Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Clean Your Fridge and Pantry

We're on to week 2 of your spring cleaning challenge! Did you take stock of you fridge and pantry last week? {Check back on the list here.}

Even if you dread spring cleaning, surely you can't help but like the feeling you have when you're finished, right? Like a weight has been lifted. Refreshed. Like it's time for a fresh start.

When you're ready to dive in to your cleaning spree, don't forget about your kitchen! Fridge, cabinets, pantry and all. A healthy lifestyle starts with your food environment at home. Create a healthy environment and healthy eating becomes easier!

So here's my step by step approach:

Step 1: Pull all the dry foods out of your pantry and cabinets (wherever you keep them stored).
Step 2: Separate food into three categories:
  1. Healthy foods to keep.
  2. Foods that aren't so healthy. These are foods that should not come back into the house or be kept on hand (cookies, snack cakes, candy, etc). You may choose to either trash them, give them away or gradually eat them until they're gone. But after they're gone they don't come back! 
  3. Foods to throw away because they are expired or nobody wants to eat them.
Step 3: Decide how you'll organize your food when it goes back into the pantry. I like to keep foods in categories, like this:
  • Pastas
  • Rices and other grains, like quinoa and barley
  • Cereals, both cold and hot
  • Beans
  • Vegetables...and so forth
It also helps to have storage bins and racks to group items together so that your pantry stays organized! And I'm a sucker for glass storage vessels too, as you can probably see. I like to buy 'em cheap at IKEA.

Care for  a peek inside a real-life dietitian's pantry? I swear it always looks like this. Here you go:

Step 4: Before you put the food back in, give the shelves a good cleaning. Then place items on shelves according to category. Make a separate space for the items you've decided shouldn't be kept on hand (these are the foods you'll finish, but they won't return on the next grocery trip).

Step 5: Now perform the same steps in your refrigerator and freezer. Decide on "staples" to keep and items to weed out. Give it a good cleaning, categorize items and restock the shelves! Refer back to last week's list for more information about my recommended fridge and freezer "staples." Here's my fridge after picking up this week's co-op (sorry it's not the best pic in the world):

Step 6: If you're really on a roll, now move on to cabinets that hold dishes, utensils, pots and pans, etc. Having the right tools and an organizational system simplifies food preparation.

These are essential kitchen tools I like to keep on hand in my kitchen:

  • Various pots, pans, baking dishes (I prefer mostly stainless steel, rather than non-stick because it lasts longer) and cooking utensils
  • Cast iron skillet
  • A full set of knives (for everyday cutting, paring, chopping, bread, etc.) and a sharpener. Did you know a sharp knife is more efficient and less likely to cause an injury?
  • Food processor
  • Food dehydrator
  • Measuring cups and spoons (a couple sets)
  • Jars for mixing dressings
  • Nesting mixing bowls
  • Handheld mixer
  • Blender
  • Veggie peeler
  • Apple slicer (MAJOR time-saver)
  • Mandoline slicer
  • Herb scissors (makes slicing fresh herbs so simple and fast!)
  • Pizza cutter
  • Whisks, large and small
  • Tongs
  • Plastic spatulas (I use them all the time to sauté)
  • Can openers, hand-held and electric
  • Rolling pin
  • Colanders, large and small
  • Lettuce spinner
  • Lots of glass and BPA-free plastic containers for food storage

Check out the GoodFood Store for some of my favorite products. {If you order from the GoodFood Store, you're supporting the GoodFood blog without any extra cost to you! Orders are placed through Amazon.}

Here's this weekend's challenge: Follow the steps above to clean out your kitchen, then stock it with healthy "staples." Don't know exactly what to buy? If you're looking for specifics, download my "Well Stocked Kitchen" list. It's only 5 bucks and you can print it every week before you go to the grocery. When you finish, share your pictures on my Facebook page!

Next week we'll wrap up my spring cleaning series with tips for pulling together quick, healthy meals from staple items you now have stocked in your pantry and fridge!