February is coming to an end and spring is in the air (that’s probably a full-fledged lie considering most of you reading this probably have snow in your near future). However, with the idea of spring comes spring cleaning. So often, people are focused on their closets and the never-ending bathroom clutter, but cleaning out your kitchen is just as important of a task, and one that can bring you wellness and joy.

THE PANTRY

If it’s been awhile since you’ve organized your pantry, now is the time.  Be sure to check expiration dates if you know something has been sitting for a while. And if that something is “Oreos” or last year’s Halloween candy, throw. it. away.

When organizing this space, think of where your eye is first led: is it the chip shelf? If so, rearrange items so that you’re directed to the good stuff when you open the door. Continue to organize this space in a way that works for you: if that’s canned items on one shelf, or breakfast foods on another, do it in a way that makes your life easier. Using mason jars is an easy way to cut down on oversized boxes: oats, rice, quinoa, and similar items store well.  Baskets are life changing in the pantry; they help you see items better as opposed to foods getting hidden behind others. And get you some of those handy clip things (is there a better word for this?) to also downsize on excess container space.

If going to the pantry is your downfall, consider moving it altogether to a place not even in the kitchen. For some, this truly helps them limit empty calories and mindless snacking. Think, the coat closet. That might be comical, but the thought of walking to the coat closet for a processed snack may just be what you need to look to the fridge for some carrots and celery instead.  And honestly, throwing away processed snacks altogether may just be what you need to start fresh. Thinking of the pantry as a place to find ingredients for your meals as opposed to a snack haven is a good start in cutting down on inefficient eating.

PANTRY STAPLES

  • Beans, no salt added
  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Crushed tomatoes (low sodium)
  • Diced tomatoes (low sodium)
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Peanut butter (natural, no sugar added)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Raw nuts
  • Low sodium vegetable broth
  • Tahini
  • Onions
  • Sweet Potatoes

THE FRIDGE

The idea of cleaning out the fridge may be scary. Have you ever seen what’s lurking on the bottom of your produce drawer? —it can get a little questionable, but starting with a clean space will motivate you to keep the fridge tidy and to also be better organized with your cold items.

Just like with the pantry, sort through all your items to find what’s old or simply unused to toss in the trash. If you use something every day, like yogurts, keep them near the front.  Just like with baskets for the pantry, clear bins in the fridge can help keep items organized in zones and make it easier to find what you’re looking for. If you’re into leftovers, keep them stored in clear containers also near the front so they don’t become next month’s scary fridge find.

Storing produce can be challenging especially with minimal drawer space. In fact, those crisper drawers aren’t meant to be filled full—it depletes airflow which in turn will make your fruits and veggies rot quicker. Store the drawers no more than two-thirds full and be sure to follow the humidity guidelines (if your drawers offer this feature). Choose items like oranges and limes that have thick skin to be stored outside of the drawer if you have an overflow.

FRIDGE STAPLES

  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Berries
  • La croix
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Lunch meat
  • Nut milk
  • Eggs

THE COUNTER

If your counter space has food on it, stop what you’re doing and make a spot for these items in the pantry. If you think it’s just for aesthetics, think again. A study found that those who had a box of cereal on their counter weighed significantly more than those who didn’t. Your counters should only have produce that’s not kept in the refrigerator. Seeing this visual will make you more apt to choose a healthy snack rather than opening up the pantry (one can hope).

Make this space a place you want to be. A place where you want to spend time cooking. By enjoying your kitchen and your area you will be more apt to spend time creating healthy dishes.  Whether this means paint the walls a fun color, hang a picture that makes you happy, or clear the clutter, you do you and put some happy in your cooking space.