Meal Makeover 2019
Photos by Jana Graham
By Rebecca Stewart
We all know the drill, with the dawn of a new year we find ourselves approaching things with renewed optimism, filled with incredible intentions. We will eat right! We will go to the gym! We will do all the wonderful things that equal living our best lives!
Yep. You bet.
Obviously, there’s no small amount of cynicism attached to New Year’s Resolutions, yet we’re here, ready to put one out there. Bright side, we’ve come up with a plan to help on the follow through front. First, the resolution: We’re looking at taking a deep dive into the family kitchen, creating a Meal Makeover in 2019. Starting with organizational elements, then adopting some changes to the family menu, and finally the big guy: Meal Planning. Now, recognizing that January 1 does not hold actual magical qualities that will enable us to suddenly develop an iron will and follow through for days, we decided to baby step our way through easy-to-attain (and sustain) steps in making over the heart of our homes.
There are a lot of handy little tips (a.k.a. “hacks”) out there for creating these (in theory) beautifully labeled, fully organized kitchen spaces; from the refrigerator to the pantry and cupboards. But, real talk, the reality of putting some of those things into action can sometimes be unrealistic or ultimately more of a space suck, which defeats the purpose, no?
So, I turned to the most organizationally savvy person I know, my sister-in-law, Kara, and asked her for her top tips for keeping the kitchen organized.
· Clutter-free Countertops – Let go of the knickknacks on the countertops (they just get grimy, and you have to move them all the time anyway).
· Tupperware Torpedo – Go through Tupperware once or twice a year, tossing gross looking pieces, or those that have officially lost their lids.
· Space-Saving Solution – Kara swears by her built-in silverware organizer that includes a slider feature that makes for one drawer, two organizers.
· Farewell, Fancy – Perhaps you’re a family that uses your fine china on a regular basis…If you’re like us, though, it’s just taking up more valuable space, so don’t be afraid to box it up and tuck it away in the crawl space/attic/closet.
· Creating Communication – In our kitchen, we created a communication station on our pantry door using chalkboard paint. In our world, it's primarily home to keeping our schedules straight, but you could absolutely use it to list the week's menu or for the family to write their grocery list needs.
o In this digital world, you can also use shopping list apps like "Out of Milk" to communicate grocery needs across the family line.
In the Pantry
· Stackable Storage - Utilize cereal containers and stackable Tupperware for sugar, flour, noodles, etc. Kara prefers clear containers for ease of visibility.
· Bye, Bye Boxes – Keep a “tubby” in the pantry for snacks, making easy access for the fam to grab and go, plus getting rid of the bulky boxes.
In the ‘fridge
· Tubby 2.0 – Using a shoebox size tubby in the refrigerator for yogurts, pudding, and cheese sticks once again allows you to lose those space-sucking boxes and provide a nice space for that chilled grab-and-go option.
o Web Wonders – One of our favorite online tips suggests including an “Eat This First”-labeled tub in the fridge, which holds items that are soon to expire and need to be nibbled first, thus saving on food waste.
· Condiment Conundrum – Never buy more condiments than will fit in the door of your refrigerator; it’s the biggest clutter of all!
o To that end, periodically check those expiration dates and purge your fridge/cupboards/pantry of expired space-takers.