By April Dupee
We’ve all been there: It’s a busy weeknight, your pantry is looking bare, and you need to whip up something quick before you start getting hangry.
While we would love to have a fridge stocked with perfectly-prepped meals ready to go, sometimes (okay, most times), life gets in the way of that elusive Sunday meal prep.
The solution: Stock your fridge with a few versatile staples so you can make a tasty nutritious meal or snack from whatever you have on hand. What are those items, you ask? Over the years, we’ve asked top nutritionists (who happen to know a thing or two about both healthy food and being busy) to tell us what the one food is that they always have in their fridges.
With fridge staples like these, you can create healthy satisfying meals with the food you already have in your kitchen (and you won’t be tempted to eat that bag of chips for dinner).
Nutritionists’ Fridge Staples, Found
Breakfast or dinner, snack or dessert—you name it, and eggs can be used for it. This versatile food is so essential that both registered dietitian Lara Metz (a superstar nutritionist and supermom) and celebrity trainer and nutrition expert Harley Pasternack named it as their fridge staple. Eggs are an ideal meatless protein source for vegetarians and will keep anyone full and satisfied. Plus, they’re one of the few food sources of vitamin D, which we know is important for bone health. Use them in scrambles, frittatas, on top of salads, sliced on toast…and so much more.
Yogurt—it’s not just for your breakfast bowl. This calcium-rich food, especially the Greek variety, can be mixed into salad dressings, swirled into soups, used to replace mayo or sour cream, dolloped onto roasted veggies, and incorporated into spreads and dips. We think yogurt’s versatility is just one of the many reasons registered dietitian Stephanie Middleberg, one of New York City’s most sought-after health experts, always has it in her fridge. This kitchen necessity is also loaded with probiotics for a healthy gut (which we know can impact our weight, immune system, and mental health).
RELATED: Are Plant-Based Yogurts Healthy?
3. Hot Sauce
There are no boring or bland meals when you have hot sauce as your secret weapon. This fridge favorite of registered dietitian and TV nutrition star Joy Bauer will add spice and flavor to any meal, so even a simple egg dish or toast can be nutritious and delicious. Using condiments like hot sauce (good ones that aren’t filled with sugar!) makes it easier to cut back on salt, sugar, and added fat. Bonus: Hot sauce contains capsaicin, a compound in chili peppers that may boost metabolism, increase weight loss, and reduce inflammation. Add a dash to eggs, rice, soups, or salads for an instant boost of flavor and nutrition.
Jaclyn London, RD, author of Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked) never goes a day without cheese. Yes, you read that right. Although cheese is a high-fat, calorically-dense food, it can definitely be a part of a healthy diet when consumed in small portions. The key is to choose less processed and grass-fed types when possible. Thanks to cheese’s fat and protein content, a small amount sprinkled on to a salad, melted into a scramble, or sliced with fruit could be the satiating ingredient you need.
Depending on the state of your avocado, it may or may not be actually in the fridge, but let’s not get caught up with technicalities. For our brilliant founder, registered dietitian Keri Glassman, it’s a total kitchen staple. She loves it because of the healthy fats and fiber, which make it satisfying. It’s also loaded with antioxidants. You can put it on toast, of course (do it for the Insta!), or in a smoothie, salad, grain bowl, or creamy salad dressing. Pro tip: Cut it in half, toss the pit, add a little lemon juice and sea salt, and eat it with a spoon directly out of the skin as a snack. She does it all the time.