Act II: Organizing Your Pantry and Fridge to Promote Healthy Eating
Updated: Jan 14
I’m gonna need you to organize your pantry AND your fridge to get healthy. Does just the thought of it lead you to feeling overwhelmed? This is where I come in handy! Organizing pantries is one of my favorite things to do, so if you need help, I’m your gal. Otherwise, it’s time to get to work.
First thing’s first. Whether you’ve purchased some organizing sessions with me or have chosen to tackle this project yourself, you’ll need to set aside some time on your calendar. If you have to reschedule, make sure this is not just an excuse to take it off your calendar. I recommend about half a day for this activity, but of course the time varies based on the size of your pantry and the amount of items. You’ll also want to pick up some small labels on your next pilgrimage to the store.
Okay, the day has arrived. Let’s do this!
Step 1. Take everything out of the pantry. Everything? Yep, you read that right. Put it all on a nearby table, counter, or floor. If you really feel like “adulting,” this is the perfect opportunity to wipe the shelves down for the crud that’s inevitably accumulated, like those little crackly pieces of onion skin. If you’re not in touch with your inner adult at the moment, just skip that part. As you are taking items out, check the expiration dates and discard any which are outdated. Another extra “adulting” step would be to rinse empty containers and recycle them. Also, be real with yourself and get rid of any food you simply don’t think you’ll be likely to use, expired or not. These can be donated to a food pantry like Second Harvest.
Step 2. Next, get rid of any unhealthy items. Use your own discretion on what’s deemed “unhealthy,” but it should include the usual suspects such as foods that are overly processed, fried, or laden with additives and preservatives...be honest with yourself here. You can add these to the collection already piling up for the food pantry from the previous step. Or you can just throw them away - anything, so long as they’re out of your house. You already have plenty of temptations for unhealthy food in other areas of life (think a coworker dropping off a tray of cookies in the break room) so there is no need to torture yourself in your own home.
And here’s a potential issue you might encounter during this step that I’d like to preemptively address (without starting WWIII). What if someone else in your family wants to keep the unhealthy food? I’m generally referring to someone with authority like a spouse, not your offspring, although they would probably disagree. Or what if that someone is YOU? In that case, make sure the unhealthy food is placed farther out of reach such as on a high shelf, a closet in another room, a locked safe (I’m 100% serious), or anywhere that is generally out of sight. This will help you consistently opt for the healthier items.
Step 3. Organize the remaining HEALTHY items into categories such as canned goods, noodles, breakfast foods, oils, vinegars, baking goods, items waiting to be put in the refrigerator, and snacks. Or another approach is to organize by entire meal categories, such as spaghetti central and chili corner.
Step 4. Another crucial step to getting and staying organized is to label the shelves in the pantry where they will be stored. Establishing a system will help you and others put the items away correctly, every time. Not only does this make food items easier to find by eliminating guesswork, it helps to take inventory on which items you’re running low on.
Step 5. Now take a little break, pat yourself on the back, then repeat the same process for all the stuff in your refrigerator.
Once you're completely finished with the pantry AND the fridge, go ahead and give yourself another pat on the back. Think of this as your future self literally thanking you for taking these steps toward a healthier you.
Now you’re ready for the next blog post - Act III. The Return of the King. KIDDING! It’s really about Organizing Your Daily Routine to Promote Healthy Eating. But you don’t have to wait for the next blog post to take action. Go ahead and put a date on your calendar to organize your pantry and fridge right now. What are you waiting for?