Desert-Island Grocery List

You know the famous question: What (insert number, up to 10) things would you take to a desert island?

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I’m crazy about the decaf beans (and pink floral logo) from Sweet Laurel in California. If I could bring a battery-powered coffee bean grinder, a French press and organic half and half in a retro glass milk bottle to a desert island, I would.

he list of things we could not live without on a remote island has included a range from multitasking peach lip balm (I really want it, thanks to this Australian article) to a tarp and fire-starting kit, according to Prepping Planet.

But I’ve been thinking about grocery essentials during this pandemic, when so many of us have been locked down to some degree, venturing out in masks when necessary. And about which items were kitchen musts for my parents (he, Italian-American; she, Irish-American), raising four kids from the 1950s through the 1970s. Their Top 10 list, as I see it:

  1. Coffee.
  2. Bread.
  3. Eggs.
  4. Ground beef.
  5. Powdered milk.
  6. Iceberg lettuce.
  7. Spaghetti.
  8. Good olive oil.
  9. American cheese.
  10. Butter.

For my household, which includes a cheese-eating vegetarian husband and a seventh grader (who makes fickle vegetarian claims until she craves chicken wings or steak), the list in the year 2021 is different, yet still overlaps. I italicized the items we have in common with my parents.

  1. Coffee*.
  2. Bread.
  3. Eggs.
  4. Organic whole milk.
  5. Butter.
  6. Cheddar, mozzarella, Colby Jack, feta or any kind of cheese except American.
  7. Frozen pizza.
  8. Canned soup.
  9. Good olive oil.
  10. Peanut butter.

Our essential household grocery list here in suburban New Jersey has changed dramatically since our lovely vegan scientist daughter moved out in October…when Annie lived here, we had to balance the milk with almond milk; the frozen pizza with vegan frozen pizza (much harder to find); and the cheese with pricier, hit-or-miss vegan nondairy alternatives.

I’d love to hear about your Top 10 grocery list now and your parents’ list, too (from your childhood).

Stay safe.

*Coffee prices when my parents were young were much lower dollar for dollar than what I spend. My Mom liked canned coffee, such as blue-logoed Maxwell House (and my husband loves giant, cheery, economical cans of Chock full o’Nuts). My Dad liked the magic and convenience of instant Sanka, in jars.

I never saw a coffee bean until I don’t know when. But now, as I skirt sugary foods and embrace coffee as my treat, I sometimes splurge on delicious decaf beans shipped from Sweet Laurel, a cake shop on Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades, California. (A visit to the pretty pink shop is on my post-Covid bucket list.) My first bag of beans from Birds & Beans is arriving tomorrow from Maine.

Alice Garbarini Hurley has been blogging daily for almost 11 years at her Truth and Beauty website and is a contributing writer for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME Magazine. (Click the link to read her interview with David Korins, creative director/set designer for “Hamilton” and other Broadway blockbusters.)

Magazine maven, craft coffee lover, legal guardian. Passionate about fashion and lipstick — though it may not look that way when I dash to the supermarket.

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