How to Clean Out Your Kitchen — and Make it Healthier
The seasons are changing, and whether it’s warm or still frosty where you are, you’re likely ready to do some cleaning. In the kitchen, it’s great to wipe down cabinets and organize drawers. But it’s even better if you take a real, honest inventory of what foods you have in your home and getting rid of anything that isn’t giving your body the wholesome nutrition it deserves.
Keeping unhealthy foods around isn’t doing you any favors. Of course, it’s hard to throw food into the trash, because it feels so wasteful. However, disposing of food that contains lots of sugar or other ultra-processed ingredients is a necessary sacrifice in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. After all, there are two ways to waste food: by throwing it away, or by eating junk that your body doesn’t actually need. And only one of those choices can make you sick.
Ready to get started? Here’s your guide to cleaning out your cabinets and refrigerator to make way for new, healthier foods.
Comb the Cupboards
Most of the unhealthy food in your house is going to be hiding behind the closed doors of your cabinets. After all, in order to last for a long time on the shelf, most non-perishable foods have lots of nasty additives that you’re probably better off without. So, grab a trash bag, open your cabinets and get started.
Check the snacks
First, remove any obvious offenders. Cookies, candy or even granola bars that have high sugar content should be the first to go. While these might make you feel good in the moment, you’re much better grabbing a piece of fresh fruit or a handful of nuts when you need a snack on the go.
Hunt down hidden sugars
Next, it’s time to check the nutrition labels of foods that might not appear unhealthy at first glance. Many common cabinet foods like pasta sauce, crackers, and even bread contain hidden sugar. There are a few rules of thumb that can help you decide what should stay and what should go. For starters, ditch anything that has sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients (and be sure to know all the other names for sugar, like dextrose, maltodextrin, and corn syrup). Next, eliminate foods that have more sugar than fiber in each serving.
Stock up on healthy non-perishables
So, what should be left in your cabinets when you’re done? Nuts, dried fruit, canned fish, and canned beans are all nutritious options that can be stored long term. Whole grains and legumes, like quinoa and lentils, are also healthy staples.
Reevaluate the Refrigerator
Once your cabinets are cleared, it’s time to turn your attention to the fridge. There’s probably plenty of healthy foods in there already, like eggs, plain yogurt, and produce. However, there can be lots of added sugar lurking here as well.
Detox the door
Many offending items will be stored in the door of your fridge. Sauces, condiments, and salad dressings can all be packed with sugar, so read the ingredients on these items and toss any that rely on sweeteners or a host of ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
Assess the drinks
Next, take a look at what drinks you have in the refrigerator. Anything with added sugar—whether soda, juice, or creamer—needs to go. Water is the best thing you can drink, so there’s really no need to keep other beverages in the fridge. If you must have milk or cream in your coffee, opt for unsweetened versions to reduce your daily sugar intake. Choose whole milk over skim, since the fat will keep you satiated longer.
Look closely at “healthy” foods
Finally, be sure that there aren’t foods in your fridge that are merely masquerading as healthy. For example, yogurt seems like a healthy snack, but flavored versions can contain tons of added sugar. Bottled smoothies can have so much fruit juice, they include as much sugar as a soda. Check your yogurt, applesauce and other foods to make sure that there is little or no added sugar.
Now that you’ve cleaned out the cabinets it’s time to restock with wholesome, healthy foods. Focus on buying fresh produce and whole, natural foods. If you’re looking for added motivation, consider doing a 30-Day Sugar Reset to jump start your new lifestyle.