Are you tired of opening your fridge doors and just feeling exasperated, confused and mildly disgusted? Have you ever thought about completely revamping what’s in your fridge–I mean a serious over-haul?
Call it a fridge-lift, a refriger-vention, or how about a fridge-tox…
Yup, I like that one!
If you’re getting serious about starting a healthier lifestyle, I promise you, your fridge is the best place to start!
A Clean & Organized Fridge is Worth Your Time & Effort
Just like a clean desk increases your productivity at work, a clean fridge will help you be more productive at adopting your healthy lifestyle.
You’ve heard of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by now, right? Well, when I really started being purposeful and deliberate about how I set up my fridge I found that I stayed on-plan, wasted less food (cause I could actually see what I had), and felt more in-control!
Yeah, it’s worth your time to do this, trust me.
What you have in your fridge today says a whole lot about your lifestyle and who you are. Just take a look at this famous photolog documenting random people’s fridges from around the US.
Take a moment and think: What does your fridge say about you? Is your fridge set up and oroganized to serve your health and life goals?
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- fridge organization inspiration
- recommended refrigerator storage finds (glass food storage containers & bins)
- how to have a fridge-tox
- putting your best food forward
- the 6 key items you need in your fridge now for better health
- how I share my fridge with my non-nutritarian family
Here’s what you get:
- master fridge shopping list
All right, I’m pumped! How about you?
Let’s do it! Let’s set up your fridge for clean-eating success on the Eat to Live plan, or any healthy lifestyle you’re aiming for this year!
Get Your Weekly Fridge-spiration Fix
If the thought of cleaning and reorganizing your fridge sounds like the absolute-last-thing-you’d-ever-want-to-do this week, month or even year, then you might be needing some fridge-spiration!
I’ve been sharing my fridge on social media for years now and so many readers have messaged me to let me know that it inspires them to take action–so it’s time for you to get in on the fun! Here’s an easy way to get fridge-spired: follow me on Instagram @hellonutritarian and check out #52fridges and get the inspiration you need to turn your fridge into the clean-eating-machine you always dreamed it could be.
The Best Fridge Storage Containers
There’s one resounding question I get when someone sees one of my fridge pics for the first time: Where do you get your containers?
I completely get it. There’s nothing I love more than a good storage solution find and that’s why we’re starting our fridge metamorphosis with the best glass food storage containers and refrigerator bins that I personally use and recommend.
Yes, you heard me right: Glass food storage containers. If you’re looking for maximum length of freshness of your foods then glass is the only way to go. It’s also safer when you’re reheating your foods.
Here are my recommendations:
1. Glass Ball Mason Jar (Wide-Mouth, 16 oz., Pint-Sized)
This is the glass food storage container that holds the most-special place in my heart.
It’s simple, humble, infinitely-useful and inexpensive. I’ve found that I use this specific size most frequently. If you’re starting from ground zero building your glass storage collection this is the place to start and then grow from here.
How to use these in your fridge: Use this sized Mason jar to store individual portions of soups (2 cups is the perfect amount), homemade sauces, pickled veggies, chopped fruits and veggies, hummus, overnight oats or to store fresh herbs.
2. Half-Pint & Quart-Sized Wide Mouth Mason Jars
After you’ve invested in 2 or 3 sets of pint-sized jars, it’s time to think about other useful sizes (because sometimes you have more or less stuff, amiright?).
First up is the cute kid-sister of the pint-sized jar, the wide-mouth, half-pint Mason jar:
How to use these in your fridge: Use this sized Mason jar to store meal leftovers, citrus juice, chopped herbs, and smaller portions of chopped fruit or veggies.
If you plan on batch prepping your food (and we’ll be get into that a little later) and you want the cheapest possible storage solution that will still give you amazing freshness results, then this is the right-sized Mason jar for you to purchase next.
How to use these in your fridge: Use this sized Mason jar to store homemade plant milks, homemade veggie broth, large batches of homemade soups, cooked rice, pastas or beans. These are also the perfect size for your in-fridge salad bar (we’ll be getting to that soon).
