If you’re considering a reboot of your eating habits, you’re going to need a few tools. More important, you’ll need a pantry and kitchen space that is well-stocked, easy-to-navigate and ready to help make all of your healthy meal plans a reality.
In this two-part series, we’ll introduce some clutch ideas for how to reorganize, clean out and spruce up your space — as well as how to fill it with ingredients to empower delicious, healthy meals.
Rebooting your pantry to create an inspiring space that works for you is surprisingly simple and a bit like reorganizing a desk or any other work space. Don’t groan! Other work spaces don’t churn out delicious, healthy, vibrant meals when you’re done revamping them — but your pantry will.
Here are our 10 best tips to get you started:
START WITH THE WHOLE PICTURE…
1. CLEAN OFF COUNTERS
Does your kitchen counter act as a nerve-center, catch-all for your entire house? Keys, bags, books, children’s clothing, the list goes on. If so, it’s no wonder you’re overwhelmed when it’s time to make a healthy meal. If you’re going to start your healthy eating habits with a clean slate, make a vow to keep kitchen counters and work spaces clean, free of clutter and clear of appliances or tools. Keep some all-purpose cleanser and rags on hand under the counter or nearby so you can clean your workspace immediately after using it. This way, you’ll literally have a clean slate when go to plot a meal.
2. IF YOU DON’T USE IT, LOSE IT
Similar to cleaning out a closet, if you don’t use it, lose it! Mismatched Tupperware containers, unused appliances, random pots or pans that you don’t use often, broken or malfunctioning kitchen gadgets — be gone! You’ll breathe a sigh of relief when you fill your kitchen drawers (your kitchen toolbox, if you will) with just the things you need to get the job done right.
3. SPRUCE UP THE SPACE
Like any room in your home, you want your kitchen to be a joyful space. This starts by filling it with objects, appliances and cooking items that are aesthetically pleasing — and finding ways to make the space feel inspiring and soothing while you’re in it. Displaying pretty bowls of fruit and ingredients is a nice way to do this or keeping a vase with flowers in view.
THEN, DIVE INTO CABINETS, CUPBOARDS AND DRAWERS
4. BANISH BAGS AND BOXES
Open your cabinets. Do a piles of bags, stock-piled boxes or other random containers of ingredients fall out? It’s difficult to find healthy ingredients in a haystack. Pull out all of those rubber-banded, taped or labeled, inconsistent containers and plop them on the countertop. Then pick uniform containers to store them in. This strategy helps you to not only see what you have, but also to keep your pantry under control. When it comes to choosing containers, we suggest to …
5. … GO FOR GLASS
Or another see-through option that will store your dry pantry items air-tight, so you can see what’s in each. (Read: No guessing what that random, unlabeled plastic bag is.) Before you buy, measure your cabinets and shelves to be sure the containers fit, then buy enough containers to fill the space, so bags and boxes don’t sneak in. Make sure it’s easy to reach the containers (a sliding drawer or organizing box may help with this). Some find it’s helpful to designate separate containers for “grains,” “beans,” “cereal,” then swap out versions of those ingredients when you do your pantry restock.
6. PRACTICE SHELF-CONSCIOUSNESS
You won’t use what you can’t see. Similar to your cabinet space, keep healthy ingredients in plain sight. Make a promise not to allow ingredient clutter to stack up. It may be helpful to place pieces of tape on shelves to help you identify and quickly see what ingredients you have. For example, leave cereal, coffee, dried fruits and daily vitamins on the “breakfast shelf.” On the “quick dinner shelf,” keep pastas, quick-cooking grains and cans of beans or pre-made broth on hand.
7. STOCK UP SUPPLIES
As you’re cleaning and organizing, make a list of supplies you’ll need to keep your space clean and well organized. Add paper towels, kitchen towels and rags, natural cleaning solution for countertops, containers and plastic bags to organize ingredients, a Sharpie for labeling, and some washi or masking tape for writing removable labels. Keep the supplies under the counter or close at hand.
TAKE IT TO THE FRIDGE
8. FREE YOUR FRIDGE (AND FREEZER!)
Bring your fridge up to speed with your cabinets and shelves. Start by pulling out everything and wiping the shelves and drawers. Then, take a look at what you’ve got. Toss out any half-eaten items or condiment jars you haven’t touched in the past week. This includes any condiments you don’t have plans for in the next week. Then, put remaining ingredients back one by one. Designate spaces for cheeses and meats, condiments, dairy products and leave the most space for fresh vegetables. Make sure any homemade items are in containers with labels and dates (so you know when it’s time to throw them out). This is particularly important in the freezer.
READ MORE > 5 PANTRY STAPLES TO MAXIMIZE YOUR SPRING PRODUCE
9. LABEL, LABEL, LABEL!
If you weren’t already inspired by the designated spaces and unidentified ingredients falling out of your cupboards, we’ll remind you now: This is your year to label, label, label! Use labels to make reminders about how to use the space, what ingredients you have on hand and how long you’ve had them. This will help you to know what you have, how to use it, where to find it and when to toss it out.
LASTLY, MAKE IT YOURS
10. ORGANIZE AN ALTER
Find a small space in the kitchen for you to keep something inspiring and special for you, something that reminds you that cooking for yourself is a nourishing practice, and that you’re fueling an active, vibrant lifestyle when you take time to make delicious meals for yourself and your family. It can be something simple like a photograph, a little bud vase or pretty ceramics that make you feel happy. When you’re happy in your space, you’ll make happy food!