In many ways the refrigerator is the cornerstone of any healthy eating plan. How you stock that fridge can make a huge difference in the success or failure of any healthy eating plan.
From what foods it contains, to where it is stored, the refrigerator can be vitally important to healthy eating.
The first step should be to take stock of just what the refrigerator contains. The bachelors among us may already be familiar with this process, but taking stock of the fridge means more than just throwing away those foods that have begun to turn green or grow hair.
Taking stock of the contents of the fridge should mean a monthly review of everything it contains. During this review, separate the healthier foods from the others. It is important to make sure that you have more low fat, high fiber and low sugar foods than high fat low fiber and high sugar ones. If the ratio is off, try to shop for healthier foods.
Another great trick for keeping a healthy refrigerator is to hide the less healthy foods. Try hiding the desserts and other such foods in the crisper, where they will be out of sight and not constantly tempting you. Since fresh fruits and vegetables tend to dry out if they are not used right away, store them in plain sight to increase their likelihood of being eaten. Hiding cakes in the produce drawers, and prominently displaying the fruits and vegetables, is a smart way to keep a healthy fridge.
Another tip is to organize the refrigerator into different sections, and to segregate those sections into sometimes foods (unhealthy choices) and everyday foods (healthy choices). Try to place the healthier foods in the front of the refrigerator, while relegating the unhealthier choices to the back.
Substitution is another great strategy for creating a healthy fridge and a healthy lifestyle. There are low fat and nonfat versions of literally hundreds of different foods. Try substituting skim or 1% milk for whole milk, soft margarines for fattier butter, and low fat sour cream for the full fat varieties. Try replacing fattier meats with leaner ones, or with chicken and fish.
For those families with young children, it is important to involve the entire family in healthy eating lifestyles. The habits children learn in childhood often follow them throughout their adult lives, so it makes a lot of sense to get them off to a great start. Try decorating healthy foods with fun stickers, stars, or other colorful items.
Stickers and stars are not the only way to make healthy foods more appealing. Try storing healthy foods with attractive, delicious toppings to make them more interesting and appealing. Try storing a container of berries next to the low fat yogurt, or a bottle of chocolate syrup with the 1% milk. Mixing these foods together is a great way to create healthy snacks quickly.
Another key to creating a healthy refrigerator is to use leftovers wisely. Leftovers can be very useful, and healthy meals make healthy leftovers. Try using leftovers as lunches or as healthy snacks for the next day.
Ready to eat meals are a great way to encourage healthy eating. Try this handy trick - when you return from your weekly grocery shopping, take the time to create some quick single serving meals and stack them in the fridge. In addition, try making some quick snacks by cutting up fresh fruits and vegetables and storing them in single serving containers.
Using the freezer space in your refrigerator wisely is important as well. Freezing foods that won't be used right away is a great way to make your food dollar go further and to provide quick meals for your family. Try freezing foods in portion sizes. This will make it easier to eat healthier meals, and it will help ensure everyone gets their favorites. When looking at portion sizes, remember that the recommended serving size of meat is 3 ounces, roughly equivalent to the size of a deck of playing cards. The standard serving size for pasta is one cup, while a serving of vegetables is 1/2 cup.
The freezer can also be a great way to create fun fruit snacks for the entire family. Freezing healthy fruits like grapes, orange slices and bananas make great snacks for children and adults alike. See our article What Vegetables Can I Freeze?, and Freezer Storage Times for Frozen and Refridgerated Food.
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