10 Tips for Healthy Eating Habits & an Organized Kitchen

I am really excited about this post because I get to talk about two things I’m really passionate about: organization and eating healthy. From talking to friends I’ve learned that these two subjects can be intimidating to people. Today I want to show you how I organize my kitchen and meals to create a healthy lifestyle and eating habits for my family.

#1 Meal Planning
Meal planning is very important when it comes to eating healthy. I prefer to shop for two weeks at a time, which is great because I always know that I have two weeks of meals that I can make. I make a very detailed list for each grocery store I need to go to, which saves me money and time because I don’t end up buying food I don’t need! You can read my entire post on meal planning here.

 
#2 Grocery Shopping

As I mentioned, grocery shopping is an important part of eating healthy. Here is an example of what my grocery list looks like:

Printable Version

After sitting down and choosing all my meals for the two-week period, I make a detailed shopping list of what I will need for those meals, plus snacks. When I’m shopping I buy only what’s on my list, which keeps me from wandering through the store purchasing things I don’t need. I even like to write out my shopping list in order of how the store is laid out: fresh veggies first, meat, bread, pasta, canned goods, etc. If you were to watch me walk through Trader Joe’s, you would notice that I walk the same path every time! I also purchase in bulk the items I use a lot of. For example, I go through a ton of avocados, frozen fruit, and greens because I make green smoothies every morning. I purchase these items in the frozen section at Costco, which saves me money.

#3 Organizing the Fridge and Freezer
When you get home from shopping, it’s important to have a place to put all of that food! I make it a rule that I have to clean out the fridge and freezer before every shopping trip. Not only does this help create new space for your food, it also helps you to not buy things you already have {and it saves you money}! You can read my entire post on organizing the fridge and freezer here.

#4 Organizing the Pantry
I have the same rule for the pantry that I do for the fridge. I re-organize the canned goods and I double-check the shelves to see what we already have and don’t need more of. In my pantry I use a lot of baskets and glass canisters so it is easy to make space for the food for that pay period. For tips on how to organize your pantry, click here.

#5 Planning for Each Day: Defrost Meat, etc.
I don’t know about you, but I am really good at forgetting to set out meat to defrost* for dinner. Recently, when we started making green smoothies for breakfast every morning, I arranged my freezer so that the frozen fruit and meat were the two easiest things to access in the freezer. Now when I pull out the fruit for my smoothie, it’s easy to remember to also grab the meat for dinner! Using easy organizing strategies like this makes planning for meals a cinch!

*Be sure to defrost meat in the refrigerator or in cold water. Get more tips about defrosting from Perdue.
organized freezer

#6 Snacks
Snacks are another important part of the day. If you have children, you know that snacks are the only thing that gets a kid from breakfast all the way to lunch! I don’t like to buy prepackaged snack items because I find that they are more expensive, they take up a lot of extra space, and they usually aren’t as healthy. For snacks in our house we do a lot of fresh fruits that won’t go bad in a two-week time period: grapes, apples, kiwis, etc. I also like to buy trail mix and string cheese. These are all healthy snack options that my daughter and I both love!

#7 Dinner
I know making dinner every night can be a bear. I will fully admit that I have nights when I really don’t want to make dinner, which is why I always have the ingredients for a few quick and easy meals on hand. I’ll talk about that more later, so for now let’s talk about our normal dinner schedule. Prepping for dinner shouldn’t be hard if you have meals planned. Every day I look at my menu and decide which dinner I feel like making. If you are going to be using meat or chicken, you will have already remembered to take it out of the freezer that morning, so now all you have to do is prep the other ingredients. I like to get all my ingredients out at once, prep them all and then cook. Using this simple three-step approach to meals makes it much less intimidating. 1. Get ingredients out, 2. Chop, cut, prep until everything is ready, 3. Cook. Easy peasy!

#8 Clean as You Cook
The next important part of cooking is the cleaning. Say what? Yep, cleaning as you cook is a very important part of maintaining a clean and organized kitchen. Let me explain: If you make a huge mess of your kitchen and don’t do any cleaning up as you cook, then you are left with a huge mess. I don’t know about you, but when I get done cooking, the last thing I want to do is clean up a huge mess, I want to sit down and rest! This is why in so many homes there are pots, pans and dishes left in the sink. Cleaning as you cook is really quite simple. If you use ramekins for ingredients like I do, simply rinse them and put them in the dishwasher as soon as you dump the ingredients into your pan. Or if you have just chopped a bunch of fresh veggies for a meal, as soon as you put the veggies in the bowl or pot, wash the cutting board. I can’t explain why, but when you clean as you go it’s so much easier than waiting until the end, when there are piles of dishes all over the kitchen!

#9 A Clean Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home, so a clean kitchen is important. My rule is “don’t go to bed with a messy kitchen.” If I wake up and the kitchen is messy, I’m stressed right away. Get the family involved and clean the kitchen up every night. Take time to organize your kitchen cabinets so that you can easily tell your children where to put things back. You wash, your husband {or a kid} dries, and then let one of the other kids put things away. In my kitchen the storage containers, plastic plates, and cutting boards are all in my lower cabinets so my daughter can easily help me put things away. It is so important to get the family involved because it helps you and it teaches them how to maintain a clean and organized home! For ideas on how to organize your kitchen, you can see my entire post on how I organize my kitchen here.

