Let's face it: it's pretty easy to fall into a rut when it comes to your diet, and you may find yourself turning to the same tried and true meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But cleaning out your kitchen is one surprising way to spice up your cooking. When you have an organized cooking environment, it's easier (and less stressful) to make healthy meals. Uncovering hidden ingredients in your pantry, unused appliances in the back corner of your cabinet, and dusty cookbooks on the shelf can also spark your creative juices and lead to new culinary adventures.
Ready to cut the clutter? Here are a few tips to guide you.
1. Tackle Your Pantry
Pantries can be magical storage miracles that keep your kitchen tidy. But they can also be a kitchen dead zone that's hiding old canned goods, spices, and other ingredients you've completely forgotten about.
Start by surveying which ingredients you actually have on hand. Pull everything out of your pantry and throw away anything that's old or expired. Check the dates on canned goods and do a quick inventory of your spices, which should be replaced every year, and baking essentials like flour, baking soda, and baking powder. If you have more canned beans or boxes of pasta than you could ever use, put them aside and donate them to your local soup kitchen. You can even use this cleaning opportunity to ditch the junk food in your pantry.
Take a look at the ingredients you want to keep. Are there things that you want to incorporate into your next meal? Spices you want to experiment with? Make a note and look for some new recipes to try. Then reorganize your pantry, grouping frequently used items together and placing loose packets into containers or baskets to keep them from getting lost.
2. Clear Your Kitchen Counter
The next step in cleaning out your kitchen is to tackle your kitchen counter. It's hard to feel inspired to cook when you're staring at a cluttered countertop and don't have any room to prepare your veggies.
Appliances take up prime real estate in the kitchen. Remove any that don't get regular use to make room for those can't-live-without tools (looking at you, coffee maker!) and versatile, multi-use kitchen helpers like your high-performance blender. Get efficient, and instead of keeping your cooking utensils in a container on your countertop, hang them near the stove for easy access. Then attach your knives to a magnetic knife strip instead of storing them in a butcher block.
3. Organize Your Cookbooks
Everyone loves pretty cookbooks, but chances are that you have a stash that's gathering dust on a forgotten shelf. Go through your collection and decide which ones you want to keep. Donate any cookbooks that you never reach for, and then take the time to flip through the pages of the books you're keeping to look for one or two new recipes to add to your meal plan. You may discover a new go-to dinner!
4. Declutter Your Cabinets
Your kitchen cabinets may be as daunting as your pantry, but there are plenty of ways to declutter this area. Take stock of your food containers. Replace those old, plastic take-out and storage containers with chemical-free ones. Or better yet, swap them for glass containers. Organize your cutting boards, baking sheets, and pot lids with a cabinet insert or by repurposing a filing rack. Get rid of pots and pans that are past their prime.
Cleaning out your kitchen may feel like a drag. But when you take stock of what you have on hand and organize your ingredients and cooking tools, it can help you be more efficient in the kitchen. It may even inspire you to cook more and try new things!