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The 4-step Healthy Kitchen Makeover

The 4-step Healthy Kitchen Makeover

I hear this time and time walk into your kitchen and open the pantry doors with the best of intentions to grab a healthy snack or start preparing a meal and you lock eyes with a bag of chips or candy and think "Sure, I'll just have that - it's easy, available, and tasty!" Raise your hand if that's been you in the last month, week, or 24 hours.

Another scenario: you want to prepare a healthy nutritious meal for your family but you don't feel like you have "the right things" to do so - whether it's food, seasonings, tools, or appliances. So, you default back into what's quick and easy (hangry kids are not fun...right??)

Maintaining healthy habits is not always easy - it takes effort and mindfulness every day. But you can make it easier by setting up your environment to support the habits you want to encourage.

Let me introduce you to the 4-Step Healthy Kitchen Makeover.

What is a Healthy Kitchen Makeover?

If you're a beginner, a Healthy Kitchen Makeover is a way for you to clear out the food and stuff you don't want or need (like junk food or that oil fryer that's been sitting untouched for years) so you can make space for the food and tools that will support your healthy lifestyle goals.

If you're "seasoned," a Healthy Kitchen Makeover is a way to reset each season so you can continue on your healthy lifestyle journey.

Did you know that you make about 250 food decisions every day? And, your environment, habits, and familiar routines affect your eating habits more than you would think. When you open your fridge, are you choosing between cheesecake and carrots with hummus?

A Healthy Kitchen Makeover is one way you can reduce (or remove) decision fatigue around food and will help you to plan and structure healthy eating. You can do it over a weekend and be ready to roll for the next week. It doesn't cost a ton of money and you can do it yourself...or you can call in a coach if you need support and encouragement.

The whole makeover consists of four steps: 1) Assess and plan 2) Purge 3) Restock 4) Celebrate!

READY TO DIY? I'll walk you through the process and provide you a worksheet.

How to Perform a Healthy Kitchen Makeover

Step 1: Assess & Plan

Let's start by taking a moment to assess your healthy lifestyle goals and why you are doing a Healthy Kitchen Makeover.


Are you trying to lose weight or have more energy? Do you need to support your family's activity levels? Do you want to eat less junk food and more real food? Do you want healthier foods available for you and your family? Maybe you want to keep some "fun food" on hand for a once-a-week treat, but not in your face and readily available.

The "why" may seem obvious since you've decided to do a healthy kitchen makeover, it's important to pause and get very clear on your intention and goals for this process (especially for when we get to Step 2).


Many of you will have a spouse, and maybe kids, to consider in your healthy lifestyle plan. Overhauling the kitchen and pantry on a whim will cause some interesting conversations and likely some resistance.

Get everyone on board by having a conversation about your healthy lifestyle goals (your personal goals and those for the family). Discuss the importance of the Healthy Kitchen Makeover for those goals. Be sure to also discuss how everyone feels about this and what their concerns are. Some that you may encounter:

  • Isn't this wasting food? This is where you should talk about what is food. Is junk food real food? Does it have any nutritional value?

  • You're getting rid of my favorite food? Talk about what is truly valuable to you. Why is it your favorite food? Are you rewarding yourself with food?

If there is real resistance, it's OK to baby-step into this process and set up a "stash" of snack food in a location where you won't see it every day.

Set a date for the Healthy Kitchen Makeover where everyone can participate. Again, super helpful for Step 2 when you can have real conversations about why you should keep or purge something.

Make sure you've got trash bags on hand for food you will toss and boxes ready for any food you might donate to a local food bank. AND - don't forget to take BEFORE pics of your pantry, cupboards, fridge, and freezer(s)...these will come in handy for Step 4.

Step 2: Purge

As you go through all the food in your house, it will important to remember Dr. John Berardi's (Precision Nutrition) First Law:

If a food is in your possession and/or near you, you will eventually eat it.

We are going to tackle four categories of foods, and you're going to clean out your cupboards, pantry, fridge, and freezer(s). You can choose to go by category and clean each location, or, go by location and check through each category.


