Spring Cleaning in the Kitchen
Spring has sprung and it’s time for fresh starts and new beginnings. Cleaning the fridge, freezer and cupboards can help you be more organized in the kitchen and keep your family healthy. While you’re at it, toss your old dish rags and sponges, replace potholders with holes in them and bleach the garbage bins.
Spring Cleaning: Clean, Evaluate, Toss and Replace.
- Check the temperature of your fridge. It should be at 4°C (40°F)
- Take everything out of the fridge (put food in a cooler with ice packs if
you think cleaning the fridge is going to take you more than an hour)
- As you pull a food out decide if you will use it again or discard it
- Wash down the shelves, rack, walls and drawers with hot soapy water
- Put foods back one at a time evaluating how long you have had it in the fridge opened), check for mold, read expiry dates and best before dates
NOTE: If it is past the expiry date, chuck it out. This is a food safety thing. If it is past the best before date it may not be bad but the manufacturer says it is not at its’ best after that date.
- Get rid of multiples. Avoid combining multiples of condiments as they all have been open for different amounts of time. Keep the freshest.
- Toss jars that have sat in the fridge for months taking up space that you know you will never finish. (Consider buying smaller containers to reduce waste in the future)
- Be sure you organize the fridge to allow for good air circulation
Shelf life of foods in the fridge once opened:
|Salad dressing||3 months|
|BBQ sauce||4 months|
|Deli meat||3-4 days|
|Left overs||3-4 days|
- Check the temperature of the freezer. It should be at -18°C/0°F.
- Remove items one by one and evaluate how long they have been in the freezer.
- Check for signs of freezer burn. Foods with freezer burn are still safe but will be lower quality.
- Discard those foods that are past their date or badly freezer burned. Write a list of items you want to use up in the next couple weeks and plan meals around them.
- Use up last year’s berries to make room for this years.
- If the freezer needs cleaning, now is a good time to do it. Try to move all the frozen items to another freezer if possible, otherwise keep them in the cooler and don’t peek.
Shelf life of freezer goods:
|Ground meat||2-3 months|
|Frozen leftovers||3-4 months|
|Ice cream||2-4 months|
|Berries||(depends on the fruit 4-12 months)|
Cupboards and Pantry:
- Do one cupboard or drawer at a time and pull everything out
- Wash down the insides with hot soapy water
- Replace items one at a time discarding packages that have been open too long
- Check best before dates. Use the first in first out principle and move the old items forward.
Take note of the items approaching their best before dates and plan to use them up
- Smell your oils to make sure they are not rancid
- Ensure grains are in airtight containers
- Check grains for signs of pests and their excrement (little black specks in the flour)
- Toss any dented, bulging or leaking cans
- Get rid of old spices and herbs and add the ones you want to replace to your grocery list
Shelf Life of dry goods:
|Whole wheat flour||1 month (consider keeping this in the fridge)|
|Brown rice||6-12 months|
|Brown sugar||4 months|
|Vegetable oil||2-4 months|
|White sugar||2 years|
|Dry pasta||2 years|
|White flour||6-12 months|
Try not to wait until next spring to clean out your fridge. It’s good practice to go through the fridge before grocery shopping every week. Make room for new stuff and remind yourself of things you should use up.
Using up vegetables:
Kitchen sink soup: Sautee an onion in olive oil, add odds and ends of vegetables from your crisper, peeled and chopped. Good options include leeks, celery, carrots, peppers, tomatoes and broccoli. If you have leftover cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes toss those in too. You can even add the last bits of frozen vegetables such as peas and corn. Add a variety of pastas or grains from the pantry if there isn’t enough to use them for a meal. Add vegetable stock and a tin of tomatoes or beans that needs using up and voila! Soup du jour!
Using up Berries:
Get ready for this summer’s bounty and use up last year’s berries in breakfast smoothies, muffins, berry crumble or cooked with a bit of sugar to top French toast, pancakes or ice cream.
Using up Tinned Beans:
Once you determine what needs using up, put it all on the counter and decide what flavours will work together. Cook up some quinoa, add some chopped vegetables (whatever is leftover in the crisper), add a tin of beans and some fresh herbs and you have a salad. Top it with a salad dressing that needs using up or make your own.