Create a Healthy Environment by Spring Cleaning Your Kitchen!

What started as a simple search for a can of black beans turned into a five hour long journey of cleaning my kitchen. You see, what happened was that in the midst of moving cans of various forms of tomatoes, I found something.

“Something” may be an understatement. What I found can best be described as a sixth grade science project gone bad. You remember the one where you make mold grow on various food items? Yeah — that kind of bad, and it was chillin’ in my pantry.

Apparently someone (at sometime) bought a bag of English muffins and carelessly threw them behind the graveyard of canned tomatoes — where it hid until I discovered it. I’m not sure if there’s a word for something that is beyond mold, but if there is, that’s what these muffins had become.

Needless to say, my relaxing day of doing nothing turned into a “put on the hazmat suite and get to cleaning” kind of day. Luckily, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping and The Beatles were blasting “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” which allowed for a nice cleaning session.

Keeping a clean and organized kitchen can help you on your weight-loss journey, because you’ll be able to find the healthy foods you’re looking for that much more easily. There’s science behind it too — research at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab has found that we tend to eat more indulgent foods, or even over-eat, when we’re in cluttered or chaotic kitchens.

Here’s a few steps to get you on your way to having a clean and organized kitchen  — for your health!

Step 1: Clear it Out

  • Start in one area — the pantry, spice drawer, refrigerator, freezer, etc. — and remove all of the items. By removing everything from the area, you will have a clear picture of what you have on hand.
  • Follow the below steps in each area before starting on the next step.

Step 2: Assess your Food Situation

  • Toss all expired, stale or mostly gone items that you will likely not use.
  • Are there any foods that you have on hand that are not supporting your current eating plan? Maybe this is a good time to remove those from your home.

Step 3: Clean it Up

  • Wipe down the shelves and doors. I enjoy using fresh lemon juice, water and vinegar, but a ‘Magic Eraser’ works just as well!

Step 4: Place Everything Back (Neatly!) 

  • This would also be the time to purchase or update any fancy organizational items that you have or would like to get. At my place, we love using large mason jars to store oats, rice, nuts and seeds, granola, etc.
  • Place commonly used items, or food items that are supporting your health goals, at eye level. Move less common foods items to a lower or higher shelf.
  • Organize your spices in alphabetical order! It’s a game changer. It also decreases the risk that you end up with three bottles of turmeric that you kept forgetting you bought so you could try that turmeric latte that was all over Pinterest… not that that happened to me or anything!

Step 5: Donate! 

  • This is a good time to give away anything that you have multiples of and that you are unlikely to use by the time they expire. Remember that time you bought 10 cans of herb flavored tuna only to discover you don’t really like it?
  • If you are following a new eating plan that no longer supports keeping certain foods in the house, feel good about not wasting them and take the food to your local food bank. Make sure these items are unopened and not expired, first.

Cleaning out your kitchen can not only help you avoid participating in an unwanted science experiment, it can also be a great first step towards a new eating plan that supports your goals. So open the windows, turn on some tunes, follow those five easy steps and enjoy your new clean space!

Cassie I. Story Dietitian About the Author:

Cassie I. Story, RDN, is a dietitian who has been working with bariatric patients for the past 11 years. She also has her own food blog, www.WLSDailyPlate.com, to help inspire healthy eating following bariatric surgery. She enjoys cooking, hiking and spending time with her two daughters in Arizona.

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