3 Steps to an Orderly Kitchen

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Step 1: A week in advance, decide when you are going to clean your food storage area. By doing this a week before, you can use up and empty as much food as possible before beginning the cleaning process. One easy shelf-cleaning meal is to dump all vegetables (frozen and fresh) into the crock pot with a can of stewed tomatoes, soup stock, or water. Fresh or dried herbs and leftover meat or beans can be added to the mix, and you’ll have dinner for a few nights. Grate cheese on top of the soup as garnish.

Step 2: Read labels carefully. Flour should be stored in the refrigerator, not the pantry. Take everything off the shelves and load into 3 piles or boxes. The first pile is garbage. Toss everything that has expired or gone stale. The second pile is food that is returning to the shelves. Keep like things together. The third pile is for “marrying.” Combine like things, transferring them to new containers if needed. Use the harder to reach shelves for items you don’t use daily. Place the more frequently used items on the shelves where you can reach them easily. Use storage containers for things like cereals. They can extend the life of your food.

Step 3: For the refrigerator, unload any bins and removable refrigerator parts and toss then in the top rack of the dishwasher to clean them, or hand-wash them in the sink. Really scrub the inside of the refrigerator. After cleaning, return the food to the refrigerator in the following order from top to bottom: Prepared foods and ready to eat items should go on the top shelves. Keep eggs in their original packaging near the top of the refrigerator. Raw meats, poultry, and seafood should be stored in their original packaging on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Vegetables and fruits should be stored separately and in the allocated bins. Drinks, sauces, condiments, and longer shelf life items can be stored on the door of the refrigerator. Store your frozen foods in airtight containers and label them with the date. Do not over-pack your refrigerator. It will help to keep foods cold and extend their life if there is air circulating around them.

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