Tips for your health and a healthy refrigerator!

Keep your refrigerator in good shape and you can be too!

Keeping tabs on our refrigerators is somethingFridge we all can do to stay healthy in how and what we eat – without angst!  Michigan State University Extension advises checking your refrigerator regularly to see if you’re riding the track on which you want to be. These next few tips can help:

  • Hide desserts! Keep desserts and other indulgent foods in a refrigerator drawer, so they’re “out of sight, out of mind.” Most of the time, healthier foods like fruits and vegetables are the ones that perish the quickest and should be kept on the refrigerator shelf where they can be seen.
  • Make healthy food appealing. Keep a special topping next to a healthy food to make it more appetizing. Next time you want a snack, you’ll be more apt to eat something healthy if the mixed nuts are next to the low-fat yogurt, the chocolate syrup is beside the skim milk or low-fat ranch is by the broccoli.
  • Organize by “more” and “less.” Divide your refrigerator into different sections of “choose more often” and “choose less often.” This could be by shelf or within a shelf, always keeping healthier foods up front and less-healthy ones toward the back.
  • Prepare foods as “ready to eat” meals when you come home from grocery shopping. Wash and cut up vegetables and fruits and store them in food grade containers so they’ll be ready for the next meal or when you’re looking for a ready-to-eat snack. Leaving them at “kid” level also makes them an easy target for children.
  • Prepare leftovers as a meal for the next day. Put the entrée with the vegetable and/or other side items on a plate and cover securely for the next day’s lunch or dinner. You can also label and freeze for a supply of future meals in containers meant for that purpose, avoiding single use containers.
  • Substitute lower-fat foods for higher-fat ones. Some examples are skim or one percent milk for whole milk; lean meats, chicken and fish for ribs, ground meat and other fattier meats. Make sure when you do this that you rotate your refrigerated products – first in should be first out so items don’t get old and unappetizing, or even unsafe to eat.
  • Take stock of what’s inside. Once a month, pull everything out of your refrigerator and separate the healthier foods from the rest. Try to have more low-fat, high-fiber and low sugar foods than other types. Place those better-for-you foods in your line of sight, making sure they don’t get pushed to the back and forgotten. Also throw out anything that is spoiled while you are taking stock to clear up space!
  • Freeze fruit for fun. Freeze bananas, grapes and orange slices to make them more fun for children to eat. Next time they want a sweet snack, offer them frozen fruit instead of ice cream or cookies. These frozen fruits can also be used in smoothies

When you are organizing your refrigerator it is also a good idea to clean its shelves and walls with a clean, soft cloth. If you have a major spill, you will want to take out the shelf and wash well, getting all drips cleaned and even sanitized to avoid cross-contamination.  Make sure your food stays chilled in a cooler or on another shelf in the refrigerator while you’re cleaning. Also, check your thermometer to be sure the temperature remains below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

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