As featured in the May 2014 issue of BossFit Magazine.
Not uncommon is it to purge old clothes between seasons, toss expired OTCs and prescriptions from the medicine cabinet, but when it comes to spring cleaning, we may be neglecting the one area in need of it most: the kitchen. Specifically, let’s focus on four areas: the pantry, the freezer, the refrigerator and the spice rack.
First, we’ll want to empty the contents of each space. Time to clean! Choose all-natural [cleaning] agents like water and vinegar over abrasive, often toxic household products. Toss anything that’s expired then group like items together to take inventory. Next to go is the junk. Think highly-processed, calorie-laden, nutrient-void foods whose ingredient lists are long and not easily pronounced. Anything that’s been opened and/or unused for more than six months? In the trash. In the pantry, this may include cereals, sugary breakfast bars, pre-packaged snacks, flours/meals, nuts, seeds and oils. Condiments are easily pushed to the back of the fridge, as are single-serve leftovers in the freezer. The spice rack is your last stop before the restock. Spices and dry rubs take meals from bland to bold in seconds, but lose their fragrance over time.
Now that you’ve weeded out, it’s time to refresh your supply with real, whole foods. Remember: the key to resisting temptation is preparedness, not willpower. Make a list prior to your grocery haul to avoid impulse buys, forgetting what you really need and overbuying what you don’t. This will also help you stick to a budget. NOTE: Real, whole foods can get expensive, yes, but consider it an investment in your long-term health. I’d rather spend my money on quality foods than on medical bills, no?
Now, what to restock with?
My pantry staples include old-fashioned oatmeal/oat bran, brown rice, canned pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, raw or dry roasted nuts, all-natural peanut and/or almond butter, coconut oil, olive oil, balsamic and apple cider vinegars, low-sodium salsa, no salt added canned tuna or chicken, protein powder, sugar alternatives (e.g. stevia, xylitol, erythritol), almond meal, coconut flour, shelf-stable almond milk or coconut milk, tea, coffee and waistline friendly snacks for on-the-go (e.g. protein bars).
Stock your fridge with loads of fresh produce, lean proteins and low-fat, organic, if possible, dairy products (if you can tolerate, of course). Frozen produce is just that: frozen fresh. It’s convenient and helps cut down on waste. Take advantage of local farmer’s markets to stock up on locally-grown fruits and vegetables, and locally-raised eggs and meats, the latter of which can be frozen fresh. Farmer’s market or not, know your food source!
Spices are cheapest bought in bulk. I buy in small quantities, store in labeled glass jars and re-buy as needed, but completely refresh my supply every six months. Spices add a flavor punch to your food without impacting your clean eating efforts, and dry rubs are great for summer grilling.
Now that you’ve restocked, practice dating non-perishables as you open them (they’re not non-perishable forever) and stay mindful of sell by, use by and expiration dates, discarding accordingly.
When was the last time you cleaned out your pantry, or looked to the back of your refrigerator? What are some of your food staples? Let me know in the comments below!