New Years Kitchen Clean-Out

Man Cleaning Fridge

Ok, its January 1st and you’ve set your health goals for the year:  eat healthy, exercise more, save more money, etc. One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to prime your environment.  (ie. remove all temptations) The less temptations in your environment, the easier it is to make good choices without having to use will power or self control.  My favorite way to do this is what I call the “pantry purge”. This is exactly what it sounds like: clean out all the junk food from your pantry and refrigerator and replace with healthy options.  

What to throw out from the Pantry:

  • All JUNK food!  This includes (but not limited to) chips, cookies, pretzels, candy, basically anything sugary, processed and unhealthy.  This also includes sneaky item like candied nuts, ‘health’ bars (hint these are usually just glorified candy bars).

  • Boxed items like mac ‘n cheese, soups, pastas, etc.  If you’re not sure, flip the item over and read the back list of ingredients.  If you can't pronounce an ingredient, it has a long list of ingredients or lots of added sugar, ditch it!  Remember sugar can be hidden in the ingredients as any number of names like maltodextrin, brown rice syrup, beet sugar, sucralose and many more!

  • Any expired items.  Even canned things like chicken stock, beans, etc.  No point in risking foodborne illness when you are on the path to optimal health!

  • Remember:  If you feel bad about ‘wasting’ unopened food items, you can always donate those items to your local food bank!  

What to toss from the Fridge/Freezer:

  • Any bottled salad dressings, sauces or condiments that have added sugar, preservatives, etc.

  • Processed meats (especially those containing nitrates, nitrites and other preservatives.

  • Soda, alcohol, energy drinks and other unhealthy beverages

  • Any dessert items like flavored syrups, whipped topping, etc.

  • Fruit juices, jams and jellies. YES, even so called healthy juice can be loaded with extra sugar that you don’t need!  

  • And of course, anything moldy, spoiled or rotten.  Eww!

Restock Your Kitchen

Now that you’ve cleared out all the unhealthy items, it’s time to restock your kitchen with healthy foods to set you up for success this year!  The more convenient the healthy food is, the more likely you’ll be to make better choices. Restock the pantry with great meal starters like:

  • Fresh beans and lentils (dried or canned without preservatives)  canned water-packed tuna, salmon or sardines,

  • Seaweed sheets and snacks

  • Organic low sodium chicken, beef or vegetable stock

  • Raw unsalted nuts like walnuts, almonds and pistachios

Restock the fridge/freezer with:

  • Fresh vegetables and salad greens

  • Fresh fruits like blueberries, strawberries, lemons, apples, oranges, and other seasonal items

  • Frozen vegetables and fruits (these are great to always have on hand for last minute meal ideas, not to mention saving more money)

  • Fresh organic eggs and lean protein like fish, turkey, chicken, beef

  • Frozen meats such as chicken breast, seafood, ground beef

  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha

  • Healthy condiments like liquid aminos, rice vinegar, dijon mustard

 

Quick Tip:  After you buy fresh fruits and vegetables, clean, cut and pre-portion them immediately once you get home and unload them from the bags.  This way they are ready to eat conveniently when you are hungry and reaching for something fast!

Summary:

  1. Replace junk food items with healthy snack alternatives like nuts, fruits, veggies, etc.

  2. Prep as much as possible in advance and pre-portion out individual snacks and meals to grab-and-go.

  3. Shop often to restock your kitchen with the right foods, so you never run out of healthy options.

If your fridge and pantry are stocked with lots of healthy foods, then you’ll always be able to eat right and feel good.  No more post-snack binge guilt trips! Not to mention you’ll see the benefits in your energy levels, your bank account and your overall health.