Spring has officially sprung! With the seemingly daily rain showers in Columbus that bring May flowers, also comes an itch to clean- out with the old, in with the new! This spring, let’s not limit the de-cluttering to our closets and junk drawers, but take your talents to the place we fuel our bodies and our loved ones- the kitchen.  Follow these simple tips to spring clean your kitchen, and as a result, revive the whole family’s eating habits!

  • Spring clean the pantry

Out with the old…..

Start by pulling out foods from your pantry and take a look at the label.  Is the first ingredient something other than sugar on your breakfast cereals? What about the ingredient list on your snacks- can you pronounce or recognize a majority of the ingredients? Are your pastas, breads and rice made from whole grains? If the answer to any of these questions is no, either make a mental note to replace those items with something different when they run out, or donate/throw it away right then and there.   

In with the new….

Shoot for a cereal that has whole grains as the first ingredient- this will provide you with fiber which has been shown to help decrease cholesterol, keep your bowels regular and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Sugary cereals provide very little nutrients and make us feel hungry nearly a half an hour after eating. As for snacks, it’s unrealistic to expect to never buy packaged snack items, but some choices are healthier than others. Single serving trail mixes, nuts, popcorn, peanut butter, dried fruit- all of these are great snack options to replace some of those other items. As with all foods made out of grains, whole grain is always ideal. Whole grains are less refined and therefore maintain more of their nutrients than white grains. The first ingredient on your pasta and bread should be “whole wheat” or “whole grain” and on rice the label should read “brown rice” first.

  • Spring clean the refrigerator

Out with the old…

It’s time to make room for all of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are coming into season this spring. Check expiration dates, any growth on fruits and vegetables and assess your leftovers. Food safety is extremely important, so throw away food that is past due or growing anything that looks like a science experiment.

In with the new….

We are so much more likely to eat foods that are available, easy and convenient. Stock your refrigerator with fruits and vegetables- wash and cut them right when you bring them home and place them at eye level in the refrigerator so they are eaten before they go bad. Frozen fruits and vegetables have the same nutritional value as fresh- so save some money and make room in the freezer for frozen produce as well.  Expand your snack area from just the pantry to the fridge by having items such as Greek yogurt, hummus and cheese on hand. And finally, keep some prepared protein in the fridge. Protein typically takes the longest amount of time to prepare. So make it easier on yourself for the crazy busy nights and cook several different proteins at the beginning of the week.

If this didn’t scratch your cleaning itch, head on up to your closet and get going. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any advice on that one…Happy Spring!

Emily Fitz, RD