7 Not-to-Be-Missed Groceries in the Baking Aisle — Even If You Don’t Bake

published Mar 12, 2022
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It’s easy to skip over an aisle at the grocery store, especially when you think that the typical items found there aren’t of much use to you. For instance, I rarely ever go down the chip aisle (I’m not a salty-snacks-kind-of-person). Maybe for you, it’s the baking aisle. Who needs to take the time to visit the baking aisle if you don’t bake, right? We all do!

You see, the baking aisle is actually one of the most versatile aisles of the grocery store. Here, you’ll find many groceries that will save you time and add nutrients, flavor, and variety to your everyday dishes. (Sometimes I wonder why these items aren’t shelved in other parts of the store!) These are my top seven must-haves to get you started.

Credit: Heather McClees

1. Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal

Flaxseed meal has a nutty flavor and is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, among all plant foods. It’s rich in fiber and a complete source of plant-based protein. It’s also much easier for your body to absorb the nutrition (versus whole seeds). I eat two tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal a day (Bob’s Red Mill is one of my favorite brands to recommend). You can add it to oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, in smoothies, and more!

Buy: Bob’s Red Mill Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal, $3.99 for 16 ounces at Target

Credit: Heather McClees

2. Vanilla Extract 

No matter what you’re making, vanilla can up the flavor. I add a splash to my oatmeal or plain yogurt. You can also add it to coffee, a brown butter sauce, or even some roasted veggies. You can even use some to deodorize your fridge. Plus, you can store the bottle basically forever. So you can buy a bottle now for the spring holidays and just keep it on hand.

Buy: McCormick All Natural Pure Vanilla Extract, $5.49 for 1 ounce at Instacart

Credit: Heather McClees

3. Canned Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin is one of my favorite foods to eat every single day (I add it to almost all my smoothies.). It’s high in fiber and vitamin A and it’s even a great source of iron, believe it or not! Be sure to buy canned pure pumpkin purée and not pumpkin pie mix to avoid the sugar and added ingredients. Beyond smoothies, you can add a dollop in pudding, oatmeal, and, my favorite, soups (the pumpkin thickens the soup and gives it a creamy, slightly sweet flavor).

Buy: Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin, $2.89 for 15 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Heather McClees

4. Dried Herbs and Spices

Most grocery stores keep the dried herbs and spices at the end of the baking aisle and, chances are, you’re already stocking up on your favorites. But consider those bottles that are traditionally more for baking! Like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and more. Pick your favorites and add them to different meals to transform the flavor of your food in just minutes. I love to mix spices, like cinnamon and ginger, in oatmeal or sprinkle them onto cereal and yogurt.

Buy: Good & Gather Organic Ground Ginger, $1.99 for 1.6 ounces at Target

Credit: Heather McClees

5. Instant Espresso Powder

You might find it odd that coffee is sold in the baking aisle, but one reason is that espresso powder is used to enhance the chocolate flavor in some recipes, including brownies, cakes, and cookies. (I learned this trick from the great Ina Garten and, since then, I’ve always kept a bottle in my pantry.) If I don’t have time to make a cup of coffee on the way out the door, I’ll just boil some hot water quickly in a kettle and add instant espresso powder for a quick drink. Instant espresso powder is also delicious in smoothies; my preferred recipe includes espresso powder with a frozen banana, Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, and a little unsweetened cocoa powder!

Buy: Café Bustelo Espresso Instant Coffee, $6.99 for 7.05 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Heather McClees

6. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is incredibly rich in antioxidants. In addition to smoothies, I love blending unsweetened cocoa powder into coffee for a homemade mocha (so good!). You can also easily make a hot cup of cocoa in the winter instead of buying the pre-mixed packages at the store. I’m a huge fan of Hershey’s dark unsweetened cocoa powder (not pictured), but I’ll buy any brand in a pinch. There are some great store brands out there too!

Buy: Hershey’s Cocoa Special Dark 100% Cacao, $5.49 for 8 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Heather McClees

7. Raw Nuts

For some reason, nuts are scattered all around the grocery store in various sections. I prefer to get mine in the baking aisle. Because here you’ll find them raw (not roasted) and unsalted. Add them to oatmeal or yogurt, or make your own granola with them.

Buy: Good & Gather Chopped Walnuts, $4.69 for 8 ounces at Target

Do you buy items on the baking aisle even if you don’t bake? Let us know what your favorite finds are!