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You walk in the door after a long day, kids in tow from daycare. You are in need of a quick healthy meal but you’ve been sitting in traffic. You’re sweating because the A/C is broke in the car. The little ones are losing their minds because they are over tired and hungry. Walking over to the fridge you pass a sink full of dishes, of course containing your main frying pan and bake sheet from last night’s dinner. Opening the fridge you see a multitude of leftovers, some in there for a questionable amount of time. There is milk, but only enough for one glass. Your family likes chicken, but it’s all frozen. The dog pukes on the floor. Oh look. There’s your set of pantyhose you were looking for.
As you stand there in a fog, little humans and animals running around you, husband still stuck in traffic, you are faced with the insurmountable task of feeding these humans, or yourself, something nutrition. And something that will help promote the 25lb of baby weight you still need to lose.
Have you ever been there? Have you looked into your fridge or cupboard under extreme duress and not even know where to start? Yeah … me too. But not any more. Welcome to Kitchen Ninja my friends.
Let’s dive in!
Lay Your Ninja Kitchen Foundation
One of the most important things to have in place BEFORE you start to cook is having a good solid foundation within the walls of your kitchen. One of the biggest obstacles to making a quick healthy meal is being disorganized. How is looking for the garlic salt for 5 minutes conducive to getting a meal on the table so little Jimmy can stop losing his mind?
So let’s take a quick look at our disorganized kitchens for a minute.
Oh toughen up sister. 😉
For a Quick Healthy Meal … Open Your Refrigerator and Do an Assessment
- Go through and throw away questionable leftovers, as well as condiments that date back to before the dawn of time (aka check all expiration dates)
- Do a condiment purge. When is the last time you actually used that cherry BBQ wine flavor marmalade grilling sauce? Basically…if you haven’t used it recently, and aren’t sure when the next time you will….pitch it.
- Put similar products together in sections
- Consider creating an organizational system that works for you. There are people out there that do this kind of stuff for a living, and are WAY better at it than I am. And let’s be honest, every person’s refrigerator is different, and we have different preferences for how we organize. At the BOTTOM of this post, I have included a resource section with helpful links for you to get some ideas.
See below for a pretty basic idea of where certain things should be stored in your fridge. No eggs or dairy in the door because those are the lowest temperature places in the fridge. Meat on the bottom shelf to avoid contamination and leakage.
Open up your cupboard and do the same thing.
Cupboards are so different that an organizational structure can vary quite a bit, but here are a few tips:
- Throw away expired products. For product expiring soon, either use them or pitch them!
- Keep your commonly used products are eye level
- Store common foods together. Here are some ideas
- Side dishes (potatoes, rice, macaroni)
- Snacks (chips, crackers, pretzels)
- Baking staples (flour, sugar, baking powder etc)
Here’s a look at a before and after of my cupboard, including a look at how I separated my staples!
If this seems like a completely overwhelming task, do a little bit each day. For me to complete the task in the picture above, I set a timer for 10 minutes and just did whatever I could in that time! Do that every day for 7 days and you’ll be organized in no time!
Make Your Pans, Mixing Bowls and Utensils Easily Accessible
- Get rid of excessive duplicate items, or store them away
- Consider creating a pan storage system
- Match up your Tupperware with their lids. Find a (recycle bin) home for your mismatched ones!
Ultimately when it comes to organizing your kitchen and ultimately being able to make a quick healthy meal, the end goal is making all of your food easily accessible. To be a kitchen ninja, you want to know what is there at all times and how to easily get what you need when you need it! Find the system that works for you (see end of the this post for additional resources)
Common Kitchen Cookware
To cook a good meal…you need to have some decent cookware! Now, you don’t need to have the most upscale, gravity defying, plated in gold pan to saute up some onions. It’s just not necessary! Sure, there are different qualities of items…but that’s not why we are here. Below is what I would consider necessary for getting a quick, hot meal on the table!
- Frying pan (10 inch at least)
- Sauce pan set, various sizes
- Crockpot (A MUST)
- 8 inch French Knife
- Serrated knife
- Cutting Board (one for meat, one for vegetable/fruits)
- Mixing bowl set (various sizes)
- Wooden spoon set
- Rubber spatulas
- Spatula (such as for pancakes, scrambled eggs etc)
- Two Pots (3 and 5 quart)
These items can be purchased at pretty much any multipurpose store, such as Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond etc.
Common Kitchen Food Staples
In order to be able to make a quick healthy meal from scratch (and like a ninja), you’ve gotta be sure to have some things around the house all the time. AKA food staples! Many of the recipes and other things we talk about later in the #kitchenninja series utilize these things. If these food present a huge change for you, or too much money to stock because you have none of them…start by building your stock with the foods that I have starred.
- Brown Rice
- Whole grain pasta (if you don’t like straight whole wheat, go for a brand like Barilla or a delicious low carb one like Dreamfield’s Pasta.
- Whole wheat tortillas like Mission Plus. Aim for any tortilla that is whole wheat and has at least 3 grams of fiber per unit)
- Quick cook oats (be sure it says Quick Cook!)
Nuts and Seeds
- Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Natural Peanut Butter (Jif Natural tastes delish!)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Canola Oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Lentils (dry bag)
- Chick peas (2 canned)
- Black beans (2 canned)
- Pinto beans (2 canned)
- Ketchup (look for a low sugar version if possible)
- Low fat mayo
- Worcestershire sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Italian seasoning
- Garlic Powder
- Garlic salt
- Chili powder
- Pumpkin pie spice (good for different desserts if you are into that flavor)
- Red pepper
- Whole wheat flour
- All purpose flour
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda
- Brown sugar
- Dark chocolate baking chips
- Butter (salted or unsalted)
WHEW. Deep breath folks! I know this article may not have been what you had originally expected….but in order to become a true ninja in the kitchen, ya gotta be organized and know right where stuff is. That’s enough for this week – you can spend the next 7 days doing a little to get organized.
RESOURCES FOR ORGANIZATION IDEAS:
If you want a nice, neat and tidy check list to print and take with you, sign up below and I will shoot one your way!
TO DO LIST:
- Scroll to the bottom and share this post however you’d prefer (FB, Pinterest, Email)
- Grab the free Kitchen Ninja checklist by entering your email into the box below
- GO GET YOUR KITCHEN ORGANIZED!! 🙂