Food 101: Refrigerator Staples
Last week I gave you the rundown on pantry staples. This time I’m here to tell you about refrigerator staples. To be honest I’m not sure if that’s actually a term, or if I just made it up. But the concept still stands, so work with me here. Refrigerator staples are different from pantry staples in that in general you can’t buy them and expect them to still be good months later. They are by their nature more perishable and require more maintenance, so to speak. However there are a few things I think are important to keep on hand.
Even if you don’t eat eggs as food on their own (like Erik) they’re an important ingredient in a lot of other foods, especially baking.
Generally it’s nice to keep both a spreadable butter and stick butter on hand, but if you only want to keep one form of butter around, go for the stick. And get the regular, salted butter. I never get unsalted unless a recipe specifically calls for it. If you do use unsalted you will likely need to add extra salt to whatever you’re making with it.
Even if you don’t drink milk (like me) it’s good to have at least a small carton of it on hand for use as an ingredient in other things (and to use on cereal). I usually have 2% milk, Erik usually has whole, but whichever you prefer is fine, though I’d avoid skim just because it may not have enough fat for the recipe you’re making and that has the potential to cause a problem. Personally I don’t know how well soy milk works in things that call for regular milk, but a quick search of the interwebs tells me that it works fine.
Fruits and Vegetables:
Since they make a special drawer for them and everything, it’s good to keep some fruits and vegetables around in your fridge. I know the little kid in all of us resists wanting to eat vegetables, but they really can be tasty and are you know, good for you. You definitely want to keep onions and garlic on hand.* They are used A LOT in cooking savory dishes. Other than that, which vegetables you decide to keep is really up to personal preference and what’s in season. Same with fruit; which you decide to keep is really based on personal preference and what’s in season. But it’s nice to keep fruit around for use in desserts, and even breakfast too.
*yes, I’m aware that the refrigerator is not actually the ideal place to store onions and garlic, but I’m not going to make a “dry, dark place staples” post, and a lot of people do keep them in the fridge anyway, so they’re staying on the list.
This is another category that really comes down to personal preference, but it is good to have condiments around, since they’re good for dipping, and can help kick up a sandwich. Some to choose from would be: ketchup, mayonnaise, honey mustard, soy sauce, and even salad dressing could fit in this category.
Cheese– cheese can be used in every meal of the day, so it’s something you might want to keep around. Again, which cheese you decide to keep is up to personal preference, but in general it’s good to have at least one brick cheese that can be sliced or shredded (such as cheddar or mozzarella), and a grated cheese (like Parmesan or Romano).
Lemon juice – an easy way to add flavor to dishes. Erik uses it a lot when roasting meats.
Canned Whipped Cream (aka ReddiWhip) – nice to have around for a dessert topping. It’s also really good on fruit pancakes. …and other things (ifyaknowwhatImean).
The list of refrigerator staples pretty short, but still important. So to recap:
Easy enough right?