For most of us, grocery shopping is a “zip-in, zip-out” hasty affair. In our bid for ultimate efficiency, it’s easy to put on our blinkers and choose the same products each time we shop. 

Whilst this saves time, we may be missing opportunities to discover new products or find ways to make our grocery items work harder. Here’s 10 of our top grocery items that we urge you to consider next time you hit the shops.

And don’t just judge them at face value… many have some surprising virtues that you may not be expecting!

1. Panty Hose 

No, we’re not suggesting that you need to be covering up your lovely legs! The soft yet scratchy texture of pantyhose lends itself perfectly to natural cleaning. 

Many natural cleaning products have really stepped up their game in providing similar results to their chemical cousins. However, sometimes you really do need that little bit of extra elbow grease to get the job done. 

Try using pantry hose to clean surfaces that would generally require a chemical cream cleanser (for example tile grout and built-up bathroom grime). Watch as the panty hose gently dislodges the gunk! Just patch test a small area first to double-check that this isn’t too abrasive for the surface that you’re treating.

2. Plain Cannellini Beans

In addition to being a wonderful source of fibre, minerals, resistant starch and low GI carbohydrate, cannellini beans have a neutral texture and flavor that gives them great culinary diversity. 

Experiment with adding them (mushed) to your pizza bases, bread loaves, patties, potato/pumpkin mash, protein balls (yes, really!) and denser style desserts. 

But the benefits don’t just stop there… Use them dried in place of baking beads! They’re a fraction of the price and make a big difference to your gluten free pastries and pizza crusts.

3. Chayote/Choko

Ask your Grandmother and she will readily agree that chayote is one of the best veggies on this planet! Used extensively as a cheap and hardy commodity during the War era, sadly this wonderful veggie has dropped out of vogue.

As a good source of Vitamin C and fibre, chayote make a healthy addition to any diet. However, few people realise just how versatile this marvellous food really is!

Being rather bland in flavour, chayote can be added to many savoury dishes and will absorb the flavors around it… No surprises there. The real surprise is that it makes a terrific fruit substitute as well! Once used commercially as ‘apple pie filling’, chayote just needs a little steaming, vanilla essence and perhaps a tiny pop of naturally sweetener to serve you as a stewed fruit! Add to pies, porridges, desserts and muffins. (It seriously looks and feels almost the same as stewed apple!)

4. Dukkah 

Want a tasty meal but don’t have time to get your fancy chef pants on? Dukkah is your secret weapon to dress up just about any meal.

Comprised of sesame seeds, nuts and Middle Eastern spices, a dash of Dukkah will sensationalize savoury dishes instantly. Sprinkle over salads, toast with roasted vegetables, scatter over bread or cracker sides, mix through mashes and use as a rub or marinade for tempeh, fish and chicken. 

Hot tip? Use with a little squeeze of lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil to really make your tastebuds pop. 

5. Coconut Oil

Google ‘coconut oil uses’ and you’ll come up with a gazillion hits… For good reason! This oil isn’t just renowned for its culinary diversity but offers some unusual domestic benefits that perhaps you haven’t heard of…

Coconut oil makes a great natural furniture polish, particularly if you have chemical-sensitive children or teething bubbas who think that a chair leg looks like a chewable treat! Simply patch test on wood first before launching into a full treatment. 

Can’t afford expensive natural moisturisers and skin balms? Look no further! Coconut oil makes a lush, nourishing all-over body moisturiser. (Bear in mind that it’s probably best applied in the evening so the oil has time to penetrate your skin and not stick to your clothing.)

6. Organic Tinned Tomatoes

Organic tinned tomatoes aren’t simply for spaghetti! Keeping a store of organic tinned tomatoes gives you a staple to use as a base for many recipes indeed.

You can use tinned tomatoes with a little water as a high-antioxidant stock for vegetable soups. The natural saltiness of the tomatoes means you won’t miss the salt! You can also use tomato puree with leftover veggies and beans to whip up casseroles. Or, if you really want a zero-fuss meal, heat with a little garlic and dried mixed herbs and serve with a slice of healthy bread!

7. Eucalyptus Oil

This essential oil is truly a key player in your arsenal of green cleaning products!

Applied with a soft cloth, eucalyptus oil is all you need to remove most sticky residues (providing the surface is not waxed or covered with oil-soluble colours). This is most handy for removing sticker peel from glass jars and scoring yourself a chemical-free storage container.

Eucalyptus also has natural decongestant properties, so add some to your oil burner to help keep airways and sinus passages clean and clear. You can also add a couple of drops into a heavy-duty laundry load - perfect for sprucing up your winter rugs and blankets after storage. 

8. Caraway Seed

This humble spice is commonly overlooked, with many people omitting this from their staple stock of spices!

Whilst caraway seed has traditional roots in Indian cuisine, this powerful little spice offers many other surprising uses! Trying frying off a teaspoon of caraway seeds with garlic and a little oil before sauteeing your greens - the flavor profile is phenomenal!

Caraway also works beautifully in hummus, savoury flat breads, dehydrator crackers and wraps, curries and homemade breads. Let your nose guide you as you play with this sensational spice. 

9. Shower Caps

This completely random grocery item has one very handy kitchen application that you’ll never guess! 

Say goodbye to reams of cling wrap and welcome one very surprising plastic solution…. Shower caps! They make fantastic, reusable coverings for bowls and containers of food that are stored in the fridge. They will stretch over many standard plates and bowls to create a reusable seal. If the cap is too large to fit over a smaller container, you can use a rubber band to seal the top instead.

Our tip? Try to keep the shower cap away from direct contact with food and always wash thoroughly with warm soapy water between uses. 

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is widely celebrated for its many health benefits. But have you heard about its other domestic and culinary qualities?

ACV is particularly versatile in vegetable and salad dishes. Simply sprinkle a little over roast vegies as a natural salt substitute. You can also mix ACV with equal parts oil and a dash of honey to create a delicious, wholefoods salad dressing. Tossing ACV over cut fruits, avocado and vegetables will also delay browning and spoilage. 

If you eat meat, lightly marinade your meat, fish or poultry in a little ACV (although lemon juice or any vinegar will also do the trick!) to reduce the production of inflammatory compounds upon cooking. Plus it adds a natural salty, zesty flavour!


What are your top hardworking grocery items? Let’s grow this list in the conversation below!