We introduced this series a few weeks back as our nosy, little ploy to peek behind the previously off-limits refrigerator (and pantry!) doors of women we admire. Because if there’s one thing we all know and love that can spark major conversation and bring people together, it’s food. And, although we don’t have a name for said series quite yet — really, help us out here — the curiosity continues. But, before we begin uncovering more of the bits, bites, and packaged snacks of our favorite ladies, we thought it high time to glance inside the kitchen of arguably one of the biggest foodies we know: our very own Editor In Chief, James Kicinski-McCoy.
On any given week, you can find James casually sauntering the aisle’s of Nashville’s grocery stores, from Whole Foods to Trader Joe’s to the local Produce Place. And, while she always offers a generous peek inside her cart by way of her Instagram stories, today she’s laying out a buffet of insider tips and secrets — what both her and her family of six eat on the reg, what she strays away from and why, and her overall approach to food. We hope you came hungry! Enjoy.
What is your philosophy on food? “I have really made an effort to live by an ‘everything in moderation’ policy. I definitely aim to eat on the healthier side as often as possible, especially while at home, but of course that is not always the case. I am a lover of food of all kinds and ethnicities, and I love a good to-go order of pizza, Indian, or Thai. When I go out to eat, all bets are off. I will order anything and everything, with the exception of red meat because I am allergic! I also have a newfound sweet tooth, so I will almost always will order dessert (Jeni’s Gooey Butter Cake with a butter waffle cone is my treat of choice). Life’s too short not to enjoy delicious food just because they contain too many carbs, butter, or sugar. I am trying to embrace it all more and more the older I get — all in moderation, of course. I also love to cook. Over the past year I have really gotten into creating strong umami flavors in my dishes. Cooking is a form of therapy for me, and I’m trying to carve out more time for it. I have a fun food-focused project that’s in the works that I can’t wait to share.”
What do you always keep on hand? “We tend to buy the same staples: salmon, chicken, tofu, all the veggies, all the fruit, sour kraut, miso paste, dijon mustard, peanut butter, sourdough bread, Hawaiian Rolls (my son Sailor’s fave), pasta, potatoes, red onion, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and every condiment I can get my hands on. I am a ‘sauce girl’ and love to add tons of flavor to my plate.”
Give us a breakdown of your fridge: what’s on the top two shelves? “The top two shelves are kind of what I declare ‘the healthy zone’. I try to keep a lot of the healthier food up there, so it’s the first I gravitate towards. There’s usually a plethora of drinks: nut milks, kombucha, cold brew coffee, and coconut water on the top shelf shared with the bread that’s currently on rotation (we recently tried this gluten-free brown rice bread and it’s really good), fresh mint, kimchi, sour kraut, my Thai chili infused vinegar (I make it monthly), a few supplements and probiotics, and my hoard of Coconut Cult yogurt — I’m addicted to that stuff! The Second is filled with jars of olives and pickled things, miso, ume shisho plums, tomato chutney, this delicious corn relish that we put on everything, meal prepped items like roasted vegetables that I’ve make weekly to have on hand, there’s always a stack of veggies that need my attention so they don’t go bad, and I use the wine rack to store my Hu chocolate and Honey Mama’s bars.”
Middle shelves: “The two middle shelves are filled with more family-friendly grabs like yogurt, eggs, fresh fruit, and usually we store leftovers on these two shelves. Right now there’s some grilled chicken breast, a homemade dressing from the weekend, and last night’s Pei Wei takeout. There’s also cinnamon raisin bread, vegan butter, beets, lots of salsa, and a few other random things. These two shelves vary in contents from week-to-week.”
Bottom shelf: “Lots of lettuces, honeycrisp apples, a giant thing of mayo for egg salad and homemade aioli, guacamole cups and other lunch additions for the kids. A few random vegetables that have been stashed here, as well. There’s not too much order to things.”
Drawers and doors: “The door houses a shit load of condiments. Mostly several variations of mustard, soy sauces, dressings, sauces, and pastes for cooking. There’s also milk, juice, jams, etc. There are three drawers in my fridge. The first one houses all of the red meats and cheeses. I usually steer clear of that drawer unless I am grabbing something to make for the kids. The second one is filled with things like hummus and tofu, avocados, more fruit, sliced turkey, pre-cooked lentils, berries, and limes. The bottom one is usually filled with Cutie’s and other fruit, plus more snack and lunchy-type things for the kids. Again, not a whole lot of order to it all. Don’t get me started on the freezer. It’s a war zone — too many frozen vegetables, fruits for smoothies, quick ready meals, French fries, and frozen waffles.”
Pantry staples: “We have one large pantry where all of the naughty stuff lives: boxes upon boxes of cereal, bags of chips, bakery croissants, granola bars, and processed snacks like cookies and crackers. There’s also baking ingredients in there and a whole lot of tea. There’s another small lazy Susan pantry filled with beans, dried noodles, canned goods, and extra jars of this and that. I have my own cabinet that is filled with my, perhaps weird and a little obsessive stash of adaptogens, vitamins, and superfoods, along with protein powders, seeds, nuts, and way too many nut butters. There’s one other small cabinet that has been declared the little kids’ lunch cabinet filled with a stash of foods that are for packing lunches only and off limits otherwise. We sometimes hide candy in there, too. #yolo”
Counter top: “I keep a lot of the things I reach for daily on the counter in one corner of my kitchen: tea, spices, homemade granola, oats, oils, and my collection of salts. We also have several bowls and baskets filled with various produce.”
Second fridge: “We have another large refrigerator in the garage that’s filled with drinks. Usually sparkling water, beer, extra cold brew, and juice boxes for the kids. The garage freezer is filled with popsicles, ice cream, and lots of frozen goodness from Trader Joes.”
Where do you grocery shop? “We have a large and hungry family, so I usually hit up Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s early in the morning once a week, and then [my husband] Aubrey or I will pop into Sprout’s, Publix, or Kroger for anything we need on the fly. Aubrey goes to Costco once a month.”
Favorite meal of the day? “I love a good weekend brunch spread. The midday combination of sweet and savory foods, plus a little boozy drink be it a mimosa or Bloody Mary makes for a real good time.”
Go-to snack? “Sourdough Wasa crackers topped with hummus, avocado, smoked salmon, micro greens, and Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, or if I’m lazy or need something quick, I’ll grab a cold honeycrisp apple and slather it with peanut butter along with a hefty sprinkle of cinnamon. I also always have Good & Plenty and Red Vines on hand for when I’m craving something sweet. Aubrey calls it my grandma candy.”
Recipe on rotation? “Hmmm…I have quite a few regulars including a roast chicken and vegetable dish that everyone loves for family dinner, but most nights dinner at home varies for everyone. We have some very picky eaters in the house, so making the same thing for all is pretty much unheard of. My regular go-to is usually a large salad topped with pre-roasted vegetables, some form of protein — salmon, grilled chicken, or tofu — fresh veggies, something pickled, and then a healthy douse of whatever homemade dressing I’m feeling. My husband often makes ‘brinner’ a.k.a. breakfast for dinner. It’s his favorite meal of the day and the kids always love it. He goes all out and makes eggs, bacon, chicken or turkey sausage, home fried potatoes or hash browns, fresh fruit, waffles or pancakes, and biscuits. Now I’m hungry!”