One of my biggest dreams is slowly becoming a reality. A new kitchen. My father is a cabinet maker and offered to redo our very out dated and dysfunctional kitchen. His first step was replacing my upper cabinets. Seeing as the cabinet doors are being installed in a separate visit, I thought I would take advantage and share the methods behind my madness.
I’m hoping for this post to inspire a solid lifestyle cleanse. The following steps will promote an organized and clean kitchen which will result in a clean and conscious diet.
STEP 1: The Clean Out.
This is where we go through our whole kitchen and discard any food (or appliances) that are either expired or that have been hanging around for far too long without use. In the same light, let’s make a separate pile for items that we can donate because we simply do not use them or do not like them. Donations can be made to family, friends, homeless shelters, charities and so on. No need to waste anything here. We must be honest with ourselves-if there are foods, ingredients and/or gadgets that have gone untouched for months and months there is no need to hoard them in our kitchens any longer (the same goes for our closets ladies).
STEP 2: Storage.
Now that we have eliminated all the unnecessary items that have been taking up our precious space, it’s time to organize the staple items. For this I highly recommend using glass storage containers and for a few reasons. Air tight glass containers keep foods fresher for longer and they do not contain any harmful toxins like plastic containers can. Glass also allows us to see the contents inside. If we can see what we have stored, it makes it that much easier for us to keep track of what is in stock. This prevents us from re-purchasing an item (I can’t be the only one who has done this) and encourages us to actually eat what we have on hand. Lastly, clear canisters give our kitchens a nice polished and organized look. If glass storage happens to sound pricey, fear not. All of my storage containers were bargain buys found at both dollar stores and thrift stores.
STEP 3: Label.
Some of the items we will store in the glass containers will look alike in appearance. To avoid mistaking cayenne pepper for paprika or arrowroot powder for baking soda-label the containers. The contents can simply be written underneath on the jar to keep our storage looking sleek and sexy or we can get creative. Cute homemade labels can be made to tie around the canisters or even use chalk labels with chalk. No matter what, do not assume you will remember what is inside of what container….trust me-I had to learn the hard way!
STEP 4: Assess.
Now that everything is in our face, we can see our diets for what they really are. It becomes vividly clear how this room directly influences what we put in our mouths. The more visible cookies and chips are the more we will be tempted to munch away mindlessly. If these types of treats are kicking around, try hiding them away. Instead, make the more health conscious choices visible. Having raw nuts and seeds, dried fruits, and homemade snacks up front in the cabinets will ensure that we’ll eat those first. The same concept applies for the fridge. When we see clear stacks of colourful produce such as fresh fruit and veggies we will reach for those before anything else. When healthy foods are displayed conveniently and attractively, we have set ourselves up for success.
STEP 5: Make Changes.
Kitchen assessments may surprise us. We might find that our kitchens are made up of a lot of packaged and processed foods and that’s okay because at least we are now aware of it. From this point on, we have the opportunity to make small changes as time goes on.
It took me a few years but I now have cabinets and a fridge full of ingredients. I have very little packaged, canned, or boxed items which are all that my kitchen used to be comprised of. I made baby steps along the way as my journey in healthy living progressed. When I ran out of one item, I would aim to replace it with a more health conscious choice and store it appropriately. For example, when I ran out of boxed cereal I didn’t repurchase it. I now make my own granola and it store it a glass canister. My "cereal" is now my granola with fruit and unsweetened nut milk. When I ran out of canned legumes, I bought the dried version and cook them from scratch the day before I’ll be using them. Instead of bagged popcorn, I buy the kernels and make my own movie treat. My spices are all organized and labeled in small glass dispensers. I have a neatly displayed snack shelf with nuts, seeds, and dried fruits (which is also great for last minute additions to baked goods or fresh salads). Because I adore baking, I even have my flours, sugars, and puffed grains neatly organized. My fridge has a prominently displayed shelf dedicated to my favourite super foods. Ingredients such as hemp hearts, hemp protein powder, chia seeds, ground flax, and psyllium husk are all stored in clear containers so they are ready to be added to any meal for optimal health benefits. Because I can see all of these nutritional foods, I use them. I eat them.
This has been an ongoing project and it’s taken me years to get to this point. Be patient and replace and organize as you go. There is no end to living a healthy lifestyle. The more we learn, the more we know, the more we can change. It should never feel like a race. Once you have your kitchen all cleaned up, give attention to the rest of your home. I am now on to cleaning and hygiene products. The same rule applies- as soon as I run out of a product where I know there are better choices, I either purchase or make my own health conscious replacement.
This exercise will change the way you feel about one of the most important rooms in your home. It will also change your lifestyle for the better. It definitely requires some time and effort but it will all be worth it in the end, I promise. A kitchen is not just another room in a home. It’s a place of influence and nourishment and it if we treat it as such, our lifestyles will carry that reflection effortlessly.