You’ve committed to creating a healthier lifestyle, there’s no turning back and nothing is going to get in the way this time around. You know what you have to do. It’s just going to be a case of eating less and moving more – right? If only it were that easy!
The truth is we all pretty much know what we should be doing. It’s getting to the point of action and maintaining the change that can be the biggest challenge. It’s often our environment that sabotages our efforts.
When achieving a healthy lifestyle is your goal – creating a supportive environment makes healthy eating easier so it’s one of the most important things you can do to ensure success. What better place to begin than your kitchen? Now, this isn’t an instruction on how to become the world’s best chef – just some simple tips to help you get organised, declutter and enjoy the journey.
How are these looking? If the scene is one of half empty packages and zones that can’t be accessed easily – it’s time to get sorted. Begin by considering storage options. Transparent and eye level for the foods you want to see so you know when to restock. Opaque and on the highest shelf or packed out of sight for any treats or temptations you are hoping to resist. Better still, don’t have these items around for a while. If they are “family favourites”, make these weekend treats that are enjoyed outside of the house. It’s so much easier not to have them in reach than expect yourself to have the will power to resist even if they are out of the way.
Forward planning of meals predicts weight loss success, so this is where the fridge and the freezer come in. Again if the first step is to clean and clear out – then do it today! You’ll feel so much more motivated when you replace those old freezer leftovers and past “use by” sauces with healthier choices.
Did you know it’s possible to prep meals for a week in just one day? Sunday is a great day to set aside some time for menu planning and meal prep in advance. An organised Sunday can prevent Thursday or Friday becoming takeaway days. Making multiple serves means you’ll have extra left for lunches or to freeze for later.
When you are considering storage options, consider your shelf arrangements. Most of the time there will be some flexibility here whether it’s the pantry, cupboards, fridge or freezer - so make these spaces work for you by altering the shelf heights to suit your containers or vice versa. If you are purchasing storage containers, look for sets that stack if space is of a premium. Labels are helpful to let you know how long foods have been stored or to identify foods no longer in their packaging. Storing serving spoons of particular serve sizes in their appropriate containers is another way to help with portion control.
It doesn’t matter whether you are thinking family friendly freezer meals, fridge-fresh mason jars or Buddha bowls for one, creating meals ahead can be fun if you have the right tools for the job.
This step may take an “out with the old" approach to that cluttered utensil drawer. If you are wondering where your money may be best invested here – think sharp knives and some decent chopping boards. Healthy eating will mean you are chopping and dicing fresh vegies and fruit a lot more often as well as pre prepping other meal components so these two items are truly essential. To save fingers, it’s best to store knives on a magnetic strip or in a block separate to the main utensil drawer.
Taking a simple approach to other necessary utensils will mean you don’t end up fighting old keepsakes to get what you want at the back of the drawer. You only need one of most utensils so keep the best, ditch the rest and replace where needed.
No need to go spending randomly, but if you identify something that is going to be a life changer – to organise those spice jars or pot lids, go for it!
When it comes to appliances – think healthy and easy clean. Digital benchtop scales, a good blender or bullet and, if you are feeling adventurous, a basic spiralizer are useful additions to have on hand and support increased fruit and vegetable intake.
This is the really fun part – where you get to add any finishing touches that make the kitchen a space you want to be in. This might include having a lovely bowl for fresh fruit, a chalk board for your menu and shopping list, adding in some containers with your favourite fresh herbs, displaying your often used cookbooks or if books are not your speed, setting up a kitchen designated tablet.
Even with the best laid plans, some weeks things don’t go according to plan. For these times it’s great to have some basics to fall back on. To best gauge what these items are for you, review your “go to” recipes or family favourites and look for the essential, most used or overlapping ingredients. These are staple items that you can always fall back on. These can include frozen veg, pre prepped or ready meals, soups, pre packed salads, eggs, canned tuna, salmon, legumes or veg and commonly used condiments and fresh or dried herbs and spices.
Healthy eating in a chaotic kitchen is not going to be easy. Getting organised will take some time and effort but the end result will make the space seem far more welcoming, and the job more effortless. Following some of the tips will make your kitchen into a place that helps you to not only enjoy delicious meals, but also achieve a healthy weight along the way.
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