One Small Change: Spring Cleaning in the Kitchen

Spring cleaning the kitchen means more than mopping the floor; it's a good time to toss processed junk food and fill your fridge and pantry back up with healthier snacks and staples.

The weather is getting warmer and spring cleaning is in full effect for many of us throughout the house. When you get to the kitchen, don't stop after mopping the floors; take a look at the cabinets, pantry and fridge. It's a good time to capitalize on the new season to overhaul your home food environment; clearing out unhealthy foods is a great first step toward making better eating decisions at home. But once you've cleared your pantry of the not-so-healthy processed foods (see our list of the 5 worst offenders and toss those first) and the foods that have been lurking for months past their expiration date, don't make the mistake of filling your pantry back up with junk.

Restock the Pantry Wisely: Once you clean out our pantry and fridge, there may be a pretty large void staring back at you. So what should you fill it with? Of course, the obvious answers are: fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, etc. But let’s consider another topic near and dear to many of our hearts: snacks. Small, frequent meals require that we have access to nutritious food throughout the day and sometimes we do not want to sauté a stir fry at 3 PM in the afternoon. When choosing snacks for your pantry, consider:

  • Ready-to-go snacks that make healthier decisions easier such as pre-cut fruits, veggies, low-fat string cheese and yogurt.
  • What snacks can you have around the house that will satisfy you without temping you to overindulge? For me, that’s 85% dark chocolate. I can have a couple pieces to satisfy my sweet tooth, but I know I won’t be tempted to have the entire bar. Other options may be dates, nuts, or whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk.

Prevent Your Eyes from Getting Bigger than Your Stomach:

  • Get rid of candy or snack bowls sitting around the house: out of sight, out of mind!
  • Consider downgrading the size of your dishes: Cornell researcher Dr. Brian Wansink ran a series of studies showing that we tend to eat less when we eat with smaller plates, bowls and utensils.
  • Break out that Tupperware: When cooking, especially in large batches, put any extra food immediately into portion-sized containers and stow it away in the fridge or freezer. You’ve reduced your likelihood to overeat at meal time and have increased your access to healthy, easy-to-prepare (reheat) lunches and dinners later in the week.
Tell Us: What spring cleaning are you doing in your kitchen and home eating environment?

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