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stock your kitchen: the frugal fridge/freezer.

If you’re just joining the party I’ve been boring you all on the essentials for your frugal kitchen:)

To follow up my last Stock Your Kitchen post on essentials for your pantry, today you get to check out my pretty sweet fridge.  Now those of you with bigger families might find my shelves to be a little, uh, bare.  You’ll notice with the exception of eggs I don’t keep a lot of extras in the fridge.  Keep in mind the essentials I’ve listed below are the staples that I cook with (and buy over and over) for everyday dishes.  Then in addition I’ll pick up one or two extra ingredients as recipes call for them each week.

Also, I’ll have you know there’s a ton of fruits and veggies in the drawers below…not to mention the condiments, milk and wine in the door.  Wait, why am I explaining myself on my own blog?  Ok, so let’s take a look at my list of fridge and freezer essentials.

The Frugal Foodie Family Refrigerator and Freezer Essentials:

Eggs.  Bake with ’em, eat ’em for breakfast, toss ’em in a quiche for brunch or dinner, or use them to make your cat’s coat nice and shiny.  At least that’s how my husband cleaned house at his 4H Cat Contests growing up.  No joke.  We have trophies collecting dust in the garage to prove it.

Butter.  No explanation necessary, I think.

Dijon Mustard.  I use dijon a lot for cooking and for making salad dressings.  Also it’s great on turkey sandwiches.

Cheese(s).  For snacking we go for light string cheese, and I always pick up one other type of cheese for cooking and salads – typically asiago, feta, goat, or gorgonzola.  Then I’ll plan on using that cheese in several of the meals I make during the week (i.e. throw feta in a salad and then also stuff it into this chicken).

Lemons and Limes.  From cooking to baking, salad dressings to breads, I use these a lot.  Extra credit if you grow your own.

Pizza Dough.  While I have yet to experiment with the cost of making versus buying, it has just seemed easier to pick up pre-made dough for $1-2 than make it myself.  I know, this kind of goes against my whole vibe but oh well.  If I don’t plan to make a pizza during the week I’ll put the dough straight into the freezer and have it on hand.

Protein.  From turkey and chicken (boneless skinless, fryer, whole or ground) to sausage, steak, pork, fish or shrimp, I typically keep in the fridge only what we’ll eat for a day or two, then the rest goes in the freezer.  I generally look to pay no more than $4.99/lb and plan on each person eating 1/4-1/2 lb. per meal.  That way I can expect to serve up to about 2 lbs of protein (usually the bulk of the meal cost-wise) per meal.

Veggies.  Depending on the week I typically buy 2-3 different kinds of vegetables.  I’ll also keep a couple veggies in the freezer in case I need them (corn, peas, green beans, spinach).

Fruit.  I’ll generally buy 2-3 different kinds of fruit each week.  Toss fruit that’s nearing the end of it’s life into the freezer and use them in crisps, pies or cobblers.

Milk and Yogurt.  With 2 young kids we go through these items faster than me with a pint of Haagen Dazs 5.  I buy organic milk and always keep plain greek yogurt on hand for snacking, cooking and baking (a great replacement for sour cream!).

Peanut Butter.  My trick to keep meat on my kids’ bones.  I use it for baking, snacking with bananas or apples, and sandwiches of course.

Are you all still awake?

Did I miss anything?!!

If you are wondering what I pay for these items, take a look at the spreadsheet I put together that shows what I pay per item, per serving, and where I go to find the best deals.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sarah #

    You are so organized! I love it! I need to work on this in my kitchen. I noticed that you buy organic milk and I’ve always been torn on this one because it’s double the price. I was wondering if you could share your reasoning. Thanks!

    February 1, 2012
    • I agree the organic-not organic debate is a hard one! I’ve settled on organic for the items that the kids eat most, figuring that the fewer antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides the more better. For instance we usually buy milk, apples, applesauce and berries organically. I’ll be honest…I know this is a grey area and sometimes think it’s more about me feeling good about myself (and not guilty)…from a budget standpoint it’s super hard but with them being so young I feel good about giving them this kind of start. What are your thoughts?

      February 1, 2012
  2. Royce Robbins #

    I noticed that you stock ready made pizza dough – have you tried using tortillas instead? About a year ago we went the route of buying a bread machine and making our own bread and pizza dough. Unfortunately I was never really happy with the result of the pizza dough so I kept looking. This past Christmas we purchased “The Joy of Cooking” (I love the simple, back to basics approach it lends to cooking) and started experimenting with some of the recipes. One of those was tortillas. A while back we were hard pressed for a quick meal and we I noticed we had some tortillas (garlic and Italian parsley) left over from a previous meal. So I whipped up a herb/lettuce salad and tortilla pizzas. My 3 1/2yr old loved it! We repeated this idea a few times now and feel better for it.

    April 27, 2012
    • What a great idea! I’ll have to give it a try and I have Joy of Cooking in my library! Thanks for the suggestion.

      April 27, 2012

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