And I also agree, I hate wasting food and see nothing wrong with keeping treats in the house for when an appropriate occasion arises. That doesn’t just have to be once a year birthday’s either. A biscuit with a cuppa is an ok snack if the rest of your diet is good. It’s when a biscuit and a cuppa becomes 3 biscuits on top of the 4 you picked at throughout the morning and the 3 before bed in front of the telly that we have an issue. So ‘not keeping junk in the house’ isn’t a viable option for most Mums.
But giving your kitchen a clearout will
This one is common sense, but if it’s got a use by date of 8 years ago, it’s got to go. Grab a spare plastic bag (I know you hoard them like I do) or bin liner if you know you’ll be chucking a lot, and go through your cupboards, fridge and freezer and throw out anything way out of date or inedible. Some dried goods like herbs and spices won’t necessarily make you ill if you eat them, but neither will they taste particularly nice. Stale, dried out, mouldy, bland, clumped together – are you really going to eat it? No, so chuck it.
If everything has a place in your fridge, then it’s easier to see what’s there, you know where to look for things in a hurry, and that single chicken leg in foil won’t get forgotten at the back until the smell alerts you 4 weeks later. Raw meat and fish that could drip goes at the bottom. Keep meat, fish and dairy away from fruit and veg, and use Tupperware, foil and other suitable containers to keep food fresh.
Do the same with your cupboards; have shelves dedicated to certain food stuffs, and label them if needs be so other family members put things back in the right place. Cupboard and shelf organiser systems can be a godsend if space is tight, check out your local homeware store (I rate Lakeland in the UK) for a huge selection for all kitchen needs.
Take a look at your newly cleared out, clean and organised cupboards and fridge. Are there tins of pulses, boxes of oats, packs of nuts and an array of flavours (spices, herbs, sauces) to jazz up healthy ingredients? Or can you see crisps, chocolate bars, boxes of sugar coated cereal and those just-add-water pasta packs that – confession time – I used to love as a teenager. What about the trick foods that aren’t technically junk, but aren’t the healthiest either? Sugary yoghurts, fruit juice, white bread, most breakfast cereals, granola bars, wheat crackers, marmalade…..? Be honest, does it look like a healthy kitchen? If no, even a little bit, move onto the next step.
I think I was in a war in a past life. I hate wasting anything, most of all food. I’ll turn uneaten muesli into a low sugar fruit crumble and scraps from any meal into an eclectic omelette, so I’m not about to tell you to chuck out all those foods mentioned above.
But what I do want you to do is organise both your cupboards in order of priority, making the healthiest foods easy to see and reach, with the utter junk way out of sight and reach, ideally in a box or tin at the back of the highest cupboard. I know what you’re thinking, if you know it’s there and want it you can get it anyway right? Right, to a degree. But those extra few seconds of effort might be just enough to remember that you actually have a current goal of getting healthy, losing some weight and getting some energy back, and actually there’s something better you could snack on instead.
By now your cupboards and fridge might be looking a little bare and that’s ok because you’re going to make a shopping list of things to restock, so you’re not stuck for healthy meals in a hurry. Here’s some ideas, but this list is far from exhaustive and the possibilities are endless:
Whole chicken to roast
Lean beef mince
Whole fish fillets in light breadcrumbs
Natural, Greek or low sugar yoghurt
Wholegrain Sourdough bread
Dried or tinned lentils
Lemons & limes
Protein bars & powder
Low sugar oat biscuits
No added sugar fruit squash
Buying a whole new cookbook isn’t necessary. Making fussy ‘health food’ meals your family won’t eat isn’t necessary. If you don’t know how to cook with something look up one recipe for that ingredient, and try it. For example I would google ‘Simple healthy family salmon recipe’. The words simple, healthy and family are important. You don’t want complicated, unhealthy and fussy.
One thing you’ll notice about whole foods is that they sometimes need more preparation than processed foods. There are ways round this if you are happy to pay a few pennies more for convenience, for example bags of ready chopped vegetables, sliced skinless chicken breasts, snack packs of fresh fruit and pre-portioned pots of nuts, but it doesn’t take long to do this yourself. Invest in good storage pots and don’t chop too much fruit or veg at once so it doesn’t go brown or dry/soggy. 2-3 days at a time max is ideal. For actual meals throwing things in a slow cooking to be ready that evening is great if you don’t get home until late, and most fully prepared meals can be frozen in individual portions; I love those foil take-away style pots for home made ready meals. Porridge and even pancakes can be made the night before and reheated, and smoothie ingredients can be invidividually portioned an frozen so you just chuck the contents into the blender with liquid.
I’ll come to your house and we’ll spend a couple of hours (kids are welcome, I have kids myself so totally understand) clearing, tidying, reorganising and planning and you’ll be left with a kitchen that makes sticking to your healthy eating goals so much easier and simpler. I’ll never make you eat anything you don’t want or like, and we can even go shopping afterwards to do the ‘restock’ if you want, too.