04 Jan Inside the Fridge: Aviva Goldfarb
Inside the Fridge welcomes Aviva Goldfarb. Aviva helps busy parents let go of all the stress at 6:00 and bring joy and good nutrition back to the dinner table. She is a mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble, an online dinner planning system and cookbook (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). She is the author of “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families” (St. Martin’s Press, 2010). She is also a weekly contributor to the Kitchen Explorers blog on PBS Parents, and often appears on television, radio, and in magazines such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Working Mother, Kiwi, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Prevention, and many others.
Below we ask her questions about her grocery shopping and food habits – with actual pictures from her fridge before and after her weekly shopping trip!
Inside the Fridge: Where do you shop for food?
Aviva Goldfarb: Because the ingredients I cook with and that my family eats are so important to me, I do spread my shopping around a bit to get everything I want. Sunday is usually my shopping day, and I start my grocery trip at the farmer’s market where I get not only produce but often meat and fish, cheese, bread, olive oil, coffee (from a local roaster) and other delicious staples. I love how fresh everything is at the farmer’s market and I get a great feeling from buying food directly from the farmers/producers and supporting local farms and businesses. I also love the communal spirit there, where neighbors gather with their children and dogs in pursuit of great food and a different, slower, and more personal kind of shopping experience. What’s more, the produce last so much longer because it’s so fresh.
From there I split the rest of my list between Trader Joe’s, where I can buy a lot of natural foods without any additives, and my darling local market, Chevy Chase Supermarket, a family operated business where they treat regular customers like family, too. Occasionally I shop at Whole Foods or a health food store, so I can stock up on a few other favorite healthy foods.
ITF: Do you love food shopping or dread it?
AG: In some ways, I dread it (or at least the thought of it). I created my business concept partially out of my desire to use up all the food I buy for the week and avoid the grocery store until I absolutely have to restock our shelves. I plan our menu carefully for the week (as I do for the thousands of members of The Six O’Clock Scramble) so I can get everything we need in one trip.
ITF: How many do you shop for? Ages?
AG: I have two children, a 12 year old daughter, and a 14 year old son, plus my husband and me, and two dogs and a cat. We eat most of our meals at home and are all pretty active so we consume a good amount of food.
ITF: How many times a week do you eat out? (based on 21 meals/week)
AG: Oh, gosh, not much at all, probably once a week if that. My husband eats lunch out once or twice a week at work and our son goes out for lunch once a week during school. We all pack our lunches the rest of the week, eat breakfast at home, and family dinner is a regular event in our house. That helps me justify spending money on high quality food, since no matter what I buy it’s so much cheaper than going out to eat.
ITF: How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
AG: I created my business around the concept of planning ahead for a week of meals and shopping with a grocery list. That’s what I help my customers do and that’s what I do for my family, too. Each weekend I look at the calendar for the upcoming week, see how many nights we’d eat at home, and I come up with recipes for the week. Then I add the ingredients we need to our grocery list (I use an app called Ziplist so I can check off items as I shop). I try to incorporate any leftover ingredients from the previous week into the next week’s plan. During the week, we keep a grocery list attached to the refrigerator so whomever finishes something that needs to be replenished can add it to the list. That helps us avoid emergency shopping trips for one or two missing essentials.
ITF: Do you believe in leftovers?
AG: Most definitely! My husband and I especially are very happy eating any leftovers from last night’s meal for lunch the next day, and sometimes the kids are willing to take leftovers in their school lunches. Since I’m always testing new recipes, I feel like I can often tell how good a new recipe is by how eager we are to eat the leftovers, but something has to be really awful for me not to want to finish it. I can’t stand wasted food! If we still have food leftover at
the end of the week, I pull it all out for a “picnic” the night before I shop for the next week.
ITF: What brands do you swear by? Why?
AG: We have a lot of family favorites, including Annie Chun’s sauces and soups, Pirate’s Brand snacks like Pirate’s Booty (my kids love it), Barilla Plus pasta, Fage Greek yogurt, and milk from a local dairy (delivered in glass bottles!), called Trickling Springs Creamery. I also like to keep our freezer stocked with some convenience products like prepared Indian meals and veggie burgers from Trader Joe’s, Garden Lites vegetable soufflés, and Gorton’s grilled shrimp. We also keep a lot of nuts on hand for healthy protein, as we don’t eat much meat, plus tons of frozen berries and bananas in the freezer because we make a lot of smoothies.
ITF: What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
AG: We use our Breville blender nearly every day to make smoothies, iced coffees, chocolate banana ice cream and other delicious treats. I use a lot of garlic and citrus in my cooking, so I rely on my hand citrus squeezer and Pampered Chef garlic press a lot. I also use my Wusthof Chef’s knife, All-Clad and Scanpan pots and skillets, and wooden cutting boards daily, and I treasure my, Panasonic Bread Bakery, which I use weekly and have had for nearly 20 years!
ITF: What are your go-to food/nutrition/culinary/cooking website/s, book or cookbook?
AG: I can always rely on the recipes in the cookbooks I have from Mark Bittman (The Minimalist) and Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), and recipes on Epicurious. As far as culinary inspiration, I get a lot of it from travelling and talking to friends, but I also get fantastic ideas from Alice Currah of Savory Sweet Life (and my co-blogger on PBS Parents Kitchen Explorers), and I love the photos and recipes on Mango & Tomato, Sarah’s Cucina Bella and Cooking Clarified by Chef Danielle Turner.
ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
AG: Last night I made Spinach and Feta Frittatas (from The Scramble), garlic bread, and sautéed sweet potatoes with sliced almonds (my sister’s brilliant addition) with and for my family and my sister and nephews to celebrate our last night together in Mammoth, California.
ITF: If one person could cook for you tonight, who would it be?
AG: I would love to have a meal prepared for my by the ultra-loveable and talented Jacques Pepin, but if he’s not available, my friend Elissa Rubin makes some of the best soups and stews I’ve eaten.
ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
AG: First, I think eating meals together is so important, especially these days when we are all so connected to our electronic apparatuses all the time. It’s so important to unplug from our devices and connect with each other around the dinner table over a meal, even if it’s something as simple as spaghetti with sauce from a jar, and some steamed broccoli seasoned with olive oil and grated Parmesan. Sometimes it’s the only time we have actual eye contact and uninterrupted conversation with our children and spouses!
The most difficult part of making dinner for most of us isn’t the actual cooking, but rather the thinking and worrying every day at 6:00 about what to make, then realizing that you are missing a key ingredient, and having to run to the store or start over with a new plan. That can be incredibly stressful! So try to plan ahead for a few meals, shop with a list, and if you are still stuck, subscribe to a dinner planning service like The Six O’Clock Scramble so we can do the worrying about dinner
for you. The cooking is the easy part, it’s the decision making that is so challenging for many people.
Thank you Aviva!
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