Trying to eat healthfully but overwhelmed by all the holiday goodies in your kitchen?

Some simple refrigerator-organizing steps can make it easier to make better choices during the busy calorie-heavy holiday season—and into the new year.

“Organizing your refrigerator the healthy way makes improving your diet a lot easier,” says Maxine Siegel, a registered dietitian and manager of food testing at Consumer Reports.

Here are four ways to arrange your fridge for healthy holiday eating.

Put Healthy Food Where You Can See It

Stock up on snacks such as pepper slices, carrot sticks, cut fruit, hummus, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs, and keep them all at eye level.

You’re three times more likely to reach for healthy food if it’s on the middle shelf, according to research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Go a step further and store healthy foods in clear containers or bags so they're easy to spot, Siegel advises.

You can also encourage healthy holiday eating by stashing the not-so-great choices out of sight.

So what should go in your refrigerator-drawer sections? “Cheese, luncheon meat, and sweets like pies, sweet drinks, and pudding, and other foods you want to cut back on,” Siegel says. “Out of sight, out of mind.”


Go to Consumer Reports' 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more. And be sure to check our Daily Gift Guide.
 

Stock the Fridge With Healthy Drinks

With just a bit of effort, you can create a festive but healthy holiday drink to sip during celebrations.

“Fill a glass pitcher with unsweetened iced tea, or try water with some cut-up oranges or other fruit, mint, ginger, or cucumbers,” Siegel suggests.

Seeing the pitcher will remind you to stay hydrated, and adding the flavorings will make plain water more palatable.

Keep Good-for-You Condiments on the Side Door

Have plenty of flavorful, healthy ingredients on hand, such as salsa, exotic mustards, pesto, jarred garlic, roasted red peppers, and artichoke hearts on hand.

These are all low in calories and fat, and they can be used in a variety of ways—as a base for sauces, dips for sliced raw veggies, and toppings for cooked lean meats or fish.

Don't Forget to 'Healthy-Up' Your Freezer

“Most people don’t realize that cooked whole grains and beans can be frozen,” Siegel says.

Store one or two servings in individual plastic freezer bags and stack the bags on top of each other in the freezer.

That way, you’ll always have the foundation for a quick, healthy meal.

Add some colorful cut-up veggies to create an attractive dish in minutes.