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Spring Clean Your Kitchen (a step-by-step guide)

In my heart, I really want to be one of those organized people.  The ones that run on check lists and have perfectly vacuumed cars and handwriting that looks like calligraphy.  Sadly, I am not and I have (sort of) accepted that will never be.  However, there is one area that I really make it a priority to keep clean and organized, and that is my kitchen.

The benefits of an organized kitchen:

  1. Save Time – we are all really, really busy. And let’s be honest, even 5 extra minutes can be the difference between making breakfast and skipping it all together. A well-organized kitchen allows you to both see and access your food quickly so you cut down on the food prep time as well as the time it takes to make a grocery list.
  2. Save Money/Less Food Waste – have you ever come home to find that you have bought the same package of rosemary three weeks in a row? Yeah, me neither.  But for those poor souls who have, simply being able to see what you have will prevent you from double (or triple) buying and allow you to actually use what you do have.
  3. Make more nutritious options more accessible – some people feel that cleaning out your kitchen is a good time to throw away all of your non-nutritious food. You certainly can, but I find that just putting them a little out of reach or in a place that is not staring at you every time you reach for the quinoa is an even better option.
  4. Increase motivation – When you are heading home from a busy day sometimes even the smallest of obstacles can cause you to lose all motivation and hit the drive-thru. For example, if you are driving home and deciding if you want to cook, which of these kitchens would be more motivating:

messy-kitchen

Photo: hometowndumpsterrental.com

clean-kitchen

Photo: www.eastsidehomelink.com

Now, of course these are extreme situations. If you are actually going home to the first kitchen, you might just want to move.  If you are going home to the second one, you may be Dexter. Your kitchen is probably somewhere in between.  Point being, an organized kitchen can cut down on the mental excuses so you can get home, cook the food you have and feel better in the long run.

Step-by-step Guide

There are 3 main spaces in your kitchen that can be organized:

  1. Pantry/spices
  2. Refrigerator/freezer
  3. Cooking/cleaning supplies.

Depending on the size of your kitchen and family you can expect to spend 20-60 minutes on each space. 

It may be tempting to do it all at once, but I would encourage you to tackle one at a time.  The reason is, sometimes when we create a task that seems too big the time becomes an excuse to not start.  I bet you can find 20 minutes this week but can you find 3 hours?

Along the same lines, I know that you want to have a pantry just like that mythical woman on Instagram.  With the perfectly organized mason jars that are labeled with her calligraphy handwriting in rustic chalk and organized based on the colors of the rainbow.  I do too.  However, if you have been waiting to start until you spend some time on amazon to find the perfect jar…but it’s not prime and you really don’t want to pay for shipping…but then you get distracted by the herb gardens that you can also make with mason jars…and then wonder if you should just buy it all together…but maybe you should take a little time to do some more research, but what if…. STOP.

Don’t let perfection prevent progress.Tweet:

Just start.  We can get the mason jars some other time.

Here is what you will need:

  • Three piles – keep, trash/compost, donate
  • Trash bags
  • Cleaning solution and rag
  • Notepad or Google Keep to create a grocery list

Here are the steps:

  1. Take everything out of the cabinets or refrigerator.
  2. Quickly wipe down the shelves.
  3. Put the remaining contents into three piles:
    1. Keep – this should be food that you are honestly going to eat. I mean honestly.  If you haven’t touched it in a year or even a couple of months, donate it.  Someone will get wonderful use of it and you can always head back to the store when the day is right to start sprouting your own garbanzo beans.
    2. Trash/Compost – Anything that has expired or you know honestly you will never use.
    3. Donate – non-perishable food that is still good. Visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/ to find your local food bank.  This is also where cooking tools that you don’t use or need go.  Visit http://www.goodwillswpa.org/donate-goods to find out where you can bring those pots and pans that have been sitting in the back of your cabinets since you moved in.
  4. Restock – this is really based on personal preference. I would recommend making those things that you use or eat the most (or perhaps want to use or eat the most) at eye level and easily accessible.
  5. Update Your Grocery List – now that everything is cleaned up and visible, use this time to make a list of things you need to buy. A pad and paper is fine, but I really love Google Keep, which you can download as a free app on your phone.  See, I haven’t 100% accepted that I will never be that list lady.

That’s it!  I know the idea of it can be daunting but I promise that you will feel accomplished and motivated as soon it is done.  I also think you will be surprised how this simple exercise will help set you up for success.

If you have any thoughts or ways you like to organize, I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

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