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Healthy Kitchen Cleanout

Spring is a great time to go through your kitchen and give it a healthy makeover. This project may be challenging to do alone, so I suggest you invite a friend over and agree to help them as well.

Start by taking pictures. Don't tidy things up or wipe anything down; get a camera and take photos of your cabinets, pantry, refrigerator and freezer as they are right now. These are going to be the "before" shots that will remind you of how everything was.

Trash Can - Recycling Bin - Donation Bag

Put a trashcan, recycling bin and donation bag in the middle of the room and begin the purge. Any fresh food that's wilted, brown or spoiled needs to be tossed in the trash. The same goes for leftovers that are over 3 days old. Sandwich meats that smell sweet or feel slimy should go as well as soft cheeses with mold. When in doubt, throw it out.

Anything that comes in a recyclable container like glass, plastic or aluminum should be rinsed out and put in the recycling bin. If you don't have a garbage disposal, pour the more problematic things down the toilet, rinse and recycle. Food that's unopened and still fresh (but not on your diet plan) should be put in the donation bag.

Toss It Out!

Condiments can be a huge source of hidden fat and calories. Start by getting rid of all the expired ones. Those you haven't used in the last 6 months are good candidates for tossing as well.

If it's been in your freezer for more than a year, it's likely to have freezer burn. It may still be safe, but the taste is often lacking. While you're in the freezer, remember "breaded and frozen" almost always equals disaster. Chicken fingers and fish sticks are often loaded with fat. If you find anything in your freezer that's both breaded and frozen, you probably need to get rid of it.

Consider tossing any spices that are over 3 years old. Are you really going to use that saffron your cousin brought you from Greece four years ago? How long has that star anise been sitting on your shelf? Over time spices lose their taste and nutritional properties. Keep the ones that you'll use to enhance your food, not waste space on a shelf.

Canned goods are nice to have around for an emergency, but not if they're spoiled. Go through your emergency supplies and update the food every year. Check the labels and try to replace whatever's higher in sodium. Soups are notorious for packing salt in, but you might be surprised how much canned vegetables are hiding. Donate the regular stuff and buy brands with no salt added.

Combine dry goods when you've got a couple of packages open. I drink cocoa powder with my coffee every morning and always seem to have two or three tins open and spread around the kitchen. By pouring them all into one, I save shelf space and picked a place where I always keep it.

Dump the calorie-loaded junk foods. Cookies, candies, regular ice cream, potato chips and pastries need to all go away. It's rare that a person has enough will-power to "eat just one" so a better option is to get it out of your house.

Every time you empty a shelf, clean it off before you put everything back. When you're done, you've not only upgraded your kitchen for health but done some of your spring cleaning as well.

Finish by taking pictures of your clean and freshly re-stocked shelves. You'll be surprised when you compare them to the before shots you took.

Be strong! Remember that your friend is there to help you throw away the things you shouldn't keep around but may be too weak to toss. You're there to help them with the same issues when you clean their kitchen.

Click Here for a list of healthy things you can buy to re-stock those shelves.

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Updated 5/17/18