3 steps to healthier food in a tidier kitchen

Perhaps this year more than any other, seasonal clean-ups and clean-outs have become important to many of us. So, as you tidy-up closets, basements and garages and refresh your spaces, make sure you don’t overlook the heart of the home: the kitchen. Now is a great time to purge the back-of-the-pantry and rid your refrigerator of crusty-topped condiment jars with an eye toward restocking with nutritious choices.

Not only will cleaning out your fridge and pantry keep your kitchen more organized, but it also brings the added bonus of eating a bit healthier. Here are three steps to help guide you:

Step 1: Swap in low-fat condiments

Your refrigerator shelves are probably lined with partially filled bottles of salad dressing, last summer’s ketchup and maybe even a jar of specialty herb mayonnaise that you’ve long forgotten about. Check expiration dates and toss out any past-due items, or items that you don’t use anymore – they’re taking up space. Make sure you recycle containers where you can or, better yet, reuse glass jars to store new homemade sauces and blends.

For those condiments that you keep, make sure you check the nutrition label for fat content. It’s a great time to try swapping out higher fat items – like bottled marinades – with better-for-you alternatives. For instance, a simple balsamic vinegar-based dressing whisked with olive oil and spices can add a lower-fat splash of flavor to meals.

Step 2: Front of the package makes healthy choices easier

While shopping for groceries, paying attention to what’s on the front of the package can help us more quickly find foods that are better for us which means it meets the nutritional requirements of a healthy food.

Step 3: Organise your herbs and spices

It’s easy to accumulate two, or even three, bottles of the same spice in our cabinets, especially if they aren’t used often. Take time to organise your shelves and spices in a way that reflects your search intuition and culinary impulses – you may find separating spices for desserts and baking from those generally used for main courses makes it easier for your prep. And, if you’re consolidating duplicates of the same spice, remember that dried herbs generally don’t go bad, but they do lose their potency over time and may be less flavourful.

Keep in mind that while ready-made spice blends, rubs and mixes are a short-cut to flavourful food, they generally contain a lot of salt. Create your own custom blends and experiment with new flavours and less sodium. Better yet, plant an herb garden. You can keep your dry herb mixtures stored in an airtight jar for year-round use or stir your fresh blends right into your weeknight dinners.

With these three steps, you’ll find tidying up your pantry and refrigerator, and keeping them stocked with healthy options, has never been easier. -BPT