3. & 4. Glass Food Storage Container Sets
There are a ton of different glass food storage sets out in the market, but none are more reliable and better-made than these two brands.
The tightness of the snap-lock lids make all the difference in freshness and the lids don’t lose their hold overtime like other brands I’ve tried.
I own and use both brands and recommend either set if you’re looking to upgrade your container collection.
Pyrex Snapware Glass Food Containers:
Snapware Glasslock Storage Containers:
How to use these in your fridge: Batch-prepped meals, soups, pre-cooked whole grains (potatoes, rice, bean pastas), pre-chopped fresh fruit and veggies, bean burgers, tofu, pre-washed salad greens and literally anything else you can think of that will call your fridge home!
5. White Plastic Mason Jar Caps
Okay these are purely an add-on that’s a want more than a need. I’ve just found it easier for myself to use these one-piece white plastic caps with my Mason jars because I am literally screwing and unscrewing them every day, multiple times per day.
You will do just fine using the metal two-piece lids that come standard with every Mason jar. These white caps don’t contribute anything different as far as freshness goes, it’s purely convenience. (Oh, and lot’s of people tell me they look particularly smart all stacked up!)
How to use these in your fridge: Use these as replacements for the standard two-piece metal lids that come with your Mason jars. Buying all wide-mouth size will ensure use across all your Mason jar collection.
6. MiscHome Plastic Refrigerator Organizer Bins
When you’re cultivating the world’s healthiest fridge you know that your fresh produce is bound to outgrown the absolutely tiny “fruit and vegetable” drawers that come standard in most refrigerators.
I’ve had these same plastic organizer bins in my fridge since we bought it in 2013. I recommend them because of their range in different size, durability, and their built-in front handles.
How to use these in your fridge: Use these to organize fresh produce or arrangements of Mason jars in your fridge. Particularly useful for whole fresh fruit, bell peppers, cabbage, kale bunches, collard greens and fresh herbs. Use them like you would your produce drawer in your fridge.
Fridge Storage Containers on a Budget
You can absolutely transform your fridge and make it your personal temple for healthy eating without. any. of. the. products. I. just. mentioned.
Guys, this is about taking action, not buying all the things.
I don’t want you to put off getting your fridge in gear because you’re waiting for your new glass containers to arrive.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” That’s right, I’m throwing down my all-time favorite Arthur Ashe quote for ya! Because I don’t want anything separating your desire to create a better fridge and you taking action in making it happen.
So here’s what we’re going to do: Let’s get creative using what you already have around your kitchen and then once you have this whole fridge-tox going you can upgrade over time!
Some creative fridge storage ideas:
- old condiment containers for pre-chopped fresh fruit (see top-right in fridge pic above) and homemade condiments
- old spaghetti sauce jars in place of Mason jars for batch-prepped food storage
- plastic baggies for salad greens (make sure the greens are very dry and add a napkin in the baggie)
Okay, you should have a fridge storage container strategy in the works now, so let’s dig into taking action making your fridge your healthy-eating focal point…
How to Have a Fridge-Tox
You know that famous commercial line: “What’s in your wallet?”
Well, just imagine Samuel L. Jackson heading over to your fridge right now and documenting (to the television audience at home) what he found: “Hot-damn, woman! This buffalo sauce expired in 2013!”
The point is, if you’re neglecting your fridge you’re neglecting your health. And, that is no longer acceptable.
I won’t let you do it!
So get ready to grab some cleaning spray and put on your favorite tunes because it’s time to get cleaning! It’s essential that you empty it out, clean it down, and purge the junk.
Let’s take a bit of time to overview the two types of cleanings you want to incorporate into your fridge routine:
- deep cleaning
- weekly organization & wipe downs
The Deep Clean
It’s always best to start with a deep clean.
That means you clear every item out of your fridge (if you have a cooler handy, you can store items int here as you clean) and take out every shelf, drawer and door compartment that you can.
You can wash everything down with warm soapy water and dry with hand towels.
Now that everything is out of your fridge it’s a great time to get a lay of the land. Identify where the air sources are in your fridge. Keep in mind that every fridge is different and you could have multiple sources.
