Inside the Fridge: Sarah Zinkel
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Inside the Fridge: Sarah Zinkel

Inside the Fridge welcomes Sarah Zinkel. Sarah is a graduate student studying to get her PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Wisconsin. She is a newlywed and lives in Madison, WI with her husband and their two dogs. Sarah writes the blog, sarah learns, about balancing a healthy lifestyle with the demands of graduate school and learning all about this whole marriage thing. She loves creating (mostly) healthy recipes and learning more about photography. She loves connecting with new people and can be reached through her blog, email, facebook, or on twitter!

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? 
Sarah Zinkel: I do a weekly shopping trip to our local supermarket, Copps. At least once or twice a month I drive a little bit farther to go to my favorite co-op, Trader Joe’s, and the farmer’s market.

ITF: What is the single most important thing on your mind when you are shopping for food?
SZ: This is hard because I try to balance a lot of things in my grocery shopping. Budget is probably at the top of the list, but I try to purchase local, sustainable, and humane foods whenever possible.

ITF: How often do you shop?
SZ: I do a small weekly trip for produce and anything that I might need for our meal plan and then once or twice a month I stock up on our favorite products from Trader Joe’s/the co-op/farmer’s market.

ITF: How many do you shop for? Ages?
SZ: Just my husband and myself – we’re 25 & 26!

ITF: What is your weekly food budget?
SZ: We do our budget monthly, so it averages to $100 per week. But, I usually spend $50 on the small weekly trips and then more when I drive a bit farther to our favorite stores.


ITF: How many times a week do you eat out? (based on 21 meals/week)
SZ: 1-2. I always make my own breakfast and lunches during the week and I cook most nights. My husband and I eat out once or twice each weekend.

ITF: How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
SZ: I use a spreadsheet, but I really only plan dinners. Breakfasts are usually oats or yogurt with fruit and lunches are salads or leftovers.

ITF: What is the oldest item in the fridge right now?
SZ: Some kind of condiment…we’ve got ~7 different kinds of mustard, and some of them are pretty old!

ITF: Do you believe in leftovers?
SZ: I live for leftovers! I usually only prepare meals that my husband and I really enjoy eating, so of course I’d like to eat it more than once each time I make it.

ITF: What convenience product can you not live without?
SZ: Canned garbanzo beans. I love making my own hummus, but never plan ahead and prep my dried beans ahead of time.

ITF: What brands do you swear by? Why?
SZ: I love Chobani greek yogurt – it’s by far my favorite. I love the thickness and most of the flavors! I’m also a fan of Trader Joe’s brand products – they’re super affordable and some of my favorite foods (especially Very Cherry Berry Blend) are from there.


ITF: What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
SZ: My food processor definitely gets the most use out of all of my kitchen appliances. My favorites to use are the juicer and the KitchenAid stand mixer. I always end up feeling pretty accomplished when i use those two!

ITF: When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
SZ: My mom’s spaghetti sauce and salsa. She has been canning fruits and vegetables for as long as I can remember and she makes the best salsa!

I consider foods that I prepare myself from fresh, real food, ingredients to be homemade. Warming up a boxed product does not mean it’s homemade even if you prepare it at home!

ITF: What food/s are important when recalling food memories?
SZ: Asparagus and raspberries always remind me of my mom’s garden when I was growing up. They were my favorite foods to just go outside and eat straight from the garden.

ITF: What are your go-to food/nutrition/culinary/cooking website/s, book or cookbook?
SZ: Blogs! I get so much inspiration from reading food and healthy living blogs. Some of my favorites for great recipe inspiration are The Lean Green Bean, Savvy Eats, and The Edible Perspective.

ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
SZ: I made a simple split pea and ham soup from scratch a couple days ago. It is delicious and packed with extra veggies.

ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from convenience products?
SZ: I made a box of Annie’s Mac & Cheese with peas and corn (from a freezer bag) for lunch recently. Even if I’m using convenience foods, I try to add in some veggies.


ITF: If one person could cook for you tonight, who would it be?
SZ: Bob Harper. I love him and I just want to meet him. Maybe we could do yoga together too?!

ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
SZ: Stock up on pantry items that you use regularly when they’re on sale & use coupons to purchase them. Brown rice, shelf-stable dairy-free milk, and canned goods are perfect examples of this! I always stock up on these items when I find a good deal. This way, when I purchase my weekly produce and other ingredients for meals that week, I don’t have to purchase a box of broth when it’s not on sale because I’ve got a couple in my pantry from when they were cheap!

Thank you Sarah!

If you would like to be featured on Inside the Fridge, please email RobinsBite Intern Laura Bartee – Laura *at* robinplotkin *dot* com

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