By Lisa Golden Schroeder
Wow, I can’t believe it’s officially spring already. And I’m itching to spiff up all sorts of spaces in my house as the sun pouring into my windows reveals too much dust! When we remodeled our house several years ago, I added a much-longed-for walk-in pantry. As the years have passed it’s been both a blessing and a challenge, as I struggle to keep it stocked—in a relevant way. Meaning that I’m trying to avoid the trap of buying too much of anything that I don’t use regularly. No impulse buying because of great deals, because as my pantry has shown me time and again, it’s not a bargain if it languishes on a shelf. So I just spent about two hours clearing away anything, both food and over-stocked paper goods, that I know really won’t be part of a menu anytime soon—off to the food shelf or recycling.
It feels so good now to step into my tiny pantry domain, its contents clearly revealed again, almost like being at the grocery store. Now I have a reasonable collection of rice, pasta and other whole grains; cooked beans for soups, salads or dips; canned tomatoes; and my favorite condiments and dressings. Now it’s time tackle my overflowing freezer, where way too much is hiding from view. Here’s some of what I consider essential in the deep freeze:
- Quick-cook poultry—boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs that I can use for a fast sauté or stir-fry. If you don’t have time to thaw in the refrigerator, you can carefully begin the process in the microwave before you start cooking.
- A few bags of vegetables—corn, peas, baby broccoli florets, or Italian green beans. Studies show that vegetables are picked at their peak ripeness and are flash frozen preserve their nutrients sometimes better than those veggies that hang around in the fridge for too long.
- Whole-grain breads, crusty rolls, bagels—I love having a selection of grainy baked goods to serve with soup or for making a luscious grilled cheese or panini sandwich. The freezer allows me to have my own bakery anytime.
My goal is to always have healthy choices for express dinners at my fingertips, so that when I don’t have time to plan or shop I can still pull a great supper together in less than 30 minutes. My other important goal is to make my kitchen greener, which includes how I clean. I’ve switched to using a distilled vinegar & water solution in a spray bottle for my counters, baking soda or borax to scrub the inside of the sink, and a little spritz of rubbing alcohol to take greasy fingerprints off of stainless-steel appliances. It’s so nice to slowly eliminate toxic cleaners—and it’s cheaper!