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Ever opened the refrigerator to see tons of food, but still have no idea what to eat? A mishmash of options can feel overwhelming—sometimes to the point where it might just seem easier to order takeout.
Fridge organization makes healthy eating simpler, which can ultimately make it easier to lose weight. Just look at Khloe Kardashian: The celeb’s recent YouTube videos showing off her newly organized refrigerator, freezer and pantry have gone viral.
Experts agree that Kardashian’s move is a smart one. “Having a stocked and organized fridge can help you stay on track with consistent meals and inspire you to meal prep or use meal-prepped items,” explains McKel Hill, registered dietitian and founder of Nutrition Stripped. “And if you have things easy to reach, you’ll be more likely to consume them.”
In short? Keeping your fridge neat, tidy, and filled with prepped-and-ready fare helps you know exactly what you have and gives you fast, healthy options whenever hunger strikes—which can help you make smarter food choices overall. Here’s a look at how Hill keeps her fridge stocked and organized and how you can do the same.
Soaking up this sunshine and beautiful spring weather today Windows open, hibiscus herbal infusion brewing, meal prep done, and now it’s all about ~ chill ~ time. What are you up to today?! Sending you lots of love and energy to do the things that make you feel taken care of today!???????? #home #rest #selfcare #nutritionstripped
A post shared by by McKel Kooienga, MS, RD, LDN (@nutritionstripped) on Mar 10, 2019 at 12:16pm PDT
Start with a clean slate.
The first step to fridge organization is taking everything out. Go through what you have and get rid of anything that’s expired (hello, year-old jar of pickles!) or looks or smells funky (we’re looking at you, moldy yogurt).
Then once the fridge is totally empty, use a little bit of elbow grease to make those bins and shelves sparkle. “Literally take everything out and clean it with a natural cleaner that’s effective,” Hill says. (Try Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Cleaner or The Honest Company Multi-Surface Cleaner.) “And use alcohol wipes on the handles or things you touch routinely.” It’ll take a little bit of time, sure. But the satisfaction of not seeing rogue cheese shreds or stuck-on bits of jam will be so worth it.
Stock up on good-for-you foods.
Now that your fridge is both spotless and empty, it’s time to start thinking about what to put back in. “Choose items that support your health goals,” Hill recommends. Think fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, flavorful condiments (like mustard, miso paste and low-sodium soy sauce), nuts and seeds (they’ll stay fresh longer in the fridge than in the pantry), and all-natural low- or no-calorie drinks like sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea.
Prep before you put away.
Just having a bunch of kale or chicken breasts in your fridge doesn’t guarantee they’ll actually get eaten. Instead of tossing raw ingredients straight into your fridge, prep them when you bring them home so they’re ready to go later, Hill suggests. Not only does having food ready to go make it easier to eat healthier, it can help you avoid waste and spend less on groceries. Some ideas:
- Wash, chop and dry veggies for fast salads, stir-fries or soups.
- Wash and dry fruit for easy snacking.
- Whip up a few meals or meal components. Make a batch of chia pudding for breakfast, cook up a pot of quinoa for fast grain bowls, or sauté chicken breasts with peppers to use as a filling for tacos.
Unless you’re able to recount everything in your fridge from memory (and if you are, go you!) packing food in clear storage containers is key for reminding you what’s in stock. “Sometimes people put things in there and forget about them, so having glass containers is a great way to reveal what you already have,” Hill says
Glass vessels with snap-on lids are sturdy, leak- and spill-proof, and of course, they just look pretty. Stock up on containers in a range of sizes—smaller ones are great for individual servings, while bigger ones work better for large batches. (Try Bayco’s 24-piece set.)
Store similar foods together rather than tossing items in the fridge willy-nilly. (For instance, keep veggies in one area, sauces and condiments in another, drinks in another, and so on.) “This helps you be more efficient in grabbing things on the go or gathering the ingredients you need for mealtime,” Hill says. Where you put different food groups isn’t as important—if the system works for you, it works! Just make an effort to keep healthier food front and center. “It’ll help remind you of your goal to eat more of them,” says Hill. Got stuff you want to eat a little less often, like leftover pizza or dessert? Stick it towards the back so it doesn’t tempt you every time you open the fridge.
Just like closets and catch-all drawers, organized fridges don’t stay that way for long without some occasional upkeep. Do weekly clean-outs to use up, compost, or toss any items that have been sitting around for a while. And once a month or so, take everything out to give the shelves and bins a thorough wipe-down.
Need more meal prep inspiration? Check out these delicious low-carb ideas.