Smarter Ways to Organize Your Kitchen for Weight Loss

When you're starting an important project—whether it's working on a report, writing a book or sewing a quilt—one of your first steps is probably to prepare and organize your workspace. You're more likely to be productive if you have all the necessary tools close at hand, with no extraneous clutter to derail or distract you.

When you're embarking upon a weight-loss journey—arguably the most important project of your life—it stands to reason that you should spend some time organizing and decluttering your kitchen. In addition to choosing the right foods in the right amounts, storing those foods properly can also have a big impact on how quickly you start seeing results.

"I couldn’t get anything done efficiently in my kitchen if I didn’t keep it organized," says Toby Amidor, a Wall Street Journal best-selling author of "The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook."

"I like my spices and condiments accounted for, my pantry well-stocked and my fridge filled with just enough food to last me through the week. Once I get cooking, having an organized kitchen helps me move around and prep items more efficiently and quickly."

By taking the steps Amidor recommends below, you too can ensure that your kitchen is setting you up for success and safeguarding you from temptation.

Organizing the Fridge

  • Do a weekly clean-out: This might seem like a lot, but the payoff is well worth the effort. Cleaning out your fridge once a week—say, every Sunday after dinner—will allow you to find any spoiled foods that need to be tossed, clearing enough room to place leftovers where you can see them.
  • Store raw foods on the bottom: Wrap and store raw meat (including meat that is defrosting) at the bottom of the refrigerator. "This prevents having raw juices from the meat or poultry dripping onto your fruits and vegetables," notes Amidor.
  • Clean your vegetable drawer often: Amidor says research has found the vegetable drawer to be filled with microorganisms. Your best bet is to clean it out at least once a week with soapy water and toss any spoiled produce.
  • Don't over-pack your fridge: Not only is it annoying to have things falling out every time you open the door or having to dig around to find what you need, too much inventory can lead to food waste. Amidor recommends storing just enough to last you through the week and replenishing as needed.

Organizing the Pantry

  • Clean it out regularly: A clean and organized pantry makes it easier to see what you need to add to your shopping list for the next grocery trip. Plus, cooking will be quicker, as you'll be able to find what you need without having to move things around. An organized pantry can also be a money-saver, as you won't accidentally purchase items you already have.
  • Avoid spills: Amidor suggests storing open packages in re-sealable plastic bags or containers that are clearly labelled. "I tend to keep the food in its original packaging and then seal it in a plastic bag so I know what it is," she says. Any spills should be cleaned immediately to avoid pest infestations.
  • Watch the dates: Use packages with the soonest "use by" date whenever possible. Products that pass their "use by" date may still be safe to eat, but could taste less fresh and have fewer nutrients.
  • Organize by food type: To make life easier and staples more accessible, try organizing your pantry by food type. Amidor has designated areas where she stores her baking ingredients, whole grains, nuts and dried fruit, breakfast fare, snacks and canned goods.

Organizing the Cabinets

  • Keep spices neat: Many recipes call for spices, and each jar can cost a pretty penny. When you keep the spice area organized and know what you have on hand, you can decrease the risk of buying doubles.
  • Spring-clean your cabinets: Even cabinets that don't store food should be cleaned regularly. Once or twice a year, take everything out and remove any crumbs or dirt that may have accumulated. This is also a good way to catch any insects that may have started to make a home.
  • Keep an eye on condiments: Amidor has a handful of condiments that she can’t live without, such as Sriracha and balsamic vinegar. Clean out the area regularly so you can keep full stock of condiments you use often and pitch any that are past their prime.

Organizing the Drawers

  • Get the crumbs out of drawers: Silverware drawers tend to accumulate crumbs and dust over time. Every few weeks, remove all utensils and wipe out the inside of the drawers or silverware holders.
  • Check inventory on utensils: On occasion, you may need to replace or add to your utensils. Amidor, for example, frequently needs to replace wooden spoons and whisks. Go through and make sure you have the basics, including a garlic press, measuring cups and spoons, whisks, spatulas and any other utensil you like to use in the kitchen.
  • Make silverware easy to wash: To make things flow better in your kitchen, store the silverware in a location that is close to where it is washed and dried, usually near the sink.

Toby's 12 Must-Have Kitchen Items

Amidor recommends always keeping your pantry stocked with the following core ingredients, which she also uses frequently in her healthy recipes.
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Fresh lemon (for the juice and zest)
  • Fresh garlic
  • Whole grains (quinoa, farro, brown rice)
  • Low-sodium canned chickpeas and beans
  • Rolled oats
  • Nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews)
  • Nut butter (peanut, almond or sunflower seed butter)
Check out "The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook" for dozens of delicious, nutritious recipes like these:
  • Avocado Toast with Balsamic Glaze
  • Brussel Sprout Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken
  • Miso-Garlic Pork Chops
  • Pomegranate-Pistachio Bark
  • Spanish Style Chicken (which is on the cover)
  • Yellow Squash Zoodles with Peas and Mint
  • Strawberry-Kiwi Yogurt Parfaits