How I Shop: Melissa Leong

Best-known as a MasterChef judge, this writer, food media consultant and broadcaster says she isn’t afraid to consume anything at least once. Here she shares the regular items in her shopping trolley each week, from coffee to essential Asian sauces.

Photo of Melissa Leong

Melissa Leong always picks up a couple of lemons in her weekly shop.

In Melissa's trolley:

Good quality butter

I have a morbid fear of running out of certain kitchen staples, and butter is one of them. Cultured, unsalted, salted, they all have relevant applications with the only caveat being that I try to choose the best quality available. When an ingredient can make the meal (or is the primary component of one), quality matters.

A tin of chickpeas

My schedule can be insane and there are certain things I need to keep in my cupboard in case I arrive home exhausted and need to pull together something nutritious. Whether you throw them into a salad, mix them with ragu and top with Parmesan and lemon zest, or whip up a quick hummus to eat with crudites, tinned legumes and beans are a solid bet.


In the backyard of my old house stands a 100-year-old lemon tree. I still miss her, and access to fresh lemons. Much like butter, I almost always pick up a couple every time I go to Coles, because you can never have enough! From hot water and lemon in the morning to kickstart the metabolism, to finishing up pasta with a flourish of zest, I love a lemon.

Nescafe Farmers Origins espresso pods

High-quality single origin coffee pods that can be recycled mean that you can have your cup of coffee and be sustainably minded, too. My crazy hours mean that I rely on caffeine more than I should… but we all need a vice, right?

Mushroom XO sauce

My local Coles Asian aisle is solid! I always have a jar of mushroom XO in my fridge to amp up the flavour of everything from soups to stews and sauces… and it’s vegan. A really handy flavour bomb.

Chinkiang black vinegar

Black vinegar is a kitchen wonder. Whether it’s a super simple dumpling dressing, or a piece of steamed fish, I throw it on everything to cut through the richness of dishes and add that signature acidic kick.

Peppermint Magnums

Ice cream deserves to take up valuable real estate in my freezer, next to stock and portions of ragu. You never know what kind of day you’re going to have and whether it’s kicking back on the sofa and watching your favourite movie, or you’ve had one of those days that requires the soothing balm that only a good-quality ice cream or gelato can give you. Give it space in your freezer and it will always be there for you when you need it.

Australian pears

Australian pear growers had an amazing season, and the produce we have access to is incredible. I like to add a couple of pears to a cheese plate or salad [skin on] for a sweet crunch and a little boost of gut-healthy dietary fibre thrown in for good measure.


I can’t live without pickles. Whether it’s on a burger (in which case Fehlbergs are the best), dill pickles or piccalilli on a snack plate with cheese and crackers, pickles are refreshing, crunchy and add a spike of sharpness when you need it.