Here’s a question I like to ask someone whenever they want to get serious about a healthy lifestyle or trying to lose weight:
What Does Your Fridge Look Like?
“Uhhh… stainless steel, french door top, then that annoying “basement freezer” which feels wildly inconvenient because I’m never going to find the stuff at the bottom…”
No, not the outside physical description of the fridge. What does the INSIDE of your fridge look like?
- What kind of foods do you have?
- Stocked up on fruits and veggies?
- Do you have enough protein?
- Are there “easy enough” meals to make so you don’t fall to the convenience of Uber Eats?
- Are there troublesome foods in there that lead you down a path of over-consumption?
While this is going to completely vary person to person based on taste preference, culture, food history, etc., I can usually dish out (see what I did there?) some helpful tips on what I think your fridge should look like.
But since there *is* that aspect of individualization (and what your own family likes), I’m just going to talk about some of the things that are in Rachel and I’s fridge, and you can see how it stacks up to yours. I’ll start at the top, and work my way down to that strangely designed basement freezer.
Let’s take this from the top!
Tupperware on Tupperware on Tupperware of Grilled Meats
We have a LOT of cooked meat ready to be reheated in our fridge. We always make sure we are stocked up on protein so that we can prioritize it at every meal.
But it can be VERY difficult to prioritize protein at a meal if the protein is not ready to go. I mean, nobody looks at an uncooked chicken breast and thinks, “Oh yes time for a very quick and convenient meal.” You’ll end up reaching for something easier (usually in the form of carbs and fats) because of the convenience factor.
However, if you have plenty of protein sources ready to go, it’s easy to always be able to prioritize your protein at every meal.
Our grilled meats of choice: fajita chicken breast, barbecue chicken breast, and lean pork loin chops.
This is sort of along the lines of the protein as well. These easy single serving greek yogurts (Light and Fit Greek Yogurt by Dannon) are only 80 calories and some have 12 grams of protein in them. It’s a great way to get a nice low-calorie snack and still get some extra protein in for the day!
For the Texas folks, HEB also makes a “Greek 100” yogurt line that is pretty tasty with different flavors than Danon. For those who don’t live in the great country of Texas, most local grocery stores have their own branded version of this same thing.
Fruits and Veggies: Lots of Them
Strawberries, grapes, blueberries, apples, lettuce, kale (gross), arugula, pre-packaged salad kits… there are a lot of greens in this fridge and a lot of fruits as well!
Fruits are an excellent source of easy digesting carbohydrates and tons of vitamins and minerals the body needs (including fiber!). Leafy greens also help keep the fiber count up and provide volume to meals without a ton of extra calories.
Seriously, have you ever seen what 200 calories of spinach looks like? No way you’ll eat all of it and still be full. We try to make sure there are veggies at every meal (to help fill us up easier), and we use the fruit as some small serving snacks throughout the day.
One great option for a high protein meal with minimal extra calories: mix up 3-4 cups of your favorite greens, cut up 4-6oz of your pre-cooked meat of choice, add some greek yogurt based salad dressing, and whammy! A brilliant low calorie, high protein meal!
Deli Meats and Cheeses
LISTEN. A lot of people will tell you this stuff is “bad.”
The only thing to note with deli meats is an increase in sodium. Deli meat at every meal is going to jack up your sodium count for the day and more than likely make you feel a little bloated… but once a day? Or having some in a pinch? Nothing wrong with that.
Also, sodium is the main mineral that makes up electrolytes. So on the days you workout and sweat buckets, it’s not a bad idea to get some more in your system.
As for the cheeses, we have pepper jack, sharp cheddar, gouda. You know, all of the fun sandwich cheeses. But the really good stuff is the low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese from KRAFT. This is a great way to add flavor to your salads or tacos (or even sandwiches) with far fewer calories than regular full fat cheese!
Sauces and Condiments
I’m a huge fan of using sauces as a way to make your foods more exciting or tasty, especially as you start to grow tired of that chicken you meal prepped from Sunday. Don’t suffer through it… just slap on a new sauce and enjoy!
Problem: most sauces are ridiculously high calorie due to all of the fats that are in the sauces… and if you’ve never measured out a proper serving size of a sauce, it can be a little saddening. So instead, let’s try and find some lower-calorie substitutions!
Here are some of our favorites. In order, Greek Yogurt Sriracha salad dressing, G-Hughes Sweet and Spicy BBQ sauce, Trader Joes Green Dragon Sauce. All are under 50 calories per serving… so even if you do get a little heavy on the pour, you’ll be alright!
I’m usually a black coffee kind of guy, but Rachel is definitely not. We have a few coconut-based coffee creamers with zero sugar that we can add a splash to some coffees to make them a bit tastier. Zero sugar = zero carbs = no extra calories.
Contrary to what certain media outlets and your friends’ misinformed blogs say, diet soda isn’t bad for you in small servings (like most of anything in the world). Want to know the low-down on how the overly vilified artificial sweetener works in the body?
