Inside the Fridge welcomes blogger Leah Vanderwerp. Leah is the blogger at Chocolate and Wild Air, which documents her journey towards healthy living as a young twenty-something, newly living on her own. She is a Nashville-transplant, but still a Kentucky girl at heart. Leah blogs about her favorite recipes, books, adventures with her roommates, places that she has visited, and her new-found love of running. Although she is a research assistant and babysitter by day, she is a professional blog-reader and avid book fiend by night. Overall, Leah strives to maintain a healthy outlook on life while having plenty of fun along the way. Check out her blog or follow her on twitter.
Below we ask her questions about her grocery shopping and food habits – with actual pictures from her fridge!
Inside the Fridge: Where do you shop for food?
Leah Vanderwerp: I’m pretty staunchly loyal to Trader Joe’s – I can’t believe that I survived eighteen years of my life without it! But occasionally I like to pop in Whole Foods and peruse the aisles for new (or new-to-me) products, or stop by my local grocery store, The Produce Place, for homegrown produce and local products.
ITF: Do you love food shopping or dread it?
LV: I LOVE food shopping. Seriously, I budget way more of my time than is actually needed, just so I’ll be able to comb every single aisle of the store! I love looking for new ingredients and products that I haven’t tried, and coming up with recipe ideas on the fly. I guess if I had more people to plan and cook for, I would have to be a little more regimented. But with just me, I’m free to buy exactly what inspires me at the moment.
ITF: How often do you shop?
LV: I do a big grocery run to TJ’s every two weeks, and fill in with trips to Whole Foods or the Produce Place in between to stock up on produce. Everything else lasts for the whole two weeks, but I can’t go without fresh fruits and vegetables!
ITF: What is your weekly food budget?
LV: My weekly food budget is around $50. Some weeks I go over, like when I do a large Trader Joe’s run, but other weeks I am way under, if all I’m buying is supplemental produce.
ITF: What is the oldest item in the fridge right now?
LV: The oldest item in our fridge is probably some kind of condiment. Growing up, we were big on condiments – we even referred to each other as the condiment kings or queens! Seriously, no meal was complete without five or six different condiments on the dining room table. Clearly I’ve carried that tradition on, even though I don’t live at home anymore!
ITF: Do you believe in leftovers?
LV: Yes, I love leftovers! As a self-described foodie, I probably should say no – but I can’t help it. If a meal is good, why not enjoy it again? And when cooking for one, you often have leftovers, so it’s a good thing that I don’t mind them.
ITF: What convenience product can you not live without?
LV: English muffins – I have one with peanut butter and banana before every long run that I go on. I also make sure to keep my pantry stocked with lots of canned beans and tomatoes, for easy and quick meals, and my freezer stocked with frozen fruit for smoothies.
ITF: What brands do you swear by? Why?
LV: Trader Joe’s house brand, and Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value. I’ve found that you can get away with almost all generic products if you’re shopping at these two stores.
ITF: What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
LV: The easy answer is my coffeemaker – no morning is complete without it! But actual cooking item? I would have to say our toaster oven. You can do a surprising number of things with it! Plus, there is really nothing better than a fresh piece of toast with broiled cheese on top.
ITF: How have your cooking/shopping habits changed over the last 10 years?
LV: Well, ten years ago I was thirteen, so they have changed a lot! In all seriousness though, my cooking and shopping habits have evolved exponentially since leaving college. I’ve learned how to shop sales, how to compare products nutritionally, how to plan for meals and budget for those meals, and how to cook a well-balanced meal. But I’m definitely still a work-in-progress.
ITF: What are your go-to food/nutrition/culinary/cooking website/s, book or cookbook?
LV: I have an old, beat up copy of The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook passed down from my mother that I crack open for any kind of basic cooking question. It tells you how to prepare different meats, vegetables, dressings, breads and so much more. I also love The Food Network website, for its ease and convenience.
ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
LV: Fill the fridge with foods that you love and know that you will eat, but also keep in mind the health factor! Fresh fruits and vegetables are always a good choice. Always make sure that you have some staples on hand to throw together a quick meal at the last minute, as you never know when friends will stop by unexpectedly or you’ll burn dinner ten minutes before serving it. And remember, cooking and eating should be – and can be – fun!
Thank you Leah!
If you would like to be featured on Inside the Fridge, please email RobinsBite Intern Laura Bartee – Laura *at* robinplotkin *dot* com