Helen and Justin, Brooklyn, NY


How many people does your fridge need to feed?
Helen: Two.

What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Justin: I eat eggs. Helen doesn’t, so we always have very different breakfasts. I eat eggs with garlic, toast, and cheese.
Helen: I don’t like the way eggs taste or smell. I consider them a gross concept. I like to eat cottage cheese with tomatoes, or toast with avocado, almond butter, or peanut butter. I like cereal because it’s fast. Sometimes I’ll eat yogurt with stuff on top.

Is there anything you eat every day?
Helen: Coffee. Our diet is pretty varied—we don’t eat any one thing every day.
Justin: Coffee. Beer.
Helen: You don’t drink beer everyday! Justin: Most days…

Every week?
Helen: Rice, chicken, beans, pasta.

What item are you forbidden from purchasing right now?
Helen: We try really hard not to buy junky things with preservatives. I do look at labels for preservatives. But we’re very much an “everything in moderation” household. I’m prone to bingeing on things if I deny myself.
Justin: She has a real sweet tooth.
Helen: I do. So it’s okay for me to have a little bit of sweet stuff every day, otherwise I’ll go overboard.

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What’s the most delicious thing in here?
Justin: I’m happy about this Trader Joe’s trail mix right now. We keep it in the fridge because of general vermin paranoia. It’s a post-rational vermin paranoia.
Helen: I like these plums from the farmer’s market. They’re amazing.

The most disgusting?
Justin: Compost—that’s an easy one.
Helen: That’s not disgusting! It’s frozen. And it’s helpful to the environment! We take it to the farmer’s market.
Justin: I’m not eating it any time soon.
Helen: My answer is this self-rising flour, which turns out to have aluminum in it. 
Justin: I’m sticking with the compost. I will never eat that. 
Helen: And these are leftovers that molded. I thought the container would be easier to clean if I put it in the freezer. It’s probably been in there for three months.

The oldest?
Justin: This Mama Celeste original flavor frozen pizza that expired August 15, 2013. We had a moment where we convinced ourselves that it would be really funny if for a Super Bowl we just ate frozen food. It turned out the joke was on us.
Helen: It was all gross.
Justin: It was a dark day. Helen: There’s also Malt-O-Meal. It’s a hot cereal that you can’t really find in New York. I used to eat it growing up. I really like it.
Justin: I thought it was really weird. I didn’t get it.
Helen: Maybe it’s a Southern thing?

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Anything you regret buying?
Justin: This cookies and cream Breyer’s ice cream. It’s kind of from the same lineage of thinking as the Mama Celeste pizza. We thought it would be really fun to eat Breyer’s ice cream.
Helen: And it’s not.
Justin: It doesn’t resemble ice cream. It’s unusually soft. I always think I’m going to go back to it when I want ice cream but it’s never good. I’m really nostalgic for this kind of packaging because it reminds me of when I was younger, but the food inside it doesn’t even come close to tasting like whatever it’s supposed to be. If I bought, like, Jif peanut butter, I think I would go insane if I actually put it in my mouth.
Helen: I can’t use this Amy’s breakfast scramble wrap because we don’t have a microwave but I probably won’t throw it away. It takes like 45 minutes in the oven and I’m never going to do that. Justin: The joke about that is that she was looking for a quicker way to have breakfast. Helen: I don’t know if I regret this but I have a lot of different kinds of flour—kamut flour, garbanzo bean flour, almond flour—because I keep thinking I’ll do alternative baking. But I haven’t done anything with them. Justin was having a gluten sensitivity but he’s decided he doesn’t have that anymore.
Justin: I mentally willed myself back from allergic tendencies.

What's your guilty pleasure?
Helen: I make a thing that’s macaroni and cheese with tuna fish and frozen green peas.
Justin: That’s a really good example because I was appalled by that combination of things when we first got together but then after a couple of years I was like, “you know, this is pretty good, let’s do this!” And now we have it on a bi-monthly basis.

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Where do you do most of your food shopping?
Helen: We try to go to the farmer’s market on Saturday or Sunday. I like to get bulk foods like dried fruit or nuts at Whole Foods or the local natural foods store.
Justin: We go to Trader Joe’s in Chelsea for staples. Dairy stuff we just get in the neighborhood. Helen: Even bodegas have organic yogurt now.

How much do you spend on groceries each week?
Helen: $80-$100, at least.

How often do you grocery shopping?
Helen: At least once or twice a week.

What percentage of your meals do you prepare at home?
Helen: It really depends on how busy we are. I’d say definitely 40%, sometimes 70%.
Justin: I do breakfast here every day. We usually do dinner at home. Lunch is the x-factor.

Is there anything in here that we would have found in your childhood fridge?
Helen: Malt-O-Meal.
Justin: No. I grew up on a complete corn syrup basis: SunnyD and stuff like that. I’m like the healthiest person alive compared to how I grew up.

What do you wish you had in here?
Helen: Probably just more vegetables. I wish I’d gone to the farmer’s market this week. Or do you mean, like, a unicorn wish? I’ve never seen a fresh lima bean, only frozen lima beans. A fresh lima bean, maybe that’s my wish.
Justin: Vienetta. It’s like a frozen tiramisu sculpture. It’s incredibly elaborate. You can’t get it in the NY area.
Helen: It’s fake Italian. Like Kraft Foods Italian. They don’t make it anymore!
Justin: It was a big deal when I was younger. It was like, “we have a Vienetta today!” We used to serve it in the plastic packaging.

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Justin is an artist and he’s holding an egg. Helen is a student, writer, and actor. She’s holding some chickpea miso. They live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Their fridge features the Local Foods Wheel designed by a fellow Refrigerator Spy subject.