Trying hard to lose weight, but constantly losing the battle with fridge? One of the most effective ways to improve your diet is to give your refrigerator a "healthy makeover." The logic is that what you buy is what you see in the fridge, and what you see in the fridge is what you eat.
From physically cleaning the fridge, to swapping junk food groceries for nutritious alternatives, to healthy meal prepping, we've curated a list of our four best tips for a refrigerator makeover. Let's begin!
Step One: Clean the Thing!
This will serve two purposes. First, you’ll clean part of your kitchen that probably doesn’t get touched very often. Most people only deep-clean their fridge once or twice a year1. It’s easy to overlook – until you start getting a funky smell, which is a sure sign it’s been way too long.
The second purpose cleaning your fridge serves is that you’ll be forced to come face-to-face with what’s in your fridge currently. In the shuffle of life, leftover containers and half-finished condiments have a weird way of finding corners to live in while they turn into something nasty. As you take things out of the fridge, group like items together to make Step 2 easier.
Step Two: Purge Food from Your Shelves
Some parts of this will be pretty easy: Tupperware with fuzz inside? Obviously destined for the garbage! But there’s more to it than that. Be aggressive in ridding your fridge of foods that will only become a stumbling block to you, tripping you up in pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Go through this checklist and hold everything in your fridge against these standards:
- Is it expired, outdated, or old?
- How much sugar is in this food?
- How much sodium is in this food?
- How processed is this food?
- How much trans fat is in this food?
Going by this list, you’ll probably have to ditch a few condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, salad dressings). Processed cheeses and most sandwich meats won’t pass the test, either. If you haven’t already cut soda from your diet, now is the perfect time to do so!
310 Nutrition lemonade mixes make great, healthy alternatives to sugary sodas.
Step 3: Reorganize the Shelves
Once you’ve eliminated the junk food in your fridge, it’s time to put everything back – but in a different place. There’s some definite strategy in where you put what foods, and how you store them, that will make good choices easier for you. Here are some recommendations about what to put in each zone of your fridge:
Use these to “hide” foods you’re trying to limit, if you still have some around. It’s OK to keep splurge foods available for the occasional treat, but keeping them inaccessible will make it easier for you to limit how often you reach for them.
Utilize this freshly cleared space to store water bottles or healthy drinks to go, and possibly even healthy cold cuts. Use the bottom shelf to put cheese, milk, and dairy to keep you from using those ingredients too often.
3) Center shelves:
The heart of the fridge. This is where you want to put the foods you’re trying to eat more of, right within reach. Your fruits, veggies, and meats should go here, where you can easily access them.
Step 4: Restock Your Fridge
Depending on what your fridge looked like before, it might be pretty empty now that you’ve thrown away the junk. Take a trip to the store, and focus on buying fresh, nutritious superfoods.
Aside from that, let these bonus tips inspire you to further makeover your new, healthy fridge:
1) Pre-Prep Meals and Snacks:
Especially fruits and veggies, into snack-sized portions. You’re more likely to actually eat your carrots it they’re already cut and ready to go.
2) Create a “snack center” in the fridge:
A bin that specifically contains pre-portioned snacks. This is a great way to help kids make good choices, too!
3) If you enjoy protein shakes for breakfast:
You can freeze fresh fruit and veggie ingredients for individual shakes in freezer bags ahead of time to make it easier to get out the door in the morning.
4) It’s OK to have a few splurge items in your fridge:
Just don’t keep too many. And consider trading out your old treats for new, healthier alternatives as you go.
5) Don’t let your budget limit you:
Check out these five tips for eating healthy on a budget.
Feeling inspired to clean out your refrigerator? Let us know in the comments. Does having a "healthy fridge" help you make better food decisions? What are your favorite healthy alternatives to your favorite junk foods?