We use diet sodas as a way to combat our food cravings (small doses of caffeine can be a hunger suppressant) as well as hydration. Yep, your body actually does hydrate from a diet soda. Is it the same as water? Oh no. You absolutely need to drink majority water throughout the day. But one diet soda isn’t going to hurt you, especially if you’re using it as an alternative to another high-calorie drink.
I’m a human who enjoys delicious craft beers. I don’t drink every day. I limit beer consumption to the weekends, and when I do drink I try to keep it to less than 3-4 at a time. Ya’know, moderation, and stuff.
But at one point in my life, I was definitely not drinking in moderation. It was 3-4 beers a night (Monday – Thursday), and on the weekends I would routinely crush anywhere from 6-12 beers a day.
Strangely enough, I found myself gaining a ton of weight, sleeping terribly, not being productive, and not performing well in my workouts. Weird, I know.
If you find yourself drinking every night though, I’d recommend keeping your beer in your pantry (so it’s not as enticing to drink). If you find yourself drinking wine every night, keep it out of the house. Hard to drink it if it’s not there!
For the record, the basement freezer is still very weird to me, and there are some frozen items in the bottom that I can only assume have been engulfed by the freezer at this point. So long, frozen tuna filets. We knew thee well.
The freezer has a little bit of everything here, so I’m just going to bullet point them.
- Frozen veggies: LOTS of these. broccoli, Brussel sprouts, zucchini noodles… basically, anything that Birdseye makes. It’s tough to steam fresh vegetables, but it’s easy to microwave a bag of these quickly.
- Blue Bunny Ice Cream Cones and Sandwiches: Y’ALL. These things are awesome. Packaged in single servings so it’s easy not to overeat.
- Yasso Ice Cream Bars: These are made from 2 parts greek yogurt and 6 parts love.
- Frozen Pizzas: while I do love some delivery, a frozen pizza is easy to cook and easier to keep in account with my daily allotment of calories.
Oddly enough… that’s pretty much it in there!
BUH-BUH-BUH-BONUS SECTION: THE PANTRY.
Taking a dive into the pantry for a quick rundown on some of the staple items we have in here… not a whole lot though!
- Breads for sandwiches (low-carb for Rachel, regular for me)
- Low-carb english muffins (pumpkin for Rachel, because #basic)
- Single serving microwavable pouches of rice
- Tortillas for tacos (low-carb for Rachel, regular for me)
- Protein powders in case we need an easy snack
… and that’s pretty much it in there. We don’t keep a lot of “easy to snack” food items in the house. Why? Because we’ll eat it all on the first night it’s in the house.
The pantry is where I find most people struggle with their at home food life. Having chips, candies, cookies, cereals, pop tarts… all of those super delicious yet REALLY easy to overeat things is a recipe for disaster as far as your calories are concerned.
“But, my kids….”
The kiddos do pose an issue here, and I’m not going to try and downplay that. I’m not a father yet, and I have zero parenting experience. But this is where I’m thankful for a couple of good friends of mine. Chief Experience Officer at Stronger U, Cail Morrison and his wife, SU Coach Lindsey, know a thing or two. With 3 boys and a passion for their own health and wellbeing they simply say:
“Kids mimic what they see, including nutrition!”
Cail and his wife Lindsey do an awesome job of setting up their environment for success for both themselves and for their 3 boys. Often when I’m scrolling Instagram stories I’ll see his kids sitting down for an afternoon snack… but instead of pizza rolls, you see veggie sticks. Pretty cool!
Now, are Cail and Lindsey those parents that eat absolutely perfect every day? Doesn’t allow anything “fun” in the house? Never takes their kids out to eat or do anything fun?
Nope. Far from it. Their family enjoys all of the fun things just like yours… but they do this in moderation, not daily. Now those fun times are actually treats and special occasions, not just the everyday norm.
By the way, here’s a picture of Cail and I eating Whataburger so you know we aren’t those health nut purists.
Long story short, if you find yourself getting derailed by the chips and the cookies, keep it out of the house. Rachel and I haven’t had cereal in the house for the past 4 years, and while this saddens me deeply because of my unconditional love for cinnamon toast crunch, it’s for the best (same thing with Oreos…ugh).
So there’s a way too in-depth look at our fridge and pantry… but the takeaways I want you to have here are:
- Keep protein ready to rock so you can keep a healthy portion of protein with all of your quick meals
- Make sure you’ve got fruits and veggies on hand, even if they’re frozen. The benefits of these at each meal are too numerous to list.
- Don’t be afraid to have some of the things you enjoy and can keep in moderation
- If there are things in your house that you simply can’t control yourself around, recognize that this is OK, don’t beat yourself up over it, and keep it out of the house.
And if you’re reading this whole thing and still have zero idea what to do as far as nutrition goes, shoot us here at Stronger U an email. We’d love to help you out!