The journey you take to achieve weight loss and weight maintenance success is a long, arduous one, not easily navigated. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and support from friends and family. However, there are certain steps you can take to make reaching your wellness goals a little easier. One of the biggest steps you can take is to always be prepared ahead of time. Stack the deck in your favor by stocking your fridge and freezer with healthy essentials so you have the ingredients for a variety of nutritious meals and snacks right at your disposal.
In Your Fridge
They're economical, convenient and packed with hunger-squelching protein. Even though some old refrigerators have those cute, perfectly shaped egg holders in the door, store them in their original containers on one of the shelves.
2. Fresh Fruit & Vegetables
Keep these in separate crisper drawers (ethylene gas produced by ripening fruit can spoil nearby vegetables). Wash produce just before using.
Research has shown a link between consumption of low-fat dairy products and a reduction in abdominal fat. Load up on skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and reduced-fat cheeses and cottage cheese.
Vinegars, mustards, marinades, light dressings, sauces, relishes, and salsas add mega-doses of flavor to your foods without adding a ton of calories or fat. Keep a good supply of these items, which can be safely stored in the door of your fridge.
5. Lean Meat
Lean cuts of meat (look for the words loin, leg, or round when purchasing cuts), boneless and skinless chicken breasts, and lean ground meats (aim for at least 90% lean or leaner) are quickly-prepared, versatile proteins. These should be stored on the bottom shelf and used or frozen within a few days after purchase. Protein foods should take up no more than ¼ of the space on your plate.
In Your Freezer
6. Frozen Fruit
Frozen fruit is picked and frozen at its peak ripeness, meaning all of its beneficial nutrients are locked in. Additionally, frozen fruit is often cheaper than fresh picks, especially if the fruit you're looking to purchase is not in season. Use frozen fruit in smoothies, whole-grain muffins, pancakes, waffles, or hot cereals.
7. Frozen Vegetables
Frozen veggies are nutrient-dense, low in calories, economical, and delicious add-ins for a plethora of recipes. Antioxidant- and fiber-rich vegetables can easily be added to casseroles, pasta dishes, soups, and stir-fries.
8. Bread & Grain Products
Whole-grain bread, tortillas, and sandwich thins can be frozen and thawed out later for foods like French toast, melts, burritos, wraps, and homemade croutons.
9. Fish & Shellfish
You can often find frozen fillets of fish and packaged shellfish on sale. This is an affordable way to keep lean sources of protein on hand at all times. Fish and shellfish are loaded with essential minerals, heart-healthy fats, and muscle-building protein. Fresh forms of these are often pricey, but forms that are sold frozen are generally cheaper. Or, if fresh fish is on sale, buy a decent-sized portion and freeze it yourself.
Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. If you would be interested in working with Kari one-on-one, sign-up for FitDay Dietitian.