I admit, I am not an ultra-organized person. I try to be, but it's just not one of my strengths. However, I have learned that if I keep my kitchen organized a certain way, I am more likely to make healthy choices. So even if everything in my house isn't perfectly organized, I do try to keep my kitchen in order by following these simple tips.
- Follow FIFO. If you follow the first in, first out (FIFO) method, your fridge, freezer and pantry will stay much more organized and you won't end up wasting food because you forget about it and it goes bad. Here's how to do it: Whenever you bring a new bag of groceries home, pull all the older foods to the front of the freezer, fridge, or pantry and put the new ones in the back. For example, if I buy new yogurt but still have some I haven't finished yet, I put the new yogurt behind it. That way, I am sure to eat the rest of the yogurt I already had before opening the new one. This saves me money because it prevents waste, which motivates me to keep buying healthy foods.
- Be Clear. We all know if we go ahead and chop those fresh fruits and veggies as soon as we get home from the grocery store, it will make it easier for us to eat them all week. But, if we can't see them in the fridge, it's likely we'll forget about them. That's why I like the advice that celebrity trainer Kathy Kaehler gave in SELF's February issue -- store chopped fruits and veggies in clear plastic containers so that you can find them easily in the fridge and so they look more appetizing. I would also add that putting them on the shelf that is most eye-level for you can help remind you to eat them.
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind. We've all heard that line before, and it's definitely true. That's why I keep treats in the top shelf of my pantry or out of the kitchen altogether. I keep some candy on the top shelf in my laundry room -- that way I see it less often, and I have to go out of the kitchen to get it, which makes me really have time to evaluate if I really want it or not. I have also been known to keep candy in the freezer. When I do that, I just set out the right-sized portion of candy on the counter to thaw about a hour before I eat it. This way it prevents mindless eating of seconds and thirds. The opposite is also true for out of sight, out of mind. Make sure that the things you want to eat more often are in sight and easy to reach. I always keep a bowl of fresh fruit (like apples, bananas, or pears) out on my counter so that's the first thing I grab when I want a quick snack.
- Stay Balanced. Reserve each shelf or drawer in your fridge for a different food group. For example, keep low-fat milk, yogurts and cheeses on the top shelf, your freshly-chopped fruits and veggies in their clear containers on the middle shelf, and lean meats, seafood, and other proteins on the bottom shelf. Store whole-grain foods in the pantry. When it comes time to throwing a quick meal together in a hurry, just choose one item from the top shelf, two items from the middle shelf, one item from the bottom shelf, and one item from the pantry. To throw a healthy snack together in seconds, choose one item from the middle shelf (a fruit or veggie) and one item from any other spot (e.g., a piece of low-fat string cheese). Keeping things organized this way makes putting together balanced meals and snacks a breeze!
It's worth it to spend a little time organizing your kitchen. You will be surprised how much easier it is to eat healthy (and save money and time) when you do!
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