While scouring for obvious junk food, the key here is to use extreme prejudice...this "food" isn't really food and holds ZERO nutritional value.

It's important to note that while we are purging these items now, doesn't mean they are off-limits forever...but for today, we are paving the way to your healthy lifestyle goals.

Here's the game plan:

Anything that's been opened, goes in the trash.

Anything unopened can go in the box for donation - if you choose.

Here's what you're looking for:

  • Chips

  • Pretzels

  • Cheezies

  • Chocolates or candy

  • Soda/pop/sweetened drinks

  • Alcohol, especially flavored/sweetened mixed drinks (this one may go in a separate place for special occasions)

  • Instant foods like cake mixes and mashed potatoes

  • Margarine and other processed fats

  • Most frozen dinners

  • Most take-out or restaurant leftovers

  • Bowls of candy or other snacks sitting around

  • Flavored nuts (e.g. beer nuts)

  • Baked goods/Hostess/Little Debbie

  • Frozen pizza

  • Frozen fries/potatoes

  • Chicken nuggets

  • Ice cream

  • Cookie dough


Don't be fooled by food that may seem healthy. This is food that may have started off good (think whole, unprocessed), but then either had bad stuff added in or good stuff taken out (processing will do that).

The front label is probably telling you why you should think it's healthy...flip it over and read the back, the ingredients panel. How many ingredients are listed? Can you pronounce all of them with ease? Does anything end in "-ose"?

If you're having trouble deciphering the label, checking for anything ending in "-ose" is usually some kind of sugar (tricky, huh?), and trash-worthy. Also, remove anything with high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, fractionated oil, and preservatives.

Here's the game plan:

Same as before...

Anything that's been opened, goes in the trash.

Anything unopened can go in the box for donation - if you choose.

Here's what you're looking for:

  • Sweetened yogurt and frozen yogurt

  • Breads/Bagels/Pasta (unless made exclusively with whole grains)

  • Other baked goods

  • Most breakfast cereals (read the labels)

  • Crackers (even whole-grain varieties)

  • fruit bars, cereal bars, granola bars

  • Regular peanut butter

  • Fruit juice

  • Junk food disguised as "healthy" ...things like "organic" cookies, baked potato chips, light ice cream, etc.

  • Pre-made smoothies

  • Processed meats


If you think you felt misled before, this next category won't help you feel any better.

Many of the items we use to help flavor our food are just as processed as the food you've just tossed out...but, you may not think about these foods that much.

Let the labels be your guide... toss anything with "-ose," high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, fractionated oil, and preservatives.

Here's the game plan:

You know the drill now...

Anything that's been opened, goes in the trash.

Anything unopened can go in the box for donation - if you choose.

Here's what you're looking for:

  • Condiments such as BBQ sauce and other sweetened sauces

  • Sweetened relishes, mustards, and ketchup

  • Salad dressings

  • Bread crumbs, croutons, and other dried bread products

  • Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats

  • Spreads such as Cheez Whiz or sweetened cream cheeses

Remember what I said earlier...we're tossing these items today to help you stay on track with your healthy lifestyle goals. Doesn't mean you can't eat them later if you choose. However, there are so many great alternatives to these foods that are a simple Google search away. Just wait until you see how many brands are actually making clean, not-so-processed versions of the foods you love!


Speaking of alternatives...we're moving into our final category...So-so Foods, or, the foods you are having possibly having a hard time tossing.

With the popularity of the Whole30 and paleo diets, there are now so many great replacements for the foods you like.

I know one of the first things you're going to say..."those foods cost more." Yes, they typically do cost more than the food that has been scientifically modified to put the cheapest ingredients in while triggering your brain to crave more. And yes, this is a hot topic for me. You can read more about that in my post, My Whole30 Journey.

Here's the game plan:

If you now have a pile of food items in a "maybe" pile (don't worry - not judging)...

Review your goals for this Healthy Kitchen Makeover.

Review the ingredients list on your "maybe items" - if there's anything from the hotlist above, consider tossing it (trash or donation).

