Diabetes Diet: Making Your Kitchen Convenient for Home Cooking

Cooking more of our meals “from scratch” with fresh, whole foods can help us manage glucose levels, and reach or maintain our target weight.

To make meal preparation more appealing our kitchen should be stocked and arranged for cooking convenience. There is no one way to do this, but organizational gurus offer guidelines that can be tweaked to suit our personal preferences.

Creating A Cooking Convenient Kitchen: The Basics

First, Clean It Out

Decide what will be tossed, and then do it. For instance, you might get rid of foods that:

  • Are old.
  • Contain high fructose corn syrup.
  • List sugar as one of the first two ingredients, or have a lot of added sugars.
  • Contain trans fats, or hydrogenated oils.
  • Contain dyes, msg, or other additives.
  • Have a long, unpronounceable ingredient list.

If your kitchen has been in a state of entropy for some time, and the prospect of cleaning it out is overwhelming, start by tossing just three to five items from the fridge, freezer, pantry, and each food cupboard. Then, tomorrow, or next week, repeat the process until unwanted items are gone.

Second, Organize What Remains

The organization of a kitchen does not have to be picture perfect, it just has to suit our own style and needs:

  • If you’re trying out a new organizational system, use shoeboxes or whatever boxes are on hand to test drive the arrangement for a few weeks, and make adjustments. Then, when shopping for storage solutions you’ll know exactly what to buy. You can also re-purpose old trays, pans, and bowls for storage containers, or just keep using the shoeboxes.
  • Many families find it convenient to store foods according to use. For instance, those who bake frequently might keep all their baking supplies in one cupboard, or on one pantry shelf. People who love to stir fry, or make pasta dishes could create a zone for those ingredients.
  • Though many people keep all their spices in one place, another option is to store spices according to use. For example, baking spices can be stored in one area, and main-dish herbs in another.

Larger families may find it helpful to label shelves, cupboards, and storage containers, or to use different colored bins and containers for designated items.

Third, Stock Essentials

Always having basic ingredients on hand makes home-cooking easier. Onions, garlic, a good quality cooking oil (e.g., olive, coconut), salt, black pepper, and other key spices (e.g., oregano, basil, thyme) are usually considered kitchen essentials. Many people also like to keep a regular stock of canned goods (e.g., diced tomatoes, tomato paste and sauce, different types of beans), dry goods (e.g., pastas, dried legumes), and frozen veggies.

Once the kitchen is organized, it takes only a couple minutes to scan the cupboards, fridge, and pantry for items that need replacing.

Fourth, Maintain

Creating a kitchen system that suits our personal style is simple to maintain. All that’s required is putting items back in their assigned places, using or tossing aging foods every week or two, and regularly restocking essential items. These simple steps can make any kitchen a pleasure to cook in.

Source: Lauren Salkeld/Clean Plates
Photo credit: Rene Schwietzke

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