When was the last time you went through your kitchen cupboards? Are there some items on the top shelf that need to be used? Have other items worked their way to the back and been forgotten?
Follow our five step program to keep your kitchen cupboards fresh and healthy.
1. Take everything out
This will ensure that you don't miss anything and gives you the chance to sweep out dust and crumbs, and scrub any spills. Have your child help you pile everything on the kitchen table or counters.
2. Purge what's old
This is something kids can help with, too. Have them look for the "Use by" or "Best before" dates. If the "use by" date is past, the food may be unsafe to eat - discard it. If the "best before" date is past, the food is still safe to eat as long as it's not damaged or deteriorating, but it's past its peak. Work it into your menu plan soon. See the Storage section of Extension's Food Safety website for more details.
3. Sort the rest
Group like food items together: canned vegetables, fruits, beans and meats; cereals; grains; baking products like flour, sugar, and baking soda; and so on. This is another step where kids can get involved.
4. Relocate the goods
Where you store your food matters! Most nonperishable items should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Herbs and spices especially lose their flavor and color when exposed to air, light, moisture, and heat, so avoid storing them above or near the stove, dishwasher, microwave, or refrigerator. Keep flours and oils fresher longer by storing them in the refrigerator.
5. Clear the counters
Are your counters cluttered with kitchen appliances, snack foods, or dirty dishes? The clearer your counters are, the more likely you are to be inspired to cook. Find a home for kitchen appliances you don't use every day. Store snack foods out of sight in cupboards so that you and your family are less likely to eat them. Talk over expectations for washing dishes with your family so that the kitchen is an inviting place to be.