A clean and organized kitchen for better health and less waste

When was the last time you took stock and organized your kitchen? Now is a good time to do it. Start with the refrigerator and then move on to the pantry and cabinet shelves. Finally, clean the entire room.

First, literally empty the refrigerator, one shelf at a time, then the doors. Use a cooler to keep food cold while cleaning. Clean the shelves with a kitchen sanitizer spray, from top to bottom, including the doors. Sort the food you took out of the refrigerator, check the dates, determine whether or not it should go back in (or on another shelf). Continue this process until you have emptied everything, checked, sorted, and replaced.

Move open items to the front. If there are only a few tablespoons left in a jar, use it within a day or two or find a way to turn it into a recipe. Make a note of any cheese or cream cheese that is expiring and plan a meal before it expires.

Staying organized can also help reduce food waste. Once you see what you have and what you can donate, you can plan some meals with things that are ready to go.

Have a leftover tray of veggies or the bag of broccoli that you never got to cook? Now is a good time to make a stir fry or make a vegetable soup. Leftover fresh herbs? Mix them into a herb pesto for pasta. Keep tomatoes, peppers, onion, or cut citrus fruits in preservatives that keep them fresh longer. Do you have frozen cooked shrimp in the freezer? Chop it up and make our sauce. If you have multiple cereal boxes open, consider using a cereal container. These have airtight lids that help keep cereal fresh longer, reducing waste. If you overbought canned goods or other ingredients from the pantry, consider donating them to your food bank or church. Donate now while the “best buy” date is still good.

Keep counters clear and clean

Sanitizing isn’t just for flu season, it’s important to keep your kitchen and home safe year-round. Once your refrigerator and cabinets are clean, clean everything. Use an all-purpose kitchen sanitizer spray (or bleach wipes) on all countertops and faucets, cabinet knobs / handles, and wipe the exterior of your cabinets with a damp cloth. Fill the sink with hot soapy water and clean things that are sticky or marked (microwave turntable, utensils, toaster oven, crumb tray, coffee pot). Be sure to clean all appliances, including the top of the refrigerator or microwave, and vacuum and mop the floor.

A clean kitchen keeps food safe, as does proper hand washing. Always remember to wash your hands frequently when handling and cooking food, and make sure your children do too (it’s always a good idea for your children to wash their hands immediately after school).

Keep your kitchen sanitized and organized, and you’ll also waste less food. A clean kitchen also helps prevent foodborne illness. That is my idea of ‚Äč‚Äčeating healthy!

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