Inside the Fridge welcomes Shari Brooks, author of My Judy The Foodie. Shari left a 15-year career as a marketing executive in the television industry in NYC to raise her two crazy kids. She thinks she’s a decent, fun-loving mom but, she knows she was always a terrible cook. Three years ago her mother passed away from breast cancer and left behind a treasure trove of her celebrated hand-written recipes. With these recipes in hand and a desire to learn how to really cook, reclaim meal time in her family, and share her mother’s culinary legacy, Shari launched her own blog My Judy The Foodie. When she’s not writing or test cooking and baking in her apartment kitchen, Shari enjoys working out, taking long runs in Central Park, advocating for Breast Cancer research, oh, and enjoying her family.
Below we ask her questions about her grocery shopping and food habits – with actual pictures from her fridge!
Inside the Fridge: What are you working on these days that you’d like to tell us about?
Shari Brooks: My blog. After discovering a treasure trove of my mom’s handwritten recipes when I was cleaning out her kitchen after she died, I committed myself to cooking each and every last one for my family while recounting my childhood memories. The twist? I had never really ever cooked!
ITF: When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
SB: All of my mom’s food when I was a kid. We never went out to dinner. People always came to our house to sample Mom’s homemade meals.
ITF: What food/s are important when recalling food memories?
SB: Many of my mom’s celebrated dishes: Chicken Salad with Mango Chutney, Garlic Chicken, Sweet ad Sour Brisket, Banana Chocolate Chip Bread.
ITF: How many times a week do you eat out? (based on 21 meals/week)
SB: Now, I eat out approximately 3 meals a week.
ITF: What is the oldest item in the fridge right now?
SB: A jar of salsa. We always use half a jar, put the rest back in and then, over time, it gets pushed to the back so we can’t see it anymore.
ITF: Where do you shop for food?
SB: Lucky for me I live in NYC so I have a ton of neighborhood options. Now that I’m actually paying attention to what I serve for meals for my family, I frequent: Zabar’s, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway and Citarella — all mere blocks from my apartment.
ITF: Do you love food shopping or dread it?
SB: Now I LOVE food shopping because I am armed with a detailed shopping list of what I actually need. In the past I used to go shopping without purpose. I’d purchase items I already had in the pantry but, had no idea.
ITF: How often do you shop?
SB: I shop on Sundays for the week and then 1-2 more times for odd and ends.
ITF: How many do you shop for? Ages?
SB: My family : husband (40), me (40), daughter (9) and son (6)
ITF: What is your weekly food budget?
SB: I spend (gulp) around $200-$220 per week in food.
ITF: How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
SB: OMG, no more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. I use a detailed list that says, “EAT” at the top. I plan out what I will be cooking for the entire week. It alleviates stress and saves lots of money when I’m shopping.
ITF: What is the most coveted food in the fridge right now for each member of the household? Why?
SB: Husband – sliced cheese – and, (gulp) it’s Kraft American Singles. He grew up on it. He’s my hardest family member to convert to organic. He also lives on orange juice.
Daughter – challah – my daughter lives for it in the morning for breakfast.
Son – Milk – At 6, he still drinks two glasses of organic milk per day. I LOVE that. And, he lives for Chobani Yogurt.
Me – fresh fruit. I eat tons of fruit daily.
ITF: What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
SB: My slow-cooker and my new plastic/bendable measuring cups!
ITF: What are your go-to food/nutrition/culinary/cooking website/s, book or cookbook?
SB: I always frequent these websites: Foodtrainers, A Southern Fairytale, In Jennie’s Kitchen, Food 52, Bake at 350, Dinner: A Love Story, (a)Musing Foodie, What’s For Dinner, Food for My Family, Smitten Kitchen, Jam Hands, The Hungry Housewife, The Spicy RD
I very rarely use a cookbook but, if I do, it’s definitely defer to: Sheila Lukin’s The Silver Palate 25th Anniversary Edition.
ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
SB: I made Mom’s Sweet and Sour Brisket with some noodle pudding, Roasted Red Potatoes, Baked Herb Rosemary Chicken, String Beans with Dijonnaise Dressing and Pumpkin Cake – all for the Jewish New Year.
ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from convenience products?
SB: Uh oh… Ramen Noodles with Grilled Chicken. But, I didn’t use the salt packet that comes with the noodles!
ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
SB: Keep a list. Keep a list. Keep a list. When you’re organized with what you need, you will develop a love affair with your fridge! You will always have a fridge stocked with items that you will use and want to use. Your fridge won’t become a repository for random condiments and jars of food.
Thank you Shari!
If you would like to be featured on Inside the Fridge, please email RobinsBite Intern Laura Bartee – Laura *at* robinplotkin *dot* com