Refrigerator Clean Out: 5 Items to Keep (and What to Toss)
Whether you are brand new to the health scene, or simply just need a reset, a refrigerator clean out is a must. It will be next to impossible to stay the course and accomplish your health food goals otherwise. After all, who honestly has enough willpower to stick to straight meat and veggies while knowing there is ice cream, chocolate milk, and ranch dressing lurking behind your refrigerator doors. The goal of a refrigerator makeover is to get rid of the non-nutritious stuff and/or foods that trigger you to engage in poor eating behaviors. Then it replaces the junk with a bounty of health-promoting foods (Andrews).
Clean Out that Refrigerator: What to Keep and Toss
To help you get started, we’ve made a list of 5 items to keep in your fridge (and stock up on), and a few you must toss.
It’s super important to keep a variety of fresh veggies stocked in your refrigerator. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Some great vegetables to always have on hand are avocados, broccoli, asparagus, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, and onion. Vegetables are typically quick and easy to prepare, which is important when you are starving and tempted to splurge on something unhealthy for you. So keep plenty of veggies around and get creative with the ways you prepare them.
Fresh fruits are key to keep on hand because not only do they provide nutrients for your body, but they also can satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. Fruits obviously have sugar, so we suggest portion control, but at least you will know you’re getting natural sugars and not processed (bad for you) sugars. Some of our favorites: apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, watermelon, and coconut.
Essential proteins you should stay stocked up on beef, eggs, chicken, pork, and fish. Try to buy grass-fed, pastured, farmed, free-range, and wild sources as much as possible.
Condiments can be tricky these days. Most are high in sugar or contain high fructose corn syrup (no bueno) or ingredients we can’t even pronounce (major red flag). Here are some condiments that are safe to keep in your fridge: dijon mustard, sriracha, Frank’s Red Hot, sauerkraut, pickles, olives, and banana peppers.
Approved beverages include water, water, and… water.
Just kidding, kind of.
Water is definitely essential and king of beverages. You should consume as much water as you possibly can on a daily basis. Water has 7 main purposes in our bodies: transporting, dissolving, cleaning, reacting, padding, and regulating temperature. So clearly, without water, the body cannot function as it should. So stock up on water and drink up! Some other safe/healthy beverages includ herbal teas, coffee, and carbonated, natural, sparkling waters (ex. La Croix).
You knew this was coming, but it’s time to toss the sweet stuff, including cookies, ice cream, and any other sugar-laced, processed sweet treat. Remember- fruits are your friend.
We gave you some condiments you could hang on to, above, but here are some you most definitely need to toss: mayonnaise, ketchup, ranch, most salad dressings, croutons, cheez whiz, and sweet relish.
You know better. Just stop.
Stay away from any highly processed foods. This includes meats – SPAM, hot dogs, bologna, etc. This also includes candy, chips, instant foods, most frozen dinners, most canned soups, etc.
Refrigerator Clean Out Tips and Tricks
- Shop the perimeter of your grocery store only. Typically, the perimeter is where you’ll find your veggies, fruits, meats, and dairy. The aisles usually contain boxed or bagged foods that are most likely processed, unhealthy foods.
- Check the ingredients. Items such as high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, and preservatives are red flags. Toss these in the trash and don’t buy anything else with these “ingredients” listed. Also, if there are ingredients you can’t pronounce or define, this food likely isn’t one you want to buy.
- Once you rid yourself of the bad foods and restock with healthy ones, your home will become a ‘safe zone’ for you. You will know that you can’t “cheat” or fall off your healthy eating plan because there won’t be any options to do so. You will be hungry, and you will eat what is in front of you — which will be veggies, fruits, meats, nuts and no processed, sugar-laden fake foods.
So, time to stop with the excuses and give that refrigerator a much-needed makeover. Toss that junk food and make room for the wholesome goodness you are going to replace it with. Off to the grocery store you go – let the fun begin!