I’ve always believed in the saying that less is more and quality over quantity. I try to instill these two virtues into my every day life whether that be with my clothes, my kids’ toys, or my shoes. Just kidding. The more shoes the better. Anyways, when I learned about the capsule closet concept a few years back, I was totally on board. If you’re not familiar, a capsule closet allows a person to create many outfits from just a few quality pieces. And while I’m still trying to whittle down my closet collection, I’ve learned how to apply the concept to my fridge; a few simple ingredients to make a lot of great meals. This has definitely been a result of trial and error to find the foods that are 1) healthy and that 2) everyone in the house will eat. So in an effort to help you find your capsule fridge items, I’ll share mine.
Similar to how capsule closets require people to have a certain number of tops, bottoms, shoes, and accessories, a capsule fridge requires an assortment of carbohydrates, prepped vegetables, prepped proteins, toppings, and snacks. I’ve listed out the categories of foods that we keep in the fridge in order to create our staple meals; stir-fry’s, salads, wraps, grain bowls, and burritos. Every family’s capsule fridge will look different depending on flavor preferences and meal choices, but for our family, it looks something like this.
Corn or whole wheat tortillas - Wraps, tacos, roll-ups, you name it. Pretty much everything in our fridge or pantry is compatible with corn tortillas or tortillas. Whether or not we include them in our meal simply depends on how hungry we are.
Salad kits - These are my jam. I can quickly make myself an veggie heavy meal AND add in extras to add flavor and make them more filling. My frugal roots cringe and how much more expensive they are than buying individual salad ingredients, but I think it’s worth it if I end up eating more veggies.
Cooked quinoa or brown rice - Again, so versatile! I’ll add one of these to salads, eggs, as a side, or as a base for a grain bowl.
I usually roast my veggies since we’re more in a “set it and forget it” mode around my house. But in the summer months, we do a lot of stir frying and steaming. My favorites are asparagus, sweet potato, steamed broccoli, steamed string beans, roasted cauliflower, sautéed mushrooms and zucchini, and roasted beets.
I’m not going to go into the detail as to how I prepare all of my proteins, but some of my favorites are quinoa, tuna, roasted chicken breast, and tofu. You do you.
Pickled onions - Put this on everything, you guys. It adds a ton of flavor and it’s great for gut health.
Black beans - Okay, I’m cheating a little bit with this our beans are usually found in the pantry, but on occasion I make the time to make them from scratch.
Lemons and limes - For whatever reason, I always forget to grab salad dressing at the grocery store, which also happens to be our main flavor booster for whatever dish we’re eating. So lemons and limes to the rescue! Add a little salt and voila!
Hummus - This adds some flavor and some variety to an otherwise bland meal. I’ll use it to keep spinach from falling out of my wrap or as a side with veggies.
Staying at home with the kids requires that I have all the snacks. So on any given day, we have at least three of the following ready for the kids to munch on; Cucumber, Sugar snap peas, carrots, plain Greek yogurt (mixed with honey and cinnamon), hard boiled eggs, berries, microwaveable edamame, and nuts (shelling pistachios is an activity within itself).
With everything listed above (and a few spices), I know that I have ingredients to put together meals throughout the week. And since everything is mostly cooked ahead of time and separately, I can easily customize plates for the kids. And finally, the fact that everything has a relatively short shelf life naturally keeps the fridge from getting cluttered and is an added incentive for us to choose whole foods over what’s in the pantry.
So if you’re trying to keep healthier options in your fridge, start small. Test the waters. See what’s a hit and go from there. Good luck and happy capsuling.