New year, back-to-school, or cooking season…no matter what time of year it is, your kitchen space deserves to be in line with your health, wellness, and financial goals. So, I’m sharing my seasonal Healthy Kitchen Organizing Checklist to help you get a handle on the most common kitchen bottlenecks so you can maximize your kitchen space and cooking efficiency.
Healthy Kitchen Organizing Checklist
We don’t need resolutions…we need good habits. The kind that, when accomplished regularly in bite-sized chunks, get noticeable results. But!…in order to rock those habits, sometimes we need to jump in at ground zero, declutter, and organize the spaces where we need to form the habits. Especially in high-activity food areas…like the refrigerator and pantry.
Generally, I approach this list as a deep clean each season (quarterly) at minimum. Even more ideal is my weekly, secret weapon ‘maintenance’ habit I mention later in the post.
Refrigerator and freezer:
One of the biggest bottlenecks of healthy eating habits and food budget wreckers occurs in the refrigerator. Cold storage space is likely the most active space in anyone’s kitchen…especially if you cook. Packaged items, perishable ingredients, and prepared foods all need to be maintained to keep food tasty…and safe to eat. So, if your fridge’s maintenance has gone neglected over your busy schedule, give it some quality time and knock out these tasks. (If you find yourself constantly throwing away too much food, check out my weekly, fridge habit at the bottom of this post).
- Purge outdated ingredients and using the when in doubt, throw it out rule.
- Label open containers with the date opened.
- Store your prepped vegetables in stackable containers so you can see them.
- Sanitize all shelf surfaces.
Spices and Seasonings:
The kitchen ingredients that keep on giving…spices and seasonings. They don’t perish like refrigerated foods, but over time, they lose freshness and flavor. Maintaining your spice rack every season can go a long way in flavoring your food.
- Purge outdated items (I.e., over a year old).
- Inventory, restock, and label.
- Money-saving tip: DIY your spices with jars you can refill at the bulk section of your local whole foods. They come with stickers, or you can get these stickers for jars you already own. Bonus…buying spices in small quantities from the bulk section; i.e., not the typical, packaged retail spices, can literally save you noticeable dollars. The only downside is you must package them yourself…but they make it easy with scoops, bags, and labels.
- It’s the most wonderful time of year…to donate canned/boxed goods to local drives.
- Properly dispose of outdated canned/boxed foods.
- Don’t rush to replace everything, only what’s necessary. Enjoy the extra space!
Food storage containers
- Recycle mismatched, unusable containers.
- Make sure you’re using food-grade storage containers I use Cambro and Systema and Ziploc storage containers. Here they are in my fridge:
Purchase glass canning jars with BPA-free plastic lids. I own several of these and love them for dips, dressings, smoothies, seasonings, storing tiny vegetables…the list goes on. Here’s what mine look like with pantry ingredients:
Cookware and Bakeware
- Organize cookware and match lids (recycle or donate mismatches).
- Get rid of nonstick cookware with scratched or flaked coating…this can’t be good.
- Check out my affordable cookware recommendations (the ones I use & love).
- Check out this $14 solution to my bakeware and cutting board storage.
Here is the list of items you’re seeing in that picture. The organizer rack makes it hassle-free!
- 6 Cutting boards
- 12 Baking sheets (varying sizes)
- 1 Nonstick griddle
- 2 Cooling racks
- a little slip-grip under the rack to make sure it doesn’t move around
I know, it seems excessive. But trust me, as someone who loves to cook and photograph food, I manage to keep many of these tools working all at once.
Lock down some solid recipe resources
Are you on Pinterest? Follow me…I source hundreds of healthy, easy recipes from dedicated food authors…you can bet mine are included there too!
Need a few recipes to get you started off right in the new year? Check out my very popular Asian Quinoa Slaw Salad with Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette. This salad goes the distance for nutrition and satisfying flavors. You might also like my In-A-Hurry Kale Chickpea Soup which has saved me on many busy nights. Want a vegetarian chili that’s so good, you don’t care about the meat? Try my Meatless Lentil Chili…I still pinch myself over how satisfying it is!
Make ONE weekly habit your new, secret weapon
15-minutes of fridge time every week significantly increases my chances of eating better every day!
- Discard prepared foods that were left to die or have become compromised.
- Spot check your produce and prioritize its use before spoilage.
- Meal plan and build your grocery list after these steps have been done.
Cheers to a healthy kitchen and a happy YOU!