healthy food

One tip for healthy eating: Prepare fruits and veggies immediately after purchase.

When it comes to healthy eating, having organization in our kitchen is an essential component for success. For the most part, everything in our kitchen has a place: cups go here, cereal is on this shelf, the condiments are on the door of the fridge. But a truly organized kitchen is so much more. An organized kitchen can save time, money, and our sanity, and make healthy eating a new habit and not a chore.

Declutter. This might seem obvious, but it’s probably the most important. Go through all of your cabinets, drawers and pantry and get rid of items you don’t use or that are expired. Donate old appliances, Tupperware, and/or non-perishable foods that you know you won’t eat or that don’t fit in your healthy eating plan.

Create zones in your kitchen. Make sure everything in your kitchen has a designated place that makes sense to you and your routine in the kitchen. For example, store spices next to the stove, group all your baking supplies together, keep items you use daily in the most convenient spot to grab. This will make your time in the kitchen more efficient.

Invest in storage and organization containers. Use air-tight containers for foods you might not go through as quickly or always have in your pantry. For instance, use these containers for brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oats and flour. This will also make it easier to see when you’re running low. Try to use containers that fit or stack well together, too. Use clear bins in your fridge or freezer to group like items together, such as bags of frozen veggies or the items you always use to make sandwiches.

Prep your fruits and veggies immediately after you purchase them. Instead of throwing out an untouched head of broccoli a week or two after you bought it, clean it and cut it up the same day you bring it home. Rinse and put your grapes in a bowl. Cut up the melon or pineapple you bought. Once you’ve cut your fruits and veggies, put them in a clear container in the front of your fridge so they’re not completely out of sight and out of mind. Now, they will be just as convenient to snack on as a bag of chips.

Create a station for meal planning. Have a place in your kitchen where you can easily plan meals for the week ahead. Keep all of your go-to recipes, newspaper circulars, and coupons together so you can easily prepare your list of ingredients to purchase and where may be the best place to buy them. Keep a dry erase board in your kitchen where you can write out what meals you’re having that week, as well as for an ongoing grocery list. Give yourself plenty of options in case you’re not in the mood for Wednesday night’s meal when the day comes.

Erica Hall, an ACE Certified Health Coach, is a Wellness Coach at UnityPoint Health-Trinity.

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