With warmer weather comes the desire to throw open the windows and let the fresh air and sunshine in. As we look to wear lighter clothes and eat lighter meals, we are also often compelled to pare down and clean out – a good definition of spring cleaning! It makes sense that after a long winter, spring feels like a reboot, and we want our environment to reflect that! While closets and drawers may be the first things that come to mind when getting ready to spring clean, our kitchens could also benefit from a good spring cleaning, something that can actually improve our health!
Spring cleaning the pantry:
- Check all expiration dates and “best by” dates for opened and opened packages. Discard anything that is past the expiration date and consider how soon you will use products that are past the “best by” dates. These dates indicate the best flavor of the product.
- Take stock of the kinds of foods you have available. Do you have whole foods (like brown rice, dried beans, canned tomatoes, etc.) or processed foods (chips, cookies, and crackers)? While considering your family’s needs, aim for more whole foods than processed foods.
- Make a list for your next shopping trip that includes whole food pantry staples. These include brown rice, dried lentils, dried beans, vegetable or chicken stock, whole grain pastas, canned vegetables, canned tomatoes, and jars of red sauce.
- Don’t forget to check your spices for freshness. A well-stocked spice cabinet can add variety to your meals without added sugar or fat.
Spring cleaning the refrigerator:
- Like the pantry, you should check for expiration dates and “best by” dates, especially on items you use less frequently, such as salad dressings and condiments.
- Empty your refrigerator and give it a good cleaning.
- Organize the refrigerator to put leftovers at eye level if possible, so they are less likely to be lost at the back of the refrigerator.
- Remember that the door of your refrigerator is not as consistently cold as the inside shelves, so only store stable products on the door of the refrigerator.
- Fill your refrigerator with vegetables, fruits, and lean protein rather than processed foods such as deli meats, baked goods, and prepared salads.
Planning your meals weekly, or even monthly, can help you shop efficiently. Cleaning out your pantry and refrigerator and stocking your kitchen with healthy options will assist you in making healthy meals and snacks for you and your family!