Make a note of the item so you can search for a goal-friendly option.

Here's what you're looking for:

  • things you can make yourself (ie: salad dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup) - one major benefit is these typically contain a lot less sugar!

  • things you can find higher-quality versions of (ie: butcher sausage instead of hot dogs)

  • better-for-you cooking fats (ie: replace margarine or cheap cooking sprays with extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, ghee, or grass-fed butter)

Step 3: Restock

CONGRATULATIONS! By making it this far you have taken a huge step to support your healthy lifestyle goals. But, your kitchen might be looking a bit bare of food. No's time to restock with healthy, whole foods.

Remember Berardi's First Law (from above)? Here's the corollary:

If a healthy food is in your possession and/or near you, you will eventually eat it.

WAIT - don't rush out to fill your home with tons of food just yet. It's best to have a game plan...or better yet, a meal plan! Meal planning helps ensure you by only the food items you need for the week, and to help use up items you have left from the week before. Using as you go helps to keep your kitchen in that "fresh makeover state" longer.

I've got a future blog post coming about meal planning. In the meantime, you can Google or Pinterest healthy recipes (now that you're more in tune with what that means for you)...I always start with a search for Whole30 recipes because they tend to be the cleanest.

Here are a few of my faves to get you started this week:

  • Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Burgers, by Paleo Running Momma

  • Healthy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potatoes, by Well Plated by Erin

  • BBQ Chicken Bowls with Sweet Potatoes and Coleslaw (Whole30), by 40 Aprons

As you're meal planning and shopping, be on the lookout for:

  • Colorful fruits and vegetables (you've heard it the rainbow!)...get organic if your budget allows (Check the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list for foods you should most consider buying also has the Clean 15 list for non-organic foods with the least exposure to pesticides and chemicals.)

  • Lean protein (the cleanest, leanest, highest quality you can afford)

  • Healthy fats (nuts & seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter)

  • Whole grains (found in the bulk section: steel-cut oats, quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, brown rice, barley)

  • Additional flavors and seasonings (fresh or dried herbs, salsa, vinegar, coconut aminos)

Last, but not least, remember to keep it simple. Keeping your kitchen stocked with whole, healthy food is a habit that you're forming...go slow and make the best choices you can for where you are today. If organic foods throw you into a tizzy, skip it! If the idea of trying a bunch of new recipes and ingredients gives you anxiety, stick with healthier versions of the stuff you know you like. You can ease into new ingredients and recipes over time.

Step 4: Celebrate!

WOW! High-fives for the whole family!! Just look at what you've accomplished. Pause for a moment of gratitude towards yourself for being strong through this process and for prioritizing your healthy lifestyle!

If the aesthetic of your kitchen/pantry needs some sprucing now that all the junk is gone, consider rewarding yourself with some organizers and "fancy but functional" containers to help keep your space looking clean and fresh.

Don't forget to take some AFTER photos. Compare your before and after pics...amazing right?

Healthy Kitchen Makeover Checklist

If you're ready for your DIY Healthy Kitchen Makeover, I've created a PDF checklist to help you through the process...I include all the details in the steps above plus a few bonus items like tools and appliances to stock your healthy kitchen with and a more detailed list of foods to consider in your restock.

Download today and keep it on hand for your first, and your seasonal, Healthy Kitchen Makeovers. (This process is also a great way to "Spring Clean" your kitchen, no matter what season it is. I like to do this at least twice each year.)

Get your FREE Healthy Kitchen Makeover Guide

I'd love to see your progress...EMAIL your pics to me at or tag me, @uplifthealthylifestyle on Facebook or Instagram.

If you need support through any step of this process, I'm here to help! Schedule a FREE (virtual) 30-minute goal-mapping session to talk about your goals and what support you're looking for.

Some of my offerings include:

  • Healthy Kitchen Makeover

  • Grocery Story Tour

  • Nourished Life Coaching Experience (8-weeks to focus on habits around food with meal plan support)

I'm looking forward to seeing all of the work towards setting up an environment that supports your healthy lifestyles!

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