FreshDirect has been in business for over 18 years, and we have customers ranging from complete newbies to experienced / borderline addicted shoppers (me!). Pretty regularly I get asked about what to shop for by both the new and experienced customers. I have been a customer for over 12 years as well, and while my top items have changed over the years, there are some staples that I would always recommend. This list is focused on the top items I purchase and recommend from a nutrition lens because they fit the bill for being nutritious, delicious and most importantly for me: easy to use/make. My list does leave out our best department, Produce, because the seasonality of produce changes my top purchases frequently. I can tell you one thing though – in May I buy as many Indian Mangoes as humanly possible. They are my all-time favorite fruit and they have a very short season, so I wait all year for them. With those caveats in mind, here is my top 10, in no particular order:
- Guacamole: FD Guacamole comes in 4 flavors and we alternate the plain and the black bean & corn salsa flavors in our house. Easy to throw on taco Tuesday, avocado toast or just eat as a dip with carrot sticks or tortilla chips. Our homemade recipe was developed by one of our in-house R&D Chefs and is a family favorite for us.
- Pesto: FD Pesto Sauce is my favorite pesto around! It’s so fresh and versatile. Made with fresh basil, olive oil, Romano cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and spices, I use this on fresh pasta or in my famous chicken pesto meatballs (our pesto sauce, 98% lean ground chicken and breadcrumbs).
- Fresh Salsa: FD Fresh Salsa also comes in a variety of flavors and heat levels. We’re into spice in my family, so we get the medium. The hot variety is very spicy, but if you’re daring – give it a shot! I love how fresh this salsa is – all the veggies are cut into very small pieces and are bursting with flavor and texture that goes great on morning eggs or in tacos or naked burrito bowls.
- Pre-Cut Fruit: Cut Pineapple & Blueberry Even though I was going to steer away from recommending produce, this product is in season year-round and is a great staple to have in the fridge for snacking or to bring to work as a healthy afternoon pick me up. I also appreciate the ease of use when I don’t feel like cutting up a whole pineapple. The combination of tart pineapple and sweet blueberries is both refreshing and provides a good source of fiber & vitamin C.
- Tortillas: If you haven’t figured it out yet, Taco Tuesday is a longstanding tradition in my dinner routine. La Tortilla Factory Corn & Wheat Tortillas are my tortilla of choice because they are sturdier than corn tortillas but still have the flavor and whole grain benefit of stoneground corn.
- Orwasher’s sliced spelt morning bread is always in my freezer! I pull out 1-2 slices for breakfast and either lather with my favorite peanut butter or do an avocado toast with hardboiled egg and crushed red pepper flakes. Since this bread comes frozen, I’ll either take it out and throw in my bag to make at work (it’s thawed by the time I get to the office), or I toast it for a few minutes at home. I love how many whole grains are packed into this bread – quinoa, wheat, spelt and oats, not to mention sunflower seeds for an extra crunch and boost of vitamin E.
- FD BBQ turkey burger: Using 94% lean ground turkey, this is a healthy and fast meal that I use for dinner a few times a month. The BBQ sauce gives the right amount of flavor in addition to the essential nutrients and protein from the turkey. And since there’s always guacamole in my fridge, I like to throw some on top for more healthy unsaturated fats, in addition to the healthy fat already in the ground turkey. The burgers go great on top of the whole grain Brooklyn Mills rolls, and since these rolls are frozen too, I warm up the burgers and the rolls in the oven together with a roasting vegetable of choice for a super easy one-pan dinner.
- Whole Wheat Pasta: The Ravioli Store’s whole wheat spinach ravioli is another staple that I order regularly. This is a high-quality pasta filled with wholesome spinach and delicious ricotta. Knock out your vegetable, grain, and protein in one easy dish, top with fresh tomato sauce to add that extra flavor and vegetable and call it a night. This is one I like to leave for later in the week when I’m more tired and my excitement for cooking has gone by the wayside. With 14g of protein and 6g of fiber per serving, I prefer ravioli over plain pasta because it keeps me fuller for longer.
- Kombucha: Water and seltzer are the main non-alcoholic drinks of choice for me, but we always have a few kombuchas in the fridge for when those waters get boring. FreshDirect carries a few brands, and it’s a personal preference which you go for, but all in all, they mostly have the same fermentation process and finished product. Kombucha comes from the fermentation process of sweet tea and a culture of bacteria and yeast. The result is a gut-friendly probiotic drink. The category is growing quickly, so the choice of flavors is also growing.
