Do you kink your neck while you are waiting in the check out line trying to peak at the person’s groceries in front of you?


Really? Then I am not sure we can be friends anymore.

It is one of my favorite activities while I am standing there pleading with the kids to stay calm for another 5 minutes and mentally telling the cashier that they need to go a hundred times faster then their current pace.

I like to imagine what this person is going to put together for dinner, why they have 8 of the same flavor of yogurt and why they need 2 full bags of lemons.

Oh, it’s just me being all snoopy like that. Ummkaaayyy.. sure it is.

So I am doing you a solid and just pulling out everything in my cabinets, pantry and fridge to show you what I have in there. What grains I love. What appliances I can’t live without. Why I consider a wine opener the most vital kitchen gadget.

Kitchen Essentials – Grains

As we know, I am a bulk bin shopper. I love being able to get exactly how much of an item I want or need – this might be a 1/4 cup of black rice or 10 cups of oats. You can get exactly however much you want of that item.

On the flip side – the problem with shopping in bulk is that then you stockpile a cabinet full of plastic bags that have no labels, that are spilling everywhere and are doing a lousy job at keeping the grains fresh. Enter my favorite kitchen item ever – big ol’ mason jars. I bought a bunch of different sizes a couple years ago (64 oz, 32 oz and 16 oz) and am still using this system today. You can get all crazy and label them with cute washi tape if you have the extra time.

1. Popcorn – this isn’t really a grain and it should probably go into my pantry items but I love popcorn anytime, anywhere. Since corn is at the top of the GMO food list, I always spend the extra money and get organic popcorn.

2. Old Fashion Oats – also called rolled oats, are a staple in my house. We eat them for breakfast, I use them in baking and I toss them in my smoothies for some extra fueling power if I know it’s going to be a busy day! While naturally gluten free, oats can be processed in the same facility as other grains, so if you are gluten free make sure you are buying oats that have the gluten free label on them.

3. Brown Rice – we eat brown rice all the time and the key I have found for my family not to get bored with it is to mix up the length of the rice – short, long, basmati.

4. Barley – I love adding cooked barley into summer salads, chunky soups and using it for risottos. Barley is a full grain that is both tender and chewy while still adding a ton of fiber to your diet.

5. White Rice – sometimes you just need some white rice in your life – rice puddings, sushi or spring rolls. While brown rice is more nutritious then white rice, I like to mix things up from time to time to keep the taste buds guessing.

6. Quinoa – is a great grain that can be used in so many dishes – as a side, in soups, for a summer salad or in baking. Quinoa is full of fiber, calcium, vitamin E and magnesium and is a great protein alternative for vegetarians.

7. Pasta – again, I am always mixing up which pasta I am buying. My favorites are always the organic spiral pasta from Italy but I also like to rotate whole wheat and gluten free pasta in my family’s meals as well.

8. Arborio Rice – also called risotto rice, is always in my pantry but gets especially used in the spring, fall or winter months when it pairs perfectly with pumpkin, sweet potato, peas, asparagus or mushrooms and of course a big glass of Cabernet.

9. Lentils – in the fall and winter, we eat lentils all the time in soups, stews or in Indian dishes. For baby food, I love using red lentils as they cook down into a smooth and creamy consistency.

Some other great grains that I buy when needed are – millet, farro, couscous, buckwheat and wheat berries.