Spring clean your nutrition routine

Apr 15, 2019


When we think of spring cleaning, we usually think about tidying up the house. But what if we focused some of that energy on cleaning up nutritionally?

Let’s talk about how to make your kitchen a source of healthy foods. We’ll look at how you can clear out unhealthy items and replace them with new foods brimming with health benefits.

Why does it matter?

Having a kitchen well stocked with fruits, vegetables and whole grains makes it a lot easier for you and your family to reach for something healthy.

By replacing old foods with new ones that are lower in calories and fat, you can help everyone in your household maintain a healthy weight—which experts say plays a major role in preventing chronic conditions like heart disease and multiple types of cancer.

Here are some tips for what to stock and what to toss in your freezer, fridge and cupboards.

Fine-tuning the freezer

Is your freezer an icy home to frozen mystery foods? Take it all out and review what you have.

Work on filling your freezer with:
  • Frozen greens, peas, corn and chopped veggies that can give your next pasta dish or soup a healthy boost. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh—and often cost less.
  • Frozen berries and other chunks of fruit. These can be tossed into the blender with yogurt and fresh juice for a delicious breakfast smoothie.
  • Whole-grain wraps, pitas and sliced bread. Whole-grain foods are higher in fiber and minerals than processed “white” grains.
  • Low-fat meats like fish fillets, skinless chicken breasts and very lean ground beef.
  • Ice cubes flavored with juice, tea or chopped fruit. Add to a glass of sparkling water for a fancy, low-calorie drink.
What to toss?
  • Frozen vegetables in fatty or salty sauces.
  • Frozen fruits with added sugars.
  • Undated meats and foods with freezer burn.
  • White bread.

Redoing the refrigerator

First, clean your fridge. Take out the shelves and drawers and give them a good scrubbing.

Work on filling your fridge with:
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables. Give these nutrient-rich foods the top-shelf treatment they deserve. That way, you and your family members are more likely to see and reach for them.
  • A jug of water, iced tea and other drinks low in sugar. Sugary beverages contribute to unhealthy weight gain.
  • Healthy proteins like cheese sticks, peanut butter, hummus and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Mustard and other low-calorie condiments.
  • Plain low-fat yogurt, plus seeds, nuts and fresh fruit chunks to mix in.
  • Soft margarine with no trans fat.
What to toss?
  • Sugary beverages.
  • Processed meats like hot dogs and bacon that are high in fat.
  • Mayonnaise and other high-fat condiments and sauces.

Cleaning up the cupboards

Cupboards are a great place for storing canned goods, many of which are just as nutritious as their fresh and frozen peers. Look for fruit packed in its own juice with no sugar added. If your canned veggies are packed with sodium, rinse them before preparing.

Work on filling your cupboards with:
  • Canned beans and fish.
  • Whole-grain cereals with little to no added sugar.
  • Dry beans like black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans and red beans.
  • Whole-grain pasta, brown rice, couscous and quinoa.
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats and instant oatmeal.
  • Healthy cooking oils like canola, corn or olive oil.
  • Non-stick vegetable oil cooking spray.
  • Marinara sauce in jars.
  • Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth to make soup.
  • Dried herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
What to toss?
  • Salty snacks like crackers and chips.
  • Baked goods and energy bars that are high in sugar and fat.
  • High-fat creamy soups.

Rethinking your snacks

Just because you’ve kicked potato chips and cookies out of your kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t have a satisfying snack. Check out these ideas for healthy snacks you can enjoy guilt-free.