Reimagine your kitchen as a welcoming space by clearing out food-related clutter with these simple steps:
It can be tough to unload groceries or face the perpetual question, What’s for dinner?, when your fridge is so full that you can’t find anything in it. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix:
Pull out your trash can, compost and recycling bins.
Take everything out of the fridge. Yes, everything! Ten minutes on the counter won’t be enough time for anything to spoil.
Check expiration dates. Is it past its prime? Compost, toss or recycle! Visible mold? Same.
Do you use it? If not, throw opened and perishable items away. That bottle of ketchup with half a squeeze left in it? Rinse, recycle and let it go.
While your fridge is empty, wipe down all the shelves with a clean sponge and soapy water or vinegar.
Put the items you want to keep back into the fridge, keeping like items together—meat in the meat drawer, vegetables in the vegetable drawer. Consider a clear plastic bin or Lazy Susan for salad dressings or condiments to make them easier to organize and access.
Repeat this process for the freezer. If that means having to eat the last spoonful of mint chip in the carton, well, somebody has to do it.
Has your spice rack become a Museum of Forgotten Flavors? It’s time to modernize and simplify:
Remove all spices from your rack or drawer.
Check expirations dates and discard anything that is past its prime.
Give it the sniff test. Do you actually like this spice, or is it something you bought once for a recipe you’ve never made again? If you don’t use it, lose it.
Unlabeled spices in loose plastic baggies? Toss 'em or put it in a labeled glass container so you know what it is.
Wipe down your spice rack/drawer and put spices back with the most commonly used items in closest reach.
Feeling ambitious? Use the same technique for sorting and decluttering your cans and your dry goods. Unopened, unexpired canned food and dry goods (like boxed mac and cheese) can be donated to your local food pantry.
Transitions between home, work and school will get a lot easier when you’re not looking for lost water bottles and Tupperware lids on the way out the door. Some good guidelines for clearing out the food storage area:
Empty the entire closet, cupboard or drawer.
Pair all food storage containers with their lids. Missing lid? Can’t find the container? Throw out or recycle items without mates.
Broken/cracked containers? Leaking water bottles. Toss ‘em.
Too many containers? Have you been saving takeout containers? Prune your collection.
A word about materials: The containers we store our food in can leach chemicals to our bodies. To be safe, I prefer glass or metal storage containers. Unlike plastic, they are safe to both microwave and put in the dishwasher.
Even if it’s the only thing you do, this last step is guaranteed to make your life more enjoyable and serene. At the end of each night, take 10 minutes to:
Wipe down counters
Put Everything Away
The next morning, you’ll wake up to a kitchen that’s inviting and clean — ready to start a brand new day.