Updated: Feb 10
As a dietitian I spend a lot of time thinking about other people’s kitchens and lives. It’s really
important to remember that not every person can have an Instagram worthy kitchen all the
time. If your kitchen triggers you to have a sense of anxiety or PTSD like symptoms when you
walk into it than it may be time to switch things up! If you have no idea where to start than go book a free 15-minute Discovery Call.
Your kitchen is one place where you can nudge yourself, your spouse, or your kids to make healthier decisions all day long. It is a safe space where you can control, mostly control, or at least begin to control the healthy habits you may be looking to implement to build a better life.
Lets go ahead and talk about the 6 nudges anyone can incorporate into their kitchen that will
help you make healthier decisions all day long.
1. Clean it out!
Yes - it is time to go through your cupboards and look at expiry dates, read labels and
throw out all of the old food you have sitting around that is taking up space. I know it
can seem like a daunting task, but when in doubt throw it out! Do you have old candy
sitting around from the last holiday? It is time to get rid of it. I know it can be hard to
justify throwing out food when there are other people involved, such as kids, a spouse
or other family members and that is where nudge #2 and #3 come in.
2. Organize your fridge
Did you know that there is actually a proper way to store food in your fridge? Not only
from a food safety point of view is this important but it will also help you make healthier
food choices along the way. A win-win! Make sure the foods that you want to be eating
more often are at eye level and are easily accessible.
How to Store Food in a Fridge:
(Please note that the diagram below was created for the purposes of a domestic fridge,
with the bottom shelf being a vegetable drawer).
Top and middle shelf
Ready-to-eat foods, such as dairy products, ready meals and packaged foods, leftovers,
cooked meats and prepared salads. These should all be covered or kept in sealed
containers to prevent contamination. Ready-to-eat foods are stored at the top of the
fridge, away from raw foods so that harmful bacteria cannot transfer from the raw food
to the cooked food.
Raw meat, poultry and fish in sealed containers to stop them touching or dripping onto
other foods. Raw meats should always be stored at the bottom of your fridge to prevent
cross-contamination. Ensure that each item is wrapped or in a sealed container so that it
doesn’t come into contact with other foods.
Fruit, vegetables and salad vegetables that have been washed prior to storage. Make
sure that your fruit, vegetables and salad are wrapped in paper or plastic with air holes
to keep them protected from any contamination. For salads and herbs, try wrapping
them in a damp paper towel before storing to prevent them from drying out and to keep
them fresher for longer.
Time to make a shopping list:
Skim or 1 percent milk or fortified soy milk.
Fresh fruit. Keep at least one kind of fruit washed, cut, and stored in a clear plastic container where your kids can see and grab it.
Hummus. Dip carrots in this chickpea spread.
Full-fat yogurt or Greek yoghurt. Mix fresh fruit into vanilla or plain or use it to make salad dressings and dips.
Bagged salad. Look for darker greens like baby spinach or a mix of multicoloured lettuces like arugula or field greens.
Lunch meats like turkey and lean roast beef.
Tortillas. They're a fun alternative to bread.
Fresh veggies. Buy your own to wash and chop. Or pick up prewashed, precut veggies like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, snow peas, and celery to serve as a snack, toss into salads, or steam.
Cheese. Stock block cheese, string cheese, Laughing Cow minis, and shredded cheese.
3. Organize your pantry
Organizing your pantry is the perfect excuse to finally take inventory of what is in the
back of your cupboards! Old candy bars or half eaten bags of chips? Time to get rid of
them. Cans or jars of old food that look like they have made it through both the 1st and
2nd world war? It’s time to check their expiration date.
Your pantry or cupboards are an amazing place to set yourself up with good habits. Time
Whole-grain crackers. Choose brands with at least 2 grams of fibre (and no trans fats like Ryvita, Wasa, Kashi TLC 7-Grain, and low-sodium Triscuit.
Whole-grain pasta such as high-fibre Whole Wheat Blend Pasta or Barilla Plus, which has extra protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Dried meat. Bite-sized, shelf-stable beef ensures you always have a high-protein, low-carb snack at the ready.
Oatmeal. Choose whole oats or unflavoured instant.
Whole-grain bread. Check labels for brands that have at least 2 grams of fibre per slice.
Applesauce. Look for an unsweetened brand.
Dried or canned beans. Chickpeas, black beans, and lentils are rich in protein.
Whole wheat couscous or quinoa cooks just as quickly as the regular kind.
Brown rice. A great source of whole grains.
Microwaveable bagged rice. Grab a few bags of the microwaveable rice to store in your cupboards for those nights you are short on time.
Whole-grain breakfast cereal. Aim for at least 3 grams of fibre.
Nuts and seeds. Go for almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.
Dried lentils and chickpeas. Great for a snack on the go or to add to salads.
Salsa. A zesty way to sneak in more veggies.
Canned fruit that's packed in juice.
Jarred pasta sauce. Add extra veggies like shredded zucchini.
Dried fruit. A half-cup counts as a serving of fruit.
Salmon and light tuna for salads and sandwiches.
4. Organize your freezer
Have you completely forgotten what’s in your freezer? Half opened bags of vegetables
and fruit everywhere. Does your freezer in your house have food with so much freezer
burn that you aren’t even actually sure what it is anymore? It’s time for a freezer
Your freezer can be a great place to help save you money and time. You can bulk
purchase meat and vegetables from a local butcher and freeze them. You can make
large batch meals and portion them into smaller sizes for easy week-night meals.
Your freezer can be stocked up with:
Boneless chicken breasts and thighs. Add to pasta, salads, and stir-fries.
Ground meat. Buy turkey, beef, bison or any other type of meat you can use for pasta sauces, taco nights, chilis etc.
Salmon and other low-mercury fish such as cod and tilapia.
Vegetarian alternatives such as falafels or samosas.
Frozen veggies. Besides the basics, pick up high-protein edamame.
Frozen fruit (no sugar added) to eat from the bag or add to smoothies.
Batch cooked meals. Make a big soup, tomato sauce, or chili and portion it into smaller portions for easy week night meals.
5. Organize your tupperware
I’m not sure about you but sometimes I let my Tupperware drawer have a mind of its
own. Mismatched lids and bottoms that make the drawer hard to close. It can be really
frustrating and very discouraging. The thought of having to open this drawer becomes a
Your Tupperware drawer needs a reset or a refresh every once in a while.
Pull all of your existing Tupperware out and match the tops to the bottoms – recycle or throw out all of the other pieces.
Replace plastic Tupperware with glass and silicone.
Purchase Tupperware organizers.
6. Cookbooks and magazines for cooking articles
Let me tell you a little secret – eating healthy does not have to mean eating boring food.
You can always spice up and nudge your routine back on track by looking at online
recipes, looking through old cookbooks or magazines for inspiration. Sometimes it takes
pulling them off the shelf to nudge you in the direction of a healthier and more fun