A loyal reader recently asked me to do a post about the essentials I keep in my fridge. A few months ago, I might have considered taking a picture of the inside of my fridge for this post. But ever since Kath showed us in the inside of her fridge, I’ve been very self conscious about my fridge. Attempts to minimize the contents were met with tears, so I’ve finally accepted that my fridge will always be jam-packed with leftovers and produce.
I’ll do one post on my perishables and another on dry goods. Here’s what I have to have every week, or I’ll prolly starve:
My Perishables (lowest cost option is in green):
Unsweetened vanilla almond milk: I’m a big fan of almond milk because I don’t like cow’s milk (lots of reasons – this could be a whole post in itself – but suffice it to say that I first started straying from milk when I noticed that I would feel really badly on my Saturday morning runs after I had dairy on Friday – I was lethargic and sometimes would get sick). Needless to say, there is a lot of controversy around soy, so don’t prefer soy milk. I already have tofu in my diet, and adding soy milk to that would put me over the edge in the soy department.
You can get the 365 brand almond milk at Whole Foods, which is my fave. Almond Breeze is also good and they have it at most regular grocery stores. I use this for my morning smoothie every day, and its sooo delish with cereal or granola. If you have never tried it, you can get a 32 oz carton at Trader Joe’s or Jewel (local grocery store), which is low-commitment. Here’s the price breakdown:
- Trader Joe’s: $.05 to .06 per oz, depending on brand. They have both Almond Breeze and Pacific brands. I believe Pacific is organic and usually its a little cheaper.
- Whole foods: $.05 per oz for the 365 brand. Note that this is based on the refrigerated half gallons ($3.39 regular price). They also have shelf-stable options, but I don’t usually stop in that aisle so I haven’t price compared in a while. Based on taste, the 365 brand is my fave.
- Costco: $.04 per oz. Costco sells the Silk brand, which is sweetened (slightly higher calorie and has evaporated cane juice), but you really can’t beat the price. This comes out to $2.66 for a half gallon, which is almost $.75 cheaper than Whole Foods.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the nutritional stats. Note that the Silk brand is sweetened, so it has added sugar and calories. The 365 brand also has the shortest ingredient list (always a plus in my book) and doesn’t have the elusive “natural flavors” as part of the ingredient list. If you are wondering why I have all three of these in the house right now available for photos, see my initial comment about messy fridge. I also hoard things when they go on sale.
Bananas: I always have these on hand for smoothies and snacks!
- Trader Joe’s: anywhere from $.29 to $.49 per pound
- Whole foods: closer to $.99 per pound, but I usually don’t pay attention because I’m not crazy enough to think they will be cheaper here
- Costco: $.27 to $.44 per pound
Spinach: I try to have this on hand to toss into my morning smoothie and up the nutritional content – it becomes a Green Monster! Its also great to have on hand for a quick mid-week dinner salad. The best deal I have found for spinach is the huge tubs at Costco, but there is a produce market by us (Stanley’s for you locals) that is much cheaper, but non-organic. Spinach is something I prefer to buy organic since it’s one of the dirty dozen.
- Trader Joe’s: $.33 per oz (organic)
- Whole Foods: $.37 per oz (organic)
- Costco: $.24 per oz (organic)
- Stanley’s: $.15 per oz (non-organic)
Lemons: I can’t drink my water plain, so I always keep lemons on hand to keep my water interesting!
- Costco: $1.29 per pound
- Stanley’s: $.98 per pound
Kale: I really love kale for juicing and for making kale chips! If you’ve never made kale chips before, I highly recommend them lieu of potato chips next time you are making burgers.
- Whole Foods: usually $2.49 per bunch (organic)
- Stanley’s: $1.49 to 1.98 per bunch (organic)
Morningstar Black Bean Burgers: I usually buy the big Morningstar bean burgers at Costco because I love these so many ways: scrambled with an egg, crumbled on a salad, or wrapped in a tortilla with some avocado. They are $13.69 for a 12 pack of big burgers (note these are 4 oz burgers, which are bigger than the 2.75 oz burgers sold in regular grocery stores).
Eggs: Some days, I just really crave a scrambled egg on toast with a little cheese, so I try to keep eggs in the fridge most of the time. I splurge a bit and get free range organic because I’m paranoid and I don’t buy them that often so its worth the spurge (here’s a simple guide to eggs). I don’t usually price compare these because I just pick them up at Whole Foods when I run out, and they are less than $3 for a dozen (at $.25 each, that’s a pretty cheap and quick dinner!).
Tofu: I usually have this in my fridge to make my version of a chocolate milkshake!! Its a nice protein boost for smoothies and I use it for desserts or stir fry occasionally. I typically buy firm because its the most versatile. My favorite tofu is sold at the farmer’s market by Tiny Greens, but when I can’t make it to the farmer’s market…
- Trader Joe’s: $.11 per oz for organic firm tofu and $.09 per oz for non-organic firm.
- Whole Foods: $.12 per oz for organic 365 brand.
Avocado: I like to have one or two avocados on hand to add to fish tacos (post forthcoming) and salads. They never go bad in our house. The price for these are so volatile depending on the time of year, so I usually pick these up at Stanley’s. Avocados are on the clean dozen list, so I don’t fret too much about buying organic.
I think that about covers it for perishables. I always have random fruits and vegetables around as well. This week I stocked up on oranges, grapefruits, and brussels sprouts, so those are currently spilling out of the fridge and fruit bowl. I’ll be back with my must-have dry goods!