Today I want to share with you how to organize your kitchen, pantry and fridge so that success is not just simple and convenient but visually enticing!
The right tools in the right places!
Each tool that you use on a daily and even mealtime basis should be kept close to the area where you prep your food. I suggest having the following all in one drawer, plastic container, or cupboard for quick and easy access:
- Paring knife
- Vegetable peeler
- Measuring cup
- Food Scale
- Snack size plastic bags
- Plastic 1 cup size reusable containers
You and I both know we are going to keep reaching into that bag of snacks or treats and eat well beyond an individual portion. Here's what I do: Repackage bulk snacks-say, raw almonds into baggies of 14 almonds. When you come home from food shopping take the time to divvy up food by serving sizes. Use plastic bags or storage containers to organize your food into the right portions. For example, a portion size of pretzel sticks is 10. Put 10 in a little bag and put them in the pantry at eye level. This makes it simple for grab and go snacking!!!
A recent Cornell University Study found that we consume 90 percent of our food mindlessly. We simply eat because it is placed in front of us or because we've placed it in front of ourselves. It's time to get conscious about what-and how much- we consume.
My suggestion is to open up your fridge and pantry. Then dump or donate anything that a well-tuned athlete wouldn't eat. If that box of lucky charms for your kids is constantly calling your name, ditch it. Stepping into your kitchen shouldn't be anxiety producing! Make it easier on yourself to make health choices by eliminating the temptation of poor choices.
Merchandise your food!
Food marketers play into our impulsive choices by paying millions of dollars every year to have name brand products placed on the right shelf at the right level. Why do you think all the sugary cereals are placed at your chest level on the shelves at the grocery store? It's because that happens to be the eye line of a child sitting in a shopping cart. Clever!!!
So now let's talk about placement!!! You can do this too with the same techniques in your pantry or fridge.
When we stand in front of the fridge, we tend to grab whatever food takes the least amount of time to prepare and that "looks good." The healthy stuff, like fresh produce, we hid in the drawer that's difficult to get to and even easier to forget! So when you get home I suggest that you unload your groceries, clean and display your fruit in clear plastic containers or bowls. Place berries and raw veggies at eye level. You can even buy pre cut veggies if you don't have time!!!
Arrange your greek yogurt near the berries and veggies. Store cottage cheese nearby as well. Place healthy whole foods at eye level near the front of the shelf.
When you are building muscle, hard-cooked egg whites are a great source of lean protein, and they're easy to prep so they're ready to go! Boil a dozen eggs on Sunday night, then peel and place them in a large storage bag. Now, all you have to do is remove the yolk, dice up your egg whites, dump some salsa in there and BAM! Or you can just eat your egg whites on the go whole!
Other fast protein sources to be stored at eye level include prepackaged tuna packets. Though they store well in the pantry, I keep them in the refrigerator. Who wants a warm tuna sandwich?
Now when you find yourself staring mindlessly into your fridge, you'll see the stuff you should be eating! It's washed, cut, enticing and ready to go!!
Replace this with that- Look in your refrigerator for regular staples. Now, do some soul searching and ask yourself if you're willing to try a healthier alternative. Do you make the kids PB&J every week? Would they notice if you picked up sugar free or low sugar jam or jelly? If you don't say anything...probably not! I love cheese but instead of buying a brick of it you can stock up on individually packaged string cheese! They are portion controlled and appropriately sized. I don't have the time to look at the packaging to figure out how many ounces is a single serving.
What about trying lower sugar or organic version of many of your regular condiments? Ketchup now comes in all natural with no high fructose corn syrup, dijon mustard you can buy with no added sugar. I substitute sour cream with greek yogurt quite often. I also never ever cook with butter! Instead I use cooking spray or olive oil in a spritzer bottle!
If you are not sure which brand or version is better choice wise then use an app like Fooducate which allows you to scan the bar codes of two products and do a side by side self comparison. Each item is given a grade based on its nutritional content, which makes it convenient for quick decisions.
Most of the healthiest foods will be perishable and stored in the refrigerator. Once you have that in order, it's time to tackle your pantry!
First, let's decide what you would go to the pantry instead of your fridge for! Well, often we go for carbs, something fast, something crunchy, something sweet.
That's fine, but let's create healthier temptations!
Those foods that are lower on the good for you hierarchy can go in the hard to reach spaces!!! Way up high where you would need a step stool!
I use the eye and chest level shelves to place the healthiest nonperishable items. Nothing bought in bulk ever stays in its original container. I open, repackage, and display those items in inexpensive containers like wicker baskets or square plastic storage bins. It keeps everything organized and makes choosing healthy so dummy proof that the foods almost jump into my hand.
So here is what you can find on my shelves:
- Brown Rice Unsalted rice cakes
- Unsalted Raw Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts
- Instant rolled Oats
- Protein Powder
- Canned Low Sodium black beans
- Canned low sodium diced tomatos
- Instant Brown Rice
- Dried Fruit such as craisins, raisins, cherries
- High quality protein bars
Lastly, put things where people know to look for them. I basically stock the same stuff all the time. I maintain a list and check off what i need. But there is no mystery. No one is opening the pantry and expecting a sudden influx of cookies or chips. Boring? YES!!!! Intentionally!!! You see, if you never knew what you might get when you opened the pantry, you'd go there first!!! I don't want my family to eat from the pantry. The pantry is where emergency foods live. Let's face it, with few exceptions, just about everything in your pantry is processed! The healthy stuff is in the fridge!!!
Good luck! Don't hesitate to message me for additional information or tips to help you get started with your own kitchen makeover!!!
Things to do right now to get started!!!
- Remove high fat, high sugar temptations from the kitchen.
- Survey the refrigerator for frequently consumed foods that can be swapped out by lower fat and reduced calorie alternatives.
- Stock up on small plastic food bags, snack containers, and clear plastic fruit bowls for display.
- Arrange prep tools in an easy to reach place. The fewer steps, the better!
- Spring clean your fridge, make room for the fresh stuff.
- Divide snacks into individual servings and arrange in the front and center of the pantry!