19 Jun Inside the Fridge welcomes froyo and fitness fanatic Marisa Westbrook
Marisa Westbrook is a public health professional and food blogger at Uproot from Oregon –a clever name for a blog since she’s currently living in Denver, CO. By using whole ingredients, getting workouts in, and walking to froyo, she is finding a healthy living balance. Visit her blog for healthy recipes, travel and restaurant recaps, and active lifestyle tips, or connect with her via her blog, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.
Where do you shop for food?
I shop once or twice a week at Sprouts, and in the summer, I complement those groceries with the Cherry Creek Farmers’ Market on Saturdays in Denver. We live close to a King Soopers and a Whole Foods as well, so I will pop in for more fresh foods or pantry staples we need or fresh fish/meat.
What is the single most important thing on your mind when you are shopping for food?
I try to load up my cart with lots of leafy greens, to encourage me to eat salads during the week and cook kale, chard, broccoli, or other veggies to go with dinners. The same goes for fruit and berries: if I have lots of options between raspberries, oranges, apples, and other fruits for snack, I am likely to stay on track with my healthy eating goals.
What is your weekly food budget?
For a household of 2, we spend around $100 a week on groceries for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Sometimes we have a lighter week if I’m just buying fresh items to complement the pantry/freezer items we keep, but some weeks a Costco run for olive oil, quinoa, oats, veggie burgers, and other bulk items can run up the bill.
How many times a week do you eat out? (based on 21 meals/week)
We eat out an average of 3 times a week, twice for meals and once for treats. We rarely eat out during the week, which helps us stay on budget and have leftovers for easy lunches. The majority of our eating out is on the weekends, and usually consists of Vietnamese pho bowls, Ethiopian food, social events with friends, or froyo/coffee stops on a long walk.
How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
I try to shop for a wide variety of foods when I’m at the grocery store, so that I can throw together whatever we are craving. We always keep a variety of grains (quinoa, rice, pasta), sauces (tomato, pesto, salsa), protein (tofu, chicken, beans), and veggies/fruits on hand to make it easy. Our favorite weeknight meals are centered around Mexican grain bowls, roasted veggies with chicken, tofu stir fries, and big salads with tons of filling toppings.
What is the most coveted food in the fridge right now for each member of the household? Why?
I eat a container of 2% yogurt almost daily for snack, because I think they are filling and easy to grab on the go (Chobani and Fage are my favorites). I usually have several flavor options so I don’t get bored, and also use them for smoothies. Noah, my boyfriend, keeps his stash of chocolate in the fridge, so I would assume he wouldn’t ever want to give that up.
Do you believe in leftovers?
Leftovers are how my life functions. I don’t think I would be able to bring my lunch to work every day if I didn’t have the ability to throw whatever we had for dinner the night before into glass Tupperware! Sometimes, I will make extras of certain items (roasted meat or veggies) because I know they are versatile for a next meal idea- and I throw things into the freezer frequently, like extra enchiladas or lasagna squares, to defrost for a busy weeknight.
What convenience product can you not live without?
There are a lot of items that I buy in order to save time: Pacific soup broths, generic pasta sauce, Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers, Justin’s Almond Butter, protein powder for smoothies, cans of cooked beans, etc. While I have made my own soup stocks from scratch before, and like to make my own almond butter, my favorite brands have figured out the shortcut to help me save time in the kitchen and come out with something delicious!
What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
Since getting a food processor last summer, I know I never want to live without one again! Chopping all kinds of veggies takes just a minute for homemade veggie burger batter, stir fry chopped veggies, and onion/garlic to sauté for a variety of dishes. I also use it to make nut butters, pesto, and shred fresh vegetables and cheese. Next up on my list is a nicer blender!
What are your go-to food/nutrition/culinary/cooking website/s, book or cookbook?
As a food blogger, I love reading other blogs to find great recipes to make and ideas for new meals. I will purposefully add “blog” to whatever Google search I am doing in an effort to support more websites (i.e., “black bean chili recipe blog”). It is such a fun community to be a part of!
What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
I recently made black bean & spinach baked taquitos, a fun variation on traditional flautas! I stuck a bunch of them in the freezer for quick snacks down the line. While they taste indulgent, this baked version is packed with healthy ingredients and just lightly coated in oil to crisp up.
If one person could cook for you tonight, who would it be?
Mark Bittman, the previous “Minimalist” food columnist for the NY Times and author of many great cookbooks, like the VB6 Cookbook! I would challenge him to make me an entire meal from his favorite farmers’ market, and maybe follow it up with his favorite lemon cheesecake.
What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
This doesn’t work for everyone, but I started getting more successful by narrowing the types of products I buy and finding recipes that reuse the same ingredients. I used to throw away half used packages of cheese, special sauces, or other items because I would buy them on a whim or for a specific recipe. By starting to build your pantry staples list and your refrigerator staples list, not only will meals happen more easily, but you’ll be saving money too!
Thank you, Marisa!
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