Build a Better Pantry Part 2- Refrigerated Foods

In our first post of the series, I shared healthy, versatile shelf stable foods to keep in your pantry. Today we are talking all about your refrigerator and what you should keep stocked in there. (We’ll save the freezer and room temperature perishable foods for future posts.) Unlike most of the pantry items, food on this list should be used and replaced frequently since it may go bad quicker than your pantry staples.

A nice example of a Better Pantry fridge.  But, can you spot the food safety hazard in this picture? First correct response in the comments will get a special prize!

A nice example of a Better Pantry fridge.
But, can you spot the food safety hazard in this picture? First correct response in the comments will get a special prize!

Better Pantry Fridge Foods

Grains myplate_white_grains-1

  • Not many grains are kept in the fridge, but you can keep whole grains in the fridge to keep it fresher longer.

Fruit myplate_white_fruits-1

  • Plums
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Lemon or lime juice- Adds flavor without salt or fat. Make your own salad dressings or marinades.

Vegetables myplate_white_vegetables-1

  • Carrots- but make sure to buy regular long ones and peel them yourself. Baby carrots are almost twice as much.
  • Leafy greens, especially spinach and heads of lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Summer squash
  • Cucumber

[These are usually your best choices for fresh fruit and veggies (that needs to be refrigerated. I’ll get to the room temperature ones in another post). Remember, seasonal produce is best for price, taste and nutrition, so these choices may vary at different times of year.]

Protein myplate_white_protein-2

  • Eggs- Cheap, versatile, nutritious. Eggs may have gotten a bad rap over the years, but I think they are one of the best healthy foods on a budget.
  • Whole chicken- It’s cheaper to buy the whole bird and cut it up yourself. You’ll have different pieces for different meals and the bones make tasty homemade broth (similar to this recipe).
  • Fresh seafood- Contrary to popular belief, you can find affordable fresh seafood. Take a moment the next time you’re at the store and compare prices with chicken or beef. You might be surprised. Why should you eat more seafood? Find out more here!
  • Lean ground meat- Turkey, beef or chicken, ground meat is one of the easiest to cook with and is usually inexpensive.
  • Other low cost meats- There are many cuts of meat that cost less because they are less tender. Braising or slow cooking help turn these cuts into mouthwatering meals.

Dairy myplate_white_dairy

  • Low-fat or non-fat (skim) milk
  • Low-fat or non-fat yogurt- Choose the plain variety and add fresh or frozen fruit to sweeten it up yourself.
  • Low-fat blocks of cheese- Stick with the brick! Pre-sliced or shredded cheese costs more and may have less calcium than block cheese.


  • Mustard- Low calorie, full of flavor. Mustard is a great choice for a condiment, much better than mayo or ketchup.
  • Hot Sauce- Ask anyone who knows me, I can’t live without hot sauce! Again, its low calorie, full of flavor and a little goes a long way. Just watch out for sodium, but if you keep the portions small, it should be fine.
  • Yeast- If you are a baker, you need yeast for homemade breads.

Did I leave anything out you think is an important, low-cost refrigerated pantry staple? Let us know in the comments.

2 comments on “Build a Better Pantry Part 2- Refrigerated Foods

    • Austin Brooks on

      YES! The food safety hazard from the photo is storing meat, which can drip on the veggies below, on a middle shelf instead of the bottom one. Thanks for responding! A prize was promised, so send me a quick email at and we’ll get your gift to you.


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