18 Jan Inside the Fridge: Nicole on a Mission
Inside the Fridge welcomes Nicole from Nicole on a Mission. Nicole is a wife and mother who is currently on a mission to lose 100 pounds. When asked, Nicole states this mission is hard but she is ready for the challenge. She documents all her emotions, food challenges and her goals during this journey on her blog. In addition, she also posts pictures of all her meals each day. She believes in no holds barred and shares it all!
Below we ask her questions about her grocery shopping and food habits – with actual pictures from her fridge!
Inside the Fridge: Where do you shop for food?
Nicole: I shop at 3 different places for my food – our local grocery store HEB, a boutique version of our local grocery store that has all farm fresh produce and organic/free range meats – Central Market and the Farmers Market when I have the opportunity.
ITF: Do you love food shopping or dread it?
N: I really wish I could say that I enjoyed food shopping but I just don’t. Our grocery stores here are so packed and it’s very difficult to navigate your way around. Since I work full time my grocery shopping is limited to the weekends and that’s when everyone else goes too. It’s a rat race in there – not very enjoyable. But I put in my earbuds and push my cart right along with the rest of them.
ITF: What is the single most important thing on your mind when you are shopping for food?
N: Is it organic/local? I will always chose the organic option and one from a local source if there is one of a product. I am very concerned with that right now. I pick shopping for produce from local farmers and choosing items that don’t have chemicals as my primary focus right now.
ITF: How often do you shop?
N: I shop once a week and usually have to go back to the store in the middle of the week for something that I’ve forgotten or that we run out of, but I really try not to.
ITF: How many do you shop for? Ages?
N: I shop for myself and my husband and then my daughter who is 17.
ITF: What is your weekly food budget?
N: We spend about $150-$180 per week at the grocery store. I know – it’s painful.
ITF: How many times a week do you eat out? (based on 21 meals/week)
N: We usually eat out 2x per week. We really enjoy eating out as a family and we have cut it back to one time during the week and usually one time during the weekend.
ITF: How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
N: I always always always write out a list at the grocery store. If I didn’t I would be walking around just throwing everything in my cart and that wouldn’t be smart. I take inventory of what we still have remaining at home that can be used toward dinners and then I make my dinner menus from that. I always make sure that I pick up the staples for Alexis and Tommy. For Tommy it’s always granola bars and yogurts and for Alexis it’s fresh fruit and sandwich fixings.
ITF: What is the most coveted food in the fridge right now for each member of the household? Why?
N: In our fridge right now the most coveting item for Tommy is the new beer that I’ve purchased for him. It’s called Ruthless Rye by Sierra Nevada and he’s completely in love with it. Tommy is a beer beer aficionado.
For Alexis the most coveted item would be her Smart Waters. She will take one bottle per day with her to school and fill it up with water throughout the day – then bring it home to recycle it.
For me, the most coveted item in the fridge would be the Annie’s balsamic dressing. I could drink this stuff it’s so good! I actually look forward to having salads so I can use it. Yum!
ITF: Do you believe in leftovers?
N: I can only eat leftovers if they haven’t in the fridge for more than 48 hours. Once it hits that point I consider it "bad" and won’t touch it. Tommy, however, will eat something that’s been in the fridge for a week. He must have a stomach of steel!
ITF: What convenience product can you not live without?
N: I know it’s lazy but I can’t live without pre-shredded cheese. I love that man has evolved to the point where we don’t have to use a cheese grater every time we want to put some cheese on our tacos!
ITF: What brands do you swear by? Why?
N: Our local grocery store has their own brand called Central Market Organics. I buy just about anything that they put out from milk & creamer to tortilla chips and mustard. The product is so well done and I have never had any problems with quality. You can never go wrong with Central Market Organics! I also love Stonyfield. That’s another great product that you can trust.
ITF: What cooking utensil/piece of equipme
nt/appliance do you live for?
N: I would have to say my knife set. We have a great set of Wusthof knives that we got for our wedding present from a few sets of friends. The knives are wonderful and Tommy keeps them very nice and sharp. I don’t really use anything fancy so I’ll just stick with my knife set!
ITF: When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
N: Someone else must have made it because it couldn’t have been me. I wish that I was a great chef or a great baker but the truth is that sugar cookies are about as good as it gets for me. Oh, I can make a mean pecan pie! At least my father in law thinks so. Other than that, though, if it’s homemade then it probably wasn’t from me.
ITF: How have your cooking/shopping habits changed over the last 10 years?
N: My shopping habits have gone from unbridled to more organized within the last 10 years. 10 years ago I was making a lot of hamburger helper and boxed dinners. I didn’t pay attention to organic or grass-fed labels. I was looking to cook for cheap and that was about it. Nowadays I try to please everyone’s pallets while also trying to make sure that dinner is nutritional. I want everyone to feel that they had a good diner and are satisfied while also making sure that we aren’t breaking the calorie bank.
ITF: What are your go-to food/nutrition/culinary/cooking websites, book or cookbook?
N: I’m a huge SparkPeople fan. I have their cookbook and I access their SparkRecipes webpage when I am looking for a healthy way to make a dish. I love that you can put the ingredients that you are using for something and it will spit out the calorie content. It’s a great website and it’s always my first stop! Plus it’s free!
ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
N: If you can’t identify what’s in it – don’t eat it! If you don’t know what the ingredients are then you shouldn’t put it in your body. Period. Michael Pollan said it best: "Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants." You can’t go wrong with that!
Thank you Nicole!
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