This blog post was done in collaboration with The Pop Home, the original version of the post can be found here!
We are well into 2021 and many people have found themselves renewing their New Year’s health resolutions – whether they are reviving their original or revamping with practicality in mind.
Maryann Walsh, Registered Dietitian, explained that many people lose sight of their healthy eating goals because they overcomplicate things in the kitchen and grow frustrated, so they fall back to their old trends.
Maryann says, “Like so many other aspects of life, nutrition is one that truly thrives on having a plan and staying organized. By keeping some staples in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry, healthy weeknight meals can be thrown together quickly. This means less stress and less ordering take out!”
The POP Home has teamed up with Maryann to give you a list of the best foods to keep in your kitchen for nutrition success and practical tips on how to keep them organized to help you maintain your healthy eating habits.
Brown Rice and Quinoa - Nutritious grains that have a long shelf life.
Canned Tuna and Salmon - Quick and easy lean protein sources that are perfect for sandwiches and salads.
Whole Wheat Pasta and Chickpea Pasta - Prepared quickly and mixed with protein and vegetables or your favorite marinara sauce.
Canned Beans - Black beans and kidney beans are a great source of plant protein, perfect as a side dish or to add to salads and soups.
Almond Milk – Keep a carton of shelf stable almond milk in your pantry to use in coffee and cereal, eliminating the risk of running out.
Oats - A staple for a hearty breakfast or a healthy treat.
When organizing your pantry, the goal for making healthy choices is to keep the foods that you want to grab most often front and center. If you store the potato chips at eye level, you’ll find yourself more likely grabbing them when you’re hungry.
Decanting and labeling your rice, pasta and oats allows you to see these pantry staples. Check out this blog which breaks down what needs to be decanted and what does not.
When you are storing items in your pantry, it is key to keep items contained, labeled, and pulled to the front of your shelves. Keep similar items together. For simplicity and practicality, you should organize pantry shelves to include items grouped together by meal or category. For instance, create a shelf for dinner prep, which would contain pastas, grains, beans.
If you decant items in airtight containers, such as OXO Good Grips or this less expensive option , keep the containers pulled to the front and only allow extras of that item to be placed behind the container for refills when necessary.
Items like pouches, such as the rice suggested by Maryann, should be contained together in a pantry bin. Keeping items contained prevents chaos within a pantry, as it maintains boundaries for where items belong. When not contained, items will inevitably make their way to the back of the pantry and be forgotten.
A divided lazy Susan is a great option for creating a go-to snack section in your pantry. By filling with your favorite healthy prepackaged snacks, you can spin to find a quick option on the go.
Buy Pre-Cut Veggies: Keeping pre-cut or cutting your veggies and putting into plastic containers will make you more likely to use them throughout the week in a stir-fry or a salad or sautéed as a side dish, opposed to buying them and just letting them go bad.
Steam-In-Bag Veggies: A great choice for busy weeknights. After a few minutes in the microwave, simply season to taste and you have a nutritious side dish.
Cold-Cuts and Cheeses: When paired with pre-cut bagged lettuce or veggies, you have a quick lunch, packed with protein.
When you purchase cold cuts, freeze half to avoid having them go bad in the refrigerator before you get a chance to use them.
Like the pantry, items in the fridge are better organized when contained. However, I believe that the clamshell packaging that most berries, grapes, and lettuces come in are the best product for fridge organization and storage.
These clamshells have vents, you can wash the fruits and keep them in the original packaging. With the clamshell lid still intact, they easily stack on top of one another which maximizes vertical space.
If you purchase produce with the intention of cooking it and you don’t get around to it – freeze the produce before it goes bad. With the exception of iceberg lettuce, I have found that anything can be frozen and added to smoothies, roasted, or air fried at a later date.
You can prolong the life of your leafy blends by placing a dry paper towel in the packaging with them to absorb moisture.
A lazy Susan in the fridge is great for keeping condiments and nut butters up front and easy to find.
Store the items that you want to be more inclined to eat right up front and at eye level. If you can’t see it, you likely will not eat it.
Chicken Breasts: Pre-portioned and individually wrapped options are easy to thaw and cook quickly.
Frozen Shrimp: Whether precooked or raw, shrimp is a lean protein source that can be easily utilized for stir-fry dishes, salads and warm-weather favorites like ceviche.
Frozen Proteins: Proteins like crab cakes and chicken tenders can be an easy way to add protein and flavor to salads on a busy weeknight.
Frozen Veggies: Frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh, they last for months and are convenient.
Frozen Berries: Frozen berries are versatile, they can be used in smoothies, on top of yogurt or heated in the microwave to make a syrup for pancakes or waffles.
Freezer organization can differ between drawer freezers or upright freezers; however, the same principles are necessary for organization. Create zones in your freezer to ensure that you can easily reach for what you need, when you need it.
Typical zones I create in clients’ freezers are:
- Frozen Meals
- Kids (if this applies)
If you have a drawer freezer, you can create separate zones in the drawers and keep the items that you use to create meals together. For instance, produce and proteins on one pullout drawer, frozen meals and kids’ items together, and breakfast items.
If you have an upright freezer, store the items you want to grab the most at eye level. Utilizing freezer bins to separate items by category will keep them organized. Freezer bins within your freezer allow you to pull the bins out as if they are drawers. This will also prevent items from stacking on top of one another and getting lost in the back.
If your goal is to create an organized kitchen that will enable you to make quick and healthy choices, remember to contain, label, and pull items to the front of your spaces.
The POP Home is here to help! If you need help creating an organized kitchen, contact us today!