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Building a Healthier Refrigerator that Works for You

By Gina Matsoukas »

The information provided herein is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as medical advice or to replace professional medical care. You should always seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any new medication or dietary supplement, as well as when starting new exercise regimens. The opinions stated herein are those solely of the writer who has been compensated by the up4® Probiotics Brand, and do not portray the opinions of the brand, i-Health, Inc., or DSM.

Gina Matsoukas is the talent behind the blog RunningtotheKitchen.com. It’s a recipe-focused site that lives somewhere in the crossroads of her love for food, her somewhat recent journey to health through food and her incredibly competitive spirit in the form of fitness.

We’re all on our own unique journey to wellness. Whether you’re just starting out and looking for a few simple ideas to jump-start your new healthy eating habits or a well-established health nut looking to up your game, these simple yet impactful tips for your refrigerator and pantry can help you along the way.

Clean it Out!

This step is probably the most cumbersome but also the most crucial. Spending a solid afternoon emptying the contents of your pantry and refrigerator can be eye-opening. From finding a few expired cans of who-knows-what shoved in the corner of a pantry shelf to coming to terms with how much packaged, processed food you really do eat. Be mindful of what goes back in those drawers and shelves and take your time restocking. Now is a great time to swap out white, processed foods with some more wholesome, whole-grain alternatives (shop the bulk bins—they’re more affordable and make buying different quantities of many different foods a lot easier) or, those high-fructose corn syrup laden condiments in your fridge door with some reduced-sugar food options like pickles, Dijon mustard and kimchi.

Prep Your Produce

Resist the urge to throw those cellophane bags full of greenery into your fridge drawers when you get home from the grocery store. Instead, grab the salad spinner and spend 10 minutes prepping. Having all your greens washed, chopped and ready to go makes that lunchtime salad a much more appealing option. Likewise, having fresh fruit cleaned and prepped makes you more likely to throw a few berries into your afternoon Greek yogurt snack rather than chocolate chips. If you want to go a step further you can even prep ingredients you know you’ll use throughout the week, like chopping onions for dinners, hard-boiling eggs for breakfast, cutting up sweet potato wedges for roasting, etc. While it’s not full on meal prep, these little shortcuts can help jump-start heathy meals throughout the week.

Have a Snack Plan

Snacks are the easiest and most common way we stray from healthy eating intentions. Variety and preparedness are two things that make the chances of choosing something healthful rather than reaching for a chocolate bar come 3 p.m. a lot higher. Fill your pantry with options like rice cakes (they make some great flavor options!), nut butters (look for ones without added sugar), dried fruits, jerky or even protein bars for a great grab-and-go option. For your refrigerator, have options like single serve Greek yogurt or cottage cheese containers, fresh fruit (that you’ve already prepped) and cheese sticks. Whatever you choose, focus on it being balanced across protein, carbohydrates and fats for the most satiety.

Rehome Indulgences

Rehoming doesn’t mean removing. I’m a firm believer that all healthy lifestyles should include treats from time to time. Giving those treats a new spot in your pantry and fridge, though, might be a trick worth implementing. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Try moving the treats you find most tempting from an eye level shelf to the highest one in the pantry.
When it’s not front and center, chances are you’ll choose it a little less frequently. While there are a lot of moving components to wellness and we each have our own set of individual goals, food will always be one of the major tenets on our personal journeys. Making good choices for your refrigerator and pantry is a bit easier when you remember these four tips.