Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's in the Fridge?

As part of my efforts to eat healthy & help the kids build healthy eating habits, I routinely review what is filling our refrigerator, freezers, and pantry. This helps me to see what we're buying & eating, so I can make sure that most of our meals are, in fact, healthy. So, I thought I'd do that this weekend. Here's what we currently have:

selection of flours - unbleached white, whole wheat, rye, soy, and corn (I like to use a mix of flours when I bake)
corn meal
white sugar, brown sugar
baking essentials - baking powder, baking soda, yeast, etc.
flaxseed (I buy it whole & grind it myself, then add to baked goods)
selection of oils - vegetable, olive, truffle, toasted sesame
selection of vinegar - balsamic, red wine, rice
selection of tea - Rooibos, Mango, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Lemon Ginger
selection of coffee - Highlander Grogg, Jamaican Me Crazy, Icing on the Cake, Velvet Hammer
various coffee creamers
wheat bread
baby food fruits & veggies (for the dog)
low-sodium soy sauce
brown jasmine rice, white jasmine rice, sushi rice, arborio rice (I've never been a fan of brown rice, but will be getting a rice cooker soon & hope that will be able to cook it to a consistency we like)
variety of noodles
cans of tomato puree & crushed tomatoes
popcorn kernels (we use a microwave popcorn bowl that air pops popcorn in the microwave)
NutriGrain cereal bars (snacks for the kids)
pudding cups (for my hubby's lunches)
corn tortillas
flour tortillas
natural peanut butter
orange marmalade & a few kinds of preserves
almond milk
coconut milk
sour cream
fresh garlic
fresh ginger
tube of lemongrass
unsalted butter (we don't do margarine)
egg roll wrappers
wonton wrappers
bologna & salami (the kids' choices for lunch this week)
variety of fresh & frozen fruits & veggies - apples, oranges, tangelos, carrots, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, corn, green beans, brussel sprouts, lemons, lime, spinach, peas, lettuce, potatoes, cucumber
Jarlsberg cheese and shredded cheese
a few salad dressings (mainly used for dipping veggies, I usually make dressing for our salads)
smoked turkey
ground meats - turkey, pork, lean beef, turkey sausage
several other cuts of meats - lean beef, pork roast, boneless skinless chicken breasts
shrimp, mussels
cream cheese
left-overs (hubby takes them to work for lunch)
and, of course, a large selection of herbs, spices, & extracts/flavors

As you can see, we enjoy variety, and don't eat a lot of junk food or processed food. Whenever I say "we have nothing to eat," my husband responds with some comment about all the food in the kitchen. I always tell him, "that's not food, those are ingredients," and I'm not kidding. If you look at that list, there aren't a lot of stand-alone foods. We don't buy jars of pasta sauce. We don't buy packages of chili, gravy, or taco seasonings/mixes. I prefer to season things myself. We do some store-bought bread & noodles and some homemade. I always keep some store-bought bread & noodles on hand, because I can't always guarantee I'll have time to make them. We don't buy pancake mix. I make my own pancake & waffle mixes. My kids don't even really like boxed mac & cheese or canned ravioli/spaghetti-o's, etc. We start preparing dinner at least an hour before dinner time most days. Breakfast & lunch are usually something easy that both kids can get for themselves, such as sandwiches, bagels, yogurt, cereal, etc.

So, when I look through our kitchen and see it full of foods like the above list, I think I'm doing a pretty good job. There's a variety of foods that can be combined into an even larger variety of meals, and it's not overwhelmingly unhealthy junk. There may be a few things that aren't very healthy, like bacon & Oreos, but most of it is much healthier. We always try to keep quick, easy snack foods on hand, such as popcorn, Wheat Thins, fruits, & veggies. The kids eat snacks twice a day, and I usually eat a snack sometime between dinner and bed (dinner is at 5pm & I usually head to bed around 2am).

Of course, most of our food choices are dictated by preference, not whether or not the food is the healthiest option. We all love bacon & will not ban it, regardless of the fact that it isn't extremely healthy. We will eat turkey sausage & turkey ham, but aren't very fond of turkey bacon, so it's real bacon for us. We prefer the taste of wheat bread to white bread, so would eat wheat bread anyway. We all actually enjoy eating fruits & veggies. I have no trouble getting the kids to eat salads. We buy coconut, almond, and sometimes soy milk, not so much for health reasons, but because I don't like the flavor of regular milk (I never have, unless it's chocolate). I love cooking & baking and truly enjoy trying new ingredients & creating new flavor & texture combinations. I will not eat food, just because it's healthy, if I don't like the taste of it. Food preparation is an art. I believe that meals should be delicious and appealing, as well as healthy.