A Clean and Organized Kitchen for Better Health and Less Waste

Daisy Ratnasari

When was the last time you took stock and organized your kitchen? Now is a great time to do it. Start with the refrigerator, and then move on to the pantry and cabinet shelves. Finally, clean the whole room.

First, literally empty the refrigerator, one shelf at a time, then the doors. Use a cooler to keep foods cold while you clean. Wipe shelves down with a kitchen disinfectant spray, working from top to bottom, including doors.Sort the food you removed from the refrigerator, check dates, determine if it should go back in or not (or on another shelf). Continue this process until you’ve emptied everything out, checked, sorted, and put back.

Move open items to the front. If there’s only a few tablespoons left in a jar, use them up in the next day or two, or figure out a way to work it into a recipe. Take note of any cheese or cream cheese that’s expiring and plan a meal around it before expiration.

Staying organized can also help reduce food waste. Once you see what you have, and what you may donate, you can plan out a few meals with things that are ready to use.

Do you have a leftover veggie tray or the bag of broccoli you never got around to cooking? Now is a great time to whip up a stir fry or make veggie soup. Leftover fresh herbs? Blend them into a herb pesto for pasta. Keep cut tomatoes, peppers, onion, or citrus in produce-keepers that keep them fresh longer. Have frozen cooked shrimp in the freezer? Chop it and make our salsa. If you have several cereal boxes open, consider using a container for cereal. These have air-tight lids that help keep cereal fresh longer, reducing waste. If you overbought canned goods or other pantry ingredients, consider donating them to your food bank or church. Make the donation now while the “best buy” date is still good.

Keep Counters Clear and Clean

Sanitizing isn’t just for flu season, it’s important to keep your kitchen and home safe all year. Once your refrigerator and cabinets are cleaned, wipe down everything. Use a multi-purpose kitchen disinfectant spray (or bleach wipes) on all counter tops and faucets, cabinet knobs/handles, and wipe down the outside of your cabinets with a damp cloth. Fill the sink with hot, soapy water, and clean things that are sticky or marked (microwave turntable, utensils, toaster oven ‘crumb catcher’, coffee carafe). Don’t forget to wipe down all appliances, including the top of the refrigerator or microwave, and vacuum and mop the floor.

A clean kitchen keeps food safe, and so does proper hand-washing. Always remember to wash your hands frequently when handling and cooking food, and be sure your children do as well (it’s always a good idea to have your children wash their hands right after school).

Keep your kitchen sanitized and organized, and you’ll waste less food as well. A clean kitchen also helps prevent food borne illness. That’s my idea of clean eating!

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