While many of us are getting rid of clothes we no longer wear or items we always say we are going to use again and then never actually do and it ends up piled in the corner taking up space... Have you ever thought about doing the same thing with your kitchen? I think it's safe to assume that many of us have some items sitting in our fridge and pantry that have expired and are no longer any good. That bottle of salad dressing that got pushed to the back and smells a little funny now? Or maybe that half opened box of cookies that you forgot about... Wait, who am I kidding? No one will let the cookies go bad (at least not in my house!). Even canned goods that you haven't used, that aren't expired, can be donated to a food drive/food bank if you don't think you are going to use them.
Keeping your kitchen organized is key to living a healthy lifestyle. If you have a hard time finding things or the inside of your fridge and pantry looks like a balancing act, then maybe it's time to reevaluate the situation. Having an organized kitchen is essential so you can easily access what you need, and so you don't spend 10 minutes debating if those left-overs are still good!
Food has expiration dates for a reason, so if it's expired, throw it out! Just about everything has an expiration date... even spices. If you notice your spice cabinet is a pretty full, it might not be a bad idea to clean that out too! HINT: If the spice has become hardened or is clumping together... it's no longer good! Too many tupperware containers making a cabinet cluttered? Get rid of some! Cleaning out your kitchen allows room better organization and healthier choices!
How to organize your kitchen to help you make healthier choices:
1. Only buy what you NEED: Buying in bulk can be a real money saver... sometimes. If you are buying bulk in perishable items, you're probably throwing a lot more away than you realize. Only buy produce and other perishable items for a week at a time so they don't spoil.
2. Place things where you can see them: Place those every day ,go-to items at EYE LEVEL. Place healthier choices in front of the not-so-healthy choices (if you can't see it, you are less likely to eat it!) Or even if you buy a new product that you've been wanting to try, make sure it's in plain sight... If not, more than likely, you will forget it's there.
3. Don't overfill you kitchen: As I mentioned, buying in bulk can save you money sometimes, but buying in bulk can also clutter your kitchen. Buying in smaller quantities will prevent you from overfilling your kitchen and allow you to better utilize your space. This will also allow you to see exactly what you have, so you don't go out to buy more when you just couldn't see it.
4. Label everything: It may seem a little over-the-top, but labeling what an item is (if not in it's original container), and when you opened it, will not only save you time, but money as well. I know I've spent too much time standing in front of the fridge asking myself if something was still good. I recommend doing that mostly for items that you don't replenish on a regular basis... like if you are making a recipe and it calls for a 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and you have to buy a whole big container for such a small amount... more than likely it will spoil before you can use the rest of it, so it's good to label it so you don't use it a couple weeks later thinking that it's still good. It's wise to label left-overs too! Just stick a piece of tape with the date it was cooked on the container! HINT: You shouldn't eat leftovers if it's more than 7 days old!
5. Don't neglect your freezer: While I've mostly been talking about your pantry and refrigerator, don't forget about your freezer! Frozen foods can last much longer than foods that are just in the fridge or pantry, but they still go bad, so make you to label when you bought something/packaged something that will be stored in your freezer.