Stocking a healthy fridge
Fresh items, staple items, and everything in between
The day of rest. Maybe we’re looking back on poor decisions from the night before. Maybe we’re getting after it and preparing for the week ahead. Perhaps you’re resting. Maybe brunching with the gals. The cool kids do that, right? I wouldn’t know. Sundays are a good day to clean and prep and get your life together before another Monday comes around.
My Sundays are odd. As is the rest of my life. Sunday used to be my always rest day. It just felt weird to work out on a Sunday. However, having the life I do and the schedule that can change daily, Sundays lately have felt like any other day. Is that a bad thing? Either way, it’s what’s happening right now so we’ll go with it. But I, like many others, take Sundays (and oftentimes Mondays) to prep my food, clean up my life, and get my act together for the week ahead.
I started putting together a very simple, bulleted list of items that I keep in my fridge for a friend of mine. A reference guide of sorts of how I stock and organize my refrigerator.
The fridge can be a terrifying place.
What leftovers await us inside? What impulse buys are tucked away in the doors and shoved towards the back? What labels will clearly tell us they’re expired? Why is that shelf sticky? And what in god’s name is that smell?
Step one: Purge.
My favorite thing in the world to do. Get it out. Just don’t even look at it. Especially if it’s been weeks since you’ve really gone through your refrigerator. Start over, start fresh. Eliminate anything expired, questionable, anything with a lot of added sugar (read your labels), and anything labeled “fat free,” “reduced fat,” or “low fat.” Goodbye.
Step two: Restock.
Here’s where I can help. There are a few ways to go about stocking a healthy fridge. Let’s talk about the best way, in my opinion, to organize a fridge in general.
The top shelf
Ready to eat foods
- This can include leftovers
- Cooked and prepped proteins like shredded or baked chicken, roasted vegetables, etc.
- Salsas or hummus
- Raw meat and poultry. (You don’t want any raw meat on a top shelf in case the packaging is open and it runs the risk of dripping on other food).
Veggies and produce
- Fresh vegetables
Condiments, sauces, dressings, non-dairy milk
Fun fact about Em. I took a cooking class and went through a ServSafe course to learn about and understand the safety protocols and hazards around food preparation and this is how I was taught to organize my refrigerator.
Now let’s really get into the meat of the fridge. (No pun intended..)
This is a list of items that I currently have or buy to stock my refrigerator. Of course if I’m cooking a specific recipe that calls for something fancy, that will find it’s way in my fridge, but overall, this is what I have. If you’re trying to create or maintain healthy habits, why make your life harder by keeping crappy choices and temptation all around you? You owe it to yourself and those around you to make healthy living easier. Stock up on the stuff that will fill you, heal you, and nourish you.
Let me know what you’d add to this!
Sauces and condiments
- Condiments and salad dressings:
- Primal Kitchen Brand:
- Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Buffalo Ranch
- Green Goddess
- Honey Mustard
- Broths (after they have been opened, good for 1 week)
- Kettle and Fire mushroom and chicken or savory chicken
- Pacific Brands bone broth
- Low sodium soy sauce OR tamari (Gluten Free soy sauce) OR coconut aminos
- Mustard, salsa, pickles
- Primal Kitchen Brand:
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Or Sigis Greek yogurt – flavors are delicious, and they do not have a lot of sugar!
- Unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- Heavy cream (one ingredient)
- Mini baby bell cheeses are good snacks
- Hard cheese is my favorite, they do not have much if any lactose – parmesan, pecorino, sheep/goat milk cheeses like feta
- Kerrygold is my preferred brand
Fresh produce – Vegetables
(My “staple” vegetables, I have to replenish fresh items 1-2x per week, but I truly cook them with every meal. I typically mix fresh with cooked/frozen vegetables.)
- Use any and all greens like spinach, chard, kale, mixed in with eggs or as a bed under any cooked meats/roasted or steamed vegetables
- Mix them in with pastas or grains! The hot pasta will slowly start to wilt it down
- Don’t over complicate it. When in doubt, add greens to any and all meals
- Great for roasting and snacking
- Use as snack with hummus or guacamole
*Staple vegetables to use as snacks and to add to any and all meals. Little olive oil, salt and pepper on the stove top is all it takes. For things like potatoes, squash, carrots, brussel sprouts, those are great to roast! Mix fresh with cooked or steamed. Salt, pepper, garlic, little butter make all the difference!*
Fresh produce – Fruit
- Cut melon of all kinds
*Snack items. Grab a yogurt and a handful (about ¼ – ½ cup of berries and go crazy)
Nuts and seeds
- Nuts and seeds have oils in them and will stay fresher longer in the fridge! Raw or dry roasted and unsalted
- Nut butters
- Fresh eggs
- Chicken breasts and thighs
Snacks and extras
- Sparkling water
- Perhaps a Perfect bar or two if I’m feeling crazy
Treat your fridge like you would a room in your house. Everything (hopefully) has its place and purpose. We invest in the things that matter to us. Invest in your kitchen, in your food, and invest your time to building a fridge that will help you optimize your health and well being.
What we eat will dictate how we feel. And how we feel dictates what we do. And what we do determines every hour of every day.
Start with a clean slate. Stock the basics. Add, eliminate, organize, and begin again as needed. Maybe the next time you have a fridge clean out it won’t be as drastic. Maybe you need to do less purging and more swapping. Skim milk for almond milk. Low fat ranch for Primal Kitchen avocado oil ranch.
It’s a new day. Let’s eat.