Spring cleaning is a long-established tradition. We clean our garages, closets and basements. From a nutritional standpoint, now is also the perfect time to take look at our diet and the foods we have in our houses.
Take a few moments to go through your refrigerator, freezer and pantry to see what you can do to clean things up.
Use these healthy tips as your guide:
In the Refrigerator
Dairy, Eggs & Milk
- Keep eggs in the main refrigerator, not the door. The door is too warm for eggs and other sensitive foods.
- Check expiration dates: Most milks are good for a week or so.
- While most soy, rice, almond and other milk alternatives are high in calcium and low in fat, they may be higher in sugar than cow’s milk. Look for 12 grams of sugar per serving or less, especially with chocolate or vanilla flavored beverages.
- Coconut milk that isn’t low-fat contains more saturated fat than whole milk.
- Cow’s milk and soy milk have 8 grams of protein per serving, while other milks have less than 2 grams of protein per serving.
Meat & Seafood
- Make sure to separate produce, meat, poultry, seafood and eggs in different areas of your refrigerator and be consistent to avoid cross-contamination. Place these items in sealed plastic bags to avoid any leaking juices.
- Keep raw meats, poultry and seafood/fish in the refrigerator for a maximum of 48 hours before cooking or freezing.
- Choose 90% lean ground meats (or higher). In general, opt for proteins that are low in fat: beef round, sirloin, flank steak and beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin or center chop, white meat chicken or turkey, and fish or seafood.
- Leftovers should be eaten or discarded after 3 to 4 days.
- Most open condiments should be discarded after 6 months.
- Mayonnaise and salad dressing are good for up to two months, while mustard and Worcestershire sauce may be kept for up to 12 months.
Low Fat Options
- Try low fat options such as 1% or skim milk, low-fat cheeses made with 1% or 2% milk, low-fat sour cream and low-fat yogurt.
- Plain low-fat yogurt can substitute for sour cream for baked potatoes or tacos.
- Produce is best when consumed within one to two weeks of purchase. Wash fruits and vegetables right before you eat them, even if you plan to discard the outer covering. Waiting to wash produce maintains freshness.
- Choose dark leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens, kale and Swiss chard to take advantage foods rich in phytochemicals, which can help prevent and treat cancer and other diseases.
- Try different produce each week, focusing on one item of each color. Different colors indicate different phytochemical compounds.
In the Freezer
- Frozen foods can be safe to eat indefinitely. Consult this chart to see when taste and quality is best for different foods.
- Take time to freeze a large amount of fresh foods in meal-size portions and write the date on each package.
- Purchase frozen fruits and vegetables without sauces to avoid extra sodium and calories.
- Look for frozen, pre-cooked chicken and other meats for quick and healthy high-protein choices.
- Select frozen meals with less than 10-15 grams of fat.
In the Pantry
- Check expiration dates on all items, including baking ingredients, cereals, snack foods and canned goods.
- In general, most ground spices are good for 2-3 years.
To Keep or Not to Keep
- Consider donating or discarding any snacks or desserts that you want to eat less often.
- Choose quick-cooking whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat couscous, quinoa and barley.
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