While it’s still Winter outside it is tempting to dive for the fridge for comfort food every time you need a little pick-me-up, in fact recent research revealed that one in five of us head straight for a snack when we want to lighten our mood. But with Spring just round the corner and Summer holidays not far behind, maybe it’s time we cleared out the crap and replaced comfort food for energy-boosting and healthy alternatives, so snack time doesn’t always leave us feeling guilty! Nutritionist, food writer and broadcaster Fiona Hunter has shared her top tips for Spring Cleaning Your Fridge with Belle About Town, to give us all a little head start.
Clear out the naughtiness – It can be incredibly hard to stay on the straight and narrow when there are so many yummy treats lurking in your fridge or freezer. As much as it may pain you, as the saying goes, ‘out of sight out of mind’! Begin tackling the temptation by ensuring you clear out anything that will set you off track. Give yourself a boost by turning your fridge detox in to a good deed, donating any unwanted items to your local food bank.
A full fridge is a happy fridge – Once you have cleared out all of the naughty things and anything that is past its use by date, ensure that you restock your fridge with healthy ingredients and staple items that can be used as the basis for a satisfying meal. Items such as eggs and milk are an obvious must, but jars of lazy garlic and chilli can also be great items to have on hand in order to transform any meal into something tasty in a flash. Try using an ice-cube tray to freeze freshly chopped herbs in water, olive oil or stock as the perfect seasoning without any of the wastage!
A shopper’s worst enemy is an empty stomach – A word of warning – if you are planning a weekly food shop, be sure to do it on a full stomach. Shopping while hungry can cause even the most disciplined dieter to give in to the sweet temptations of the confectionary aisle. Ensure that any hunger pangs are kept at bay by treating yourself to a pre-supermarket snack and watch in amazement as you and your trolley cruise right past the crisps and biscuits and straight to the glorious greens.
Fail to plan, plan to fail – When you have restocked your detoxed fridge, try to prep your lunches and evening meals for the week on a quiet Sunday evening. It is much easier than trying to prepare something from scratch after a long day at work and can help to ensure your leftovers are put to good use. It is also a great way to avoid the temptation to grab something convenient yet unhealthy when you may be hungry or tired and can even save you some cash in the process! If you are using ingredients such as sliced avocado or apple, try laying thinly sliced lemon on top to help reduce browning over the course of the week.
A match made in heaven – The most unlikely foods can come together to produce the most delicious flavour combinations, so get creative! Who knew strawberries and balsamic vinegar tasted so good together? There are lots of food combinations that you would never dream of pairing yet complement each other really well. Some examples include apricot and mushroom, courgette and lime, mango and chilli, egg and coconut and strawberries and cheese, to name just a few! Take a look at your fridge and see if there is anything you can pair to create a new, tasty snack. Who said a fridge detox needed to be boring?
The bigger, the better! – If you are making things like a bolognaise sauce or casserole why not double the recipe and freeze half for another day? It is always handy to have a healthy, hearty meal on hand for those days when you can’t be bothered to spend long in the kitchen. Freezer bags can be a great way to divide up portions for the freezer and they are a great way to make a meal go further, saving both time and money.
Make yourself a soup-er meal – Soup can be the perfect way to use lots of different leftovers and is great for batch cooking. Make enough to last the course of the week and freeze any remaining portions in single servings. You can them pop them out of the freezer whenever you need, defrosting in the fridge overnight and quickly heating in a microwave at work or home.
- Fiona Hunter is a nutritionist, food writer and broadcaster, working with Laughing Cow Extra Light