I have always believed that having a clean and well-organized workspace is crucial to success. Nowhere is this truer than in meal prepping.
I know. Not all of us live is spaces we got to plan out, and many of us live in apartments or condos with small kitchens without perfectly optimal layout and storage. But I say, regardless of where you live, there’s a way to make sure that your meal prep space is clean and uncluttered.
The big reason I talk about this so much is because it’s a major reason why people stop meal prepping. If your kitchen isn’t clean when you get home with the groceries, you’re more likely to put off doing the prepping until it’s clean. By the time you clean it, you’ll be tired and ready to sit down. If your meal prepping gets done at all, you’ll feel like it’s a huge ordeal every week, which will make you so much less likely to do it. It will simply take too long and be too stressful.
The good news is that it’s not that hard to make your space easier to use (and easier to maintain!) with just a few simple tips to turn your trainwreck pantry into a meal prepping paradise.
1. Sort it Out
The simplest and easiest way to start is to just sort your items into groups of similar things. Basically, divide your cabinets so there’s one place for each “thing”.
For example, have one section of your kitchen cabinets for the items you use every week. That can be cans of tomatoes, tomato paste, canned or dried beans, coconut milk. You get the picture. If it’s something you use regularly, keep it all in one place.
Then, sort the remaining items into type, such as dried goods, canned goods, spices and seasonings, oils and vinegars. This system helps you know exactly where to look when you need something that’s not in your frequently-used items section.
2. Tidy It Up
This one seems simple, but it’s not. Keeping your cupboards/shelves in good order not only helps your brain out when looking for something, but it keeps you from getting “don’t go in there” syndrome. You know what I mean: the feeling where you don’t even want to look in your cupboards because they’re such a disaster.
If your cupboards are like this right now, you may need to set aside a little bit of time to go through it the first time. Throw out anything expired and put things in an order that makes sense to you. Try not to overcrowd or have too many things stacked on top of eachother.
Remember: if things are too crowded, stacked so it’s hard to get them out, or falling all over the place, you won’t even want to go in there. You’ll just get frustrated and give up. That’s no good!
3. Clean It Out
Try to clean out your fridge and freezer monthly. This is a super good habit because it shows you what’s already in your friedge and freezer so you don’t spend a bunch of money buying things you already have. It’s also a good way to see if there are things you bought that you’re not really buying or eating anymore. Plus! It’s a great wayt to keep it organized in there, so you’re not overwhelmed or struggling to find places to put all the delicious food you prepped.
4. Buy in Bulk
I know a lot of us live in apartments or condos without a lot of space to take advantage of bulk buying. I like to tell people that it’s worth making space for, because clearing space for your natural and clean ingredients is a big signal to yourself that your food and health are a priority. (Your’e also saving time by not having to go out to grab that item as often.)
You can bulk buy almost anything these days, but make sure you bulk buy your nuts, seeds, pasta, grains, oils, cereal, and anything else you use regularly!
5. Make It Easy
Don’t forget about the tools you use to actually prep and cook. Just like your pantry, you don’t want to be fighting to get things you use often or rummaging around because that spatula could be anywhere. Work on keeping your kitchen well organized and I promise you, you’ll never regret it.
Keep all your pans and pots in one place and easily accessible. If possible, keep all your kitchen appliances in one place, especially the ones you use on prep day. (I make my own almond butter, so my food processor is always within reach on that day.) Try not to keep these items on your counter because that’s prime real estate, but if you have these in a cupboard or on a shelf that’s right near where you prep, you’ll be in great shape.
This also applies to your small gadgets and tools like citrus presses and a Veggie Twist & Spiral Slicer. Keep these in a container or drawer where they’re not all over eachother and can be grabbed with ease when needed. Don’t overstuff your utensil drawers, either. If you don’t end up cutting yourself, you’ll end up not being able to find something and buying it again.
6. Share the Task
Meal planning and prep isn’t just one person’s job – the whole house should get in on it! It’s a great way to spend quality time with your partner or spouse, and getting them in on the decisions about what they’re eating means they’re more invested in the process. They are also more likely to share their own ideas about what you’re eating and they can see the benefits for themselves. If you have kids, this is such a great way to help them understand healthy eating and give them skills for later in life.
When you’re doing the pantry and fridge clean outs, get them in on the job and make it fun. You won’t regret it, and they’ll be more likely to know where everything is, so you don’t have to tell them every time!
These are just a few ways to turn your pantry into a paradise. I hope they work amazingly well for you!
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I’m Kandice-Lee! I am passionate about the impact food can have on your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I help people lead bigger, bolder, and better lives through teaching meal planning, meal preparation, and clean eating.