Kitchen Spring Cleaning…

picture of cluttered pantry

….Really, I’m Getting Around to it!

Ever since the season officially rolled-in last month, I’ve been thinking about spring cleaning. The truth is I always look forward to it being done, but it’s something I don’t actually want to do. I’m much better at talking about all the closets I’m going to clean out and which colors I’m going to use to spruce up a room, than actually doing it.

My procrastination, though, has gotten the better of me.  One area of my home, namely my kitchen, needs my undivided attention. It has nothing to do with cleanliness…I work hand at keeping up with that part. What my kitchen does need is a good clearing out. Out with the old and in with the new.

I’m not bragging when I tell you I shop healthfully 95% of the time. This is something I have to do in order to remain within my BMI and keeping the weight off is something I want to do. But, because I like to have family and friends over as often as I can, my kitchen does tend to get cluttered with food that #1. I shouldn’t eat or #2 I don’t want or need to really eat.

So, right after I post this entry, I’m turning on some Lady GaGa and getting around to cleaning out my kitchen a vengeance! Here’s is my gameplan:

PANTRY/CUPBOARDS

  • Every can, every box and every package that is beyond it’s “Best Used By” date goes right in the trash.
  • All foods that I can’t easily fit into my food plan (empty-calorie food like the box of crackers that is too high in saturated fat for my liking), I will take to the local food bank.
  • I will use my PointsPlus calculator to figure out the PointsPlus value of all foods I am keeping and mark down this number with a Sharpie on the container, can or box. I will also make sure that I move these foods to the front of the shelf.
  • To make sure I have everything in stock that I need for future use, I will start a shopping list. I never want to run out of beans, whole grain pastas and rice, salsa, certain cereals, fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, sugar-free maple syrup, fat-free chicken broth, dried fruit, almonds, Weight Watchers snacks and snack bars, and canned fruit packed in its own juice. As I unpack bags from my grocery store run, I will also mark the PointsPlus value of each item put in the pantry.
  • Some spices tend to go bad. I will do a nose-test of the ones I have on the shelf and get rid of the jars that don’t smell fresh.
  • I will check my inventory of various vinegars and olive oils. These really spruce up my salads and meats.

REFRIGERATOR

  • I will pull everything out of the refrigerator. I will get rid of foods that are no longer fresh, as well as foods that are not healthy for me and my family, such as high-sugar drinks.
Food
Life Expectancy Estimates
Fresh vegetables: greens, peppers, cauliflower etc.
3-5 days
Root vegetables: carrots, turnips
1-3 weeks
Berries
1-2 days
Citrus, apples, melons
1-3 weeks
Milk
5 days, opened
Yogurt
7-10 days
Raw seafood, poultry and ground meats
1-2 days
Raw fresh steaks, chops and roasts
3-5 days
Cooked (leftover) poultry and meat
3-4 days
Fresh eggs
3-5 weeks

Refrigerator Chart Source: American Institute for Cancer Research

  • I will add fresh veggies, fruit and low-fat dairy items to my shopping list. I’ll be enough to last 1 week in fridge.
  • Coming up with a organized refrigerator layout plan is a must! When I come back from shopping, fresh fruit and vegetables will go into the produce drawers. (These are usually the lower drawers in the fridge. Less humidity means the produce will last longer.) Low-fat luncheon meats and cheeses will go into the dairy drawer. Condiments and dressings (with PointsPlus values marked, if any) will go back onto refrigerator door shelf. Skim milk, non-fat cottage cheese, the carton of egg-whites, low-fat yogurt, etc, will go onto main shelf, within easy reach. Again, everything will be marked with PointsPlus values.
  • I will make sure I have Benecal or Take Control on hand instead of margarines made with transfats. Both of these products contain sterol and stanol esters, which are  substances derived from plants that prevent the body from absorbing as much cholesterol as it normally would.
  • I will always keep special, more nutritious treats, such as houmus, FlatOut bread and fat-free pudding, on hand, mainly because I enjoy them but also because they help me to avoid eating less healthful snacks.

FREEZER

  • I will begin this process just like I had with the refrigerator; everything gets pulled out and set on the counter.
  • I will immediately throw out any foods that are UFOs (Unidentified Freezer Objects), freezer burned or unhealthy.
  • I will keep my SmartOnes dinners and desserts and Vitalicious muffins very handy and close to the door.
  • Adding to the shopping list is a must! I want to make sure I have enough lean-cut meats, poultry, fish fillets, vegetables, low-fat ice milk/cream snacks (already portioned-out), veggie burgers, sugar-free Popsicles and whole-wheat toaster waffles.
  • I’ll leave plenty of space for my healthy left-overs which I’ll make a point to  package in either freezer-safe containers or bags AND I will add its name, serving size and PointsPlus value on the package.
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