Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Fridge Door Project

A long time ago (about 6 years) in a land far far away (the Bahamas) I found myself newly married to Seth and excited about the prospect of cooking him delicious dinners every night. He offered to help but I said, "No, no, I am a domestic goddess! Hear me roar!" Unfortunately, I soon learned that man-fare is much different than single lady-fare. Pre-marriage I had enjoyed regular dinners of popcorn or grilled cheese sandwiches. Apparently neither is sufficient to feed a man belly on a regular basis. I realized I had two options: build habits based on shortcuts (frozen foods and sodium-laden seasoning packets) or learn to make healthy food. Something you should know about me is that I'm usually far harder on myself than I need to be. So that, combined with the fact that I love a good challenge, means I obviously chose the latter. Almost seven years later, I'm so glad I did. Instead of a freezer full of Hot Pockets and frozen pizzas, we have this:

It's very low on processed foods. Seth does have some ice cream because I try to let him make his own food choices. I've got some vegan Field Roast sausages and Don Lee Farms veggie burgers, but I like that I recognize and can pronounce every ingredient on their short ingredient lists. Other than those items it's mainly frozen vegetables, black beans (prepared in bulk from dried beans), homemade chicken and vegetable stock, frozen roasted tomatoes, frozen bananas (for smoothies and other treats), and various frozen meat (for Seth). The biggest offender in my eyes are those hamburger buns peaking out above the ice trays. On my to-do list for an upcoming weekend is to make and freeze some hamburger buns so that we can eliminate the preservative-laden store bought ones. (I'll provide a recipe when I do.)  So now, 6-7 years after I've built the habits and know-how to regularly fill my freezer with real food, what next? I've decided I'm going to call it my Fridge Door Project. Intrigued? Follow the jump...
My fridge door probably looks like many others. It's full of condiments, salad dressings, juice, soda, and many other random jars and bottles that would get shoved to the back and lost if placed in the main body of the fridge.

Look at it. Sitting there all smug. Full of chemicals and preservatives. Just a few ingredients listed on the back of randomly selected jars:  high fructose corn syrup, tocopheryl acetate, modified starch, calcium disodiuam edta, and the always mysterious "natural flavors." The ones I can pronounce, well, I already know they're bad for me. The ones I can't, ummm, are they really the best way to eat? How hard is it to make my own salad dressing, salsa, or mustard? Not very. Maybe not as easy as throwing a jar in a shopping cart, but what is? 

So here is my Fridge Door Project: to replace as many fridge door items with condiments, sauces, and drinks made from real food as possible. I'll document it here on the blog, including recipes I choose and how easy/difficult each item is to make. Here are some of the items I'm hoping to eventually replace:

- jam/jelly
- salad dressing
- real mayonnaise (for Seth)
- a vegan mayonnaise substitute (for me)
- yellow mustard
- dijon mustard
- spicy mustard
- salsa
- ketchup
- fruit juice
- ginger ale

I'm sure I'll come up with more as I go, but this is my starting point. If you have favorite homemade recipes for any of these items, please feel free to share them! I don't have a timeline. I simply intend to do this as my schedule allows. Hope you'll follow along on the journey and maybe be inspired to replace a few items in your own fridge as well. And do you want to know a secret? Tonight I already replaced one item:

Dijon mustard! And it only took about 20 minutes. I'll post the recipe later this week. 


  1. What a fun project - my fridge door is pretty processed, as well, but we don't eat stuff from it as often. :) I'll be curious to see what you come up with - I'm really curious about the mustard!

    1. I find myself avoiding fridge door condiments because I know they're processed, which makes them useless most of the time. The rest of the time I'm annoyed that I have to use them for lack of a better option. This has been a long time coming!

  2. Loving this idea! I did something similar (although way less ambitious) awhile ago. I'm happy to report the homemade making of salad dressings, peanut butter, mayo (icky, not a mayo fan!), and other various sauces is going well. Good luck, can't wait to see what you come up with!