Environment trumps willpower.

 

Literally millions of people started on a fitness quest yesterday. I have no real critique of the attempt to get healthy, I just know what the outcome is for most who don’t deal with the underlying cause of their problem.

 

If you don’t set yourself up to succeed in the kitchen, you eventually run out of steam and old habits creep back in. While planning is extremely important, the environment in which you are working is just as likely to dictate your success or failure.

 

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the great stress relief that comes from being organized. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking 5 minutes to move something around and make it more accessible or convenient that makes all the difference.

 

It’s a fairly safe bet to say that we are all lazy, it’s only the degree of laziness that varies. Given the opportunity, we will all do ridiculous things to avoid menial tasks. That’s why taking time to build your environment is so important for long-term success.

 

I’ve been the guy who goes out and spends $200 on “healthy” groceries, opened the refrigerator the next day and wouldn’t cook anything because all the silverware was dirty. That would lead to a 30-minute round trip to the taco shop. Hence the years of a massive belly and swollen face.

 

I went through our kitchen and picked out the areas that have served us the best on a quest to be healthy while saving time and making cooking as convenient as possible. Start building the environment for success in the new year.

 

 

Functional Spice Rack

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How many times have you gone to the spice rack and started rifling through containers knocking several down, then tried to cram the tablespoon into an opening that will barely fit your pinky? If you are preparing food at home and want it to taste good, you must have a full repertoire of spices to flavor with and they should be easily accessible.

 

Move frequently used staple spices into smaller glass jars so that access and inventory tracking is a cinch. Put all other containers in something like the one pictured so each one has a home. 2-3 minutes saved each time you go to cook is very much worth it. Since we’ve dialed our spice cabinet in, I get a little satisfaction when I open the door…it’s the little things in life.

 

Consolidated Tupperware

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Does anybody else have that “Tupperware” drawer that has been collecting artifacts since the early ‘80’s and contains at least one piece of every plastic container that Walmart has ever sold?

 

Do yourself a favor and pick a quality brand and consolidate. This becomes another place of irritation and inconvenience that chips away at your willpower when things get stressful. It sounds so silly, but it’s the type of thing that keeps people from packing a lunch versus dining out.

 

Efficient Dry Rack

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Use your dishwasher for mass dishes. For cutlery and other repeatedly used items, hand wash so that they are always available. When you have one butcher knife and it’s in the dishwasher, you’ve just increased the chance of a Domino’s order.

 

The things we tend to hand wash in our house are knives, large utensils (stirring spoons, ladles, etc.), cutting boards, large pots and pans. Avoid the old rubber style drying “tub” that ends up in a heap of dishes and takes a week to dry. The one pictured allows for easy organization of large numbers of dishes and is easily accessible.

 

Multiple Coolers and Ice Packs

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On pretty much a daily basis you’ll need to take something on the go. Don’t skimp on this area and give yourself a container that is too small, or not easily accessible.

 

I like the wide-open tops. And yes, that is a picture of a baby formula cooler, which just so happens to be an excellent smoothie transporter for those with minimal space. Ice-packs are cheap and it’s well worth having several to choose from.

 

Food Jars & Canisters

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Along the same lines as the spice rack, access and inventory is king when it comes to staple foods like brown rice, quinoa, oats, lentils, almonds, flaxseed, and beans.

 

They stay fresher, are easier to access, and it’s very apparent when you need to put supplies on the grocery list. We also like to keep our coffee in an easy access air-tight canister.

 

Quality Knife Set

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This is definitely a top 5 wedding gift. Keep your knives organized in a block and make sure you have sharp knives for the daily tasks.

 

If you are eating a healthy diet, it means a good amount of cutting veggies, so don’ t let a crappy knock-off brand be the reason to order take-out. Busting out a super sharp knife can actually make prepping kinda fun.

 

Multiple Cutting Boards

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Why rely on the massive butcher block for all your cutting needs? Especially preparing little meals for toddlers, get yourself a repertoire of cutting boards and save on cleaning time and convenience.

 

Sometimes we even take the small one to the dinner table to cut stuff up for the rug rat.

 

 

Simple. Effective. Organized

There you have it, not super complicated but highly functional. I know how quickly a kitchen goes from spotless to a catastrophe, but everything falls into the categories of either organizing, planning or preparing.

 

Dedicate the 5-20 minutes immediately after a meal to getting it back to fully cleaned and ready for the next round. That means when you come home with your cooler full of used Tupperware, don’t just drop it in the sink, get in the dishwasher or hand-washed right away.

 

I once threw away an entire sink of dishes because they smelled so bad, then went and bought the 1000-piece plastic cutlery set and didn’t wash a dish for a year. I know how ridiculous it can get. Now fortunately I’ve been influenced by a very organized wife who insists on real silverware.

 

 

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