As the spring rains wash away the last remnants of winter outdoors and you begin to think about spring cleaning inside, take this opportunity to clear out and refresh your kitchen, too. Make room for the fresh foods of the coming season by removing expired food, replacing dried spices and cleaning out your freezer. These simple tips will help you transform your kitchen into a place that supports your efforts towards wellness and nourishing eating, and invites you to taste the fresh flavors of spring and summer.
Fresh Spices Invigorate Your Food
Ramp up the flavor and nutritional value of your food by replacing your spices once a year. When kept longer than one year after opening, dried spices lose potency and their healing benefits diminish. Waste less by buying small amounts of spices from the bulk section of your grocery store when you need them for recipes – you will always have fresh spices on hand, your food will taste better, and you won’t have garlic powder from ten years ago lingering in the back of your spice drawer!
Excavate Your Freezer
While many fruits and vegetables stay fresh in the freezer for up to one year, some types of meat only last for a month or two before they lose optimal flavor and texture. Use this chart: (https://www.fda.gov/media/74435/download) as a guide when spring cleaning your freezer, and dispose of any expired foods. Save money and make room for the coming season’s bounty by eating the food you had forgotten you already have. To prevent a recurrence, create a quick list of items as you put them in the freezer so you know what you have available. Always label items for the freezer with their contents, and date and store newer foods behind older items so you don’t waste good food due to spoilage or aging.
Clear Out Your Pantry
Do you arrive home with a bag full of groceries, dreading trying to fit all the food into your already overstuffed pantry? You will be thrilled with the extra space you uncover when you clean out your pantry and remove items that have expired or you no longer want. And you will waste less food when you can easily see everything you have.
Remove Items that Do Not Fit Your Food Plan
As you spring clean your kitchen, think about which foods you want your family to eat and remove items that are not good choices, such as highly processed convenience foods full of preservatives and artificial ingredients. You will have an easier time sticking to your plan when the foods in your kitchen are all nourishing, and you are not constantly being tempted by foods that do not support your family’s wellness.
Donate Foods You No Longer Want
Far too many people in our community struggle to feed their families every day. When cleaning out your kitchen, help those who are less fortunate by donating unexpired food you no longer want. Many local organizations, including Second Harvest Heartland (http://www.2harvest.org), will gladly take both shelf-stable and perishable produce items.
Spring cleaning your kitchen transforms it into a nourishing space that is ready to house the harvest you bring home from the farmer’s market or grow in your garden this spring and summer. You will rediscover foods you have forgotten and be inspired to experiment with fresh seasonal foods that nourish your body and satisfy your taste buds.
You will love the way you feel!