MS, RD, LDN, CBS
Janel holds a Master’s in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University. As the recipient of the 2010 Massachusetts Young Dietitian of the Year award, she believes in making healthy eating simple, sustainable, and delicious.
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Keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy foods means shopping, choosing the right foods, and creating a healthy kitchen environment. From farmer’s markets to specialty stores to supermarkets to delivery services, the options for getting food into your house these days abound. See Meal planning for simple, quick healthy cooking for specifics.
Some foods are highly perishable (like fresh produce) and need to be purchased weekly or more frequently, other foods are moderately perishable (like bread) and need to be replaced every few weeks, and some foods are non-perishable with long shelf-lives (like nuts, grains or canned goods) and only need to be replaced as you use them up (or if they’re long past their eat-by date). Read What to Do for a specific list of these types of foods to keep in the house.
In addition to having the right foods on hand, creating a healthy eating environment will help you maintain a healthy kitchen for the whole family. For example, studies show that both visibility and convenience greatly influence our eating habits. We’re more likely to eat what we see, so keep healthy foods easily accessible and in plain sight and less healthy ‘sometimes’ foods behind pantry doors, in opaque containers, and in the back of the freezer.
Other studies reveal that using larger sized bowls and spoons can increase our food consumption by as much as 50% from everything from cereal to ice cream! So swap out smaller sized plates and cutlery to keep your portions in check.
Pick a time each week to menu plan for the upcoming week. Write out all of the meals you intend to cook and which ingredients you’ll need for their preparation.
Maintain a list of groceries you’ll need including perishables and other foods that need replenishing. Don’t wait until you’ve run out of something – when you begin to run low, add it to the list so you don’t find yourself in a bind. Think about whether keeping a list on your cell, a notepad, or a white board in your kitchen will work best for you.
And keep track of recipes that sound good to you as well as ones you’ve had success cooking and serving.
Get foods into the house
Set aside time once a week to go grocery shopping, and don’t forget your grocery list! Remember that each time you shop, you’ll become more efficient as you become increasingly familiar with a store or website’s layout and offerings.
While at the store, inquire whether your grocer has a ‘produce butcher’ who will cut the fruits and vegetables you buy to your specifications while you finish the rest of your shopping.
Alternatively you can set aside time to grocery shop online if you find that fits your schedule better.
Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy foods
Purchase these highly perishable foods weekly, if not more frequently:
Purchase these moderately perishable foods every few weeks:
Purchase these non-perishable, frozen and refrigerated foods with longer shelf-lives as needed and keep them on hand at all times (remember to read the packages to ensure proper storage and to determine when and whether items need to be refrigerated):
Eat from smaller serving dishes and utensils to keep your portions in check.
Keep bowls of fruit on the counter and freshly cut vegetables in plain sight in the refrigerator. Store less healthy ‘sometimes’ foods in the back of the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer behind the more healthful options.
Think of mealtime as quality time
Turn off the TV, put away phones, tablets, and any other distractions, and allow everyone to focus on the food and each other. Enjoy your time together!
“How Visibility and Convenience Influence Candy Consumption” Food & Brand Lab, Cornell University. Date accessed 24 July 2018.
Wansink & von Ittersum. “The Visual Illusions of Food: Why Plates, Bowls, and Spoons Can Bias Consumption Volume.” FASEB Journal. Date accessed 24 July 2018.
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