In an ideal world, opening up your refrigerator should be a source of healthy pride. After all, the cool temps and low humidity found inside those heavy doors serves as the optimal environment for most fresh foods – aka the foods which should compose the majority of your diet! And yet, all too often, the refrigerator becomes little more than a graveyard for leftovers and ambiguous produce, causing a sense of emptiness when you open it up and wonder, yet again, “is there anything to actually eat in here?”
Because I work professionally with food entirely out of my home kitchen, it’s imperative I keep my shelves in tip-top order at all times. So, along the way, I’ve definitely learned a few tricks as to not only keep my shelves in shape, but also ensure that I’m well-stocked with options that make enjoying a superfood lifestyle a breeze. Here are some of my best secrets to making every section of your refrigerator “shelfie”-worthy:
Purge First: If you’re committed to your healthy habits, it’s time to toss condiments and foods with questionable ingredients. Don’t set yourself back a step by keeping around jars of salad dressing with corn syrup or those extra cupcakes you took home from the office, just because you don’t want to waste food. Your body is not a storage container for calories, it’s a temple for nutrients … and it’s better to start totally clean. Always in my fridge: Nothing I wouldn’t want to eat!
Buy Fresh: It goes without saying fresh produce is a key part of a beautiful refrigerator. But don’t make the mistake of overly-ambitious shopping by buying more produce than you can eat. Take your household size (and personal appetite) into consideration as you buy your fresh items at the market, and plan on replenishing things like fruits and vegetables every few days. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, less is more when it comes to produce, especially when you’re swinging by the store a couple times a week. Always in my fridge: Leafy greens, avocados, carrots, celery, cruciferous vegetables, apples, and small amounts of seasonal vegetables and fruits. I also have an ever-present giant bowl of salad that’s ready for a scoop at any time!
Buy Preserved: In addition to your fresh produce, including healthy ingredients that last is a great way to ensure there’s always nutrient-rich options in your refrigerator regardless of when your last grocery trip was. Look for pickled and brined vegetables, as well as condiments with clean ingredients that can add instant flavor to your foods. Always in my fridge: Tons of fermented vegetable options, olives, pickles, healthy oils like hemp and avocado, and a pride-worthy hot sauce collection.
Go Nuts: Nuts and seeds are one of the most heart-healthy foods you can enjoy, not to mention an excellent source of protein. I keep many of my nuts and seeds – especially the ones with the more heat-sensitive omega fats – in the refrigerator to maximize their shelf life. Since I live in a coastal environment that’s frequently humid, I also keep several of my more moisture-sensitive superfoods in the controlled environment of the refrigerator too. Always in my fridge: Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds (and seed powders), acai powder, goji berries, and sprouted grain products.
Drink Clean: Beverages can be a major source of diet derailment, with their innocuous form often containing massive amounts of sugar, empty calories, and unwanted additives. I find its helpful to ensure there’s a steady supply of healthy options in the refrigerator so all kinds of cravings are kept at bay. Always in my fridge: Almond milk or some kind of non-dairy milk, some kind of green juice (homemade if I’m on my A-game), kombucha and flavored sparkling water for fizzy refreshment … and usually a bottle of wine, if we’re being honest! I don’t keep smoothies in the refrigerator because I find they don’t store very well, and prefer to consume them fresh.
Prioritize Leftovers: Leftovers are either a highlight or a detriment to your shelfie goals, depending on your level of forethought. The great thing about leftovers is they can dramatically cut down on your cooking time … allowing you to cook once and potentially enjoy for days to come. Alternately, poor meal planning can destine leftovers to the dreaded back shelf, where they will usually become forgotten (and totally hideous). Instead, get in the practice of labeling and dating your leftovers when you put them in the refrigerator, and keep them in eyesight so you remember to use them. Always in my fridge: Definitely leftovers! Because I’m developing new recipes every week, random leftovers are a constant in my refrigerator. To make use of them, I make sure they take a front seat in family meal planning, and if I don’t think we’ll get to them in a couple of days, I stick them in the freezer to enjoy them in the future.
Keep it Fun: One of the most enjoyable aspects of a healthy lifestyle (aside from feeling great!) is that there are so many amazing options of cool products and foods to try. Keep your refrigerator exciting by adding a new kind of item once a week – something you’ve read about or just a product that looks and sounds interesting. You’ll never get bored of your cooking as long as you continue to embrace an adventurous attitude toward eating. Always in my fridge: Random products are constantly making their way into my refrigerator that turn regular recipes into something out of the ordinary and special. A couple current favorites include ahi flower oil, pineapple guavas, and rose water.