The Wellness Nerd’s Master List of Kitchen Essentials

Over the years, we’ve developed a loose set of guidelines to keep us healthy, energized and ready for snowboarding, rock climbing or just running around town. This is a list of ingredients that we rely on to fuel us on a daily basis.

Think of this list as a template to create your own master list of ingredients to have on hand. Everyone has different tastes, budgets and dietary restrictions, not to mention the time necessary to cook a meal or three. There have been stretches of time where we’re both so busy that it’s just easier to heat up frozen meals and ramen, but lately I’ve had the luxury of being able to plan ahead. I’m not exactly a master chef. If I don’t know what to do, my default strategy is “heat up ingredients, smother in sauce, serve in bowl.” Even though lately I have a surplus of free time to really organize and plan our grocery lists and meals, I know this is a list that I can continue to utilize for years to come, no matter how hectic our schedules get. If you ever are at a loss of what to keep in your pantry or just want some new ideas, hopefully this list will provide some sort of inspiration.

I explain our basic guidelines for food buying in the next block of text, but if you’d rather get to the good stuff, scroll down to see The Wellness Nerd’s Master List of Kitchen Essentials!

 As a general rule of thumb, we try to go for organic, sustainable, and local as much as possible. Our agreed upon staples currently involve a mixture of colorful veggies, some grains, a revolving set of sauces, and venison. I’ll buy protein-rich ingredients from the store like beans, tofu and brussels sprouts, but dinner typically involves game meat bagged by either myself or one of my parents. The only meat in our freezer right now is the deer I shot in October and I love it. (Edit: I just found a package of pheasant as well, which came from my parents.) The reasons why I love hunting are similar in a lot of ways to the reasons why I love gardening – it’s as local and organic as it gets and makes me stop to appreciate the fundamentals of nature. Keeps me in touch with the circle of life and stuff.


We hit up big box grocery stores every once in awhile, but it’s just too easy for me to pick up extraneous items when there are displays of chips and cookies on every corner. A lot of the junk food options at “natural” grocery stores are way more expensive than their counterparts at big box stores, which I’ve actually found to work in my favor. It’s way easier to avoid – and occasionally appreciate – a box of cookies that costs $8 than one that costs $2.

For the most part, we’ve gotten pretty good at sticking to the healthy stuff.

Once upon a time when I had an actual job and stuff, I occasionally brought leftovers for lunch at work. One of those times, as the container rotated and bubbled in the microwave, a co worker exclaimed that it smelled delicious and asked me what it was. After telling her (crispy sweet potato and elk meatballs mixed with some sauteed kale and hemp seeds, generously smothered in spicy green chili – I’LL NEVER FORGET), all she said was “You’re such a mountain hippie.”

I chose to take it as a compliment.

So here’s the current diet of a mountain hippie. Adapt it to your own lifestyle and dig in!

The Wellness Nerd’s Master List of Kitchen Essentials


  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Grains (currently I have rice, quinoa and steel cut oats)
  • Beans (I’m trying to get into the habit of sprouting legumes, but for now I mostly rely on canned stuff)
  • Coconut oil
  • Oil for salads (currently avocado oil)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Spices
  • Candied ginger
  • Rice crackers
  • Tortilla chips if there’s guacamole


  • Salad greens (currently baby spinach and arugula)
  • Kale or chard
  • A rotating cast of vegetables, usually by season (currently just eggplant, mushrooms and carrots)
  • Eggs
  • Sauces (I try to avoid dairy, so a variety of sauces keeps things interesting)
  • Salad dressings (also dairy-free)
  • Broccoli sprouts
  • Tortillas (flour and corn)
  • Hemp milk
  • Ginger
  • Butter


  • Deer steaks, roasts, and burger
  • Pheasant
  • Breakfast burritos (made ahead)
  • Pint of ice cream (dairy-free for me, the good stuff for him)


  • Bananas
  • Clementines
  • Lemons/limes
  • Avocados
  • Hot sauce. Lots of hot sauce.


  • Earl Grey
  • Darjeeling
  • Matcha
  • White/floral
  • Green
  • Chamomile
  • Echinacea
  • Peppermint
  • Guatemalan roast
  • French roast
  • Raw honey
  • Manuka honey


The moral of the story here is this: as long as I have sweet potatoes and hot sauce, I shall prevail.

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