Inside the Fridge: Trina Robertson
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Inside the Fridge: Trina Robertson

Inside the Fridge welcomes Registered Dietitian Trina Robertson. Trina has a master’s degree in sports nutrition and currently works as a Project Manager with the Dairy Council of California. Trina has previously served as a nutritionist for the Women, Infant Children federal program and Head Start. Currently, she also works with her local PTA to promote good nutrition to students and families and with the Orange County Health Care Agencies Rethink Your Drink campaign. Trina is a mom to two sons – aged ten and twelve. Her son’s have a diverse palette enjoying everything from Korean to Italian to Great-Grandma’s classic dishes.

Below we ask her questions about her grocery shopping and food habits – with actual pictures from her fridge!


Inside the Fridge: How often do you shop?
Trina Robertson: I shop about three times a week. Once a week is my big shopping trip to stock up on items for the meals I’ve planned. I make a mid-week trip to the local market that has great produce and the other times are to pick up items that we always run out of mid-week: gallons of milk, bananas and bread for sandwiches. If I had a larger refrigerator I could purchase in greater bulk and skip one trip to the store. The plus side is that I don’t mind shopping as I always have a list of what to purchase so it is fast. My husband also helps going to the store and he isn’t so attached to sticking with the list I give him. That means I need to figure out what to do with three heads of cauliflower or how to cook calamari that week!

ITF: How many do you shop for? Ages? 
TR: Our family is growing, not in number but in size. My husband and I (thank goodness we are not growing) and our two tween boys ages 10 and 12. The eldest is currently in a growth spurt and has the appetite to prove it.


ITF: How many times a week do you eat out? (based on 21 meals/week)
TR: I really prefer to eat at home so I eat out 2-3 times a month. I pack lunches for the entire family and the boys select one day a week that they want to purchase the school lunch. When we do eat out it is one of two extremes. We sometimes grab a quick meal to or from an activity or it’s the pizza place for a team event. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we do love food and going out to eat for what I am not talented enough to cook like Thai food or sushi. I think it is important for our boys to learn how to behave in restaurants and to try new foods as a special treat.

ITF: How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants? 
TR: My approach to planning weekly meals is a combination of planning and spontaneity. I will have two meals planned on a meal planning website for the week and usually have enough leftovers on the weekend to just reheat on Monday. Depending on what I purchase mid-week at the store I will plan for the second half of the week. I’ve been cooking long enough that I have a good list of meals that I can make and love to get creative with new foods I might bring home.


ITF: When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
TR: Family. Many women in my family are great cooks and I really think that making food is a way of showing love. I know that’s corny but I do love to put food on the table. Specific foods that come to mind when I hear “homemade” are: Macaroni and cheese, bread, Cioppinio (an Italian fish stew) and great-grandma’s tapioca pudding. I also love homemade desserts that someone else has made because I don’t like to bake. It requires precise measuring and I like to be more creative when cooking.

ITF: How have your cooking/shopping habits changed over the last 10 years?
TR: Ten years ago my youngest was born and life has changed a lot since then. Here’s how:

Out (Ten Years Ago)

In (How we cook/eat now)

Pouring over cooking magazines and cookbooks

Online to access my tried and true quick recipes and find new ones mostly at Meals Matter

Planning meals for each day

Planning on large meals, leftovers, creativity

Homemade baby food, lots of pasta and stir fries.

Salads the family loves: Tostada salad, salad topped with shrimp and veggies—just add a lot on top and we are happy—broiled salmon.

Cooking the next night’s dinner once the kids were in bed

Dinner prepared in slow cooker in the morning or using the stove/oven at 5pm depending on our schedule.

ITF: What are your go-to food/nutrition/culinary/cooking website/s, book or cookbook?
TR: As I mentioned, the time I spent adding recipes to Meals Matter has made it easy for me to find my favorites and catalog recipes I want to try. I also try recipes that fellow registered dietitians post on Twitter.

ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
TR: I wanted to use up a loaf of bread in the freezer and I had two sausages, which is not enough for four people, so I made a savory bread pudding adding onion, frozen spinach, seasoning, egg, milk and cheese.


ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from convenience products?
TR: I love Trader Joe’s products. I have ingredients in stock always to make Chili Cornbread Pie, all from TJ’s, and it is always a hit.

ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
TR: Don’t compare yourself to others and just do your best. Buy foods you enjoy and frozen fruits and vegetables are fine. If you want to make one improvement, I recommend starting with one of these two ideas: keep a well-stocked pantry that you can turn to for a quick meal and/or increase the number of meals you prepare at home. Even one more meal a week at home is great. Eating at home usually includes more food groups and if you can eat with others all the better.


ITF: What are you working on these days that you’d like to tell us about?
TR: I’m super excited to be a part of the Eat Better, Eat Together campaign. You can pledge to eat more meals at home and find encouragement from our blog series that dietitians and family meals bloggers are contributing.

ITF: Anything else?
TR: If you are buying food for more than just yourself, make sure you get input on what everyone likes to eat. A recent study found that 87% of people purchase foods based on taste. I believe it’s important to stock and eat good quality food in moderate portions. Also, share the task of shopping and cooking with other family members. In our house that means I include my kids in preparing meals and this has proven to be a fantastic adventure.

You can contact Trina on twitter at @TrinaR_RD or at trinar *at* dairycouncilofca *dot* org

Thank you Trina!

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

1 Comment
  • AndreaG_RD
    Posted at 14:03h, 01 November

    I love the list of 10 years ago vs. today! Great perspective and really true for so many families…there just isn’t enough time to labor over food and cooking so efficiency and practicality rule the day.