Here we are again at the start of a new year and here we are again saying I am going to do this, I am going to do that, and I am going to eat better. Well, yes, we all want to be better, but making your kitchen cleaner to eat better really does not take that much work and having an athlete in the house can make it even easier.
What is a clean eating kitchen you may ask? Clean eating to us is not having processed foods and making as much as we can from scratch ourselves, like our bread. Clean eating in our home means lots of fruits, veggies, proteins, and whole milk dairy. The most basic of foods is what we call clean food. We have been doing this since the twins were born, but in earnest for the last 12 years.
Changing your kitchen to a clean eating kitchen is easy to set up and I am going to lay out the steps for you to follow. But truth is, even in my kitchen, non-clean foods have snuck in by what others have brought us, such as “special treats” for the kids, gifts, and events we have had over the holidays. Plus, we do still eat out and we sometimes have foods that are processed. When I feel the house could be cleaner, I do a big cleaning and start afresh. So, don’t beat yourself up if a bag of sea salt and vinegar chips sneaks into your life. You can even ease yourself and your family into this lifestyle.
Try to take an hour or two this week and make your kitchen clean. Here’s how to get started…
Clean your cabinet, your frig, and your freezer.
But, really do it! Go through your cabinets first, taking out all processed foods and unhealthy foods. Now, if you have that one cheat food you like to hide and have around, but that you can control yourself with, leave it. It’s ok. This also includes bottled salad dressings and sauces that are high in sugars. Why do you even have these when you can make your own so easily and they taste so much better? Do not just throw it all away, though. If it’s unopened, take it to your local food back. They will even take all those gift basket foods you do not need in the house.
Next, take a good look at your frig and freezer. I hate throwing away food, but sometimes you have to, unless you have a neighbor or friend who may want what you are getting rid of. We always end up with ice cream and what not when the twins leave and sometimes our concierge is happy to take that home at the end of his day. Keep only whole foods
Get a few good cookbooks.
I love to head to our local second hand book store each month and see what new cookbooks have come in. Think greens and beans with good proteins. I often buy many vegetarian cookbooks and add a protein. I need my cookbooks for inspiration. I read them like a novel, get ideas, and mark them up with post-its. On my last venture to the second hand store, for $43 I got 6 fabulous books including 2 hard backs. This trip included:
- Splendid Soup by James Peterson
- The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen
- The Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special – The only Moosewood I didn’t have.
- Preserving Made Easy – So excited because it features small batches.
- Beard on Bread – I was so amazed I didn’t have it.
- Silver Palate Cookbook- I gave five away to friends, so I replaced mine.
Take inventory of what you have.
I actually keep a list on my i-pad of what is in my freezer and have it on hand when I am planning our meals. I also make sure I keep a list of what I buy in bulk and need to restock like dried beans and flours.
Make a plan.
This may sound hard, but it doesn’t need to be. Take a cup of tea and sit with a few of your favorite cook books or on Pinterest and get some ideas. You really don’t need a full-on meal plan if it is not your style, but an idea of what your week will look like. I generally look at our schedules and think, ok, 4 dinners, 5 lunches, and breakfasts and then add in our regular must haves like yogurt and fruit. I then take this “plan” with me to the store, knowing what I need; like 4 dinners, but I have all my proteins already. If you are a real meal planner, I am jealous, but good for you and go for it.
Fill up your frig with goodness.
This is where you need to be flexible at the market with your plan. You may need to change things out if there is no kale and the rainbow swiss chard looks great. But, really fill your frig with lots of color and freshness. If it is your kitchen, you will use it because it is what you have. Stay on the outside of the market and spend most of your time in the fruits and veggies section. We stick to whole foods and away from anything “low-fat” so all of our yogurt is whole milk, as is our milk, real butter, and goat and sheep cheeses.
Do the prep work.
This is the biggest part of your clean kitchen, because it will keep things easy during the week. When you get home from the market, do not put everything right away. Prep it so you are not stressed during the week and get away from your clean eating. I actually take all my carrots and peel and cut them. I store them in a container with a little water to keep them crisp and this allows you to grab and go. Having clean snacks prepped, you will eat them and not want to eat a bag of chips. It takes me about 2 hours to prep, but saves me a ton of time and huge headaches during the week.
We hope these hints will get your kitchen clean for the New Year! Let us know how it turns out for you…