Get organized, get cooking!

After the excess of the holidays, it’s time to get your home back in order. And that includes what may be the most important room — the kitchen. Having an organized kitchen can save you time and money, and may even allow your entire family to eat more nutritiously.


• Reconsider stocking up just because you got a good deal. If you’re not careful, it can go to waste — and your waist! Plus, you have money tied up that might be used elsewhere. If you’re out of space for your “deals,” it’s time to quit shopping.

• Store your whole grains — such as brown rice, wheat berries, quinoa and rolled oats — in plain sight in glass storage jars. Keep cooking instructions nearby.

• Do you have spices and herbs older than your firstborn child? Toss out old bottles, as they lose their potency, and replace with fresh ones.

Drawers and cabinets

• Get rid of any cracked bowls. Bacteria can lurk in those cracks.

• Organize your tool drawer and toss out what you hardly ever use. Do you really need 10 wooden spoons and six rubber spatulas?

• Buy and use a meat thermometer. Store it in a drawer right next to your stove and oven, and use it every time you cook meat or poultry.

• Toss all those margarine and yogurt containers, as well as any containers without lids. Invest in sturdy glass storage containers that can go from freezer to microwave to table.

• Keep only those items you use regularly. For example, if you’ve moved beyond the baby stage, give away most of the bibs, bottles and sippy cups. If you haven’t already, put Christmas cookie cutters away now.

Refrigerator and freezer

• Can you barely see the exterior due to all the magnets holding up photos, clippings and coupons? Clean the area up. Make room for a running grocery list and perhaps a weekly meal plan.

• Pull everything out one section at a time, wash down shelves, and reorganize it so you can see what’s there. Toss out old gunky bottles and jars of dressings, sauces and condiments.

Kitchen counter

• Pull out a beautiful bowl (perhaps one you received as a wedding gift) and place washed fruit in it. Keep it front and center.

Registered dietitian Serena Ball, a Chicago-area mother of three young children who blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com, suggests creating space for a kids’ cooking cabinet, drawer or shelf.

“Look for a low shelf or drawer that’s easily kid-accessible. With their own kitchen stuff, children are more motivated to help chop vegetables — and then eat them when they appear as dinner.”

In kitchens cramped for space, Ball suggests a plastic bin that can be stored in a pantry at their level.

“Kids love to cook. And although there is usually always a little bigger mess to clean, giving them a carrot to peel can keep them from clamoring for a snack right before dinner.”

Having a less cluttered kitchen brings your tools at your fingertips, making the task of cooking a nutritious meal just a little easier.

Healthy Sloppy Joes

Makes eight sandwiches


1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 pound 85-percent-lean ground beef

2-15.5 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup BBQ sauce or ketchup

1/2 cup yellow mustard

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

8 whole wheat burger buns

DIRECTIONS: Spray a non-stick pan with non-stick spray and heat to medium high. Sauté the onion until softened and add the ground beef. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add the remaining ingredients and serve on burger buns. Enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS: 330 calories, 6 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 58 g carbohydrate, 17 g sugar, 15 g protein, 11 g fiber, 995 mg sodium, 10 percent DV calcium, 25 percent DV iron, 6 percent DV vitamin C.

Recipe adapted from and used by permission from SnackGirl.com.

Christine Palumbo is a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) who practices in Naperville, Ill. Follow her on Facebook at Christine Palumbo Nutrition or on Twitter at @PalumboRD. Her website is ChristinePalumbo.com.