As we open up our homes and dust off the winter days, don’t forget your pantry and kitchen. Pull everything out to clear the old and make room for delicious new experiences. I usually do one shelf at a time, pulling items out, checking dates and stealing tastes of half opened boxes or bags. Any stale items or relatively unrecognizable goods are tossed first. Next, grab a box and fill it with any foods that will not nourish you and your family. A quick way to do this is to eliminate ‘food products’ containing any ingredients you do not know or that you would rather not consume such as trans-fats, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, msg, etc. When I am in a hurry I simply toss those items with 5 ingredients or more. Follow the same rules with your fridge, tossing any unused gifts from Christmas or food product that seemed such a good idea at the time. Now, pack the box of unwanted, but still sealed up food products up and head to your closest Food Bank.
Bulk pantry solution
I am notorious for having bulk bags lying around half full begging for my attention, but I solved the problem with a growing collection of Mason jars. The bulk items are now safely tucked away allowing me to spot & grab what I need easily. Some flours and nuts live in the freezer, otherwise, they are mostly on display around my kitchen to serve as constant inspiration.
Labeling the jars has been an evolving journey. I have painted a few jars with chalkboard paint and while I love the look and convenience it often peels off in the dishwasher making it a bit of a nuisance at times. Dry erase markers are a quick assistant to labeling but they rub off over time, requiring relabeling before it is completely erased. Although, this is probably my current go to method. Another method I am considering is using blue painters tape with low-adhesive. In general, I leave some jars unlabeled because they have high use (looking at you salt!) or they are obvious (hi, nuts & beans!) Some jars are given a permanent label (hey, sugar!) but that is almost more because I rarely use them these days and I was inspired with tape & scissors one pantry cleaning day a long while ago. So there are a few ideas for ease of labeling. Flours and some grains are most important to note since so often they can look deceivingly like another kind
Restocking your kitchen
Once your pantry and fridge are de-cluttered, it is time to consider the delicious new possibilities. Spring offers new life all around and seasonal vegetables will serve you well from the roots: radishes, turnips, beets to the shoots: dandelions, kale, arugula, chard to other delights such as asparagus, artichokes and more.
But, seasonal food goes beyond produce. This time of year, cow’s are happily munching away on fresh green growth. If you have a dairy farmer near you, this is the time to seek out the sweetest milk you can find as well as local cheeses and fresh butter. It is always a splurge, but this is the time of year to do it.
We buy our eggs from our neighbors and in the colder months I noticed it was a scramble to the be the first to purchase the limited supply. Apparently, it was too chilly for laying. Now that spring has hit, the eggs are gorgeous with amber-golden rich yolks. Interestingly, many of the initial eggs are quite small as the youngest hens have started their turns of laying. But, if you are ready to dip your toast or asparagus sticks into a heavenly yolk, this is the time of year to do so.
What do you do to clean out your kitchen for spring?