16 Foods You MUST Have in Your Fridge

16 Foods You MUST Have in Your Fridge

Beets? Carrots? Kefir? Make sure to store these must-have foods in your fridge.

By Judy Koutsky

When you go grocery shopping, you have lots of choices. If you’re picking a variety of fruits and vegetables, that’s a great start, but are some healthy foods better than others? We asked several experts what items everyone should have in their fridge.

1. Mushrooms: These may not be bright and beautiful, but mushrooms are no nutritional lightweight. They provide B vitamins, potassium, and fiber, says Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, author of The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition . Some varieties may even provide a hefty boost of vitamin D. Plus, they are rich in umami, the meaty, savory flavor that makes a wonderful meat substitute to lower calories and decrease unhealthy fats. Weisenberger suggests swapping half of your ground beef for finely chopped mushrooms in recipes for tacos or sloppy joes.

2. Greek yogurt: It’s a great source of protein and calcium, which is essential for strong healthy bones, notes Abigail J. Dougherty, RDN, LD/N, registered dietitian nutritionist.

3. Spinach: It contains folate, which helps your body produce new cells, notes Dougherty. It also has gut-boosting fiber and the antioxidant vitamin C, which is great for immunity and skin. “It's a huge staple in my fridge and is truly a superfood,” says Dougherty.

4. Beets: They are referred to as nature’s multivitamin because they are packed with fiber as well as vitamins A, B, and C. Plus, they are full of antioxidants, says Dougherty. You can eat them roasted or raw or mix them in salads and casseroles. Weisenberger likes them because they have folate, a vitamin important in DNA repair, and potassium, a mineral that helps control blood pressure.

5. Kefir: The road to good health is paved with good intestines. The digestive tract is one of your biggest immune organs, so keep disease-causing germs out with probiotics and prebiotics, found in naturally fermented foods like yogurt or kefir, says Rene Ficek, a registered dietitian and lead nutrition expert. This is especially good during flu season.

6. Edamame: This is a great snack to have on hand for both you and the kids. It’s full of fiber, plus has a healthy dose of iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C, says Ficek.

7. Hummus: This nutritional all-star made from chickpeas is rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, says Ficek. Soluble fiber helps to maintain cholesterol levels while insoluble fiber prevents constipation. Plus, this kid-friendly snack (children love to dip vegetables in hummus, which is a great way to get some raw veggies in their diet) has heart-healthy fats and bean protein -- a good choice to help prevent heart disease and some cancers and create strong healthy bones, says Weisenberger.

8. Eggs: The egg is a protein powerhouse, says Ficek. Plus, egg yolk is an excellent source of choline, an essential nutrient that is responsible for a host of good things in your body, including memory-boosting benefits.

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9. Carrots: This low-calorie, healthy vegetable is high in vitamin A, which helps with vision, says Joey Gochnour, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist. There really is truth to the old adage that carrots help your eyes.

10. Broccoli: This tasty, crunchy vegetable has lots of great benefits, notes Gochnour. It’s high in folate, which is needed for DNA synthesis, it’s packed with vitamin K, which helps in blood clotting, it has vitamin A, which helps with vision, and it’s high in insoluble fiber, which helps promote bowel regularity.

11. Beans: Kidney, black, and garbanzo are especially good, says Gochnour. They count as a vegetable since they’re so high in fiber. They are also a good source of protein, which helps repair damaged cells as well as make new ones. Protein is especially important for kids to aid in growth and development. Beans are also high in soluble fiber and can lower blood cholesterol, says Gochnour.

12. Low-fat cottage cheese: This snack will give you quite a protein boost, which can help with both weight control and muscle synthesis, says Weisenberger. She suggests a sweet breakfast with cottage cheese and fruit or a savory lunch or snack like cottage cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil and black pepper.

13. Berries: Berries might just be one of the most health-friendly foods to store in your fridge. Fruits like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are bursting with flavor and nutrients. They make a tasty addition to yogurt, oatmeal, cereal and salads, or can stand alone as a delicious snack. Not only are they high in vitamin C, berries are also packed with antioxidants, says Ficek.

14. Apples: This crunchy fruit is filled with soluble fiber, says Lisa A. Reed, MS, CSCS, USAW. Fiber fills you up by releasing sugar slowly into the bloodstream so that you don’t have a sharp spike in insulin. A small apple has less than 100 calories and has no fat or sodium, Reed notes.

15. Brussels sprouts: Brussels sprouts are making a comeback as a superfood and for good reason. They are packed with healthy nutrients and protein -- 3.8 grams of protein per serving, which is high for a vegetable, says Reed. She also notes that this tasty veggie has high levels of vitamin K, which promotes bone health, plus vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese.

16. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are rich in iron and vitamins C, B6, and D, notes Reed. They are an excellent complex carbohydrate for energy and metabolism. “Just make sure to follow the recommended portion size, which is 3-4 ounces,” says Reed. Do note, however, that uncooked sweet potatoes are best kept at room temperature. Otherwise, you could end up with tough centers.

What nutritious foods do you keep in your fridge?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/JoeBiafore

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