This is listed first with strong intentions. This is first and foremost where I dedicate my time and attention. My eating goals, habits, and actions all revolve around if I’ve properly stocked my fridge with healthy veggies and fruits, AND have them ready-to-eat (hence ‘prepped produce’). I know myself well enough and have had plenty of clients who have learned the same about themselves—if it is isn’t prepped, it isn’t eaten — and more than likely may be tossed at the end of the week. Consider how you want to use and/or consume these foods throughout the week, and prepare accordingly. The produce items I definitely prep are celery, berries, bell peppers, and grapes. Give them each a good wash or at least rinse in water and prep accordingly:
- Celery: Cut stalks into 3-4” strips
- Berries: Let air dry after washing and place in container in fridge, but leaving the lid open a little to allow air to escape to prevent berries from spoiling.
- Bell peppers: Slice into thin slices for easy dipping (with hummus or guac), etc.
- Grapes: Pick off of vine and store in container in fridge.
Every time we go to the grocery store, eggs are an item in the shopping cart. I once heard from a friend that while growing up her dad said, “Any time you go to the store, be sure to come home with eggs and toilet paper,” and I think that is pretty accurate! Eggs are more often than not what’s on the agenda for our breakfasts, whether they’re scrambled, over-easy, fried, in an omelet or an egg-bake– we easily go through an 18-pack during the week. Two of my favorite ways to prep eggs for quick and easy access in the fridge are hard-boiled (great for breakfast and snacks on the go), and egg bake or egg cups. With about 7 grams of protein per egg, including a couple in the morning can be a great start to your day or mid-day snack to keep your hunger and energy levels maintained. When shopping for eggs, it’s ideal to find ones that are organic (not treated with antibiotics and hormones) and pasture-raised (meaning chickens were allowed to free roam and eat plants/insects natural to them rather than conventional feed). These eggs are most nutrient-dense and provide the most bang for your buck.
Since discovering that we do best cutting out most dairy from our diet, I’ve switched our family to dairy milk alternatives such as coconut milk (other favs are almond and cashew milk). This beverage has also become a drink of choice for my toddler as well. Many parents do not realize that once your child turns one you do nothave to give them dairy milk, (unless of course other dietary restrictions are present) and there are other options. Dairy is one of the most prevalent food sensitivities for people, and unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, stomach aches/cramps, gas, diarrhea, constipation, skin rashes, fatigue, food aversions, headaches, etc. are just some examples of how food sensitivities may express themselves. Unsweetened coconut milk is a tasty beverage I use for smoothies, in cooking and baking recipes, or for variety with meals in place of water. As with many beverages, look for options that are unsweetened and ideally, not flavored.
Butter makes everything better—especially butter from grass-fed cows. This refrigerator staple in my home is such an amazing multi-purpose ingredient so I always have some on hand. Join the movement in adding healthy fats back into your day and ditching your once highly-touted vegetable and canola oil for healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats. (Think fats that are found naturally in animals, nuts and seeds.) These important fats are a great source of energy, help nutrient absorption, support satiety and are necessary for hormone production. Saturated fat such as grass-fed butter is generally a better choice for cooking at higher temperatures as they are more stable with heat and do not oxidize to an unhealthy fat. Use a slab for cooking eggs or veggies, to grease a pan for baking, or my favorite—add it to flavor veggies and meats.
This is the water that helps keep me hydrated most frequently. Growing up, I wasn’t a huge fan of sparkling water, but that was most likely because I was comparing it to really sugary drinks. A few years ago I gave it a try again during D.TOX, and I was very pleasantly surprised. The carbonation and slight fruity flavor was so refreshing and a nice change of pace for beverage options. It became even more prevalent in my diet when I was pregnant and enjoyed mock-tails of sparkling water, mint leaves and lime. These days it is always stocked in my fridge and usually in an array of flavors, and has even spread in popularity amongst our team at work so we keep it stocked in that fridge too.
Confession: I may or may not eat this by the spoonful. Nut butters are so tasty, great to pair with fruits and even some veggies. And as a bonus, they’re also good for you! For those of you who may be slightly confused as to why this is a refrigerator item of mine rather than a pantry item, it’s because I choose natural nut butters which often require refrigeration. Similar to dairy, peanuts and peanut butter are one of the most inflammatory foods, often causing many people to have a sensitivity or intolerance to them. As a best-practice, I always recommend varying all foods but especially nuts and nut butters. Great alternatives to peanut butter include almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter and even sunflower nut butter! Each of them has a slightly different and unique taste to them, so try them all to find which one you personally prefer. Opt for unsweetened, natural and minimal added ingredients (the nut, oil, and salt).
The meats you will most commonly find in my fridge are grass-fed ground beef or bison, organic pasture-raised chicken, pork and wild-caught salmon. Typically while grocery shopping for the week, I pick 2-3 protein options for meals, and it’s often based on what is on sale! While quality protein options are more expensive than your conventional choices, the few extra dollars are a value that is hard to put a price-tag on, as what you eat impacts your overall health. Meaning—how the animals are raised (how/where they’re raised and what they consume) largely dictate their meat composition and nutrient value. The variety of meats in the fridge allow for different meals and recipes throughout the week, like some of my favorites: tacos (or taco salad), grilled chicken breasts and meatballs. When you plan your meals around protein and veggies, the eating healthy becomes so much easier to do.
Hopefully these fridge tips help you prep not only for the week, but help you make strides in a healthier way of life, long-term. Start small, and incorporate just one of the above to add to your refrigerator this week.
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Max Reynoso NASM-CPT, PES, CES, Physical Therapist Aide, Kettlebell Cert, Power Plate Cert. Metabolic Tech, is Fitness Professional at the Life Time Fitness in Gilbert, AZ. He’s been in the fitness field for 20 years helping people take control of the way the look and feel. If you wish to setup a Training Solution Consultation with him so he can review your current fitness status and help you design a plan of action for 2016, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-522-8483