Spring is finally here. That means it is time to give the house a deep cleaning. Of course, this includes my kitchen. From throwing away expired food, cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer, and even labeling spices, my kitchen is now clean and organized. This helps me stick to healthy eating habits. Let’s explore some simple ways to keep any kitchen, big or small, fancy or simple, in tip-top shape. They may even save you a couple bucks too.
Throw Away Expired Food: While I do this during spring cleaning, I also like to do this seasonally. I go through my cabinets, refrigerator and freezer and throw out food that has passed its expiration or “use by” date. For food that has passed its “best by” date or is about to expire, I use those foods within the following two weeks. The difference between “expired” and “use by” vs “best by” is that food that has expired is no longer safe to consume, while food that has a “best by” date is still OK to eat. However, there may be some issues with quality (such as texture and taste).
Organize Cabinets: Hopefully, after you do this once you won’t have to do it again. But if you haven’t already, organize your cabinets. That way you can see what you have and what you don’t have. You also won’t have to spend minutes searching for your salad spinner or the one-cup tea set your mom bought you for Christmas. And when you can easily see what you already have, you won’t have to spend five minutes standing in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store trying to remember if you have any oatmeal. Use clear containers and a label maker so you can easily see what you have and how much is left.
Label Everything: If your cabinet is full of spices, this tip is for you! By putting your spices in uniform jars and labeling them, it makes everything so much easier to find. Not to mention, if you buy spices in bulk, which tend to be in bags, you won’t have to worry about spilling them everywhere after you open them—cleaning up powdered turmeric is not an experience I wish on anyone—or throwing out a spice because you’ll never figure out what it is.
Also, like organizing your cabinets, if you see your spices daily, it’s easier to know what you have and what you don’t so that you don’t accidently buy one you already have.
Keep It Clean: A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen, and a clean kitchen will make you want to use it! If the thought of cleaning your kitchen after cooking is daunting, then I highly recommend meal prep. I adopted meal prepping to ensure I only had to clean my kitchen, at most, twice a week. Before meal prepping, I would clean my kitchen daily after making dinner, and it was very time-consuming. Now I spend one day of the week preparing and cooking food for the entire week, and then clean up my kitchen afterwards. And the great thing is, it only happens once a week.
Utilize Space: At 5’3”, it’s very difficult to reach the top of my cabinets, which are 8 feet high. So instead of trying to cram everything in cabinets that I can reach, I decided to buy a stool. Despite such a small purchase, this has made big changes in how I can utilize my kitchen. Again, I can see everything I need and I know what it is in cabinets. I keep the things I rarely use on the top shelves, as well as treats like cookies and candies. This helps to deter me from making my occasional splurge an hourly treat.
Keep Everything You Want to Use in Sight: I will use salt, oil and garlic every day regardless of whether it’s on the top shelf or within reach on my counter. On the other hand, I always forgot about my cookbooks when they were in a box under my bed. Since moving them to my nightstand, I use them a lot more often. In fact, I read them before bed to find a new recipe to try.
This can easily be applied to more than just cookbooks. Bought a spice, but haven’t used it yet? Put it in the front of the cabinet. Maybe you want to eat more fruit and veggies? Instead of placing them in the crisper drawer, leave them out on the shelves. If they’re easy to see, it’s easier to use them more often.
So if you haven’t yet, spend some time spring-cleaning your kitchen. These tips can help to encourage a healthy lifestyle, and it will make your kitchen a space that you’ll love cooking and eating in.