#10 Recipes!
I don’t know about you, but I like recipes that don’t require a lot of ingredients. I’m going to give you a few recipes that require only 5 ingredients and are healthy, and that the family will love!

Breakfast: Green smoothies!
We love green smoothies in our house, and what I love the most is the variation of smoothies you can get from just 5 simple ingredients. Using these ingredients, I am able to make a highly nutritious and healthy breakfast for myself and my daughter every morning.


Lunch: Black Bean Burritos
* Corn tortilla
* Refried black beans
* Shredded Cheese
* Sliced avocados
* Salsa {optional}

Heating up the tortillas and adding the other ingredients on top makes a quick and easy lunch that’s delicious and healthy.

Dinner: Mango Chicken

This super-easy and delicious dinner requires only 4 ingredients! For the full recipe click here.

There are so many delicious and healthy recipes on the internet, these are just three of the hundreds I have in my cupboard. I hope these few examples will inspire you to get creative with your meal planning and to realize that eating healthy doesn’t have to require a lot of work or a lot of money, it’s just all in the way you plan and organize!

About the Author

"Hi I'm Anna! Welcome to Ask Anna where I love to answer your household questions! I have always loved to clean, organize and decorate and this blog is a fun way for me to help you love it too! I am a busy mom of a beautiful little girl and I'm married to the love of my life. Together we fill our days with projects , laughter and love. I serve an incredible God and overall I'd say I'm truly blessed!"

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Discussion

  1. 1

    Great Post Anna! This is so totally right up my alley. I have black bean burritos (tacos) for lunch too and LOVE them. We also do the green smoothie thing for a lot of breakfasts. :-)
    Amy @ 20 Minute Mom recently posted..Organizing Online Shopping {Part I}My Profile

  2. 2

    I agree that planning is SO important. Also, having a good back up in case you run out of time or forget to thaw something out – breakfast for dinner is always an option!
    Becca @ Crumbs and Chaos recently posted..Watermelon GranitaMy Profile

  3. 3

    We have just started making fruit and veggie smoothies for breakfast !!!
    We always have veggies and fruits in the fridge for lunch and dinner. My quickest meal for my family is baked flounder with some veggies. My kids love it and I only takes about fifteen minutes. I have to learn to shop every two weeks :)

  4. 5

    We try to make healthy recipes with enough for leftovers. That way on busy night we can just eat leftovers & not have to cook or grab fast food.

  5. 6

    Anna, I love all of your tips to keep it simple in the kitchen! I’m all about simplicity when it comes to meal time for my family :) It’s a must for me to clean as I cook too, makes everything go much smoother when I’m cooking!
    A simple meal that my family loves…tofu veggie stir-fry! Organic tofu is inexpensive and takes on any flavor you add to it. I chop it up, saute it with lots of fresh veggies (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, green onions) and then toss in a simple sauce (gluten-free soy sauce, brown sugar, water, chili flakes, toasted sesame oil, ground ginger, and fresh garlic). I like to serve it over brown rice. It’s just an all around, healthy meal!
    Sarah Hornacek recently posted..gluten free cinnamon roll muffinsMy Profile

  6. 8

    I menu-plan, and also prep ahead as much as I can.
    Amy @ A Little Nosh recently posted..Pattypan Squash CasseroleMy Profile

  7. 9
    Jessie C. says:

    I do weekly meal plan and pre-cook some ingredients during weekend.
    tcarolinep at gmail dot com

  8. 10
    Jessie C. says:
  9. 11
    Tiffany Winner says:

    i save time by buying pre-chopped onions since i use them all the time and hate cutting them anyway

    thismomwins@gmail.com

    “I am receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for submitting this comment.”

  10. 12
    Tiffany Winner says:

    tweeted https://twitter.com/thismomwins/status/229297267499208705

    thismomwins@gmail.com

    “I am receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for submitting this comment.”

  11. 13

    i meal plan too! i also try to plan meals that will use each other’s ingredients so i cut down on waste.

  12. 14
  13. 15
    Debbie B says:

    i keep it simply smart in the kitchen by using my crock pot a lot! Your Mango Chicken recipe sounds delicious!

  14. 17
    Debbie B says:
  15. 18

    i plan our menu for the week & write it on our big kitchen chalkboard. also i keep snacky type foods like pretzels & cereal etc… in individual size snack containers so the snack are readily available for our movie time, car rides & more. great post as usual anna! xo

  16. 20

    I love the items you linked to for organizing the pantry/cupboards. I’m just getting back into the meal planning mode. I made a menu for the warm months when I don’t want to use my oven. I’ll make one for the cold months when it gets cold. I’ll be able to purchase all the dry/canned/frozen foods I need for the month in one trip, or for 4 to 5 months at a time if I want. I’ll need to grab produce every few weeks but other than that my shopping will be done! I’m also trying to cook ahead with freezer crockpot meals.
    crazy4boys recently posted..Warm Months MenuMy Profile

    • 21

      That’s awesome! I wish I had a pantry that would hold my stuff that far in advance because I would love to shop that way!

