Welcome to a new year and a new beginning!! I hope you all had a great holiday and I’m sure that you are keen to start the new year!!! Whether you are continuing your low carb journey or if you are keen to begin, I find there is nothing more therapeutic than cleaning out the old to bring in the new. This is a little ritual that I do at the beginning of each new year and every time I change my diet to a low carbohydrate lifestyle so I can ensure I’ve caught all the sneaky snacks and high carb foods that are going to be too tempting and remove them before I begin. The areas that I spend most of my time focussing on are in my car, at my work desk and in my kitchen as these are the areas that i like to reinvent for the new year. You don’t have to do them all at once, take your time and once it’s done you’ll be ready to start anew.
Kitchen – when you begin low carb eating, whether it be for the first time or if you’re coming back to it I find it really important to clean out three areas of your kitchen, the pantry, fridge and freezer. By doing this it helps you to focus and gets the creative juices flowing when you see all your ingredients in front of you. It also allows you to separate the high carbohydrate ingredients you will use for other members of your family.
Pantry – This one is really important as most of the ingredients you have in your pantry will be high carb. I find the best way to tackle your pantry is to go through it one shelf at a time. I like to take out all the contents of each shelf so I can lay all the products out on a table or a bench and look at what I’ve been hoarding since the last clean out. Usually I find several packets of salsa collected from taco kits which for some reason I never use, containers with stale biscuits, packs of powdered soup mix that’s gone hard and spices that have lost their aroma. These items are all destined for the bin. Read the packaging for each product and put the high carb items to one side and the low carb (less than 5g of total carb per 100g) items to the other. Keep in mind some products have low serving sizes, eg sauces, pastes etc which you will only be consuming in small amounts so these are okay to keep. Check each products used by or best before date. We talked about how each of these labelling styles work in the Food & Beverage Labelling page. Basically, anything that has a used by date need to be thrown out after that date, or a best before date may be used after the date if the product has been stored correctly and the integrity of the packaging has not been damaged or broken (for example packets that haven’t been opened and the contents haven’t gone hard. You may choose to keep the product and make it a priority to use it soon. If you come across cans, bottles or UHT products that are blown or the lids are higher than normal please throw them out immediately as these are signs that they have microbial contamination and should not be consumed.
For those of you who are supper organised you can get a range of iPad apps that track the contents of your pantry. These apps are fantastic to create shopping lists and weekly meal plans. But you must be willing to keep them up to date. Once you have sorted through your products you can make a list of what products you have that you can utilise for your low carb eating, and those which can be used for the other members of your household who may not be joining you on low carb. If you don’t need to worry about cooking for others you may want to give these high carb items to a local charity, food bank, childcare centre or even a friend or the next-door neighbour if they are still within used by date. Depending on the type of food having them in your house may just be too tempting so best to put them to good use with someone else instead of wasting them. Give the shelf a good clean and re-stack and re-organise as you wish.
Fridge – Ah the fridge!! Mine is like Doctor Who’s tardis. I have no idea how I always end up with so many bottles with little bits and blobs left in them, and how they seem to migrate to the back of the shelf!! Again, I go shelf by shelf pulling everything out onto the bench to sort through and throwing away the little bits of hard cheese in clip lock bags I seem to collect, clean and recycle the bottles with bits and blobs, and I toss anything that is out of it’s shelf life. I tend to give a little more attention to the cleaning of my fridge however with a hot soapy water soak for each of the shelf and dry down before putting them back in the fridge. it’s amazing the difference it makes when opening the door of a sparkling, clean fridge. Check the carbohydrate level of your products and sort them into shelves of low carb goodies and other products for your family members. Be sure to store your eggs, nuts, nut meals, shredded and desiccated coconut in the fridge to give them maximum shelf life.
Freezer – Thank goodness this is one area that is usually under control!! I have clip lock bags of frozen cooked meats, bacon, and bolognaise sauce. I try to keep all meats in one draw and frozen fruit and vegetables in another. Clip lock bags are a great way to store foods with their name and the date they were put into the freezer written on the outside so you can keep a track of how long they have been in their for. Any items with freezer burn or excessive ice crystals probably need to be thrown away. If you find yourself with bananas that have become ripe quickly, just peel them and store them in a clip lock bag in the freezer. These are great to make home-made ice cream (Recipe to come!!).
Office Desk – For a great start to the new year I love to turn out each of my drawers and throw out all bits and pieces I’ve collected over the past year. Any paperwork I haven’t touch in 12 months goes in the bin. I replace old photos with new memories and ensure any artwork from my kids is updated. I check the used by dates on the tins of tuna, flavoured teas and packet soup mixes that have accumulated and throw anything out that isn’t in date. After giving my drawers a once over I like to give the computer and keyboard a clean and the desk a quick wipe over so it’s ready to go on my first day back.
Car – it’s amazing what items can creep into your car!! Old packets of half eaten chewing gum, hard candy and bits and pieces from the kids, bottled water that should be used to water plants instead of me. Everything is removed and the car given a quick clean over.
I know it seems like a bit I work to do this but trust me once it’s done you’re on your way to a Fantastic New Year!! Back soon with my first recipe of the year!!