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Your kitchen: Here’s a mini makeover that matters

You don’t need an expensive remodel to give your kitchen a fresh feel. Enjoy a revitalizing revamp with these good-sense tips.

Step 1: Start from the inside out

Pretty cupboards are nice — but what’s inside matters more. With the right ingredients on hand, you’ll always have the makings of wholesome meals and snacks. Stock these foods in your fridge and pantry:

  • Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheeses
  • Lean proteins, such as eggs, fish, chicken and beans
  • Whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta
  • Low-sodium canned beans, fish, fruits and veggies
  • Low- or no-sodium flavor boosters, such as herbs, spices, chilies and citrus.

See “Stock a healthy pantry” for a printable list and more tips.

Tidy-up tip: Pull out your pantry staples this weekend to take stock. Toss items past their expiration dates. And make a list of what you need. Before you put back what’s left, give the shelves a wipe — and maybe even some fun, fresh shelf liner.

Step 2: Organize your tools

It only takes basic gear to whip up delicious, healthy meals. Much of it may already be in your kitchen. Here are some essentials to have on hand:

  • Sharp knives, including an 8- or 10-inch chef’s knife
  • Cutting boards, including one for fresh produce and bread and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood
  • Nonstick pots and pans for sautéing, searing and boiling
  • Baking sheets — great for roasting vegetables
  • Colander for draining pasta, rinsing canned beans, and steaming fish or vegetables
  • Can opener
  • Large spoons and mixing utensils
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Food thermometer

Tidy-up tip: Measuring cups gone missing? Treat yourself to a fresh set — and use any loners from the old set to scoop pasta, pet food or laundry detergent.

Step 3: Make over your habits

A healthy kitchen is a safe kitchen. To keep clear of harmful foodborne illnesses, be sure to:

  • Get sudsy often — especially before and after handling food. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Stop cross-contamination. Use separate plates, cutting boards and utensils to prep raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use a clean set for cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook food thoroughly. Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Chill it quickly. Store cooked foods and perishable ingredients in the refrigerator within two hours of serving. In hot weather, make that one hour or less.

Tidy-up tip: Use sturdy paper towels with hot soapy water to clean and dry kitchen surfaces. If you use dishcloths or sponges, wash them frequently in hot water — so they don’t spread germs.

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