As soon as I open up my front windows and blinds to let the fresh spring air in my apartment, I become overwhelmed with an urge to clean up.
And by “clean up”, I mean CLEAN UP. Everything. From dusting the light fixtures on the ceiling to changing over my comforters to cleaning out the fridge — no inch of my apartment is spared.
Well — that’s not necessarily true. Over the past few years, one part of my apartment has just become more messy. I am a hoarder of pantry staples. I can’t help it. Canned tomatoes, broth, pastas, rice — when my brands go on sale, I stock up. And then before I use them all, they go on sale again and I stock up all over again. And my cupboards — and my waistline — have suffered as a result.
So when I opened up my windows the other day, I took a good long look at what I had been avoiding and decided it was time to make a change.
I cleared off my counter, grabbed my step stool, opened up the garbage can, and got to work.
Shelf by shelf, I pulled every single item out of the cupboard and made three piles: whole, unprocessed/bulk foods; whole, packaged foods; and processed crap. I allowed myself to keep three items from the “processed crap” pile — a pack of tootsie roll suckers, my can of milo, and a jar of chocolate-hazelnut spread. Oh — and a jar of hot giardiniera. I dare you to even try to pry that from this former Chicago girl’s hands. These items were then put high on the top shelf, which forces me to grab the stool in order to reach them — that takes some serious commitment right there.
The whole, packaged foods include my “larabars”, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, tuna (in water), whole grain cereal, steep cut oats, whole grain pasta, wasa crackers, raw honey, vegetable broth, and dried cherries and other fruit. I purged a few items that I either won’t use within the next 2 – 4 months, but simply reorganizing and taking stock of what I have on hand was a huge step. I tried to centralize these on the second shelf — easy to see and grab when cooking.
The last part was my favorite part. Pulling out my pretty OXO containers and organizing all of my bulk, unprocessed, whole food items — quinoa, rice, cornmeal, nuts, seeds, lentils, popcorn, nutritional yeast, and unsweetened coconut flakes. These containers went front and center.
Much better. Not perfect — but better.
Knowing what I have on hand and keeping my cupboard and pantry well-organized definitely helps to get my one step closer to eating in a fresh and “clean” manner. And that’s exactly what I need right now.
Do you have any “spring cleaning” rituals? What are some of your favorite “clean” pantry staples?