The $5 Grocery I Always Have in My Fridge for Easy Dinners

published Jun 5, 2024
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Yumna Jawad, aka Feel Good Foodie, has amassed a huge Instagram following — a whopping 4.6 million people — sharing her quick and easy Middle Eastern-inspired recipes. She originally went viral for her baked feta pasta (yes, that one), which got over 2 million views on TikTok in 2021, and has continued to grow her business ever since. 

Funnily enough, the kitchen wasn’t always Yumna’s favorite place. “I hated cooking growing up because we used to live in Africa, and my mom had to make a lot of things from scratch. I would watch her labor in the kitchen for so many hours making her own yogurt, her own tomato paste from scratch, and I wanted to be as far away from that as possible,” she says. 

After moving to the United States from their home in Sierra Leone (her family is originally from Lebanon), Yumna’s mom discovered shortcuts that sped up the process of making those Middle Eastern staples. As she got into cooking herself, Yumna took those shortcuts up a notch and created recipes blending Middle Eastern flavors with those she grew up with in the Midwest.

Fast forward to today, she compiled 125 of those recipes and shared them with the world in her debut cookbook, The Feel Good Foodie Cookbook, which launched on May 7, 2024. “I wanted to demystify my mom’s ingenious cooking methods and make it simpler for the average cook to create these amazing homemade meals with just a few ingredients in 30 minutes or less. So the book focuses on eight Mediterranean staples that infuse so much flavor into everyday recipes.”

She minces a bunch of garlic cloves in a food processor and stores them in zip-top bags for Future Her (you can also buy them at most grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s). Yumna also stashes 10-pound boxes of dates in her pantry. “We go through them so fast,” she admits. As for what’s in her fridge, one of her absolute favorites just so happens to be incredibly versatile (she uses it in dips, soups, sauces, pizza, and more). Here’s why labneh has a permanent spot in Yumna’s fridge.

Credit: Doaa Elkady

Why You Should Always Have Labneh in Your Fridge

“If someone’s hungry, we just grab some labneh. We grew up just eating it with pita, and so my kids make sandwiches with it almost daily. It’s like our cream cheese,” Yumna says.  

Labneh, a Middle Eastern staple and one of the eight featured in her cookbook, is “like a yogurt cheese.” Similar to Greek yogurt, it can “last a good month” in the fridge. 

Credit: Doaa Elkady

It’s also super versatile. “I use it a lot for dips, throwing it in soups, even making sauces like Alfredo with it — I add a dollop of labneh to my roasted tomato soup and blend it to give it that creaminess, richness, and little tang as well.” She also uses it as the base for her White Zucchini Pizza with Garlicky Labneh, a delicious and easy dinner she loves to make when zucchini and summer squash are in abundance

While you can most definitely make labneh yourself (the recipe is also in her cookbook), Yumna loves that it’s becoming more readily available in grocery stores. “I’m seeing it in places like Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, Meijer — even Target will have it.” A few of her favorite brands? Karoun Dairies, Arz, and Yaza

Buy: Karoun Dairies Labne, $4.99 for 16 ounces at Instacart   

What’s the one grocery you always have in your fridge? Tell us in the comments below.