While I don’t love the vaguely defined term “clean eating”, I do love a clean kitchen. Many of you may find a lot of leftover goodies in your chaotic kitchen this week, and next week you’ll be anxious to get back to normal eating.
January is a great time to reorganize your kitchen so you can start the year off on a healthy foot. Start with the refrigerator, and then move on to the pantry and cabinets. Finally, clean the whole room.
- Literally empty the refrigerator, one shelf at a time, then doors. Wipe shelves down with a kitchen disinfectant spray, working from top to bottom, including doors
- Sort the food you removed from the refrigerator, check dates, determine if it should go back in or not (or on another shelf). Continue this process until you’ve emptied everything out, checked, sorted, and put back.
- Move open items to the front. If there’s only a few tablespoons left in a jar, it may be worth pitching now. Or you can figure out a way to work it into a recipe. Take note of any cheese or cream cheese that’s expiring and plan a meal around it before expiration.
- Use up leftover veggies. Do you have a leftover veggie tray or the bag of broccoli you never got around to cooking? Now is a great time to whip up a stir fry or make veggie soup. This soup recipe makes a vegetable puree for the soup base.
- Have leftover shrimp cocktail? Chop it and make our salsa for the next football game.
- Chop leftover ham or roasts into bitesize pieces and freeze. This can then be pulled out of the freezer for a quick dinner, stew, fajita, or Western omelet.
- Did you get too many candy gifts or have leftover cookies? Take unopened packages to your local food bank or freeze them for a future gathering.
- If you overbought canned goods or other pantry ingredients, consider donating them to your food bank or church. I’ve often kept items in the pantry, and after all of the cooking over the holidays, they end up staying there too long. Make the donation now while the “best buy” date is still good.
- If you have leftover chips or other tempting junk food, send it into your child’s school for the teacher lounge, or send it back with your college student to share with friends.
Keep Counters Clear and Clean
It’s still flu season, so once your refrigerator and cabinets are cleaned, wipe down everything. Use a kitchen disinfectant spray on all counter tops and faucets, and wipe down the outside of your cabinets with a damp cloth. Fill the sink with hot, soapy water, and drop things into it that are sticky or marked (microwave turntable, utensils, toaster oven ‘crumb catcher’, coffee carafe).
Don’t forget to wipe down all appliances, including the top of the refrigerator or microwave, and vacuum and mop the floor.
A clean kitchen keeps food safe, and so does proper hand-washing. Always remember to wash your hands frequently when handling and cooking food, and be sure your children do as well (it’s always a good idea to have your children wash their hands right after school).
This is my idea of clean eating. Happy New Year!