Kathleen Zelman: What's in My Fridge?
My secrets for a well-stocked kitchen and healthy meals.
A Dietitian's Well-Stocked Kitchen
We eat most dinners at home during the week except Friday and Saturday. With routine eating patterns, it is easier to reduce waste and have lots of healthy options on hand.
Staple ingredients in my refrigerator:
- Skim milk, fat-free and low-fat Greek yogurt
- Fat-free half-and-half (my favorite cream alternative in cooking)
- Assorted cheeses: Jarlsberg Swiss, Laughing Cow light, Cabot 50% light jalapeno and cheddar, light cream cheese, blue cheese, goat cheese, and Parmesan cheese
- Light sour cream and light mayonnaise
- Lemons, limes, apples, oranges, and grapefruits. Also, seasonal fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, peaches, mangoes, and melons
- Assorted mixed greens, avocados, baby carrots, mushrooms, red bell peppers, tomatoes (grape and beefsteak), and jalapenos, along with fresh picks such as asparagus, green beans, broccoli, and sugar snap peas
- Orange, grapefruit, light cranberry, and low sodium tomato juices
- Eggs, butter, and trans-fat-free soft margarine
Staple ingredients in my freezer:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, salmon, shrimp, ground turkey breast, and lean beef
- Assorted frozen vegetables -- spinach, corn, mixed, green beans
- Assorted frozen fruits -- blueberries, mango,
- Whole grain rolls
- Low-fat frozen yogurt, fruit bars
- Whole wheat pizza crusts or pita bread
- Healthy frozen dinners
Staple ingredients in my pantry:
- Onions, garlic, sweet potatoes
- Pickles, olives, light salad dressings, bottled marinades
- Fruit preserves
- Olive and canola oils
- Assorted mustards and vinegars
- Low-sodium beans -- black, kidney, garbanzo
- Assorted fruits in their own juices
- Low-sodium chicken and beef stock
- Low-sodium soups
- Tomato sauce, whole tomatoes
- Water-packed tuna fish
- Whole grains -- pasta, couscous, brown rice, crackers
- Simple cookies, high-protein granola bars
- Whole grain cereals -- Kashi, oatmeal
- 100-calorie kettle corn popcorn
- Pistachios, walnuts, almonds, pecans, and cashews
- Nut butters
Something that's usually not in my kitchen: enticing foods that test my resolve. When I buy cakes, cookies, and candy, I have a hard time resisting the temptation, so I usually don’t buy them.
My strategy is to purchase sweets for my family that everyone can enjoy that offer some nutritional goodness -- such as low-fat frozen yogurt, frozen fruit bars, low-fat pudding cups, and simple cookies (ginger snaps, thin crisps).
Simple Throw-Together Meal Ideas
Serve your family low-fat milk and fruit for dessert along with these easy, kid-pleasing meals:
- Create your own pizza using whole grain crust, tomato sauce, part-skim mozzarella cheese and a variety of toppings including beans, spinach, mushrooms, lean meat, peppers, onions, artichoke hearts, and pineapples.
- Hearty soup can be whipped up by adding frozen veggies and beans to a box or can or prepared soup. Serve it with a side salad and a whole grain roll.
- Frittata filled with leftover vegetables, potatoes -- or whole grains, lean meat, and cheese -- paired with a cup of vegetable soup or a salad and a whole grain roll.
- Tacos stuffed with lean protein or beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded low-fat cheese, and salsa in a corn tortilla.
- Spaghetti sauce mixed with 100% ground turkey breast or lean ground beef on whole wheat pasta, side salad, and a roll.