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How to Organize Your Kitchen and Pantry So You Don't Eat Junk

Make a few small tweaks and your waistline and your budget will feel the difference. 

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Photography by: Annie Schlechter

Just like buying property, how you stock and organize your fridge and pantry boils down to location, location, location! Whether you have stored your cookies in the back of the pantry to avoid seeing them when you open up the closet or you have all of your veggies down low because that's where you think they are supposed to go, making a few small tweaks in how your organize this part of your kitchen can make a difference on both your waistline and your budget!

Keep your fridge and pantry tidy

When you're tired and hungry and walk up to a fridge that's a mess, it can be overwhelming to even think about a healthy meal -- so you might resort to your go-to quick and easy and less nutritious options that you have on stand by, or even the takeout menu. Keep your fridge and pantry organized and clean--toss out expired or old foods on a weekly basis and clean up spills or residues once a month. When you restock your fridge, make sure the healthiest choices are front and center.

 

 

(KEEP: your pantry fully stocked, here's how)

Make single serve packages -- at home

Single serving packages are convenient, but they're also about 10% more expensive than the bulk versions -- and they have much more wasteful packaging. But eating directly out of the bag can be a big problem: because we can't see how much we're physically eating, our brains don't register it either--so we keep reaching for more. Single serving packets solve that problem, as they're not endless or bottomless. Buy bulk at the store, but divvy the portions up when you get home into respectable portions -- and then keep those front and center on your pantry shelves. Even if you are not buying bulk, check out the servings indicated on the packaging. Making a snack last for 7 days will cover you for the week vs. finishing it all by Wednesday!

 

(TRY: these healthy snacks)

Choose the right containers

If you're more likely to choose the first thing you see, how will you ever eat your healthy leftovers? Store them in glass containers as opposed to opaque plastic ones. If you have the space, you can also portion out lunch and dinner-sized servings so that you can just grab a container, heat it up, and eat! Use this tip to your advantage with less healthy items, too -- store leftover cake or those mashed potatoes you can't resist in opaque containers, and you may be less likely to choose them.

Store fresh fruits and veggies at eye level

The crispers might be meant for produce, but it's easy to forget about all those fresh vegetables and herbs when they're stored away. Keep them right at eye level -- studies show that keeping produce easily accessible and within view can increase vegetable consumption by up to one cup per day. Another study from Cornell University found that you're three times more likely to eat the first thing you see than the fifth. Plus, you'll save money by not letting those veggies go to waste!

Don't forget the freezer

Sure, your freezer can hold things like ice cream, nuggets, or frozen pizzas all of which can be enjoyed in moderation. It can also be a gold mine of healthy, convenient foods like individually wrapped packets of fish and frozen veggies that can be cooked in a flash. If you're a fan of batch cooking but get bored of the same thing five nights in a row, stash a few tupperwares of soups, stews, and other freezable dinners so that you can eat your batch-cooked food throughout the month and not all at once. You can also use your freezer to stash produce that's just about to go bad -- when you're ready, use it in soups, stocks, or smoothies.

 

(GET: Our favorite healthy smoothie recipes)

Don't eat your children's snacks

You've stocked your freezer and pantry with quick meals and snacks for your children for when they're fussy or in a rush to get to soccer practice. It can be tempting to reach for those same snacks -- they're super convenient, and they're just fun! But those snacks can be higher in certain nutrients that your growing child needs and you don't -- so leave them to the kids. Block off a portion of the freezer, fridge or pantry that's just for the kids' snacks -- perhaps choose the bottom of the freezer so that it's accessible to your children and not directly in your line of sight.

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