By the time the first week of January rolls around, all the Christmas cookies are gone, and the refrigerator is bare. Time to restock!
As you head off to the grocery store to stock up for winter nourishment, here are 13 things that always go on our grocery lists in January. We find them essential for cooking in the coldest month, when you need a little extra brightness and warmth.
My grocery list is usually pretty basic: eggs, yogurt, some fresh vegetables and fruit, maybe a steak or a pack of chicken thighs. I always have aromatics on hand, too — onion, garlic.
Each month, though, has a few staples that are elevated into essentials by the season and the weather. In January, here's what The Kitchn team always has on their list.
Citrus is the bonus this month — everything from navel oranges to tangerines!
- Clementines - I love those little Cuties, easy to peel and eat as snacks at my desk. They're a great thing to pack for car or air travel, too.
- Grapefruit - I find the sweetest grapefruit now, and it's a special treat for breakfast, especially when broiled with cinnamon sugar on top.
- Rapini and mustard greens - All of us crave greens in January, but we take a break from the ubiquitous kale and go for chard or collards, or — since I seem to find them more easily this time of year — bitter treats like broccoli rabe (rapini) and mustard greens. Sauté with bacon for a one-dish supper, or chop and stir into broth for an easy soup.
- Sweet potatoes - A bright, warm, and easy main dish. (Know the difference between yams and sweet potatoes?) Roast in the oven and serve topped with some of those bitter greens, or make one of these 15 suppers with sweet potatoes.
- Ginger root - I adore ginger tea, but this time of year, it's a necessity. Stock up on big paws of ginger root and make tea with boiling water, honey, and a squeeze of lemon. It's magic.
- Coconut milk - We all seem to use more coconut milk this time of year, whether it's in soups or simply used to simmer beans until soft and tender.
- Miso paste - Kristin mentioned that she uses a lot of miso this time of year, stirred into broth for a quick soup, or mixed with lemon and oil for a dressing for roasted vegetables.
- Curry powder - Another ingredient that brightens healthy food and makes roasted vegetables, soups, and grains more delicious. Sauté a little onion and garlic in olive oil, add a dash of curry powder, then toss with freshly-cooked rice or quinoa for an upgraded dish of grains.
- Broth - Sure, we can all make our own broth or stock (know the difference?) but it's good to stock up on extra cartons of low-sodium broth for last-minute soups and stews.
- Steel-cut oats - If oatmeal had a season, it would be January, our whole team agrees! Here's how to cook perfect steel-cut oats. Unlike rolled oats, these are even better reheated (not mushy, I promise!). Make a big pot of oats and eat throughout the week.
- One new-to-you grain, like millet or freekeh - This is a great time of year to try a new grain. Millet is the hot thing around here, and Kelli is deep into freekeh. You don't need special instructions for any of these; cook them according to this no-fuss method for any grain. Stir in a spoonful of the miso, top with sautéed bitter greens; stir-fry cooked grains with finely diced sweet potato or onion.
- Beans for soup - It's soup time too, and while you may eat a lot of beans (or not), this is the time to stock up. I keep dried beans that I usually use only in soup on hand right now, like black beans for this Cuban-style black bean soup, and navy beans for white bean soup with bacon.
- Bones for soup and stock - Last but not least — soup bones. I don't eat a lot of meat in January, but I do try to make a lot of broth and stock in my pressure cooker (so quick and easy!).
Those are the winter essentials for The Kitchn team — what are yours? We'd love to hear what goes on your shopping list this month, and what that lets you cook.
(Image credits: Faith Durand)