Spring Clean Your Kitchen for Easier, Healthier Mealsnewby.17 | February 27, 2012
Home-cooked food is often lower in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar and higher in good nutrients like fiber, calcium, and iron compared to premade meals. Why? When you prepare food at home, you get to choose the ingredients. If the food you are preparing calls for tomato sauce, you can choose a low-sodium version or simply omit the salt from the ingredient list. And if you are worried about portion sizes as many Americans these days are, eating at home can help you control your portion sizes. You can also include more fruits and vegetables in your main dish and side dishes and for dessert. Make your kitchen work better for you this spring!
Mini Kitchen Makeover:
Don’t have time (or money!) for a major kitchen makeover? Try some of these organizational ideas in your kitchen to make meal preparation easier. The following mini-kitchen ideas are from Alice Henneman’s Cook It Quick, Kitchen Mini-Makovers.
- If you constantly shuffle canned goods, looking for the one you need, try stacking them on stair step-type expanding shelves. Place similar types of cans or boxed items together on the shelves.
- Ever buy something at the store only to find there already was a container in the back of a storage area? Use a small turntable for foods in the refrigerator such as condiments or in the cupboard for boxes and cans of food. Use a large turntable underneath the kitchen sink for cleaning
- Where is that remaining half an onion? Or the little bit of extra grated cheese? And wasn’t there half a cucumber still in the refrigerator — someplace? Make a “use it soon” spot in the refrigerator. Store remaining extras of items in the same place. One possibility is to collect them in a shallow pan such as a bread pan, almost like their own use it soon “drawer” in the fridge.
Out with the Old:
- Most pantry items are best stored in cool, clean, dark areas. Canned food is best when used within one year. If you have some canned food that has been on your pantry shelf, plan to use it up or if it is old, toss it out.
- In the kitchen, the warmest cabinets tend to be the ones above the stove top, near the dishwasher or next to the refrigerator exhaust. These warmer (and sometimes moister) areas are not the best for storing food. They are a good place to store dishes, pots and pans.
- The shelf life of whole spices is 2 years and of ground spices/dried herbs is one year. Do not store spices on the counter close to the stove because heat and light will shorten their shelf life.
Try Something New:
- Try some new recipes. Look for healthy cookbooks or recipes on-line. Share your healthy recipes with friends and family and get favorites from them also.
- When purchasing new spices for flavoring, buy a small container first. Even if the smaller size is more costly on unit price, the larger size will not be a deal if you cannot use it up within a year or if you find you do not care to use any more.
- Watching portions? Use “lunch” sized plates for dinner or purchase smaller bowls for side dishes and snacks. Make your place settings inviting but not oversized.
Recipe Makeover: Do you have some favorite recipes that you think could use a healthy update? Look over some of your favorites and think about what minor changes you can make to update it to a healthier version.
- Look for “empty calorie” ingredients like added fat, cholesterol or sugar, as well as sodium. You can often use less high fat or high salt ingredients or substitute other ingredients without sacrificing flavor.
- Add more nutrition! Look for ways to use the messages of MyPlate such as: make half your grains whole grains, make half your plate fruits and vegetables, switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk and vary your protein food choices. Can you add more vegetables to a favorite recipe? Can you substitute a whole grain product for an enriched grain?
- Change your method of preparation. For example, instead of frying, can you bake, grill, steam or broil it? When looking for new recipes, check for ones with healthy ingredients and healthy steps for preparation.
Update the Grocery Budget:
- First, shop your “new” organized kitchen cabinet or pantry. Inventory supplies already on hand and plan a meal around that!
- Use new recipes and ideas to stock up on low-cost, quick-to-fix foods. Add those items to your grocery list and stick to it.
- Try a variety of foods, canned, frozen, and fresh. Try some new seasonings or try a new way of preparing less costly foods. Plan meals around items on sale at the grocery store.
- Enjoy your updated kitchen and healthy meals!