- Diana’s Bananas: For a yummy frozen post-dinner treat, these chocolate covered bananas hit the sweet tooth spot and add a whole banana to your day as well.
So that’s it for me, but some of you may know I also have a toddler at home, and I get asked about what I feed her as well. While I can confidently say that every child is very different and what works for me may not work for your kiddo, here are some ideas if you’re in the market to mix it up or make it a little easier on yourself at mealtime or snack time, or when mealtime becomes snack time (come on, you know what I’m talking about):
- Baby avocadoes & baby bananas: Food waste skyrocketed when my daughter started eating solids, so to waste (and compost) less, I buy the baby versions of her two favorite pieces of produce. The baby bananas from FreshDirect come in a big bunch of about 15 bananas so you may have to eat some yourself to get through them before they turn, or you can save the browner ones to make some whole wheat banana bread at the end of the week!
- Beans: Jack’s Quality Beans come in Tetra Pak containers and are lower sodium than canned beans. I am totally biased on this one because my toddler eats the beans right from the package, and beans are her favorite food. But if your kids aren’t as keen on beans, you can blend them into a dip or add them into homemade veggie patties for the iron and fiber benefits.
- Applesauce: You can find Gogo squeeze pouches in every bag I own, in my glove compartment, my pantry, my refrigerator… you get the point. I like the apple cinnamon ones because of the extra flavor it adds to her day. These pouches are a lifesaver for us. We use them when sickness hits, when temper tantrums are a little too much to handle, as on–the–go snacks that don’t make a huge mess and can also serve as a hydration solution when running around the park.
- Goat cheese: In the early days of eating solids, I found that goat cheese was the only cheese I felt confident could be eaten with very few teeth, and then it became a frequently requested item. I like to send it to daycare for snack alongside some fruit or spread on some bread or crackers for a protein/carb combination meal or snack. We go for the Vermont Creamery brand.
- Just Brand Milk: I really like our Just FreshDirect milk. Since my daughter is under 2 years old, she still drinks whole milk, but any of our Just milk products are great. What I like about Just milk, in addition to being from cows that were never given antibiotics, is that the milk is pasteurized using the HTST (high temperature, short time) method compared with other milks that use ultra-pasteurization (UHT) which is higher temperature and kills more microorganisms, resulting in milk with a longer shelf life.
- Frozen Veggie Nuggets: Another freezer must have for those nights where a homecooked meal is just not going to happen. Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Nuggets work well for us – 30 seconds in the microwave and she can eat with her hands or a fork. They come in broccoli, kale or spinach but the broccoli ones have the most potato, so thus are a favorite in our house. Dip them in a fun condiment and they can hold over a starving kid until dinner can be served, or if it’s one of those nights – dinner is complete!
- Freeze dried fruit: This is another great snack to have handy on the go. We mix it with Happy Baby puffs to make a “healthy lucky charms” or just have it for a snack on its own. FreshDirect sells a few different brands, but my favorite right now is Crispy Green which comes in individual serving bags of mangoes or apples. For a baby starting out eating, the Little Duck Organics tiny fruits are easy to pick up and dissolve quickly in their mouths when eaten.
- Organic sweet potatoes: I like to have the 3-pound bag on hand, as this is a vegetable that usually is kid approved. Roasted with some cinnamon and nutmeg is a delicious way to get the vitamin A, fiber and potassium that sweet potatoes are known for.
- Bean pasta: Pasta is a never fail, easy to make dinner. I mix up the kinds of pasta I buy between whole wheat and bean pasta. For bean pasta, my favorite is Modern Table lentil pasta and we also use Banza chickpea pasta to mix it up. Both are gluten-free versions of pasta that are also higher in protein than wheat pasta and provide some of the higher fiber benefits of beans.
- Yogurt Pouch Materials: I like to make my own yogurt pouches using reusable pouches. The most common recipe I make is Fage Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, chia seeds, and cinnamon. Cheaper and less wasteful than buying one more pouch, and way less messy than spoon feeding. Contrary to popular nutritionist folklore, my daughter is not a huge veggie lover – so I like to get the pumpkin into her diet when I can to keep the variety up and teach her about different flavors wherever it makes sense.
We love to see what you order for yourselves and your family, so be sure to @FreshDirect in all of your social posts. I currently do not live in a Foodkick delivery zone, but most of these products can also be found on Foodkick, and delivered within the hour, so be sure to check them out and post @Foodkick so we can see what you got!