Did you make a resolution to shed a few extra pounds?
Stay on track by dropping the excess clutter in your kitchen and streamlining your food prep space. Organizing experts say starting the new year with an orderly, well-stocked kitchen is the first step towards to eating better and slimming down.
“I’ve had clients report that the mere act of decluttering made them feel like they lost 10 pounds,” says Hazel Thornton, a professional organizer who offers organizing-for-weight-loss tips on her site. “Some of them actually end up losing weight because it becomes so much easier to prepare healthy meals.”
Here are five tips from organizers on how to get your kitchen in shape to support your health:
1. Unload Aspirational Clutter.
Many kitchens are crammed with “aspirational stuff” that gets in the way of everyday healthy meal prep, says Peter Walsh, organizing expert and author of “Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight: the Six-Week Total-Life Slim Down.”
“The one I always joke about is the fondue pot. We all have a fondue pot because one day we’re going to have the best fondue party in world, but we never do,” Walsh says.
Donate items you never use and store rarely used items outside the kitchen to free up space for the basic items you use every day to prepare healthy foods.
“With healthy eating comes lots of cooking and prep,” says Jamie Steele, owner of Steele Organizing and vice-president of the National Association of Professional Organizers-Austin.
2. Clear Your Countertops.
In many homes, countertops are covered with everything from stacks of mail to phones to kitchen appliances, and all that clutter isn’t conducive to healthy eating.
“Flat surfaces are not for storage,” Walsh says.
In fact, a cluttered kitchen can make you fat. A study at the Cornell University Food & Brand Lab found that women who had to wait 10 minutes in a messy kitchen ate twice as many cookies, and 53 more calories, than women cooling their heels in an organized kitchen.
3. Nix Fattening Foods.
After you’ve decluttered your kitchen appliances, cookware and tools, tackle your pantry, fridge and freezer.
Walsh says to take the food out and divide it into three piles:
- Expired items
- Junk or processed foods
- Healthy foods.
Toss food that’s expired. Donate or give away food that will impede your weight loss goals. Organize healthy whole foods, grouping like items together to make cooking easier and quicker, he says.
“Arrange the food that is the soonest to expire in front and put the freshest stuff in the back so you start a food rotation,” Walsh says.
4. Plan Your Meals.
Create a meal planning and grocery shopping system. One easy way to plan meals: pick 15 family favorite recipes that are based on whole, minimally processed foods, says Jill Annis, a professional organizer and columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal.
“Less thought and work will be required when you rotate meals,” Annis says.
Finally, stock your kitchen with ingredients for super simple meals, like omelettes or salads, for hectic nights when you might otherwise get tempted to order takeout, Annis says.
5. Store Healthy Snacks in Plain Sight.
After you go grocery shopping each week, put some fruit in a pretty bowl on the counter or table, and prepare some other healthy snacks — like veggies and dip or hearty bean salads — and place them in attractive clear containers at eye level in the fridge. Research shows that you’re more likely to reach for a healthy snack when it’s attractively presented and convenient to grab.