It’s January, and of course, that means many of us are scrambling to get back on top of our health and fitness goals after a few too many holiday indulgences. If you’ve made a resolution to cook healthier in the new year, a few strategic kitchen design tweaks can go a long way toward creating a space that encourages healthy eating. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Many kitchens, especially in older homes, just don’t have enough counter space. And let’s be honest — it’s hard to devote a lot of time and energy to healthy home cooking when you feel cramped. If possible, add a central island, even if it’s just a compact butcher block surface on wheels that gets tucked away when not in use. Get some inspiration for small spaces at Apartment Therapy.
Convenient Chopping Station
Healthy cooking requires a lot of fruit and vegetable chopping. Make this process as easy and convenient as possible by setting up a chopping station with a large cutting board, sharp knives within reach, and your trash and compost bins as close by as possible.
Easy access to fresh, great-tasting water makes it a lot easier to stick to your daily hydration goals. If your fridge doesn’t have a built-in water dispenser, consider adding a built-in filter to your faucet or using a filtering pitcher.
Healthy Items at Eye Level
On your counter or open shelving, arrange healthy food items right where you’ll see them every day. That might include fresh potted herbs, produce in bowls or baskets, and dry staples like brown rice, beans, quinoa, and nuts in clear jars. That way, you’ll feel inspired by these ingredients every time you enter your kitchen. (Image via Eat This, Not That)
Plenty of Storage Space
Adequate storage is essential to a functional kitchen, both to keep the counters clear and ready for use and to hide away less-healthy items you might otherwise find too tempting. Whether it’s the kids’ snacks or your cookie baking supplies, these items are best kept in a high cabinet so they’re not the first things you see when you go looking for a snack or a meal idea.
Lots of Room in the Refrigerator
It’s hard to eat healthy when you don’t have enough space to store fresh foods, especially greens and other items that need to be tucked into a drawer to stay crisp. If a large refrigerator fits your kitchen and your budget, great. If not, see if you can clear out some unnecessary condiments and add extra produce-saver bins, like this set of stackable containers from Amazon.
Magnetic Whiteboard or Chalkboard
Even the most die-hard health nuts occasionally let food go bad in the fridge. To stay on top of what needs to be eaten ASAP and inspire ideas for healthy recipes, keep an inventory of the most perishable foods in your fridge written on a whiteboard or chalkboard, either on or beside the fridge. This is also a great place to write your grocery list and have family members write their own meal requests. A big magnetic dry-erase whiteboard sheet is fast, easy, and cheap. (Image via No Ordinary Homestead)
A Bright, Open Feeling
You might have to get creative in smaller kitchens or rentals, but natural light (or a good facsimile) and connection with the spaces where your family hangs out can be a big motivator to spend more time cooking. Consider switching out any heavy curtains or opaque blinds with lighter, sheerer materials that let lots of light into the room. Eliminate obstacles between the kitchen and living rooms if you can, too, or at least tuck some bar stools under the island or a small table in the corner so you can chat with a loved one while you work.
Little Extras That Make You Happy
Think about what might make you want to linger in your kitchen a little longer. A bluetooth speaker, so you can play music or podcasts while you cook? An under-cabinet iPad mount? There’s no shame in a kitchen TV, either, if that’s what works for you. Similarly, if standing for long periods is hard for you, an anti-fatigue floor mat will go a long way toward making you more comfortable.
Main image via Nenad Stojkovic/Flickr Creative Commons