Shop Like a Chef with This Expert-Approved Holiday Shopping List

Sure, you know a few things off the top of your head that you’ll put on your holiday grocery list. But do you know what would really take your shopping list to the next level? Groceries handpicked by experts, that’s what.

We had two James Beard Foundation nominees — chef Jeremy Fox and baker Lisa Ludwinski — plus, celebrated experts from Whole Foods Market tell us their favorite things to get at Whole Foods Market. Now, we’re sharing their top picks so you, too, can shop like a chef and have the best of the best of the best at your holiday dinner. From a butter that makes all baked goods better to survival snacks, consider this the expert-approved list of must-haves.

Alan Morgan

Alan Morgan is the Global Senior Coordinator of Culinary Development for Whole Foods Market.

  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes. “This flaky salt adds texture to finish any dish. I especially like sprinkling a little bit on my salad to provide a unique crunch and salinity.”
  • Medjool Dates. “These are plump, luscious and great for a snack. Or stuff them with cream cheese, roast them with honey or wrap them in bacon or prosciutto.”
  • Prosecco. “Keep a bottle chilled so you can sip on it while cooking your holiday meal. It also makes a tasty sauce with garlic, shallots and cream for serving over chicken.”
  • Brioche. “This rich, soft, tender bread is your key to breakfast sandwiches, bread pudding, stuffing — the possibilities are endless.”

Jeremy Fox

Jeremy Fox is Executive Chef and co-owner of Santa Monica’s Rustic Canyon and author of “On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen.”  He created our vegan holiday feast.

  • Kite Hill Jalapeño Cream Cheese Style Spread and Rudi’s Everything Bagels. This is Jeremy’s go-to duo for a quick breakfast or snack during the holiday rush.
  • Martinelli’s Unfiltered Apple Juice, Lakewood Biodynamic Organic Pure Cranberry Juice and 365 Everyday Value Organic Cinnamon Sticks. The secret’s out. He reaches for these three favorites when recreating his father-in-law’s signature wassail, a hot mulled cider.

Theo Weening

Theo Weening is the Global Meat Buyer for Whole Foods Market. He’s also a third-generation butcher.

  • Country-style pork sausage with sage. “I’m in charge of the meat for the stuffing, and I like to mix together country-style pork sausage with sage and hot Italian pork or turkey sausage. I’ll add some whole dried fennel seed to the mix too.”
  • Horizon Organic Lowfat Eggnog. “While prepping the Thanksgiving meal the evening before, I love to drink Horizon’s creamy eggnog — though I do add a little bit of Austrian rum, which I bring back from the Netherlands when I visit my mom.”
  • Nature’s Rancher Steakhouse Bacon. “This bacon is what I reach for when making breakfast Thanksgiving morning. Each slice is three oz., so it’s very thick. Plus, it’s from pigs raised with no antibiotics.”
  • Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Eggs. “These are another holiday breakfast favorite. They’ve got so much flavor. I love that bright yellow yolk.”
  • These meats and cheeses. “I’ll put together my own platter with Principe Italian Prosciutto di Parma for sure, plus a mixture of salami from both Olli Salumeria and Creminelli. Because I’m from the Netherlands, I always include at least two Dutch-style cheeses like Gouda and Parrano too.”
  • Fresh free-range turkey. “I usually keep prep simple and mix softened Icelandic real butter, fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary, fresh crushed garlic, pepper and sea salt. Then I separate the breast meat and the skin on the turkey with my hands and rub the mixture of herbs and butter under the skin.” (Find Theo’s tips for shopping for turkeys here.)
  • Brussels sprouts and apples. “My favorite Thanksgiving side dishes are Brussels sprouts with bacon and parmesan and homemade applesauce. My tip is to keep the apple slices whole.” 
  • Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples. “Two years ago, my daughter Savannah and I had an apple pie bake-off. I made a Dutch-style apple pie with raisins, and she made a traditional American one. She won!”

Cathy Strange

Cathy is the award-winning Global Cheese Buyer for Whole Foods Market.

  • Stilton from Neal’s Yard Dairy. “This crazy amazing blue cheese from the UK is creamy beyond belief and slightly sharp. Try it with walnuts, port, apple cider or simply crumble on filet mignon.”
  • Harbison from the Cellars at Jasper Hill. “You’ll taste mushrooms with hints of white wine and whole grain mustard overtones. Grab an IPA, apples or La Quercia Ridgetop Prosciutto and enjoy.”
  • Parmigiano Reggiano Aged 24 Months. “This is the real stuff straight from Italy. It’s creamy with savory notes, and its bright crystals highlight the texture. Plus, it has amazing aromatics. Pair it with hazelnuts, pears, honey, and grate it on soup.”
  • Emmi Le Gruyère. “Crisp white wine, baked ham, scalloped potatoes and macaroni and cheese are all a match for this hand-selected cheese from Switzerland. It’s nutty with fruity overtones and has a nice creamy balance.”
  • Uplands Farm from Pleasant Ridge Reserve. “This is not a beginner’s cheese. It’s a savory, rich, grass-fed wonder with an intense flavor. I serve it with IPA, lemon curd or candied walnuts.”
  • La Quercia Ridgetop Prosciutto. “If you’re serving a semi-soft cheese, this rich and lightly savory prosciutto is what you need.”

Lisa Ludwinski

Lisa Ludwinski is founder and head baker of Detroit’s Sister Pie. She also dreamed up the Cranberry Crumble Pie on our holiday menu. 

  • Mary’s Gone Crackers Super Seed Crackers. “I love these crunchy, seedy crackers in every flavor, and right now, I’m really loving the basil and garlic flavor. They’re great with cheese, dipped in hummus or on their own.”
  • Pink Lady apples. “I think I go through a love affair with a new apple every year, and this time it’s the Pink Lady. They’re crisp, tart-sweet, and I like them sliced raw and dipped in almond butter more than most things in this world.”
  • Cornichons from the olive bar. “It is so satisfying to chomp down on one of these after a big taste of cheese. It feels like a palate cleanser and tastes dreamily sour.”
  • Tamari almonds. “The tamari salts the almonds just enough that it still feels like a healthy snack.”
  • Dijon mustard. “I could eat this stuff by the spoonful, and I think it’s the perfect accompaniment to pretty much anything — roasted vegetables, eggs, cheese, meat …”
  • Smoked salmon. “This luxurious snack is something I want to have around all the time, but it rarely lasts longer than a day or two in my apartment.”
  • Endive. “These dippable members of the chicory family have made my dip situation much better. It’s the quickest vegetable to prepare for a snack that’s light, elegant and perfect for carrying hummus to your mouth.”
  • Pasture-raised eggs. “I always have a bowl filled with eight-minute eggs in my fridge, and I never hesitate to add a few, sliced lengthwise and topped with a pinch of flaky sea salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper, to a snack extravaganza.”
  • Raw sugar and granulated sugar. “At Sister Pie, we sprinkle a mix of granulated sugar and raw sugar on top of many of our baked goods before they bake. We call it sugar-sugar. It builds a sweet crust on top with varied texture thanks to the chunky texture of raw sugar (often called turbinado) and the extra-fine texture of granulated sugar.”
  • Plugrá European Style Butter. “I don’t bake without Plugrá in my arsenal. It packs a flavor punch that lifts all baked goods made with it to glory. You want the crust to taste as good as the filling? Use Plugrá.”

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