As the warm spring sunshine fills our homes, many of us get the urge to embark on that annual rite of passage called “Spring Cleaning”. We spritz lemon-scented cleaner here and there, sweep the cobwebs out of the corners, and make every floor and window spic and span. But many of us dare not take on the challenge of cleaning our kitchen cupboards because in order to clean them, we will have to clean them out; a daunting and overwhelming task. I mean, who knows what might be lurking far in the back of that upper most corner cabinet.
However, it is easier to make good healthy meals at home when you have a kitchen and cupboards that are organized and up to date. Knowing what you have on hand can really help you spread your food dollar by ensuring you won’t end up with enough canisters of salt to last the rest of your life, but no pepper. No matter how jam-packed and disorganized your cupboards are, you can reclaim this space and organize it in a way that works for you. To help you out, here is a simple 5 step plan to de-clutter your cupboards and make it easier to fill your plate.
1. Start Here
The first step is simple. Take everything out of the cupboards. If you have limited time, you may want to do this one cupboard at a time so that you aren’t stuck trying to cook around the contents of your kitchen cupboards that have taken up residence on your counter. As you take each item out, sort it by placing it together with similar things. Make a place for pasta, one for canned goods, one for baking items, etc. This is the key to setting yourself up for success.
Once the cupboard is empty, you will be able to give it a good cleaning. Removing everything also allows you to see exactly how much space you have to work with and what you need to fit in that amount of space.
2. Clean Up
Now that your cupboards are empty, you can do a serious deep cleaning. Wipe down the insides, the outsides, the shelves and the walls. If you want to put shelf paper down, now is the time, just make sure the surfaces are dry before proceeding. If you find you have been stashing loose recipes here and there in the cupboards with the intention of making those things some day, Fill Your Plate offers a better way. Toss those unorganized papers in trash and find all kinds of new recipes on Fill Your Plate. Using this online recipe source will help keep your cupboards organized and help keep your grocery bill low because you can search for recipes by ingredient. This makes it easy to find a recipe that will work for whatever you have in your cupboard.
3. Keep, Toss, Donate
First, you will need to designate one section of counter or maybe your kitchen table as your “KEEP” area and find two good size baskets or bins to house your “TOSS” and “DONATE” items. With the unobstructed view of the contents of your cupboards, go through and ask yourself the following questions about each item:
- Is it expired? If yes, you can stop here and put the item in a basket or box labeled “TOSS”.
- Is it something we use all the time? If yes, move it to “KEEP” area.
- Is it something I can see myself using in the next 6 months? If yes, move it to the “KEEP” area.
- Is it a specialty item that I only use at certain times of year like holidays? If yes, check the expiration date. If the next time you would use the item falls before the expiration date, move it to the “KEEP” area. If the expiration date comes first, add the item to your “DONATE” basket or box.
- If you answered No to all of the above, place the item in the “DONATE” basket or box.
Once you have sorted all the items on the counter, get rid of those items in the “TOSS” basket and focus on the area you have designated as “KEEP”.
4. Put Your Kitchen Back Together
Now that you have a clear picture of what you need to get back into the cupboards, you can determine the best way to categorize and organize those items and get things put away. For items you don’t use a lot, especially those you use only for specific things, it may be helpful to purchase some plastic bins or baskets and store all those items together on the top shelf. This helps keep things from getting lost in the depths of a deep cabinet while also making it easy to find all the specialty items exactly when you need them.
Drop the contents of your “DONATE” basket off at your local food shelter so that others can benefit from those items that you won’t use.