The most important element to staying on a healthy eating plan is that you never let yourself get to the point where you’re ravenously hungry and have no healthy, fresh options to choose from. If this happens, you WILL cheat. It’s like trying to hold your breath underwater; eventually, you’re going to come up for air.

So the best way to avoid this is to keep good foods nearby at all times, and the easiest way to do this is to keep your refrigerator full of fresh, healthy foods at all times. Healthy eating isn’t hard; we just make it hard.

Here are several tips to use to stock your fridge and avoid hunger.

Know how to shop

Green vegetables and fresh fruits should make up the majority of space on your plate at each meal. The problem that many of us run into, especially when first learning to eat this way, is that these foods are the first to go bad. So we end up throwing stuff away.

Most of us learned to shop in one big trip, going to the store once per week, max. Eating healthy and clean requires that you plan your meals at least somewhat in advance, and make at least two weekly trips to the store. It is not only much easier to budget but going shopping every three days or so ensures that you’ll always have food that is fresh.

Another great option, particularly if you live in a large metro area, is to sign up to have a service deliver your meals. Options can include entire, ready to eat meals, or simply a service that supplies your non-perishable staples on a once monthly auto ship type arrangement.

Bottom line: Learn to shop twice weekly, minimum.

Learn how to cook quickly

Sometimes people get overwhelmed by the thought of having to cook with fresh food, especially if they are new to cooking.

However, nothing could be easier. In fact, most veggies cook quickest and taste best when cooked using simple methods. Steaming, sautéing are fast and work with almost any veggie. Roasting in the oven on a high heat is good for root vegetables such as beets and sweet potatoes. It is also great for cruciferous veggies like broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Learn the best storage methods

When you get home from the store, figure out how you’re going to store your veggies. Place the ones that you are going to eat within the next day or so into your crisper. Wash and cut up all the others, and store them in airtight containers.

Melons that you plan to eat soon can be cut up and stored in the fridge as well. Rinse berries and place them in container or zip-lock bag.

Also, learn which fruits and veggies need to stay out. Bananas quickly turn black when placed in a refrigerator. Tomatoes also lose their freshness under refrigeration. Avocados, squashes, and zucchini all grow and ripen at the hottest time of the year, and do not mind staying out on the counter.

Understand the value of snacking

We have been brought up to believe that a snack somehow denotes getting a treat. Something special that we normally don’t get. This is why most snacks consist of cheat food like candy and ice cream.

But snacking doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, putting in 2-3 snack times into a meal plan is what keeps most healthy eaters easily on track. The key with a snack is to remember that you’re not eating it because you’re hungry. You’re eating it to avoid becoming hungry later.

Keep a bag of baby carrots on hand along with a bowl of hummus. Store bought hummus is fine, but it’s super-easy to make your own. Just drain 2 cans of garbanzo beans and place in a food processor. Pulse a few times, then add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and cumin to taste as you continue to pulse. Then turn it on regular speed and drizzle water in until it is the consistency you like. It makes the perfect, healthy dip for any veggie and is also delicious smeared onto pita bread.

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