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El Segundo Eats: Kitchen Cleanout

Greet the new year with an uncluttered, highly organized kitchen.

By Jenifer Antonelli

New Year, new you, right? Many of us make New Year’s resolutions regarding our health, whether that means eating better or incorporating more exercise into our daily routines. Unfortunately, many of those resolutions are a distant memory by February. When it comes to eating healthier and cooking more meals at home, you’ll have a much better chance of achieving your goals if you set-up your kitchen for success. You’re much more likely to snack on some veggies or fruit if they are easy to grab and go. Likewise, you’re more likely to crunch on some chips or cookies if that’s what’s carelessly stuffed into your pantry. Take a few hours to clear the culinary clutter and make 2020 your best year yet. 

Clean out your pantry. We all tend to dread this chore, but it always feels so good once it’s done. Throw away expired canned goods. Donate to a local food bank, such as CASE, any pantry items that aren’t part of your meal plan for 2020. Once you’ve cleared away the old, make space for the new. See-through pantry bins and turntables are a great way to store pantry items so that they are visible and in reach when it’s time to cook. The Container Store in Plaza El Segundo has a great selection to help you get organized.

Clean out your fridge and freezer. Warning: You may be surprised (and possibly horrified) by what you find. “Whoa! I didn’t realize I had five different jars of mustard crammed in this back corner!” “This yogurt expired last month.” “I’m never going to use this sweet chili sauce again.” “These berries are completely freezer-burned.” You get the idea. Working one shelf or drawer at at time, take everything out, clean the shelf/drawer, decide what you really want to keep, then throw away the rest. Again, transparent bins are a great way to organize your fridge and freezer.

Organize your spice rack. Fresh herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to home-cooked meals, but they do lose their potency and flavor over time. Take a few minutes to check your dried spices—anything that is expired or has been open for more than a year should be tossed. Spice racks and turntables are a great way to organize your spice jars so that you can easily find the flavor boost you’re looking for. 

Check your kitchen equipment. Are there pots, pans, gadgets, utensils, or small appliances that you simply don’t use? Don’t allow them to take up any more of that precious kitchen real estate. Donate them! Is there anything you need to buy to help you reach your goals, such as a blender for smoothies, or a juicer? Are your knives dull and need to be sharpened to help make chopping faster and easier?

Stock your kitchen with healthy choices. Now that your kitchen is clean and ready for the New Year, take a trip to the farmers’ market (preferably right here in El Segundo) to stock it with healthy foods. Take a few minutes to clean and chop your produce to ensure it’s ready to eat when hunger strikes. Store your healthy snacks at eye level in the front of the fridge, so that you see them as soon as you open the door. Take a few minutes each week to map out a meal plan, make a grocery list, and stock your kitchen with fresh and healthy ingredients so you’re ready to prep delicious dinners throughout the week. I wish you a happy and healthy New Year! 

Jenifer Antonelli is the owner of Vino and Viand Personal Chef Services.

@vinoandviand on Facebook and Instagram. 

El Segundo Eats is sponsored by Good Stuff Restaurants. This column appears in the January 2020 issue of The El Segundo Scene.

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