One of the keys to successfully maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is to plan and be prepared. It’s a lot easier to eat healthfully if your kitchen is only stocked with healthy, nourishing foods! In this new series, I’ll be covering tips and tricks in the kitchen to not only help you clean out your pantry and restock your kitchen, but how to store different foods, keep grocery costs in check, and cut down on waste!
Planning the clean-out
Naturally, the first step is cleaning out the cupboards! However, before you get started, think about the type of clean-out you are going to do. Who is in your household? If it’s just you, then you’ve got it easy! But if you live with others, like a partner or children, will they be making these changes alongside you, or do you need to keep some of these food products for them? If you need to keep some things for them, then consider where in the kitchen you can store these foods separately from the others.
What to do with the purged products
There’s a difference between the foods you should be absolutely getting rid of and the foods that might not be ideal but you’d like to have occasionally in moderation.
If you’re getting rid of it completely, and it’s not expired, think about either donating it to a food bank, or perhaps gifting it to someone who still eats those products. If it needs to go in the bin, just make sure you’re cleaning out containers and recycling or even composting whatever is possible! (And remember that fats / oils should not be going down the sink.)
For foods that you would like to keep around for occasional consumption, think about storing them in a less convenient place in the kitchen. If you don’t see them as frequently, or it’s not as easy to access them, it could help you with moderation.
It’s important to self-reflect on these items before deciding what to keep. Are you able to moderate certain foods, or is it maybe easier for you to abstain entirely? Habits expert Gretchin Rubin discussed in her book, Better than Before, that some people lean more towards moderation and others towards abstaining – and it can be different depending on what it is that you are talking about.
1. Check expiration dates for both perishables and non-perishables and ditch everything that’s gone over.
2. Check the ingredients lists
Look for added sugars, preservatives, or junky fats that are all best avoided. It’s your call whether to keep or purge, but for a product you use often it’s probably best to ditch it and find a better solution. (Check out this blog post to read more on healthy vs. junky fats.) Google additives that you don’t recognize to see exactly what they are – expand your food IQ!
3. Get rid of any processed vegetable oils
This means oils like corn, soybean, canola / rapeseed, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, grapeseed, palm kernel oil, and peanut oil, along with the very imprecisely name “vegetable oil”. If you have any butter substitutes that are made with these oils you should also ditch them as well. (Check out this blog post to read more on healthy vs. junky fats.)
4. Check your nuts & seeds
Nuts & seeds contain fats that are quite delicate and can spoil fairly easily. In general, we tend to keep these ingredients around longer than we should, so if something has been gathering dust in the cupboard then now is the time to toss it.
5. Check your spice cupboard
Spices & herbs can also expire and go off. Take a look at any expiration dates and give them a shake to see if they haven’t clumped up from moisture. Check any blends to be sure that the only ingredients are spices and herbs and not added preservatives.
That’s it for your kitchen clean up! Next up will be stocking your pantry with all the essentials.