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How to Konmari your kitchen

Tidy kitchen shelves

Healthy cooking is so much easier with the right staples on hand. Give your pantry a healthy makeover — in three simple steps!

Every night we’re hit with those three dreaded words — “What’s for dinner?” If you open your fridge and pantry to half-opened packets and out-of-date jars, you might be in need of a kitchen detox. We turned for sage advice to Marie Kondo, the queen of tidying, to make sure your kitchen has all the ingredients you need to create healthy meals.

First, take an inventory of what’s in your kitchen…

Tackle just one cupboard at a time. Remove everything and give the cupboard a good clean.

Check the dates on everything. Opened bottles and jars usually have a pretty short shelf life, so if in doubt, throw it out. Old self-raising flour won’t give your cakes a rise, and spices lose their potency.

Group items such as pastas and grains; baking products; oils and vinegars; and canned vegies. Decant pasta shapes into large glass jars — you’re more likely to use them up if you can see them.

Rotate items according to date, placing the ones that need using up earliest near the front. Rotate your stock when putting away a big shop. You may want to buy mini shelves to maximise space.

Note what you’ve got. Keep a list on the fridge of items you’re running low on. Flag anything in abundance, and plan a meal or two around these.
Label food in the freezer so it’s easy to keep stock. Ditch anything over six months old and check for freezer burn on meat and fish (you’ll notice a whiteish or pale tint on the surface).

Next, set up your mindful kitchen…

Make healthier foods more noticeable, visible and accessible. Store fruit and vegies at eye level and in transparent containers in the fridge. Hide treat foods in an opaque container, out of reach at the back of the cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind!

Keep your fruit bowl filled with fresh seasonal favourites. Position it as an obstacle in front of the treat cupboard, by the TV or next to your car keys — so you can grab something on the way out.

Swap the biscuit tin for a jar of unsalted mixed nuts. A daily handful of nuts has a multitude of health benefits, plus they’re much more filling than biscuits, so it’s easy to stop at a handful.

Stick your meal planner in easy view on the fridge to curb mindless snacking. Download our HFG Meal Planner.

Invest in measuring cups, spoons and stackable storage containers so you can measure out portions of foods straight away — you’ll have instant control over serving sizes, and meal prep will be easier.

Finally, restock the shelves with healthy staples…

Fresh produce

Eggs, onions, carrots and garlic form the basis of so many everyday recipes.

Tip There’s no need to keep eggs in the fridge (unless it’s very hot weather) — they’ll just take up precious space.

Oils and condiments

Extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon and wholegrain mustards, chilli sauce and reduced-salt soy sauce should cover you.

Tip Use a light-flavoured olive oil for cooking, and save robust-flavoured olive oil for salad dressings.

Canned basics

Canned beans, chickpeas and lentils are packed with filling plant protein and fibre. Reduced-fat coconut milk, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée and canned fish (salmon, tuna and sardines) will ensure you can whip up a quick cupboard meal.

Tip Shop around for reduced-salt canned products. Home-brand labels are just as good as expensive brands.

Flavour boosters

Low-salt stock cubes or powders, dried herbs and spices, pitted Kalamata olives, capers in brine and nutritional yeast flakes add savoury flavour without lots of kilojoules.

Tip Invest in high-rotation seasonings like pepper, chilli flakes, bay leaves, dried oregano, smoked paprika, cinnamon, coriander and ground allspice.

Healthy carbs

Stock up on pasta, rice or egg noodles, brown rice (or microwavable pouches), quinoa, rolled oats and wholemeal couscous for variety.

Tip Opt for high-fibre whole grains to keep you full for longer.

First published: November 2019

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