Organize Your Kitchen For Healthy Eating

By Andrea Cespedes, PT, Yoga Instructor, Chef

A pledge to focus on healthy eating will do you no good if you still have cheese curls and chocolate chip cookies calling to you from your pantry. Sound familiar?

You organize your desk and your closet to make yourself more efficient. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your kitchen? Purge and revise the organization of the fridge and cupboards to inspire healthy eating not only for you, but for your family, too.

Out with the Old…

Any guide to healthy eating will tell you to clean out your pantry first. Check the packages and ditch ones that have ingredient lists with words you can’t pronounce. Snack mixes, chips, refined crackers, cereal bars, cookies, sugary cereal and candy are a few offenders. If you’re loathe to waste, donate unopened packages to a food pantry.

Remember, no matter how strong you think you are – if the food’s there, you’re likely to eat it. Excuses may come up as you cull – “the kids or my spouse need these foods, so I can’t get rid of them.” Your family doesn’t need unhealthy food, but if you just can’t part with the chips and cookies – send ‘em off to a high cupboard that’s out of sight so you aren’t tempted every time you cook or look for a snack. Follow up with a fridge and freezer cleanse. The ice cream, frozen chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, sandwich pockets and processed meats should go.

…In with the New

Stock up with healthy ingredients. The basics, such as eggs, olive oil, milk, plain yogurt, canned beans, whole grains, vinegar, canned tomatoes and fresh, unprocessed meat and seafood, should be replenished first. Purchase fresh vegetables and fruits weekly. A guide to healthy eating also means you prep these foods for easy use during the week. Chop produce and put in clear containers so it’s ready for snacking or cooking. Place bulk grains into sturdy containers.

Put it Away

Designate a shelf in your fridge for each type of food so it’s easy to locate. For example, milk, cheese and yogurt on one shelf, pre-chopped fruits and vegetables in a drawer or shelf, meats, eggs and seafood on a third shelf. For a quick, healthy meal you need only grab one item from two or three shelves and put it together. Keep healthy condiments, such as mustard and whole-fruit spreads in the door. Arrange your pantry the same way. Reserve a shelf each for whole grains, canned beans, flavorings such as light coconut milk or canned tomatoes and snacks. Snack foods could include unsalted nuts, whole-wheat crackers and dried fruit.

Pack at the Back, Put Healthy at the Front

After a shopping trip, put the items you just bought to the back of the fridge or pantry so you avoid forgetting about the items you already have. This prevents you from wasting food due to spoilage. Keep healthy options, such as fruit and yogurt, on a shelf that’s at eye level – so you don’t have to scramble through temptation to get a healthy item.

When your pantry is organized, you don’t need a complex guide to healthy eating to navigate your kitchen. The best choices are easier to make when the good stuff is front and center.

Andrea Cespedes has more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and yoga teacher, with certifications from the American Council on Exercise and Lifepower Yoga. She also holds a certificate in the culinary arts from the Institute of Culinary Education and degrees from Princeton and Columbia Universities. For more from Andrea, check out her blog at She writes regularly for where this article originally appeared.

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