro $ Millennial Pantry Staple (Substitute: quinoa, wild rice, orzo, etc.) There are multiple different types of farro, and I just bought pearled at first and I like it, so I go with it. It is the quickest cooking, but has less fiber than other types of farro. I prefer the quicker cooking time, but learn about your options and make a decision that works for you! Just be sure to adjust cooking time accordingly (other types of farro will take longer to get soft and chewy!) If you really don't like grains, you can add extra veggies and chicken and serve it over/with bread.
- 1/2 cup chickpeas $ Millennial Pantry Staple If you dislike chickpeas, you can substitute them for a legume like cannelini beans, or just leave them out and add extra of the other mix ins you prefer.
- 1/4 cup olive oil Millennial Pantry Staple
- 1/2 teaspoon honey $ Millennial Pantry Staple [Optional] If you're vegan or watching your sugar, you can leave this out - it does add a nice sweetness to the spices, though.
- Salt + pepper Millennial Pantry Staple
- 2-3 teaspoons Za'atar spice $ Millennial Pantry Staple Za'atar is a spice commonly used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking that I've really enjoyed using to add new and different flavors to my dishes. It can get old cooking with boring old basil and oregano (although those are tried and true!) sometimes, so if you're looking to expand your flavor profile a bit, new and different spices are a great way to do that. Plus, za'atar isn't anything too wacky - there's thyme and sesame seed in there, which should already be relatively familiar. Substitute another spice blend, such as combinations of thyme, basil, oregano, sumac, or sesame seeds. It won't taste exactly the same unless you use the Za'atar blend itself, but the idea is the same! I buy mine pre-made at the grocery store in the bulk section, although you can also buy it in a jar. It's even on Amazon. If you're feeling adventurous, you can make the spice blend yourself. It's not a super expensive ingredient like truffle oil, and although it will cost you more than salt and pepper, this is a great example of an item that's worth having on hand to diversify what you're eating and make you want to cook (and eat what you've cooked) more.