Spring cleaning isn’t just for your closet — there are plenty of perks that come with focusing on your kitchen, says Kelsey Peoples, RD, owner of The Peoples Plate, a nutrition education and counseling practice based in Ramsey, New Jersey. A little bit of cleaning can help you revamp your kitchen so you can make healthier choices and reach your health goals sooner.
Here, five dietitian-approved ways to get started:
WIPE UP DUST
Recent research shows dust may speed the growth of fat cells — potentially triggering weight gain. That’s because household dust can contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that tweak the functioning of your hormone system. While these findings are preliminary, the fact remains that dust mites trigger allergies and asthma, too, so it’s important to wipe down your cabinets, tops of doors and window sills.
“It’s a good idea to take advantage of the fresh spring air by opening your windows,” says Peoples. “Clear away any dust, wash your bedding frequently and run your vacuum often to minimize your risk of dust-induced allergies.” If you’re worried about indoor air quality or living in a space with poor ventilation, consider purchasing an air purifier.
ORGANIZE COUNTERS AND SHELVES
It’s always a good idea to sanitize your kitchen countertops and cabinets, says Peoples — and while you’re at it, make nutritious choices more noticable and convenient. Clear candy dishes and cereal boxes to make space for weight loss-friendly appliances like a food processor and slow cooker and a bowl of fruit for grab-and-go fuel.
Keep healthy snacks like popcorn and nuts within reach on eye-level, wall-mounted shelves or reach-in, cubby-style cabinets. “Research shows you’re more likely to eat items that are easily visible, so this can help you prioritize healthy choices,” says Peoples.
CHECK YOUR CONDIMENTS
“Now’s the perfect time to root through old condiments and throw out anything old,” says Peoples. Salad dressings and mayonnaise are good for about two months, while hot sauce, ketchup, jams and jellies can last for up to six months As long as your spices are stored in a cool and dry place (read: not above your stove), they can keep for 2–3 years — though their flavor could fade faster, so trust your taste buds. If you’re due for a total rehaul of your spice rack, try labeling each with the date as soon as you open it so your next clean up will be even easier.
INVEST IN CLEAR STORAGE BINS
Pantries can easily get crowded with old or half-finished foods that might need to be tossed, says Peoples, especially if they aren’t well-sealed. To keep dry products like cereals, pasta, grains and flour safe from harmful pests, bacteria and mold, airtight containers are your best bet. Opt for see-through, stackable bins for easy organization and access. While you’re at it, stock up on healthier versions of your favorite healthy carbs like brown rice and whole-wheat pasta, and place nutrient-packed ancient grains like farro and quinoa front and center, advises Peoples.
GROW A MINI HERB GARDEN
There’s nothing like the scent of fresh herbs to remind you it’s spring again, and with plenty of starter kits now available, it’s easier than ever to start your own. Place a few potted herbs like basil, cilantro and mint by your kitchen windowsill to up your healthy cooking game. They’re the perfect excuse to make pesto pasta, homemade salsa, mocktails and more.