Start off on the right foot this New Year and give your kitchen a healthy makeover!
By Staci O’Connor MS, RD, CLC, CDN
For busy people, a well-stocked pantry and a clean refrigerator is a must. A kitchen makeover is easy and by following the simple steps below, you can turn your kitchen into one that will help you eat light and right all year long.
Clean and organize your pantry, cupboards, and refrigerator:
- Out with the old and in with the new: throw out old food and food that has expired. Remember to check the use-by or sell-by dates on food packages. (Note: these dates do not apply once the package is actually opened.)
- Move commonly used items towards the front.
- Group canned items together.
- Designate a specific shelf or drawer for the most commonly used items. Even consider designating a specific shelf in your refrigerator for leftovers (don’t forget to label and date leftovers before you place them in the refrigerator or freezer).
- Create a leftover storage system where you can leave freezer bags, plastic storage containers, labels, and markers. This way you can label and date everything before you store them.
- Label shelves so that you know where certain ingredients are located and this way when you run out of certain ingredients you can quickly add them to your grocery shopping list.
- Keep a notepad on your refrigerator door to write down any item(s) that need replenishing and so that you can keep your kitchen fully stocked all year round.
- Neaten up your utensil drawer so that you can easily grab the right tool(s). Even think about hanging frequently used items on the wall or store them in an open container for easy access.
- Neaten up your recipe box and cookbooks so that you have easy access to healthy recipes all year long.
- Replenish salt-free seasoning blends to add flavor when you are trying to cook without adding a lot of added sodium. Look into Mrs. Dash flavors. Keep all spices and dried herbs in a cool, dry place to maintain freshness.
- Replace refined food products like: white rice, white pasta, and white bread with complex carbohydrates like: brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and barley.
- Have a can of non-stick cooking spray on hand or consider purchasing an oil mister.
- Load up on fresh and frozen produce.
- Don’t overfill your refrigerator or freezer, without good circulation it is difficult to maintain the proper temperatures to keep things fresh. Make sure that your refrigerator is <40 degrees and your freezer 0 degrees or less. Place a thermometer in a visible location (not on the door) and check it often since temperatures can fluctuate, if the temperature gets too high be sure to adjust the controls.
- Clean your refrigerator and freezer out and wipe up any spills that occur immediately. Once a week wipe down the interior walls, shelves, and rubber gaskets with a weak cleaning solution to sanitize.