21 Dec Inside the Fridge: Carol Schiller
Inside the Fridge welcomes Carol Schiller. Carol is a mom of three, co-host of the weekly Twitter party Foodies Night In (#FNIChat), and the Social Media Director at Cozi. A long-time foodie, her stint as a personal, live-in chef during grad school (to cover the rent) resulted in a lifelong compulsion to make something interesting and new for dinner every night. You can find Carol at her marketing and social media blog, but be warned: if you describe yourself as a guru, ninja or thought leader, you probably won’t like it.
Below we ask her questions about her grocery shopping and food habits – with an actual picture from her fridge!
Inside the Fridge: Where do you shop for food?
Carol Schiller: I’m lucky enough to live in a city with tons of options: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, QFC (Kroger), PCC (the local organic coop), Uwajimaya (the Asian foods market), are all regular stops for me. Costco, of course is based right here in the Seattle area, but my husband does most of the Costco shopping because he is much better at sticking to the list than I am.
Finally, yes, I do love farmer’s markets but rarely shop at them, because as a busy mom of three, I place a high premium on the convenience of a grocery cart, easy parking and the ability to pay with a credit card.
ITF: Do you love food shopping or dread it?
CS: Love it, for two reasons:
1. Unlike shopping for shoes or make-up, it feels relatively guilt-free. After all, we have to eat right?
2. It’s fun to look around at what’s available and imagine all the delicious possibilities.
ITF: What is the single most important thing on your mind when you are shopping for food?
CS: That my family will eat it.
ITF: How often do you shop?
CS: Every week. My husband buys all the boring basics like eggs, chicken and bread, and I buy all the stuff that makes eating fun.
ITF: How many do you shop for? Ages?
CS: We are a family of 2 adults and 3 kids ages 5 to 11, and we entertain at home about every other week.
ITF: What is your weekly food budget?
CS: More than I care to admit, unless my husband asks in which case we are way below average.
ITF: How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet or fly by the seat of your pants?
CS: As you know, I work for Cozi, so although this sounds like a completely shameless plug, I really do love the weekly meal planning tool we just launched. Does that mean I plan every meal? No way, but I do plan our busiest weeknight meals, and I do it all with Cozi. (And by the way, Cozi is free, so I’m not selling anything.)
ITF: What is the most coveted food in the fridge right now for each member of the household? Why?
CS: Homemade chocolate Rice Krispie treats – my son. He’s 5, ‘nuff said.
Green Italian Cerignola olives and a log of chevre – my 11 year old daughter would choose either of these over candy. Hence, she is skinny as a stick.
Sliced Turkey – My 8 year old’s favorite sandwich is turkey and avocado. In fact, it’s pretty hard to get her to eat any other kind of sandwich.
Steak – My husband buys a Costco giant 3 pack of steak almost every week. 2 for him and 1 for the rest of us.
Vanilla yogurt – Me, I eat vanilla yogurt every day. You could pretty much empty the fridge completely, but leave me my morning yogurt, or else!
ITF: What is the oldest item in the fridge right now?
CS: Hatchimitsu (Honey) Umeboshi plums. A friend brings them to me once a year from Japan and since they last a really long time, I use them as slowly as I can. When they’re gone, they’re gone until she visits again.
ITF: Do you believe in leftovers?
CS: Yes, in the same way I believe in science. Leftovers exist, even if they make some people a bit uncomfortable, and there’s no way I’m just throwing them out.
ITF: What convenience product can you not live without?
CS: Mayonnaise, ketchup and my rice cooker.
ITF: What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
CS: A Zojirushi rice cooker. A Le Creuset 5.5 qt casserole pot. The 3 qt covered skillet from All Clad. A Lodge cast iron skillet – I have 2.
ITF: When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
CS: A bunch of work.
ITF: What food/s are important when recalling food memories?
CS: Holiday foods, definitely. There’s a good reason most of us eat things like turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pie on Thanksgiving. Why would you mess with that?
ITF: How have your cooking/shopping habits changed over the last 10 years?
CS: The biggest change is my family. I now have to please 5 people instead of just myself, which means I heavily edit the menus based on everyone’s particular tastes. (Plus, I have to do it in a hurry on a tighter budget.)
I know everyone says to just make whatever you normally would and force the kids to deal with it, but I think that’s advice few actually follow. In reality, those people make what they want and their kids end up eating a bowl of cereal or a bagel. Besides, I edit the menu to make what my husband likes, why not my kids?
For example, I would much rather make a vegetable pot pie that everyone will share, than insist on coconut Thai curry (even though I love it). I also let each kids have a few foods they don’t have to eat at all. For one kid it’s oranges, for another it’s tofu. And as my 5 year old son explains, he’s “a vegetarian only for steak.”
ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
CS: I cook almost every meal from scratch. On Saturday we had several of our neighbors over because one was celebrating her 80th birthday. I served:
Crudites with hummous, tortilla chips and mild salsa (for the kids) as before-party living room appetizers.
For dinner: Chinese 5 Spice Chicken, Japanese sticky rice, Tossed Salad with beets, avocado and olives in vinaigrette (made by one of the neighbors), Homemade birthday
cake with fresh cream and berries (also made by a neighbor), Chocolate Rice Krispie treats, made by my daughter.
It was a simple, affordable meal, which is pretty typical of how I entertain since I do it so often.
ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
CS: Don’t compare yourself to others negatively. It’s fun to see what other people do, but at the end of the day, we’re all doing our best with what we’ve got.
ITF: What are you working on these days that you’d like to tell us about?
CS: Not yelling at my kids. Ok, yelling less.
Thank you Carol!
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