After the busy Christmas and New Year festivities, where indulgence in rich foods and loads of comfort eating is a given, January is always a time for what I call my food resolutions; they vary year to year, from detoxing, to only organic, to light and lean, or healthy. Regardless of what my food resolutions are for each year, I feel that the kitchen must be prepared, pruned and ready for the year to come; I like to think of my kitchen as a garden, alive and seasonal. You need to put the bulbs down now if you want beautiful daffodils blooming in the spring time, don't you? so the kitchen is the same, every year, I take a day of those early January weeks and carry out a proper kitchen tidy that will make my food resolutions for the year a lot easier. You'll need:
Get rid of all leftover from the fridge:
Two ways to do thi: freezing stuff or eating it (I hate wasting food). The day after Christmas I freeze mostly all the leftovers from the stuffed leg of pork we had for Christmas dinner including enough gravy to re-heat the meat when I decide to do so. We ate asparagus pasta bake for 2 consecutive days to get rid of it (it doesn't freeze well). the first week of the year we had loads of nibbles leftover fromthe new year's eve cooking: parma ham budles (stuffed with dried figs and goats cheese), cocktail sausages, prawns in chipotle cream, fruit and cheese, cold meats, etc. The objective is to waste as little as possible and to use most of the food bought or cooked during the indulgent days between Christmas and New Years Eve.
Do a "Winter Clean" of the fridge:
This is a thorough cleaning of the fridge, every inch of it is washed and food is checked for best before dates or signs of decay. You'll be surprised at the amount of stuff that gets pushed to the back of the fridge and rots there! The vegetable, fruit and dairy drawers are emptied, washed and dried and all remaining contents are placed on plates on teh shelves of the fridge where I can see them and use them. No shopping happens until fridge is totally empty!
Clean up of cupboards, larder and food presses:
This is really important. Sauces out of dates, tins that have not been used, stale bread, old cereals, rice, soft crackers, etc. Everything gets checked for sale by dates and freshness and if I can, I will use most of the stuff by the end of February.
Wash all linen & tablecloths and put away any Christmas related cutlery, serving dishes, mugs, plates, kitchen decorations, etc.:
The reason I love Christmas so much is the fact that it only comes once a year and I have eleven months to look forward to it again. Don't be the type who drinks from snowman shaped mugs all year around, or forgets to put away the santa plate on display and only packs it up six motnhs later after a friend drops a hint about making room for halloween decorations!
This nearly anal cleaning process defines what we eat for the first two or three weeks in January. Anything that's good gets eaten and what's gone beyond usage is properly disposed of. I believe that whatever your resolutions are, wheather you want to lose or gain weight, be healthier, eat better, cook more, etc., nothing will really happen unless you make room for it. It's such a cathartic thing to do. A clean slate to start afresh. A garden ready to bloom. By the end of the third week in January, I'm ready to start anew and I feel envigorated and refreshed. Call me crazy or whatever, but I really look forward to do this every year!