Spring Cleaning

If you are like me, all of your well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions have somehow drifted into the background.  Spring is a fabulous time to re-visit those goals or clean up an area of your life that needs a little dusting off.  Here are four simple tips to cleaning out your kitchen and ramping up your efforts for healthier (and might I add tastier) home cooking.

1.) Pull everything out of your refrigerator and freezer.  Chuck any “unidentifiable objects” and items you haven’t used in the past 6 months.  Give your fridge a good scrub before putting everything else back inside.

2.) Take a look at your spice rack.  McCormick & Schilling gives some suggestions to check for spice freshness:

• Ground spices (i.e. cinnamon) last 2-3 years
• Seasoning blends (i.e. Italian seasoning) last 1-2 years
• Extracts (i.e. vanilla) last 4 years

When it doubt, take a sniff.  If it doesn’t smell nice, toss it.  Using old spices is a sure fire way to wreck a recipe.  When buying new spices and seasonings, I put a date on the bottom of the bottle.

Spices are THE KEY to delicious food.  If you aren’t familiar with using herbs and spices in cooking, this is a great article which identifies how to use them.  I find that many people cut out salt and butter for healthy cooking, but forget to dress up their dishes with flavor…then wonder why their food tastes bland!

3.) If your cutting boards are looking scruffy, ditch them.  Remember, you should have separate cutting boards for raw and fresh foods.  Wooden boards harbor bacteria and glass boards wreak havoc on your knives, so they are best to avoid.  Check out this tip sheet for more cutting board tips.

4.) Root through your pantry and toss any expired items.  Donate cans and boxes that are close to their expiration date.  And make a list of items that need to be replenished.

Cooking is an adventure.  Having a clean, well-organized space can make the trip less bumpy.  Take 30 minutes for a little spring cleaning and you’ll be amazed at what a difference it will make!