Your COVID Kitchen: How To Reorganize For These Strange Times
As a part of your stay-at-home preparations, you probably stocked up on all your favorite (and maybe some random) foods to fuel you in the coming weeks. But after getting home from your local store, you may have found that your kitchen—especially your fridge, freezer, and pantry—are overwhelmed by your new shopping habits.
We spoke to Maeve Richmond, the founder and head coach of Maeve's Method, about her strategies for keeping our kitchens organized, clean, and functional while we're staying at home.
Keep it clean.
"For the coming months, our home refrigerators are going to be working overtime," Richmond told mindbodygreen. "Honestly, most of us only think to do a deep clean on our fridges maybe once a year, but now more than ever we want to keep on top of it." This means wiping up small spills when they happen and being more diligent about errant vegetable skins in the crisper or drips on the sides of drink containers.
Look to what you have for organizing.
When you look around your kitchen, you'll probably be surprised how much you already have that can take your fridge from crowded to neat and tidy in an afternoon. Here's how Richmond recommends getting your fridge in order:
"Open your fridge once and take a picture. While it's tempting to do this with the doors open, it's a big waste of electricity. Then grab a seat and make a list of what's inside. Group your items however you wish—try clustering your meats or perhaps cluster your sandwich fixings—then search your kitchen for clear plastic tubs or trays. Remove foods from your fridge one at a time, placing them back tucked neatly inside storage containers."
Create a makeshift pantry.
"This is for you apartment dwellers out there. We do not have pantries," shared Richmond. "What we do have are tiny kitchens with limited storage, which are difficult enough to manage under normal circumstances."
She recommends finding a space inside or near your kitchen that you can store nonperishables on shelving or even just on top or in boxes. "Think of it as your own tiny backup store," suggests Richmond. "You can go shopping there before you go to pick up or place an order out in the world."
Buy fresh and freeze.
Fresh produce is an important part of a balanced diet, but as we try to limit our trips to the store, produce may not seem like the most useful option. But before you turn to the frozen aisle, consider buying fresh and freezing your own veggies and fruits.
As for how to do this, Richmond's method is simple and effective: "Wash them carefully at home, then slice, dry with a hand towel, and put in small baggies or containers in the freezer. If you are short of room, make small groupings and look for gaps in between your other food." And while she doesn't recommend freezing lettuce, she did remind us that many of our favorite dark leafy greens freeze well for cooking later.
Put all leftovers on one shelf.
After some time spent at home, Richmond shared: "Tiny tubs of leftovers are starting to litter my fridge." And more than ever, she said she's aware of limiting her food waste and making the most of the supplies she has. Rather than eat the same meal many times in a row, she recommends making sure to keep your leftovers where you'll think of them.
"Create a leftover shelf or area, and put all your loose ends in one place," she told us. "This will help to prevent unnecessary waste and support mindful eating."
If your plan for this time is to use it for a deep spring clean of your home, be sure to take into account Richmond's advice for managing projects with productivity, and try out making a cleaning schedule to add some much-needed structure to your days.
Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.