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If you’re already buying the entire store, you might as well grab groceries too.

Arielle Weg
May 17, 2018

If you find yourself at Target as often as I do (I may make a daily trip... or two), you’re probably a little too familiar with the shopping frenzy that ensues. You head inside for that one greeting card you needed for Father’s Day or the one brand of face cream you haven’t found anywhere else. Suddenly, an overwhelming lack of self control takes over and you have a cart full of unnecessary items that feel so necessary in the heat of the moment. Whoops.

But sometimes, I buy things I actually need at Target. Tucked in the back corner of most (Super) Target stores is the glorious grocery section, which stocks way more pantry essentials than you ever expected from the store that keeps you overstocked on scented candles and inexpensive yet adorable tops. Here are the nine items I always pick up at Target during one of my frequent visits, so that I can have dinner ready even if I missed hitting the grocery store this week.

Nuts

Target’s Archer Farms brand sells reasonably priced containers of various nuts that are awesome additions to my throw-together dinners. They add some crunch to salads, texture to fried rice, and a nutty backbone to pesto.

Pre-Cooked Grains

Having pre-cooked grains on hand at all times is a major time saver. Target’s other store brand, Market Pantry, sells bags of 90-second rice for $1.49, and they’re perfect to pop in the microwave as a base for a throw-together stir fry or curry. Target’s wellness-vibed line Simply Balanced also offers steam-in-bag quinoa and farro, perfect for building grain bowls and bulking up soups.

Beans

I know I can pick up a can of beans at almost any market, but Target’s Market Pantry brand offers a wide variety (think black beans, garbanzos, and kidney beans) for only 79 cents per can. This means I always have a can on hand for a quick chili or rice and beans plate when I’m at a loss for dinner ideas. That’s a win in my book.

Microwavable Veggies

Let me say that I’m a big fan of fresh veggies, so if you can snag a pack fresh, I say go for it. But, I also know that getting to the supermarket every few days for fresh produce isn’t always a feasible option. That’s why it’s essential to store a variety of frozen vegetables in the freezer to help round out meals. I always snag Market Fresh frozen broccoli for 89 cents and sweet peas. I find these veggies are versatile enough to use whatever’s in my fridge and toss into pasta, rice, soup, or really whatever I’m making for a pop of green.

Main Proteins

I typically stick to frozen proteins as backup options at Target, and I’ll hold out for fresh picks at my favorite supermarket. All three of Target’s food brands offer a variety of frozen chicken, seafood, and burgers that are customizable to make your dinner delicious. Also, if you want a fairly instant option, pick up Target’s equivalent to rotisserie chicken — Archer Farms pre-shredded and cooked chicken. Or, snag a pack of Sea Cuisine’s pre-seasoned fish fillets, ready to heat and heat.

Bonus: If you have picky kids, snag a bag of dinosaur shaped chicken nugs for nights they’re not in the mood for what you’ve cooked up. You should eat what you want every so often, right?

Pasta

No, I’m not just talking about a box of plain spaghetti (though, that’s great to have on hand, too). Archer Farms offers a tasty potato gnocchi ($3.99, 17.6 ounces) and four cheese tortellini ($3.99, 17.6 ounces) in the refrigerated section, ready to eat. Plus, Market Pantry also has their own frozen cheese ravioli and cheese tortellini. Simply pair with a jar of sauce and some frozen veg for a family-approved meal.

Olive Oil

I exclusively use olive oil as the fat in everything I cook, so buying a very large bottle for a reasonable price is key to keeping my kitchen functioning. Market Pantry doesn’t provide the highest quality product, but the 50.8-ounce bottle sells for $11.59. It’s a pretty fantastic deal for a decent-enough bottle of olive oil. If you’re open to spending a bit more per ounce, I’d highly recommend going for a bottle of California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin. You can grab a 25.4-ounce bottle for $9.99, which is actually a few dollars cheaper than I’ve found it at my go-to supermarket.

Broccoli Slaw

If there’s one fresh product I always snag from the grocery section at Target, it’s a bag of Archer Farms broccoli slaw. The mixture is a perfect blend of shredded broccoli, carrots, and red cabbage that can be added to virtually anything I make. It’s awesome in tacos, salads, sandwiches, stir frys, rice dishes, or even pasta. I’m serious — it’s delicious in anything.

Wine

Ok, so this isn’t necessary for dinner, but isn’t cooking more fun with a glass of wine in hand? Target has an expansive $5 California wine selection, including this summer-ready $5 rose. Go ahead and pour yourself a glass — you deserve it.

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