      Anna :)

  17. 22

    Meal planning every week

  18. 23
  19. 24

    My tip on keeping it Simpy Smart in the kitchen by storing extras and seldom use equipment in the garage. But as you suggest, those I used often are easily reached.

    amy [at] utry [dot] it
    Amy Tong recently posted..Ice Cream Bon Bon with Magic Shells—With PictorialMy Profile

  20. 25

    tweeted about this giveaway: https://twitter.com/uTry_it/status/230563270539485184

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  21. 26

    I love the smoothies too….also I cook meals ahead of time and freeze or when I cook, I make a large amount and freeze the rest for another day/night. I get creative with leftovers too

  22. 27

    I KISS in the kitchen my using mason jars to organize my tools. I love storing my cupcake liners in them to keep them neat and in shape.
    Amy Tong recently posted..MOO Business Cards Review and Giveaway (Worldwide)My Profile

  23. 29

    Have your husband do all of the prep before you get home from work! That’s how I get dinner on the table quickly! :)

  24. 30

    Freeze individual portions of leftovers or soup for those nights when everything goes awry and nobody wants to eat the same thing or there is only one person at home for dinner.

  25. 31

    Menu planning is my main source for keeping it simple in the kitchen AND the store. Trader Joe’s can be a dangerous place if I don’t go with a plan! I also like to keep some of the TJ’s boxed soups in the pantry; pair it with a salad for a healthy and light dinner at the last minute!

    • 32

      That’s a great idea, I’ve never thought about their soups! I agree though that’s it’s very dangerous there. :)

      Anna

  26. 33

    I love all your tips! The best way we KISS in the kitchen is to meal plan. Much less senseless snacking while deciding what to have for dinner.

  27. 34
    Karina Lee says:

    i prep as much as i can beforehand

  28. 35
    Karina Lee says:
  29. 36

    I try to do things in parallel, when i write down a recipe I try to group tasks as much as possible. Thanks for the tips and giveaway.
    songyueyu at gmail

  30. 37
  31. 38

    The crock pot is my biggest time saver – love crock pot dinners!

  32. 39

    I stay organized in the kitchen by making sure everything in the fridge and pantry has its place and always putting the things back in those proper places. This means I always know where something is and when I need to stock up, and keeps me cooking meals at home rather than running out for unhealthy take-out.

  33. 40

    I make it simple by having a protein and I try to incorporate fruits and veggies into every meal! Thanks for a chance to win and have a great day!
    kmassmanATgmailDOTcom

  34. 41

    My children have all grown up so I only cook for myself. Nevertheless, my slow cooker is a lifesaver. I can easily cook a large batch of food that will give me dinner for several days or I can freeze the extra and use it at a later date.

  35. 42
  36. 43
    Melissa W says:

    I KISS by doing monthly meal planning. I also always make pizza on Saturday nights and sandwiches once a week during the summer (soup during the winter).

  37. 44
    Erica Best says:

    I have local food deliver fresh fruit and vegs every 2 weeks and it save my alot of time from shopping

  38. 47
    Erica Best says:
  39. 48

    It could just e me, but the prompt isn’t super obvious in your post. However, I do try to organize my pantry by types of food. Cereal boxes by the fridge, snacks in one area, baking stuff together, etc
    cole recently posted..I have stuff to say about BlogHerMy Profile

  40. 49

    Its a little thing but something my mom noticed saves a lot of time when she was visiting recently. I buy bagged salad. She still chops everything by hand and was like “why have I fought this for so long” when I was just dumping salads in a bowl for dinner. LOL
    angie lilly recently posted..Tagetes patula by FotoMacroMy Profile

  41. 50
  42. 51
    Amanda Sakovitz says:

    I plan dinners in the summer a week in advance so I’m not stressing out or rushing around at the last minute.

  43. 52
    Amanda Sakovitz says:
  44. 53

    I’m obsessively organized so I make the most of my time in the kitchen by having everything organized, plan meals, do ahead/in bulk as much as possible and shop with a list at the grocery store.

  45. 54

    I redid the contents of my cupboards & drawers so that I have the things I use most closest to where I use them.
    Thanks for the contest.
    “I am receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for submitting this comment.”

  46. 55

    blogged: http://slehan.blogspot.com/2012/08/win-100-cookingcom-gc-from-blogher-823.html

    “I am receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for submitting this comment.”

  47. 56

    I make double batches of a few meals each month so I have a few nights I can just pull something out of the freezer and re-heat.

  48. 57

    Meal planning saves time and money

  49. 58

    I enlist the help of my family in food preparation. I also freeze a lot of items for later use.
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  50. 59
    maria cantu says:

    I do the meal planning and the 30 minute meals.

  51. 60

    I do meal planning for every week so i get in and out of the kitchen! Thanks for a super giveaway!

  52. 61

    Tweeted:
    https://twitter.com/anashct3/status/238823300820779008
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    email: anashct1 [at] yahoo [dot] com