penny barnshaw garage fitness girl

12 Must-Have Grocery List Items for Good Health


People always ask me about food, and I totally get it! It’s hard to know exactly what to eat with all the nutrition information that goes around, especially when some of the information is conflicting! I truly believe in keeping things as simple as possible – don’t overthink it! That said, it can be really handy to have some ‘must-have’ grocery items on your list, so that you’ll always have some good food that will support your health in your fridge or pantry.

When you feel better because you’re making (mostly) good food choices, you’ll find it easier to exercise, and you’ll have more energy, too! Win win. So grab a pen and paper and write these 12 grocery list items down, and grab them on your next shopping trip!

12 Must-Have Grocery List Items for Good Health 1 Garage Fitness Girl

1. Instant Oats

Oats are such a great source of complex carbohydrates, which is important for muscle growth. I also find oats to be quite filling when I’m particularly hungry, and they have the added benefit of being low on the Glycemic Index (GI), so they won’t make me crash later on in the day! High GI foods like sugary cereals or white bread can wreak havoc on your insulin levels, which leads to those 2:30pm energy drops. Another thing about instant oats is that they’re so incredibly easy! Whack them in the microwave, add some fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and milk of your choice (I use almond milk). If you need it sweetened, don’t feel guilty about adding a small amount of honey, stevia or maple syrup!

2. Spinach

I mention in my What I Eat in a Day video that I pop spinach on just about all my dinner-time meals! It gives me that extra boost of fibre, it has hardly any calories, and it provides iron, calcium, folate and vitamin C. Did you know that the dark green colour of spinach indicates high levels of chlorophyll as well as health-promoting carotenoids? They are anti-inflammatory, which is so good for your entire body.

3. Frozen Berries

12 Must-Have Grocery List Items for Good Health 2 Garage Fitness Girl

Oh yes, you will always find frozen berries in my freezer! Loaded with antioxidants, high in fibre, nutrient dense and full of vitamin C, you can’t go wrong with berries. They are super easy to throw into you instant oats, or the way I usually use them is in my smoothies. Being frozen they last so much longer that the fresh kind, and they actually work better in smoothies when they’re frozen because they really thicken the smoothy up! Yum!

4. Eggs

Eggs are so good to have on hand for when you want a quick and easy dinner. You can basically use any leftover veggies, add some whisked eggs, then you have a healthy frittata! Add a bit of cheese if your body is OK with the lactose, and another good tip is a teaspoon of curry powder – it not only adds a really nice flavour that will take your frittata to the next level of yumminess, but the turmeric in the curry powder is anti-inflammatory and boasts some super health benefits.

5. Bananas

Bananas are a very convenient snack food, and they contain a fair amount of fibre as well as several antioxidants. They sometimes get a bad wrap because of their sugar content, but I really think if we’re worrying about a banana we’ve gone too far with our diet mentality! High carb foods like banana are really good for post-workout refueling and recovery (along with some protein, see no.12 below). I love getting my post-work protein and carb fix with a smoothie with a banana thrown in. Or sometimes, just a banana with a bit of peanut butter is the perfect mid-afternoon ‘pick me up’ snack. Bananas are rich in potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese and vitamin C.

6. Peanut/Nut Butter

Oh yum, nut butter! Smear it on an apple or banana, add a dollop with your oatmeal, or add it to your smoothies! Definitely a must-have in the kitchen. Nut butters have the added bonus of being excellent sources of healthy fats, so they’re good for heart health and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

12 Must-Have Grocery List Items for Good Health 3 Garage Fitness Girl

7. Oat Milk or Almond Milk

I tend to go for almond milk, but oat milk is also good! Both these milks are great dairy substitutes for those who are sensitive to lactose, which is actually surprisingly common among adults! Some of these milks have added vitamin D, which is a vitamin many of us are lacking (even here in sunny Australia).

8. Frozen Veggies

How many times have frozen veggies saved the day? We all know how important vegetables are for fibre and vitamins, but sometimes we just don’t have the time. Frozen veggies are a great option because they’re washed, chopped and ready to go. The freezing process actually locks in the nutrients, so you’re not missing any of the health benefits when compared to fresh veggies.

9. Chicken Breast

Chicken is a great food because it’s not only high-protein, delicious, and easy to cook, it’s a good source of Leucine; an amino acid that plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is what happens when your body builds or rebuilds new proteins that are stronger than their previous versions. It’s also a good source of vitamin B12, which has so many health benefits including healthy nerves, bone health, and some studies show it may improve your mood!

10. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is such an easy, healthy food to always have in your fridge! It has a higher amount of protein than milk, which is important for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, hair and blood! (No wonder why everyone raves about protein). People who have lactose intolerance may also find Greek yogurt easier to digest because of the bacterial breakdown of the milk’s sugars, or you can get a non-dairy version. Have it with fruit and a bit of honey, maple syrup or stevia. Or throw it into your smoothies for a creamier taste!

12 Must-Have Grocery List Items for Good Health 4 Garage Fitness Girl

11. Potatoes

Sometimes potatoes get a bad wrap, but they really shouldn’t! Potatoes are a good source of fibre, which can help you lose weight by keeping you full longer. Fibre can help prevent heart disease by keeping cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check. Potatoes have the added benefit of being full of antioxidants that work to prevent diseases and vitamins that help your body function properly, and they’re so delicious! Poke them a few times with a fork and then bake them in their skins in the oven, or if you’re short on time blitz them in the microwave then add your favourite toppings. You can also cut them up into chunks, rub them in some oil and make some wedges that are much better than the deep-fried kind!

12. Protein Powder

Women need adequate protein in their diets for good health, and this is particularly the case for those of us who exercise quite a lot! I use Tropeka Vanilla Lean Protein Powder because it’s delicious in my smoothies, while being easy on my sensitive stomach!


Do you have any grocery items that are ‘must-haves’ on your list? Let me know! In the meantime, don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and tick the notification bell, so you never miss one of my new workouts. You can also sign up for workout calendars that I send out for free every month, and of course feel free to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Happy eating!  

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