Spring is on its way (I promise) and that means that we have to change our wardrobes, but while we’re thinking about our closets, we should also spare some time to think about our kitchen cupboards, pantry, and fridge.
It happens to everyone- you get through the holiday season, and you’ve managed to collect a ton of snacks, condiments and pantry items that you won’t need again until there’s snow on the ground. Your appliances probably also took a beating. You should take the time before the weather gets nice to get your kitchen spring ready.
It’s important to take a look at anything that you’ve brought into the house as a treat or a snack that might be languishing on a shelf. Throw anything that you regret or don’t see yourself using in the next 2 weeks out if it’s already open, and if it isn’t, start a charity box to donate these products. Better someone else get use out of them if you aren’t.
Organize Like a Chef
Pay close attention to your pantry and freezer. Make sure anything with an approaching expiry date is at the front of the shelves, and items with a longer shelf life are at the back. This is called “rotating your stock.” It’s essential in a professional kitchen to reduce waste.
You should also take an inventory of everything in your pantry and everything in your freezer. Hang these lists somewhere where you can consult it easily for menu planning.
Organize your pantry into zones based on how they are used: Latin pantry items in one section, Asian pantry items in another. Put pastry and dessert ingredients in their own area.
Make a list of dishes you could make if you only had your fridge, freezer, and pantry to rely on. This can help you make quick weeknight dinners.
Make sure you’re storing items that spoil quickly in the right place- nuts and some grains last longest if kept wrapped and stored in the freezer.
Clean Your Appliances
Even if you think you’re up to date on cleaning, you should really do a thorough cleaning of your appliances. Take everything out of you fridge, and wash everything down with hot water and all purpose cleaner. Clean out toasters, coffee makers, food processors, and any other small appliances you have.
Take special care to deep clean your oven. Don’t forget to remove the pieces of the range that can be cleaned. Empty any drawers you might have under your oven, and clean them thoroughly. A good rule of thumb is to do this once a month to reduce the time these tasks take.
One Last Hurrah
If you have items that aren’t expired, but are nearing their end of life, find ways to use them up, whether in stews, pot pies, stir fries, or other versatile dishes.
It’s easy to ignore your kitchen in the dead of winter, but a little hard work and organization can set you up for success when the great weather finally hits.