Spring cleaning doesn’t need to stop at your bedroom closet or junk drawer, take it a step further and clean out your pantry to set you and your family up for success with meal and snack time. A change of season is a great opportunity to take a look at those pantry or refrigerator shelves and give them a refresh. Taking inventory of your food can help you maintain dietary habits for weight loss (if that’s a goal for you), make meal prepping easier, and even make snack time for your kids less chaotic by having items easily accessible.
Go big or start small—you decide. If you’re feeling motivated and have the time you can do this refresh in one day or break it into several days and tackle each shelf little by little. Start by taking all the items off the shelf and declutter. Throw away items that are spoiled or out of date. You may also consider a donation pile to go to a local food pantry of canned and unopened nonperishable products that are still within date but you aren’t planning on eating in the future. Take this opportunity to read labels of items you usually keep on hand. Do they have a never-ending list of ingredients with words you can’t pronounce? Are they loaded with added sugars? Take note of this and make a list of healthier options to purchase in the future.
Next, pick a method for your reorganizing that makes sense for you and your family. It can be helpful to put like foods together (for example grains, pastas, rice etc.) in one area for easily building meals. This can also help you to know when an item is low and needs to be repurchased.
Another great organization tip is to keep items often used in similar recipes together. It can even help to have a clear bin you can easily remove and place on your counter for meals that often require the same ingredients. For example, put together items such as ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nut butters or alternatives, nuts, cacao, protein powders etc. These items are often used together in smoothies, oatmeal or overnight oats, yogurt and fruit bowls or energy bites. This will make meal preparation much faster.
Make a snack space for your kids where they can access foods best suited for them. This can facilitate some independence and allow them to feel included in meal/snack decisions. Having children involved in every step of the meal making process can reduce picky-eating and make meal-time more enjoyable for your family (have kids involved in grocery shopping, preparing meals, setting the table, clean up etc.)
Take some time to do this several times a year to help you feel organized and stay on track!