You’re going to want to make sure that you allow for ample space around your airflow sources when you reorganize your fridge.
What to Ditch During Your Deep Clean: Spark Health
If you have a Netflix account, I highly recommend watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It follows different families through the process of creating a deeper, more intentional and meaningful relationship with their stuff.
And you better believe that you can use the same concept when it comes to what you’re going to put back in your deep-cleaned fridge.
I want you to hold every item that you took out of your fridge (check the expiration date) and then ask yourself: Will this improve my overall health? If the answer is “no” or you’re not sure–ditch it!
You only want items in your fridge that are going to help you create the healthy lifestyle you want to live moving forward. You may be following a different program, but if you’re gearing up to develop a nutritarian lifestyle using the Aggressive Weight Loss Plan, here are some items to ditch:
- cheese & yogurt
- deli meats & bacon
- sodas & juices with added sugars
- pickles and condiments that include oils, excessive sodium, added sugars or animal products
If you don’t feel comfortable throwing away food, give it to a good neighbor or local food bank (if they accept perishables).
Weekly Fridge Organization
When you open up your fridge you should easily be able to identify your next 3 to 5 meals.
You want to organize your fridge according to this principle: Put your best food forward.
That means that healthy grab-and-go items are at the forefront of your fridge (and we’ll get into exactly what kind of foods those are in the next section).
Think of organizing your fridge in one dimension instead of three. Once something gets pushed back in your fridge it’s chances of getting spoiled and ignored (and wasted) are infinitely higher.
Start practicing bringing your food forward in your fridge and avoid going more that two items deep in your main shelves.
Organize drawers so that when you pull them out you can easily see everything in the drawer.
Weekly Wipe Downs and Condensing Items
When you set up your fridge every week, ideally after you go food shopping or do some preps for the week, you want to do a decent wipe down of your mail shelves.
This maintains your deep clean and helps you monitor food that’s gotten pushed back or forgotten.
Mid-week you will want to focus on condensing down the size of your storage containers.
For example if you cut up a pineapple at the beginning of the week and have been eating from that container for the last 3 to 4 days, you will want to put the remaining pineapple into a smaller jar.
The simple act of downsizing your food storage containers during the week, as you eat through your food and preps, will help prolong food freshness!
How Often Should You Clean the Fridge?
Aim to do a deep fridge clean/detox twice a year every quarter.
Maintain those deep cleans with weekly wipe-downs and you’ll be enjoying a clean, fresh, and beautiful fridge all year long!
Okay, so your fridge is about to be insanely-sparkly clean! Now, what in the heck are you going to put in it…
The 6 Key Items You Need in Your Fridge Now For Better Health
My fridge might not always look this organized, but I can promise you, I always have these items on hand (or I’m on my way out to the store to get them):
1 – Beverages, Liquids & Juices
This is the first fridge category we’re going to tackle because a lot of fridge real estate is dedicated to liquids.
There are four types of liquids I recommend keeping in your fridge:
- low-sodium veggie broth
- coconut water
- non-dairy plant milks
- citrus juice
On Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live plan you don’t cook with oil. Instead, you do your sauteing with low-sodium vegetable stock.
I know! It seems extreme, but it’s really easy to do and you’d be surprised how little you actually miss the oil!
Don’t believe me? Try out one of my favorite oil-free recipes: Un-Fried Rice–we eat this at least once a week!
This is my go-to, green-smoothie-making liquid (you can find my favorite green smoothie recipe here). If you are going to use coconut water for your smoothies, just remember, check the labels to make sure it does not have added sugar!
I don’t drink coconut water by itself, only in smoothies. It adds extra magnesium and potassium and little extra depth of flavor.
Non-Dairy Plant Milks:
My favorite non-dairy milk of choice is Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. I also use TJ’s unsweetened, non-vanilla for savory recipes.
Recently I started making my own almond milk in the Vitamix–and it’s sooo much yummier (there will be a post and recipe on this soon).
So, why switch to non-dairy milks?
The reason is milk (and other dairy products and animal products) elevate the levels of IGF-1 in our bodies.
