March 2, 2013

4 Easy Steps to a Spring-Clean Kitchen

Last year around this time, I gave a presentation titled: spring cleaning your diet.  The presentation went well but I did not provide the information you may be expecting.  I didn't talk about losing weight coming into summer, detoxing, or gardening.  Actually, I didn't give much information on how to eat specifically; I talked about spring cleaning the pantry.  Now that it is March, I feel the urge to do a little spring cleaning once again.  I attacked my kitchen cabinets today and found myself reflecting on how relevant my presentation last year was to my current project.  I thought you might feel the same change in the winds as I do now and yearn to clean up some of your winter dust-bunnies.  If you open your pantry and things fall out on you, it may be time for a spring clean….

Step 1:  PLAN
Before you jump in to your project, reflect on your goals and desires.  What do you want to do more of:  plan meals, grocery shopping lists, increase fruits and vegetables, eat in more?   Consider exactly you want to happen:  how many more vegetables do you want to eat?  How much weight do you want to lose?  How many times a week can you cook dinner at home?  Having a very specific plan will give you focus and strengthen your chances of being successful.   For me, I want to create a meal plan every Sunday to set myself up for success during the week.  And I want to be able to see what I’m working with in my kitchen.

This involves taking stock of what you already have in your house and eliminating any excess.  Spend an afternoon taking everything out of your packed freezer, digging through the back of your refrigerator, or discovering the dark corners of your pantry.  Instantly, anything expired or undesirable must go.  Further, (as I discovered today) if you don’t know what it is, you need to get rid of it.  This will be one of the easiest steps; do not over-analyze it.  Keep foods that you may use in a recipe soon.  If you uncover an opened, stale package, toss it.   If you have several boxes of the same food, perhaps you only need to keep two and can donate the rest.  In my cupboard today, I found 12 cans of beans, three cans of coconut milk, four half-used boxes of noodles, and way too many jars of baking powder and cream of tartar.  It took me awhile to go through all my spices and combine jars of the same product but at least now I know what I have and can more easily use them when cooking.

Step 3: CLEAN
Easy:  soap, water, dry and you’re done.  I took the time to wash out my silverware organizer and other random items that truly needed it.  Cleaning is the easy part. 

Start by prioritizing.  Plan to put things that you use most often in the easiest to reach places.  If you cook with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper every day, have them somewhere very convenient where you can access them easily.  Secondly, group similar items.  Put all your baking goods together such as baking powder, vanilla, sugars, and flours.  Keep dry goods together such as pasta, rice and liquids together like oils, sauces so you can always find certain ingredients easily. Finally, utilize your space.  Get creative with ways to store foods so that they stay fresh, safe, and can be easily utilized.  Organizing your space is very personal and the way that you find something is unique; take the time to reflect on what makes the most sense for you and your kitchen.

After I organized my cabinets today, I can actually see everything I have.  I pulled out some items I wanted to use this week which helped me plan my menu.  If you have an assortment of items, type them into a search engine and you will get a long list of recipes that combine the products you have on hand.  That’s how I came up with Monday’s recipe.  Here’s what I’ll be eating this week, thanks to my spring clean:

Monday:  carrot-coconut curry with chickpeas
Tuesday: salmon on rice noodles with a toasted sesame-based sauce
Wednesday: mushroom and herb risotto
Thursday: miso soup and tofu stir-fry
Friday: home-made lentil soup

Let me know what you put together from the things in your pantry.  Good luck and happy spring to you!

No comments:

Post a Comment