The January Kitchen Cleanout

By Barbara Danza, Epoch Times

As the dust settles on the holidays and the new year gets into full swing, one area of your home that may need some special attention is the kitchen.

If yours is anything like mine, you may find in there a mélange of hors d’oeuvres, cookies galore, leftovers of all sorts, and perhaps some unrecognizables that didn’t get the attention they deserved. Yikes.

It’s time to clean out the kitchen.

Take Stock

It may be tempting to toss everything and start fresh, but much of what you have on hand may still be enjoyed. Rather than wasting good food, take a moment to take stock.

As you go through your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, you’ll obviously need to get rid of food that has turned or is no longer safe for your family to eat. You may be surprised, though, by how much you’re left with when you’re done.

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Overripe bananas are ideal for banana bread. (Whitney Wright/Unsplash)

Clean as You Go

As you address each food storage area in your kitchen, take a moment to wipe it down with a natural cleanser. I find vinegar and water to be a great option—especially in spaces that make direct contact with food (like the vegetable drawer).

Start a List

You’ll also likely notice that items you need to shop for will pop into your head as you work your way through your kitchen. Keep a pen and paper within reach to capture all of these ideas as they come.

Get Creative

At the end of this process, you’ll have a cleaner kitchen, a grocery list, and the makings of new meals. At this point, it’s time to get creative and decide how you’ll put what you’ve got left to good use.

Stale bread can become breadcrumbs. Leftover cheese can be used for macaroni and cheese, be added to casseroles, or even enhance some soups. Overripe bananas are ideal for banana bread. When in doubt, do an online search for the specific ingredients you have on hand to determine the best way to use them.

Reclaim Good Nutrition

Once the ornaments are back in their boxes, the days of cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner need to come to a close. Womp. Womp.

If you’ve still got cookies (some varieties last longer than others) store them in single-serving bags for lunch box treats or share them with friends or coworkers.

Additionally, plan out a week’s worth of healthy meals and add any further ingredients you need to your grocery list. January is a great time for nutrient-rich soups, stews, and roasts that can be easily prepared in a slow cooker.

Aim to shift from a mindset of holiday free-for-all to home-cooked goodness. Reduce the number of meals your family eats out. Steer clear of processed foods and refined carbs and sugars as much as possible. Enjoy providing your family with the best nutrition available.

Stay on Track

A kitchen cleanout in January jumpstarts the year with order and good habits. Aim to foster the habits of cleaning as you go, keeping a list within reach, and choosing healthy foods all year long.

You may just look back at this activity as a pivotal point in the year.

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza
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