Today’s post comes from Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN. Zelman is the Director of Nutrition for WebMD, overseeing diet, nutrition and food information. Among other duties, she serves as Senior Nutrition Correspondent, writes weekly features, columns and newsletters, provides expert editorial review of diet and nutrition articles and covers national meetings. Zelman has extensive media experience, including 12 years as a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA-now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and currently serves as one of ENC’s Health Professional Advisors.Colorful tulips, daffodils, and azaleas are the first signs of spring. And it is also the perfect time to spring clean your refrigerator and pantry.
The payoff – pitching the junk and stocking your kitchen with healthy foods is the best strategy to get your diet back on track in time for skimpier clothing.
Pitch and Clean
Remove everything from the refrigerator including the scary science experiments. Check the expiration dates on perishable foods and remember ‘when in doubt, throw it out’.
Keep in mind that once you open a package, despite the date, it is best to use it within a week.
Once the refrigerator is empty, give it a good cleaning with a mild soapy solution. Wash all the interior shelves, walls, bins and between the groves of the rubber seal.
Keep Track of Temps
A refrigerator thermometer is essential and no refrigerator should be caught without one. Check it frequently to be sure it is registering below 40° F to prevent bacterial growth.
Stock It With Healthy Foods
Fill the fridge with a bounty of fruits and vegetables placed in the humidity controlled crispers. These are the preferred go-to foods for nutritious and delicious snacks and meals.
Keep the most perishable foods like eggs (kept in their carton for freshness) and dairy in the center of the unit where it is coldest. Use the door for condiments, juices and nondairy beverages because the door zone is the least cold. Meats and cheeses are best kept in a designated bin.
Store leftovers in clear containers labeled with the date and use them within a few days.
Empty out the shelves, give them a good cleaning then decide what foods stay and what to pitch. Here is where lots of processed and junk foods linger and have the potential to sabotage your diet. Carefully choose foods that are minimally processed and pitch the less-than-healthy foods that tempt you the most.
Organize your pantry with like foods together so you can easily find them. Use the ‘first in, first out’ rule to rotate the foods in your pantry so you always use the oldest products before the new ones.