2017 Holiday Schedule
December 21, 2017

For Clean Eating, Start with a Fridge & Pantry Makeover

For clean eating, a little cleaning of the fridge and pantry is likely in order. Get rid of distractions that don’t serve your purpose. Toss the frozen burritos. Get rid of the candy and chips. Remove any foods that might be a temptation just waiting to sabotage your hard efforts in your weakest moments. The empty space will also leave you with extra room for other more nutritious foods.

Consider these guidelines when de-cluttering:

  • Throw away fresh foods that have expired (look for an expiration date) or that have noticeably gone bad (smells off or looks like a science experiment).
  • Get rid of frozen foods with freezer burn. If something has been in your freezer for 8-12 months, throw it out. It’s probably still safe to eat but the quality is likely not good.
  • For canned foods and spices, consider throwing out if you’ve not used them in the last 6-12 months. They may not have expired but if you are never going to use them, they are just taking up precious storage space.
  • If you have two or more of something, try to consolidate—especially if you somehow end up with two opened packages.
  • Wipe the shelves and drawers down once you’ve pulled everything out. In your pantry, it can be helpful to use a vacuum first to get the crumbs and then wipe down with a wet towel or scrubbie.

Once you’ve got a clean(er) fridge and pantry, start organizing. Decrease clutter to prevent food waste as well as unnecessary trips to the grocery store.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when organizing both your fridge and pantry:

1. Sort your foods

There is no wrong way to do this, just do what makes sense to you. Group the foods you use most often and place them in an easily accessible space. Group similar foods together—beverages on one shelf and dairy products on another. Place your condiments in the door storage space. For your pantry, group items by size, placing heavier items on the bottom shelves and lighter items on the top shelves.

2. Practice FIFO, “first in, first out”

Make sure you aren’t burying older items each time you come home with more groceries. When this happens, it’s often out of sight, out of mind. It’s not until the food goes bad and starts smelling rotten that you remember it’s in there. To avoid this, just make sure you do a little rearranging each time you do a grocery run. You can even put labels on things, especially home-baked foods, to help remind you of when things need to be used by.

3. Buy additional shelving

For things like canned goods and spices, there are shelves you can buy to make them easier to arrange. Though you don’t have to worry as much about the shelf life of these items, it’s good to keep them organized as it makes it easier to see how much you have on hand. If your storage space is limited, there is no need to keep five extra cans of white beans on hand—especially if you don’t use them often.

4. Attach a notepad

Keep a notepad and pen on your fridge or on the inside of your pantry door. This will make it easy for you to quickly jot down things you need from the store as soon as you think of them. Let too much time pass before writing it down and there’s a good chance you’ll forget.

If you are trying to better your eating habits, a little kitchen detox will have a big impact on your success. If your kitchen is a mess, it’s likely that your eating habits will follow suit. Whether you notice it or not, clutter and chaos in your environment can easily influence your internal state (leaving you to feel worn down) and often makes decision-making a challenge. By decluttering, you make the healthier choices more obvious. And, by removing temptations, you free up some of your mental energy as negative emotions like guilt and worry no longer consume you.