Healthy Refrigerator Guide

How to Arrange Your Fridge for Weight Loss and Wellness

Whether you're seeking to lose weight or simply eat healthier, it's important to stock your fridge with the right essentials. But before you do that, you'll want to assess everything that's currently in your fridge. Follow these tips to reorganize and restock your refrigerator to set you up for success.

What Is a Healthy Refrigerator?

healthy refrigerator

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A well-stocked refrigerator helps you to make the best food choices for both weight loss and wellness. It is a fridge that is clean, organized, and puts fresh, nutritious foods front and center. A complete refrigerator makeover is easy to do. First, you'll give the fridge a thorough cleaning, then shop for healthy foods to fill it up.

Refrigerator Makeover Supplies

  • Paper towels or cleaning rags
  • Cleaning solution or plain hot water works
  • Sturdy trash can
  • Container for recyclables
  • Optional: Stackable, single-serving resealable containers; refillable water bottles

Step One: Remove and Sort Food

You'll start the cleaning process by removing all refrigerator foods. Once the entire fridge is empty, evaluate each item and decide if it supports or sabotages your weight loss plan. Many people who are trying to lose weight may compost or throw away foods that are high in fat and sugar.

  • Condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, or barbecue sauce
  • Commercial salad dressing 
  • Sodas and sweetened teas
  • Juice products 
  • Processed jams and jellies
  • Margarine or other spreads that contain trans fat
  • Convenience or processed meat products
  • Cheese spreads or cheese food products

Of course, any outdated or expired food should be thrown away as well. And those leftovers from last week? Toss those, too. The key is to make as much space as possible for healthy, whole, unprocessed foods.

Step Two: Clean and Scrub

Now that your refrigerator has been emptied out, take a few minutes to wipe down all surfaces. Remove the shelves and racks, scrape off any food residue and rinse under hot water. Take out the refrigerator drawers, too. Wipe down the inner and outer surfaces and even clean the refrigerator surfaces where the drawers sit. Wipe down each interior wall of the refrigerator, including the back. Once each surface is washed, re-assemble your new clean fridge.

A clean refrigerator will make healthy, fresh foods look more appealing. You'll find that it's easier to enjoy healthy, nutrient-dense foods when they are displayed nicely and when they are easy to find and grab when you're on the go. 

Step Three: Arrange Your Fridge

Now that the cleaning process is complete, it's time to organize your refrigerator with healthy food. But you're going to organize your food differently than before to make sure that diet-friendly choices are alway easy to find. Use this guide to organize your fridge, but make adjustments as needed to keep the entire space tidy.

  • Bottom refrigerator drawers. Even though these drawers are usually labeled for fresh produce or meats, you don't want to hide your healthiest food in a place where it's harder to see. Instead, fill these compartments with diet sodas (if you choose to drink them) or other drinks that you want to consume less often, like wine or beer.
  • Side refrigerator doors. Use the refrigerator doors to hold healthier drink options. Fill plastic bottles with water in the morning and chill them on these shelves throughout the day so you always have a cold, healthy drink ready to go. You can even make flavored water to help curb your snack cravings. These shelves can also be used to hold fresh herbs and cold cuts like turkey or lean roast beef. Reserve the lower sections of the door for dairy products that you eat less often like milk and cheese.
  • Center shelves. The most important part of an organized refrigerator is the center shelf area. This is where you display your healthiest food. If you've prepared healthy single-serving snack packs, stack those neatly at the front of the center shelf so that you see them right away when you open the refrigerator door. Keep plenty of single-serving protein snacks in this area. Put whole, fresh produce and lean meats next to these containers. 

Every appliance is built differently. Organize your refrigerator in a way that makes sense with its design. Just be sure that the healthiest foods are the first thing you see when you open the door. Keep indulgent foods tucked away in less convenient compartments.

Step Four: Healthy Foods to Have in Your Fridge

When your refrigerator is clean and organized, it's easier to see which healthy foods you need to buy when you go shopping. It's also less likely that you'll waste money on groceries that you already have. 

Tip: Keep a dry erase board on or near the outside of your refrigerator. Use it only for your grocery list (so it stays tidy, too!) As you run out of your favorite healthy foods like berries, crunchy snacking vegetables, and lean meat, add them to your list. When it's time to go shopping, snap a photo of the list with your smartphone and take it with you to the store, or keep a digital list in your notepad on your phone. 

Step Five: Maintain Your Healthy Refrigerator

Now that your fridge is clean and organized, try to keep it that way to help keep your meal planning healthy and efficient. Take five minutes each week to scan each section of the refrigerator and toss or compost any items that have gone bad. Then reorganize items that are left to make sure your healthy items stay front and center. Many people do this as part of their weekly healthy meal planning process before they go grocery shopping.

If your refrigerator starts to fill up, skip your weekly trip to the grocery store. Instead, eat the healthy foods you already have. Get creative. Use low-fat recipes and ​healthy meal ideas to keep your budget on track and your healthy diet in place.

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