IGF-1 is an insulin-like growth factor that is one of the body’s most important growth promoters during our infancy and childhood because it accelerates the aging process. Now, that we are adults “accelerating the aging process” ain’t so good!
Elevated IGF-1promotes the growth, proliferation and spread of cancer cells later in life. Make sure to read this article for more information.
There are so many delicious, non-dairy milks to chose from like soy, coconut, hemp, cashew, and almond. This is an easy area of your life you can change and reap immediate cancer-prevention benefits.
I always juice a bag of lemons or limes to use in recipes throughout the week.
Since you don’t cook with oil on Dr. Fuhrman’s plan, citrus juice is perfect for roasting veggies, creating dressings and sauces and I also have a mug of hot lemon-water in the mornings to help wake up my lymphatic system, you can learn more about this morning ritual here.
2 – In-Fridge Salad Bar
If there’s only one healthy eating habit you’re willing to adopt it needs to be to eat a large salad everyday!
I try to eat a salad as my main course for lunch and dinner. You will be amazed at how good you will feel if you start adopting this into your lifestyle.
I have a free get-started plan for you: The 7 Day Salad Cleanse–Just sign up for my weekly email chats and I’ll send you link to download straight away! LEARN MORE HERE
The easiest way to ensure you’re meeting the recommended 1 pound of raw veggies daily when you’re following the aggressive weight loss plan is to create an in-fridge salad bar.
This can be as simple as keeping salad bar ingredients stocked in your fridge or you can take the time each week to pre-chop your toppings for easy-breeze salad-making throughout the week!
Recommended salad bar:
- organic salad greens (butter lettuce, mixed greens, romaine, curly kale, leaf lettuce)
- grape tomatoes
- bell peppers
- onions (green, white or red)
- cabbage or broccoli
If you’re not quite ready for a salad bar or you’re not planning on following a nutritarian lifestyle then focus on keeping loads of veggies on hand in your fridge…
Fresh Veggies For Days
The fact is the more fresh and cooked veggies you eat the healthier you are–that is an irrefutable fact!
I try to have ready-to-go veggies at all times. Taking a half-hour to cut up veggies for the week can really save you time during the week.
- chopped eggplant (to quickly roast or saute)
- red bell peppers
- red cabbage
- sugar snap peas
3 – Fresh Fruits
Not only do I have two kiddos who are bonafide fruit-a-holics but I, personally, have fruit with every meal.
I like to put clementine oranges, pomegranate seeds and sliced strawberries in salads. I like to have oranges, grapes or an apple after lunch.
Dr. Fuhrman advises to eat at least 3 whole fruits a day because of all of their body-beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Fruit also satisfies our sweet-tooth and is literally the perfect dessert–cause fruits are the very sweets our bodies were designed to eat!
Try to have your fruits ready-to-go and visible in the fridge. Wash and cut strawberries, melons, pineapple, etc… We like to have chilled apples and oranges in the warmer months.
4 – Tofu
This is one of my major protein sources (along with beans, seeds and nuts) and I always have it on hand.
I know there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about soy products being safe. I highly recommend you review these articles:
Tofu has tons of plant-based protein, calcium and iron–so, go on and give it a try!
Be sure to check out two of my most popular tofu recipes on the blog:
5 – Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a healthy fridge must-have because they are a dietary superfood!
They induce weight-loss and reduce blood sugar, they have these things called angiogenesis-inhibitors that actually attack fat and cancer cells, they enhance immune function and promote healthy gut bacteria! You can read a ton more about how freaking-amazing mushrooms are here.
Bottom line is you need mushrooms in your life and in your fridge! Sauté them in veggie broth, sprinkle with no-salt seasoning and keep them in the fridge to put on salads, pitas or add to cooked dishes.
6 – Batched Food Preps
I’ve been focusing on weekly batch food prepping since 2016 (it’s kinda a big deal I have a whole program on nutritarian food prepping here) and I shared all about it one of the most-popular posts here on Hello Nutritarian: The Eat to Live Food Prep Guide.
If you haven’t read that article already, now’s the perfect time!
The point is you need to have ready-to-go meals in your fridge. You decide the time commitment you can handle and start making at least some of your food ahead of time.
