10 Items to Always Have in Your Fridge

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Upgrading to a premium fridge isn't just a purchase, it's a genuine lifestyle change. With its multi-zone temperature control and cavernous interior, you'll always be able to keep it stocked with the things you want. To get you started, here are 10 exceptionally versatile items to always have in your fridge.

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1. Fresh Eggs

The 101 pleats of a traditional chef's hat were said to represent the number of egg dishes a chef should master. Really, is there any ingredient more versatile than an egg? At just 70 calories each, and loaded with protein and micro-nutrients, eggs are a culinary powerhouse. They're unmatched for quick scratch meals: dice up leftover meats and vegetables, immerse them in beaten eggs, and finish your frittata in the oven.

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2. Whole Lemons

When you want to add flavor with minimal fat or sodium, lemons are your best friend. A quick squeeze of lemon adds a splash of bright flavor to foods as rich as Hollandaise sauce or as simple as a leaf of lettuce. Grate the zest into your baked goods, dress your salads with a simple splash of olive oil and a drizzle of lemon, or juice a handful for refreshing lemonade in the summer's heat.

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3. Ready-To-Eat Salad

The aphorism that "there's never enough time to do what you want" certainly applies to meal preparation. That's why prepared, ready to eat salads are such a valuable convenience for the health-conscious but time-pressed. When crisp, green salads add just seconds to your meal preparation, you're likely to enjoy them on a much more regular basis.

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4. Puff or Phyllo Pastry

Keep phyllo or puff pastry on hand at all times in the freezer section of your fridge, and transfer them as needed to the refrigerator side. Professional chefs value these crisp, flaky pastries for their versatility in both sweet and savory dishes. Line muffin pans with the thawed pastry for quick mini-quiches, or use them to wrap meats, fruit or vegetables in sauce for quick finger foods.

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5. Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is a chef's staple, made by simmering equal parts sugar and water for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep it in the door of your fridge, and use it to sweeten lemonade, cocktails and stewed fruit dishes quickly and easily. Pastry chefs sprinkle cake layers with syrup to make them extra-moist. For a summer treat, blend frozen fruit or berries with simple syrup to make instant sorbet.

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6. Frozen Fruit and Berries

Speaking of frozen fruit and berries, they're another refrigerator essential. Their rich flavors, bright colors and potent mix of antioxidants and other healthful phytochemicals make them an indispensable part of your diet, and unlike fresh fruits, they're always at their peak. Use them in frozen desserts, in pies and chutneys, and in tropical sauces for grilled foods. Just a small handful of frozen berries can add interest to oatmeal, pancakes or your favorite muffin recipe.

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7. Hard Cheese

Genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano commands a premium price, but it still represents tremendous value as a refrigerator staple. Even a few shreds add a potent cheese flavor to your sauces, salads and pasta dishes; or you can use a vegetable peeler to make long, elegant curls to grace an after-dinner cheese plate. For variety, try other hard cheeses such as Dry Jack, Romano or Spain's fabled Manchego.

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8. Good Bacon

Perhaps a controversial choice for the health-conscious, but—like Parmesan—good quality bacon adds a disproportionate amount of flavor. Use lean, artisanal smoked bacon to add concentrated flavor to chowders, cream soups, quiches, bean dishes, dips and even your salads. Pre-cooked and carefully drained, it also makes a fine addition to cornbread, biscuits and savory muffins. Some refrigerators let you keep your bacon extra-cold without damaging delicate produce.

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9. Plain Yogurt

Good-quality yogurt isn't the preserve of tiny ethnic shops any more, with the rise of high-protein Greek-style yogurt to widespread popularity. Sweeten it for desserts, add herbs to make a quick dip, or drain it overnight to produce a soft, spreadable cheese. It's a healthful, low-fat ingredient that stores well and has a multitude of uses.

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10. Crisp Celery

Like onions, garlic and chives, celery is an ingredient with the happy facility of making everything else taste better. That's because natural flavor compounds in the celery add savoriness or "umami" to your foods, regardless of whether it's chopped raw into a salad or sauteed with onions and carrots to make the traditional flavoring mixture called mirepoix by chefs. It's also a great low-calorie snack for those late nights when you want something crunchy.

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