Happy New Year! Are you starting off the New Year with health and nutrition goals in mind? Well, a healthy body starts in the kitchen. I think the saying is “you get fit at the gym and you lose weight in the kitchen.” Am I right? Well if you ask me, a healthy kitchen is one that is clean, well-organized and always stocked with the right foods to keep you on track.
Photography credit: Courtney Michelle Photography
I start every New Year off with a deep clean of my kitchen and a thorough audit of my cupboards, pantry and fridge. For me, a clean kitchen is a happy kitchen, and a well-organized, well-stocked kitchen makes me excited to cook. Want to organize your kitchen like a dietitian? Below is my personal check list.
Start with a Deep Clean
Yep, this is the part I look forward to the LEAST every year too, but trust me, the short-term work and will bring you long-term joy. Your kitchen should always be clean and ready for your next cooking adventure.
- Cupboads/Drawers: Go through each and every cupboard and drawer. Wipe down everything (both the contents and the cupboard/drawer itself) with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove all of the dust and crumbs that have collected over the past year.
- Microwave: For all the times when your tasty creations overflowed or your leftovers exploded and you were too busy to do anything about it – it’s time to clean it up. Place a large microwave safe bowl with 2 cups water and 2 tsp vinegar and heat for 3-4 minutes to create some steam around the splattered and caked-on food. Remove bowl and wipe the microwave clean.
- Oven: Yep, clean it out. Remove all racks and scrub them with soap and a steel wool scouring pad. For all of the grease inside – use an oven cleaner (I use Easy-Off) to lift the grease and wipe it clean. And while you’re at it, scrub the stove top and those burner grates.
- Refrigerator/Freezer: Remove all food items and wipe the fridge clean. Just do it.
- Coffee Maker: Fill your coffee maker with equal parts water and vinegar. Let brew for half the brewing cycle. Turn the coffee maker off and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Finish brewing. Scrub the machine and all its parts and brew once more with water to rinse.
- Miscellaneous: Wipe down the sink, kitchen surfaces, appliance facades, cupboard handles and that gross kitchen garbage can – any place where food and grime may have accumulated over the past year.
Perform a Kitchen Audit
Now that the hard part is done, take time to seriously assess the contents in your kitchen. Over the years, I have streamlined my kitchen organization for maximum cooking efficiency. And when it comes to cookware and appliances, I have two golden rules: 1) it has to be dishwasher-safe (OK, there are maybe 5 things – like family heirlooms – in my kitchen total that don’t follow this rule, but for the most part, if I don’t have to hand wash it, I’m more likely to use it) and 2) it has to serve more than one purpose (when it comes to kitchen gadgets, I’m a minimalist – why have an avocado slicer when you already have a knife?).
- Donate: Less is more. Go through all of your cupboards and get rid of any appliances, pans, plates, etc. that you haven’t used in the past year. If the items are still in good shape, donate them.
- Replace: Do you need new cutting boards? Do your knives need to be sharpened? Did you break some of your dinnerware last year? Make a list of your needs and, as budget allows, focus on replacing these items throughout the upcoming year.
- Toss: Throw away any items from your pantry, fridge and freezer that have expired.
- Restock: Fill your kitchen with all of these healthy pantry staples so you’re ready to create a nutritious meal at any time.
Create a Command Center
Do you have ambitions to become that person who always shops with a grocery list and plans meals ahead of time for the rest of the week? Then you need to consider organization methods that will help you do this.
- De-clutter Your Refrigerator Door – The only things that should be adhered to your refrigerator door are the following:
- Notepad – for making a weekly shopping list
- White Board – for keeping track of the meals you plan to make for the week
- Magnetic Container – something to hold pens, coupons and a pack of sticky notes (for reminders and notes to family members)
- Label Materials – masking tape and a permanent market for labeling and dating leftovers
- Magenets and Clips – just a few for miscellaneous uses
- Calendar – to keep all family activities and schedules organized
- Develop Recipe Binders – If you love to cook, you likely have an abundance of cookbooks, recipes pinned to Pinterest and blog pages bookmarked online. But what do you do when you find a recipe you love? One that you find yourself going back to over and over again? I keep recipe binders in my kitchen to hold hard copies of my favorite tried-and-true recipes and new recipes I hope to try in the future. I even use plastic sleeves to protect recipes from spills while cooking and number the pages so that I can find things easily. It may sound like overkill, but it works.
- Keep a Notebook – I like to keep a small notebook on top of my fridge for when I need to jot down ideas for developing a new recipe or to help me think through my menu planning for the week. You’d be surprised at how handy it can be to reference these notes at a later date.
Ready, set, get organized! Once organized, use our What’s in Season guides or check out one of our favorite healthy cookbooks of the year to inspire your meal planning.
Photography credit: Courtney Michelle Photography