At a bare-minimum you want to focus on these three areas:
- no-oil, no (or low)-added-salt condiments
- soup for the week
- ready-to-go whole grains
The Right Condiments
Condiments can sneakily add extra calories, salt, sugar and fat to your diet. During your fridge-tox, you should have already read your condiment labels and purged accordingly. Anything with too much salt, fat or sugar needs to go!
I like to keep apple cider, balsamic and rice wine vinegar on hand when I just want to use them as a simple dressing on their own.
Ditch processed, store-bought salad dressings and make your own oil-free versions instead! You can use orange juice, lemon juice, liquid aminos (a lower-sodium soy sauce substitute), Dijon mustard and tahini to make your own dressings.
Use juice as a condiment rather than a stand-alone drink (Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating whole fruit instead of fruit juice so you get that beneficial fiber instead of only the sugars).
Favorite Salad Dressings:
- No-Oil Extra-Creamy Hummus (with Balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, like this)
- No-Oil Walnut Vinaigrette
- No-Oil Beet Hummus Dressing
- No-Oil Carrot Ginger Dressing
- No-Oil Tofu Ranch Dressing
- No-Oil Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce
- No-Oil Herb Tahini
- No-Soak Nutritarian Cheese Sauce
- Cilantro Cashew Cream Sauce
- Tahini-Date Sauce
Select a Soup
Taking the time to make a soup for the week is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself on track!
Dr. Fuhrman has called this the “soup and salad” diet and that’s really how simple it can be! Make a double-batch to store in the fridge and eat throughout the week!
Choose one of these favorites:
- Sweet Potato Split Pea Soup
- Golden Cauliflower Cream Soup
- Pho Noodle Soup
- Roasted Asparagus & Pea Soup
Batch-Prep Your Whole Grains
I like to make a batch of brown rice and some bean pasta to use throughout the week.
Since you get up to 1 cup of whole grains daily, it’s easier to measure that serving out when they are already cooked and add them to your soup, salad or other dish.
This is what your fridge can look like when you follow my 6-week Prep Program!
How amazing is it going to feel to open you fridge doors every day, knowing exactly what you’re going to eat? Learn more about the program here!
I’m not the only one who eats from this fridge!
Just in case you were wondering 😉
My family is not nutritarian like I am.
I keep most of my hubby’s and kiddos’ foods in the deli drawer, the insides of the fridge doors, and the freezer.
My hubby will eat nutritarian meals with me, but he has chicken and more processed vegan “meats.” He also loves store-bought sauces like Tobasco, BBQ and ketchup.
My kiddos are not nutritarians yet (bwah-ha-ha!). I limit their dairy intake and they eat tons of veggies (raw and cooked). They also have two meat-free meals weekly, so they are getting there.
We all enjoy the fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains you see in my fridge pics.
How to Share Your Fridge With Non-Nutritarians
Yes, I take up about 75% of the fridge real estate but I’m usually the one who is cooking and therefore using the fridge the most–I have organized the fridge to promote MY healthy eating prerogative!
The main point I wanted to make here is: arrange your fridge to maximize your healthful eating success!
Health is a priority that should be reflected in your fridge. And guess what? By default, the other people in your home are going to be eating healthier too because it will be readily available!
I’m giving you complete permission to have designated areas in your fridge that are yours. Consider them your safe zones.
Famous French gastronome Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”
I’ll add to that, show me your fridge and I’ll tell you who you are.
This is just simple common sense, but when you really stop and think about it: what we choose to put in our fridge will ultimately make up our bodies.
I want you to aim to have a mindful and purposeful fridge and I hope I shared some highly-doable ways to let your fridge be a tool for your healthy-eating success!
Make sure you download the Eat to Live Fridge Shopping List below, so you can get started creating the fridge of your dreams!
Download it here: Eat to Live Fridge Shopping List 2019
I really hope that you enjoyed this Eat to Live Fridge Guide!
I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.
And if you end up implementing some of these fridge tips in your own life, I’d love to see them in action–make sure to tag me @HelloNutritarian so I can check them out and cheer you on!