Yeah, yeah, you know that late-night spoonfuls of peanut butter can pack on pounds. But did you realize that how you organize your refrigerator could be working against you, too? Make your icebox an ally with our pros' tricks.
Put snack pairings together
"I keep foods that are smart snack combos (natural almond butter and apples, or low-fat cottage cheese and celery) close to each other. This reminds me of the good snack options I have and makes it really fast to assemble them."
—Kristin McGee, yoga instructor and Health contributing editor
Hydrate your herbs
"Place herbs like parsley and cilantro stems-down in a cup of H2O and cover with a plastic bag. The water keeps them fresh longer (just change it every few days). Seeing the herbs will make you want to cook with them—a good thing, as they add flavor but hardly any calories or sodium."
—Kathy Kaehler, celebrity trainer and founder of Sunday Set-Up, a healthy-eating club
Pick minis for trigger foods
"If you love avocados, say, but don't want to overdo it, store serving-size containers of guacamole on a middle shelf. Guac is full of healthy fat and great in taco salad or for dipping veggies. You can get portion sizes of cheese and chocolate, too."
—Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of “The Flexitarian Diet”
Move back your comfort foods
"Put less healthy meals, such as macaroni and cheese, in opaque containers. Then hide them behind your healthy stuff so they're not as top-of-mind."
—Jessica Fishman Levinson, RDN, author and nutrition consultant
Store cooked grains
"When I have a container of precooked grains, like barley or quinoa, I put a half-cup measuring cup inside. Grains can be difficult to eyeball, so using a measuring cup to scoop out a portion prevents me from serving more than I need."
—Cynthia Sass, RD, Health's contributing nutrition editor
Stock backup vegetables
"Storing jarred veggies, like roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and pickled beets, on a shelf in the fridge is ideal when your week is crazy busy. They're perfect additions to salads and soups and don't require any prep time."
—Stephanie Middleberg, RD, New York City nutritionist
"All-veggie salsas are filled with flavor and nutrients but contain very few calories, and you can top more than just tacos with them—for example, turkey burgers or potatoes."
—Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center and author of "Disease-Proof"
Stash a multitasking condiment
"Grainy Dijon mustard is low-calorie and adds a savory, rustic flavor. Use it in salad dressings and marinades and in place of some—or all—of the mayo called for in a recipe (say, for tuna salad)."
—Jessica Fishman Levinson. RDN
Lighten up juice
"Cut it with seltzer water to slash calories (the fizz keeps it from tasting boring). Right when you get home from the market, fill a pitcher one-third of the way with juice and two-thirds of the way with seltzer."
—Kelsey Nixon, author of “Kitchen Confidence”
Keep a natural sweetener
"It's nice to have fruit-sweetened jams, which are relatively low in sugar. They're tasty with peanut butter on a brown-rice wrap, on oatmeal or drizzled on low-fat ice cream for dessert."
Choose a good cheese
"Buy blocks of hard cheeses, such as Parmesan and Asiago, because you have to physically shred them with a grater when you're using them in recipes or as a garnish. This makes you very aware of just how much cheese you're adding, which helps with portion (and calorie) control."
Save the date
"To make sure my leftover fruits and vegetables won't go uneaten, I write down dates on plastic baggies and containers so I know how long they've been in my refrigerator."
—Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer and author of “The Body Reset Diet”
Spa-ify your water
"I keep big pitchers of water infused with mint or ginger and in-season fruit or citrus slices in the fridge up front. It usually lasts a couple of days, and it's a great way to stay hydrated without lots of sugar or calories. Also, because it looks so refreshing, it makes me want to pour a glass!"
—Cynthia Sass, RD
Think outside the crisper
"We are three times as likely to pick up the first thing we see in the fridge, but the problem is, we often put our favorite not-so-healthy foods at eye level. So store some veggies on the top shelf rather than just in the crisper."
—Brian Wansink, PhD, author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think”
Buy yogurt in bulk
"A tub of Greek yogurt in your fridge is a must. It's not only a breakfast staple—it works as a substitute for so many fattening spreads, such as sour cream and cream cheese."
—Eden Grinshpan, host of Eden Eats and Log On & Eat With Eden Grinshpan on the Cooking Channel
Have quick protein handy
"I boil a bunch of eggs at the beginning of the week for a high-protein, satisfying and nutritious option that's easy to grab and go. Not to mention, they're simple to put in a breakfast wrap or slice on a salad to make it a full meal."
—Ellie Krieger, RD, author of “Weeknight Wonders”
No more wasted food
"Once a week, scan the fridge and pull forward items that need to be finished, like opened tomato paste or Greek yogurt. It'll remind you to use them and to cook at home, which is healthier 99 percent of the time."
—Melissa d'Arabian, host of the Food Network's Ten Dollar Dinners