Spring is just around the corner! With many of us in quarantine at our homes, this is a perfect opportunity to focus on doing a deep clean for this new season ahead. Opening your windows, dusting off the cobwebs and airing out warm weather clothing are great ways to welcome this time at home, but we can’t forget about Spring cleaning your fridge, too.
Leading a plant based lifestyle involves adding in more of nature’s bounty to your diet, but how can we optimize these nutrient-rich foods once we pick them up from the grocery store or market? The fridge is a great place to start! So, I’m sharing some tips and tricks for keeping a plant-based fridge at the forefront of your wellness routine.
Declutter To Optimize Your Fridge Space
First things first -- as with any area of your home, clearing out clutter or unnecessary items can allow you to utilize your space more effectively. Decluttering your refrigerator helps to create a clean slate for your food haul. Let’s break it down:
Remove all your fridge’s contents and place them on your countertop or table. Spend a little time organizing the contents by category (condiments, fruits + veggies, nut butters, hummus and other spreads or dips, smoothies and bowls, milk and/or other drinks, protein bars, etc. -- whatever you might find!), then remove any items that are expired, have gone bad, or are no longer part of your healthy routine (think sugary drinks, unhealthy snacks, processed foods or other items that aren’t serving you).
Clean out your fridge using a disinfectant to remove any bacteria that may be incubating over time. My favorite natural combo is two parts hot water + one part vinegar, then a few drops of lemon essential oil added to a spray bottle. Spray mixture inside the fridge, let it sit for a minute or two, and then wipe with a damp cloth. Finish with drying each washed area with a dry hand towel.
Fill Your Fridge with Plant-Based Goodness
Once your fridge is clean, organization will be your best friend! You’ll want to maintain your fridge in a manner that allows you to be visually in tune with your most perishable items and what’s on the menu that week in your home.
Begin by organizing all the condiments and/or drinks in a designated spot on the door, keeping most used items closer to eye level. This might mean having salad dressings and nut or oat milks in a higher location on the door, while less used items such as tahini, hot sauce and marinara a shelf or two down if you’re not utilizing them every single. Take a second here to evaluate what is best for you and your meals!
Here’s the big part -- looking at your fridge, ask yourself which shelves have the clearest view from where you stand. This shelf (or multiple shelves) will be where your most perishable items (fruit and veggies, Splendid Spoon smoothies and bowls, leftovers, spreads and dips) will go. Save the shelves above and below then for items that have a little more shelf life, such as snack items, bars, nut butters, etc.
If you’re a visual person, like me, I recommend using post-it notes on your fridge shelves to visually plan out the best organizational map for your fridge! I know this tip might feel a little silly to some, but finding the best placement for these contents can be so helpful in the long run of your plant based lifestyle.
Now’s the fun part - let’s fill ‘er up! Stock your fridge’s contents in the areas you’ve mapped out in a way that makes the most sense to you and your lifestyle. Once your fridge is stocked with what you already have on hand, evaluate what’s needed to fill any gaps or to pick up for the week’s meals.
Give Some Attention to Your Pantry, Too
With a majority of us potentially stocking up our pantries with dry good staples at this time, why not pour the extra time and energy you’ll have from your organized fridge into your pantry area, as well?
I recommend organizing your pantry just as you would you fridge - move all the items (yes, all of them!) to your countertop or table, remove any items that no longer serve you or have gone bad, and follow with a nice wipe down of the shelves and any containers that may have collected dust. Then, spend time organizing, making sure to place items that need to be used more quickly, or that you would like to use but might get lost in the back, towards the front and center. Using your line of sight as a guide is so helpful!
Consider purchasing jars or clear containers (preferably glass) that allow you to see your pantry items instead of keeping them in a box or opaque container. Having something that is see-through will give you the ability to take inventory more easily when it’s time to stock up again.
Making The Most of Your Plant Based Lifestyle
If you’re newer to a plant based lifestyle, it might be confusing as to what to have on hand in your kitchen. However, what I most recommend is keeping it simple by prioritizing the following items in your fridge and pantry:
- Prepared foods
- Splendid Spoon smoothies
- Splendid Spoon bowls (soups and grain bowls)
- Other meal prep items
- Non-dairy milks - almond, coconut, oat
- Fresh herbs for flavor
- Dried herbs and seasonings
- Grains and legumes (either prepared ahead or dry/canned)
- Black beans
- Pasta (I love quinoa or legume-based pasta!)
- Nut butters
- Snack items
- Crackers or pretzels
- Nuts and seeds
- Baking staples
- Almond or coconut flour
- Dairy-free or dark chocolate chips
- Any other baking essentials (vanilla, baking soda/powder, etc.)
- Condiments or other accoutrements to elevate flavor or texture
- Homemade or clean salad dressings
- Hot sauce
- Delicate oils in the fridge (think sesame, walnut, truffle, etc.)
- Other oils on the countertop or pantry (avocado, olive, etc.)
Extra Good-To-Have Items
Looking to elevate your plant based fridge or pantry even more? Include these essentials for healthy, happy storage and more:
- Glass snap-lock containers
- Mason jars with a reusable screw-top lid
- Basket, plus any additional bowls for produce items
- All natural produce wash - an easy homemade option is to fill a large bowl with water, add a cup of white vinegar, then allow your produce to soak for an hour; rinse (and scrub when necessary) produce, then allow to dry completely before placing in the fridge.
- Don’t forget to take advantage of your freezer, too! Store additional smoothies and bowls, frozen veggies or fruit, nuts and prepped frozen grains in your fridge for those days when you need a little more ease.
- To make things even more convenient, cut up fresh veggies and fruit so you can grab ‘n go!
- Lastly, make sure your produce is stored correctly so it stays fresh as long as possible! Unsure how? Check out this article for an in-depth look at best storage practices.
Received a recent Splendid Spoon delivery? Flaunt your fridge by tagging @splendid.spoon in the photo and share some fridge-spiration!
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