Resolution Action: Kitchen, Food Glorious Food

In today's installment of Kitchen Week for Resolution Action January, we're covering my favorite part - FOOD!

Nobody is surprised by this, though. Right.

Lets start with your freezer. 

  • Pull everything out, sorting like with like. (Those that have been following along will notice a pattern.) So gather your meats, frozen dinners, leftovers, whatever ya got.
  • Now give your freezer a quick cleaning.
  • Next, check expiration dates on everything and pitch those that are past due. Aren't sure?  My favorite resource is Still Tasty, a website that tells you how long various foods last. Also remember the old adage, when it doubt, throw it out. No use accidentally getting yourself sick. Or just eating something bad.
  • Now place things back in an order that makes best sense to you. I have a teeny freezer so on the top shelf starting on the left I have frozen leftovers, a martini glass and vodka in the middle, carb-y stuff on the right - waffles, pastry shells and flour. On the bottom, I have frozen meats, then veg, then fruit. In the door is coffee and ice packs.

Next is time to attack the fridge:

  • Same as with the freezer, you're going to pull everything out and sort like with like. After it's all pulled, give the fridge a good cleaning. It's rare that we do this.
  • Check out expiration dates and throw out anything bad. If something has been in there for longer than you care to think about or dare to open, it is perfectly OK to throw out the entire thing - container and all. Before I cooked regularly, my fridge was home to take out, leftovers and condiments. I've been known to throw out a container just because I didn't want to clean up the mess. We've all done it. Don't feel bad about it.
  • Now we're ready to put everything back in. Check here on Chow.com for an excellent guide on what should and shouldn't be refrigerated and the best locations in your fridge for each food.  

Now it's time for your pantry or cabinets:

  • Pull everything out and sort like with like. So gather all your canned goods, soups, pastas, teas, spices, oils, vinegar, whatever ya got.
  • Once everything has been pulled out, give the shelves a good wipe down.
  • Now go through every single item and check its expiration date. If you have a lot of food in your pantry, it's less likely that you've done this recently. While working with one client, we threw out over 6 giant trash bags full of expired foods and condiments. Close to the expiration date and know you won't eat it? Chuck it. May as well clear the space now instead of tossing it after it expires.
  • Have multiples of certain food items and know you eat through it all? Donate extras to a food bank. When you have disorganized cabinets, it's easy to think you're out of something and purchase more. I had one client with 8 containers of honey. She didn't use it a lot, just forgot she had some and would purchase more. This is a common occurrence among condiments. I can't tell you how many times I've asked a client if I need to stage a "condiment intervention!"  
  • Tomorrow we'll talk about the wheres and what-nots of putting it all back. I'm waiting because you may need to move it from its current location, based on what will be best use for your space.

In the future, you'll want to regularly check your food so that you don't waste as much of it. When you see something will be going bad soon, create menu plans around what needs to be eaten to make sure you're not wasting any food or money. I go through my refrigerator once a week and the freezer and pantry every couple of months.

Side note - seem wasteful to throw away such expired food? Well...it is. But there's nothing you can do about it now so you may as well let go of that feeling and remember it the next time you're about to impulse purchase something random.

Tomorrow, we put your kitchen back together!