Stock Your Kitchen for Healthy Eating Success

This pretty smiling blonde is either putting away canned food or reaching for it in her kitchen cabinets. The food labels are dummies made by the photographer.

Spring is here! It’s time to open the windows, put away the winter coat and get outdoors. If you’re looking for a way to stay healthy or hop back on the wagon, make sure to clean out your cupboards! By removing unhealthy processed foods and including nutritious foods, you are setting yourself up for success. I like to say “It’s difficult to mindlessly eat a whole bag of chips at night if they’re not in the house.” Creating a healthy environment in the home is a crucial step in developing and maintaining healthy habits.

The fridge is home to our fresh foods and nutritious staples like fruits and veggies, eggs, whole grain bread, low-fat dairy and leftovers, but sometimes our schedules prevent us from going to the grocery store to restock. Keeping shelf-stable nutritious foods in your cupboards and freezer will allow you to make a healthy meal when the fridge is bare and takeout is tempting.

Before you stock up on the healthy stuff, remember to rid your cupboards, freezer and refrigerator of any expired items. If you’re unsure of how long to keep certain foods, check out this food storage chart from Foodsafety.gov. Then toss unhealthy items like year-old cake mix, frozen heat-and-eat meals (which are high in sodium and lacking nutrients), and foods you tend to overeat or eat mindlessly. Then, replace them with the following healthy standbys:

Freezer Favorites

  • Frozen veggies: Good for adding into soups, casseroles or as a part of dinner. Broccoli, carrots, green beans…the list goes on and on.
  • Frozen fruits: Great in yogurt for breakfast or as a sweet treat after dinner. Another perk of frozen fruit is that you can purchase fruits that aren’t always in season (mangoes, peaches and blueberries) for some variety!

Pantry Picks

  • Canned/dried beans: garbanzo, black, kidney and refried are an easy way to add protein to a salad or casserole.
  • Natural nut butter: Go with the tried and true PB&J for an easy lunch when the fridge is looking empty.
  • Heart healthy soups: A great meal in a pinch! Look for low sodium broth based soups with veggies, my favorites include chicken and wild rice and Mexican corn and black bean.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is always great for breakfast, but if you think outside the box, oats can be put in a food processor and used for a substitute for breadcrumbs in a recipe.
  • Whole grain pasta, brown rice: Choose 100% whole wheat and you will get you more vitamins, minerals and fiber than refined grains.
  • Dried fruit: Raisins, dates, figs and apricots make great snacks on the go, or go well on top of yogurt or cereal.

Elizabeth Bedell

Elizabeth Bedell Marino is a registered and licensed dietitian and the Coordinator for ProMedica Executive Health Program. For her full bio, please click here.

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