Even if you haven’t made an official new year’s resolution to eat better in 2021, it’s never a bad idea to start thinking about being more healthy. And the first step really begins in your kitchen. We suggest taking a little bit of time now (before things go back to busy!) to give your kitchen—and all the stuff inside it—a little extra attention. Do these 10 easy things now and you’ll find yourself just a bit more likely to make smarter, healthier choices—all year long.
1. Toss expired spices.
Spices are, well, the spice of life! Good-for-you-but-usually-boring proteins like grilled chicken and broiled salmon will reach new heights if you season them properly. The only thing is that, while dried herbs and spices don’t technically go bad, they do loose their potency. Whole spices are usually best within two years and ground spices are really only good for about one year. Give each bottle a sniff—if the powder doesn’t have much aroma, it’s time to toss it.
2. Clean your fridge.
The new year is the perfect time for a fresh start—for your refrigerator. Take a few minutes to clean out anything that’s expired or past its prime. (Don’t forget to check the condiment graveyard, aka the fridge door!) Once you’ve tossed anything you’re not keeping, put all the good stuff on the counter so that you can wipe down the shelves. Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe each shelf, bin, and crisper drawer. Then, as you put your perishables back into the fridge, group like things together and put soon-to-expire stuff toward to the front. Now you’ve got room (and a system!) for all those fruits and vegetables you’re about to go buy!
3. And the freezer.
You may as well organize your freezer while you’re at it! Take everything out (use a cooler or, if it’s cold where you are, use your porch to keep stuff cold while you work). Find anything super surprising? Any mostly empty boxes of ice pops? Toss any mystery meat and consider adding baskets to corral smaller items. Put things back, grouping fruits and veggies together in one spot, meat in another, and so on.
4. Rearrange the pantry.
You know that saying “out of sight, out of mind,” right? It’s true! If you want to encourage yourself to eat healthier snacks, put them toward the front of a shelf so you can see them. Put any remaining cookies and chips toward to the back and put, say, pretzels and applesauce cups in the front.
5. Give your gadgets and appliances a once over.
If you want a smoothie one morning but you can’t remember the last time you used your blender, chances are, you’re not going to make that smoothie. Pull out whatever appliances you think you might want to be using in the new year (your Vitamix, your Instant Pot, your toaster, etc!) and make sure they’re ready to go. Clean anything that needs to be cleaned, read up on the manual if need be, and give everything a home either on your counter or in a cabinet where it can be easily reached.
6. Add a notebook.
The healthiest eaters all know that meal planning is super important. It’s what keeps them from ordering a pizza out of desperation on a hectic Tuesday night. Get yourself a cute notebook that you’ll actually want to use and plan out your meals for the week. Not only will this keep your meals in check, it’ll also help you save money and waste less because you’ll shop only for the ingredients you need.
7. Get a water pitcher.
Sometimes, when we think we’re hungry, we’re really just thirsty. So that’s just one more good reason to stay hydrated. Whether you’re the kind of person who wants cold, cold water, or your just need to be reminded to drink more, a cute pitcher can help.
8. Stock up on sponges.
By now, we’re guessing you’ve heard all about how gross kitchen sponges can be after just a few weeks of using them. Why spread germs and bacteria around when you don’t have to? Stock up on sponges (we’re partial to our Pop-Up Sponges) and make it a habit to grab a new one every other Sunday.
9. Inspect your nonstick pots and pans.
You can cut out a lot of unnecessary butter and oil if you cook in a nonstick skillet. Just use this time to inspect them a bit. While scratches here and there are not ideal, they’re usually fine. If the coating is starting to peel or get pitted, however, it’s time to replace the cookware. Everything look good? Season each piece (yup, just like with your cast iron cookware!): Use a paper towel to rub about a teaspoon of oil (any kind will do) around the inside of the pan.
10. Condition your wooden cutting boards.
If you’re going to be eating more fruits, salads, and vegetables, you’re probably going to be doing a lot more chopping than you ever have before. We really suggest wood cutting boards over plastic (they’re harder to clean) and glass (they’re bad for your knives!). You’ll have to wash them by hand, but other than that, they’re relatively easy to take care of. Once in a while, just rub each board down with some of this Boos Cream to keep them in tip top shape.