If you’ve got the itch to clean out the closets, bathrooms and bookshelves, how about your kitchen? An organized kitchen makes healthy eating more convenient and also means that the food you’re eating is actually safe to eat. What’s more, studies show that people who keep tidy kitchens (and don’t keep treats on the counters) weigh less than those who have messy kitchens.
I took an hour over the weekend to go through my refrigerator and throw away those UFOs (unidentified frozen objects) inhabiting my freezer and all the where-did-this-come-from-and-what-is-it items that may or not be edible.
Here are the basics of my kitchen makeover that can help renovate your diet—without costing you several months’ of your hard-earned salary.
While these tips are important, my golden rule of kitchen cleaning is… “When in doubt, throw it out!.”
- Schedule your kitchen makeover the day before your major shopping so you have the least amount of food at home. Take everything out of your refrigerator and throw out moldy or suspect foods. Check the expiration dates of all condiments and throw out anything that is expired.
- Wipe the shelves and drawers with warm water and mild soap. Rinse with warm water and dry with a dishcloth.
- Combine any condiments (ketchup, mustard) into one container and organize items by likeness and find one spot for them, and keep them there.
- Condiments and the most stable foods should be on the refrigerator door, because it will be the warmest area of the refrigerator; the coolest areas (drawers) should
- Place an open box of baking soda in the middle of the refrigerator to absorb odors.
- Use a thermometer and check your refrigerator to ensure that the temperature is somewhere between 36-39 degrees. Most experts say 38 degrees is optimal. Your freezer should be set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The vegetable drawer keeps in humidity to help reduce wilting so keep your greens, and fresh veggies in this drawer. They will last about seven days in the crisper.
- In the deli/meat drawer, store lean deli meat, hard cheese. Unopened products will keep until the use-by date but once opened, meats will last up to five days. Hard cheese will last up to three weeks.
- Organize your refrigerator so that the healthiest foods are appealing and within reach. Place less healthy choices in the back of the refrigerator to avoid standing and eating those treats
- Remove all the IFO (identifiable frozen objects) and UFOs (unidentified frozen objects) from your freezer and take inventory. If you see visible freezer burn or can’t recognize the food, throw it out.
- Anything you choose to salvage, wrap in two layers of plastic to avoid air exposure, which causes freezer burn.
- Cooked meats/leftovers will last up to two months and uncooked meats, poultry or seafood; vegetables and most other unopened foods will last for a year.