In our first post of the series, I shared healthy, versatile shelf stable foods to keep in your pantry. Today we are talking all about your refrigerator and what you should keep stocked in there. (We’ll save the freezer and room temperature perishable foods for future posts.) Unlike most of the pantry items, food on this list should be used and replaced frequently since it may go bad quicker than your pantry staples.
Better Pantry Fridge Foods
- Not many grains are kept in the fridge, but you can keep whole grains in the fridge to keep it fresher longer.
- Kiwi fruit
- Lemon or lime juice- Adds flavor without salt or fat. Make your own salad dressings or marinades.
- Carrots- but make sure to buy regular long ones and peel them yourself. Baby carrots are almost twice as much.
- Leafy greens, especially spinach and heads of lettuce
- Summer squash
[These are usually your best choices for fresh fruit and veggies (that needs to be refrigerated. I’ll get to the room temperature ones in another post). Remember, seasonal produce is best for price, taste and nutrition, so these choices may vary at different times of year.]
- Eggs- Cheap, versatile, nutritious. Eggs may have gotten a bad rap over the years, but I think they are one of the best healthy foods on a budget.
- Whole chicken- It’s cheaper to buy the whole bird and cut it up yourself. You’ll have different pieces for different meals and the bones make tasty homemade broth (similar to this recipe).
- Fresh seafood- Contrary to popular belief, you can find affordable fresh seafood. Take a moment the next time you’re at the store and compare prices with chicken or beef. You might be surprised. Why should you eat more seafood? Find out more here!
- Lean ground meat- Turkey, beef or chicken, ground meat is one of the easiest to cook with and is usually inexpensive.
- Other low cost meats- There are many cuts of meat that cost less because they are less tender. Braising or slow cooking help turn these cuts into mouthwatering meals.
- Low-fat or non-fat (skim) milk
- Low-fat or non-fat yogurt- Choose the plain variety and add fresh or frozen fruit to sweeten it up yourself.
- Low-fat blocks of cheese- Stick with the brick! Pre-sliced or shredded cheese costs more and may have less calcium than block cheese.
- Mustard- Low calorie, full of flavor. Mustard is a great choice for a condiment, much better than mayo or ketchup.
- Hot Sauce- Ask anyone who knows me, I can’t live without hot sauce! Again, its low calorie, full of flavor and a little goes a long way. Just watch out for sodium, but if you keep the portions small, it should be fine.
- Yeast- If you are a baker, you need yeast for homemade breads.
Did I leave anything out you think is an important, low-cost refrigerated pantry staple? Let us know in the comments.