Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen to Support Your Healthy Habits
Now is the perfect time of year to make sure that your healthy eating habits are supported where they start - in your kitchen. Spring cleaning your pantry, fridge and freezer is a great way to initiate and maintain healthier eating habits. Not only should you give all surface areas and storage areas a good thorough cleaning and toss food that is mouldy or expired, but also take this opportunity to identify less healthy items that you may not want to continue to purchase.
Using an all-natural surface cleaner with essential oils is my preferred way to clean my kitchen. One of my favourite recipes includes: 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 tsp castile soap, 8 drops lemongrass essential oil, 15 drops tea tree essential oil, and 20 drops lemon essential oil. You can easily switch up the oils for a different scent such as lavender and peppermint.
Here are some tips to help keep your kitchen clean and healthy as we head into spring:
In the pantry:
Start with removing everything off the shelves and out of the pantry, and giving the shelves a good wipe down with an all-natural surface cleaner.
Get rid of any items that have expired.
Only keep items that have not expired that you will actually use, and take this opportunity to donate a few items to a local food bank.
Swap whole wheat/chickpea/lentil/quinoa /brown rice pastas for white pastas. The shelf life for these healthier options are typically the same.
Use up any canned soups you have, but moving forward try making your own soups for a healthier option with less sodium and other additives and preservatives.
Consider stocking more plant-based proteins such as chickpeas, lentils, beans, quinoa, and potatoes.
When you put everything back, try to organize them by food types to make finding things easier.
In the fridge:
Remove items in the fridge one section at a time and give the surface/drawer a good wipe down with an all-natural surface cleaner. Put the items back so they are not out of the fridge for too long and repeat with another section of the fridge.
Get rid of any items that have expired and any produce that is spongy or mouldy. To keep your produce fresh, eat lots of it everyday! Keep cut fruits and vegetables in an airtight container in the fridge for quick, healthy, easy to grab snacks.
Finish any sauces, dressings, and marinades that you have (assuming they have not expired or been opened and unused for too long), but once they are gone consider making your own or buying brands like Good Food For Good and Primal Kitchen, without added refined sugars, salts, trans fats, and other additives and preservatives.
Get rid of any open jars that you have not used in the past one to eight months. This will depend on the specific item. For example, salsa and pasta sauce will last only up to about one month, while ketchup and mustard may last up to eight months once opened. Writing the date you opened the item on the lid may help with this.
Keep in mind that Best Before dates only apply to unopened products. Once opened, the shelf life of a product will decrease.
Consider stocking more plant-based proteins such as tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds (make sure you are storing these in the fridge to prevent spoiling), and vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and mushrooms.
In the freezer:
Empty the freezer and clean all surfaces with an all-natural surface cleaner.
Get rid of anything you can't identify or that has freezer burn - it's been in there too long!
Always label items you freeze with the date and contents. Safe freezing times range from 2 to 12 months depending on what you are freezing.
Stock your freezer with pre-cut fruits and vegetables. The nutritional value of frozen produce is not affected by freezing as they are typically frozen at their peak freshness.
Prepare large batches of your favourite healthy meals that are easily freezable, making weekday meals simple and quick. Most soups, stews, and casseroles can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.
Make the switch from plastic freezer bags to plastic-free freezer bags to reduce waste. My favourite reusable plastic-free bags are Stasher Bags, that you can find at Well.ca, Indigo, Whole Foods, and Canadian Tire.
Keeping a clean, organized, healthy kitchen will help make cooking more fun and overall a much more enjoyable experience for everyone.