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3 Grocery Essentials That Will Help Elevate Any Meal

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at San Francisco chapter.

Once this semester ends it will officially be a year since I left the dining hall behind. Since then I’ve had to do biweekly grocery trips, and I’ve had to create weekly menus for myself throughout the week. This has been one of my most successful adulting experiences since I love to cook and I love to eat! However, when on a budget I’ve found it hard at times to have satisfying meals. I’ve put together a list of my essential grocery products that are at a cheap price, but can be extremely versatile and will elevate any dish. Let’s take a look.

  1. Spring Roll Paper
    If you love a spring roll from your local Vietnamese, or Thai restaurant, try and make them at home. Spring rolls are one of the easiest snacks to make, and can also be used in tons of different recipes. Spring roll paper is always under $10 and can sometimes be under $5. I get mine from H-mart in Daly City, and I switch from multiple recipes per week. Here are some of my recommendations.
    Veggie spring roll: Add any of your favorite veggies and pair them with a delicious sauce. I like lettuce, carrots, avocado, mint, and cucumber, with peanut sauce.
    Fried Salmon Crispy Spring Roll: Pairing fried or baked salmon with avocado and cucumber inside a lightly seared spring roll wrapper is the perfect dinner option. You create your “spring roll” first and then add sesame oil to your pan to lightly sear. I love eating these with spicy mayo, and occasionally adding rice to the spring roll for a heavier meal.
    Dessert Roll: If you’re craving something sweet and have these spring roll wrappers in your kitchen you can always make a delicious sweet, tangy spring roll. My favorite pairing is strawberry and mango, and I dip them in whipped cream. Here’s another yummy recipe if you are curious about another option.
  2. Pickled Onions
    Obviously, if you don’t like onions, this column probably isn’t for you. However, if you’ve never tried pickled onions I highly recommend you do, especially if you enjoy pickles and kimchi. About two months ago I purchased my first can of pickled onions from Whole Foods for about $8. This is a little bit pricier, but it stays good for a very long time and can be added to anything! My favorite pairings with pickled onions are avocado toast, salads, sandwich wraps, veggie bagels, and pita with hummus. This small ingredient just adds so much flavor to my recipes and makes me feel like I’m eating out. 3. Avocado
    My last grocery essential is an avocado. Yes, avocados can get pricey but they are my biggest veggies priority when I enter the market. It took me a long time to get consistent with buying avocados because I always felt guilty buying them. However, over the past years, I’ve found a way to utilize avocados in almost every meal I make. It makes my recipe so fresh and makes me feel a little healthier. I pair my avocados with toast, bagels, salads, burritos, and tortilla chips, and when my avocados get a little too soft, I create an avocado pasta. Here’s a recipe.
    There are tons of ways to start elevating your recipes without breaking your bank account. It’s extremely hard to shop as a college student for groceries. We struggle with picking out what to eat, time to eat and cook, and we financially struggle to actively shop for healthy produce. Planning a list before you go to the store, buying lots of versatile ingredients, and having a budget are my biggest tips for new grocery shoppers. I hope these essentials and ideas helped, good luck!
Livia Williams

San Francisco '26

Hello! My name is Livia Williams I am currently a second year at SFSU majoring in journalism. I am a huge advocate for social justice issues and find pride in addressing the inequality that sadly still exists within our societies. I like to tell stories from women all over the world and captivate readers into understanding the obstacles they face on a day to day basis. I hope to provide women with a sense of peace when they read my work and gift them with the realization that they are not alone, and we are all in this together.