By Chef Lauren Cox, Closer to Your Food

We have all browsed the pages of our favorite healthy lifestyle blogs and magazines, drooling and dreaming over those beautifully put together, stocked and organized kitchens. “If only mine looked like that,” I’m sure has gone through your head at least once. Well, as a former professional restaurant chef, a working mom of 2 little ones, and the keeper of a large and fruitful garden, I have a strong desire to feed my family wholesome homemade meals at least 4 days a week. However, I’ve learned a thing or two on how to keep a kitchen together – realistically. As beautiful as marble subway tile backsplashes and antique butcher block counters are, the really important thing is functionality.

Sometimes a cluttered, dirty and poorly-stocked kitchen is what’s keeping you from cooking healthy meals at home. This in turn robs you of quality family time, healthier food options and saving mucho dinero. In a couple hours, you can get through the major roadblocks and be on your way to a healthier, happier home.

Demolition

Ok, you won’t actually be demolishing anything, but this is when you go through EVERYTHING and get rid of what is not serving you. Make a donate pile or throw it straight into your car to haul off to charity the next day so it gets out of your house. Some things to consider are:

    1. Useless/bad/old equipment – If you don’t use it, if it’s broken or if it is toxic (such as chipped teflon pans), get rid of it.
    2. Toxic food and cleaners – Is it processed, packaged junk? Then toss or donate. Also go through your cleaning supplies. If you’re cleaning your house with toxic chemicals, you’re just contributing to the toxic burden in your body and essentially your ability to be and stay healthy, so dispose of them properly. Click here for some great natural and cheap DIY cleaners.
    3. Old spices (not the deodorant) – These have expiration dates, so get rid of the old ones. Spices have some of the highest ORAC (antioxidant) values of nearly all foods so you should update them on a biannual basis.
    4. Check the freezer- Anything outdated or with freezer burn needs to go!

Organize

You know that junk drawer where random things get thrown in? Well it’s time for you to tackle it. If you are overwhelmed, just remember to take one thing at a time. Look up cute storage ideas and find a system that works for you.

    1. Tidy up your wares- If you have mis-matched plates, silverware, glasses, etc. that are driving you nuts, now is the time to clean that up.
    2. Get new kitchen and dish towels and demote the old dingy ones to rags for the garage, pets, etc.

Deep Clean

Get your hands dirty and scrub. This is a great opportunity to use natural DIY cleaners, but get in there and at least spray out and wipe all of the surfaces, cabinets, drawers. Do a self-clean cycle on your oven, clean and scrub any food debris in your fridge, freezer and toaster. Any other appliances like coffee machines that you use on a regular basis should be cleaned as well. Get on the counter and dust the tops of your cabinets, slide the fridge out and clean under it too. It really helps to rinse out and sanitize trash bins that may have food residue, which causes stinky bacteria.

    1. Clean your garbage disposal- slice up a lemon and run it through the disposal with very hot water. Afterward, put a handful of ice cubes through the disposal to sharpen the blades.
    2. Treat your surfaces- I use a natural granite cleaner for my counters and a mix of coconut oil and sea salt to condition the wood on my butcher block kitchen island.

Organize the food

Now that you have a minimal, sparkling clean kitchen, it’s time to re-stock with the good stuff. There are several online retailers who offer organic pantry goods in bulk and at wholesale. Use glass containers that are clearly labeled and dated to help you easily access the good stuff to make cooking healthier and faster.

    1. Get your grains in order – I like using glass jars with snap tight lids and have them all on the same shelf or in the same cabinet where I can compare and contrast which ones I want when cooking.
    2. Organize your spices – Invest in a spice rack or organizing system that keeps your spices easy to access and use. Put a reminder in your phone or calendar to buy new spices in 6 months. I recommend using small jars unless it is a spice you use often.
    3. Freeze your seeds – Find clear containers which fit in your freezer to store your seeds in. This preserves their lifespan and nutrients.
    4. Make sure you are storing food correctly – Here is a great guide for storing produce that you may not have considered before.

Bonus: Add a little flair! This is when you can go crazy on Pinterest, or at hobby stores. Find a little inspiration and your own personal style to add a little decoration that makes your kitchen yours.

Now it’s time to cook! Make an event of it and invite some friends and family over for a casual dinner. Get yourself some good quality tupperware and prep food for the week too. I like to make up a big bag of green salad, prep and wash fresh fruits and veggies for easy snacking access and put together several sandwiches or wraps for something to grab on the go.

Happy Cleaning!

 


lauren

Closer to Your Food is a wellness blog focused on eating and cooking for health and sustainability with recipes and lifestyle tips formulated around a plant-based diet and home-grown local foods. Chef Lauren Cox holds a B.A. from the le Cordon Bleu in Culinary Management with over 8 years of fine dining experience in private dining, catering and Michelan star restaurants.

 

 


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.