Hallelujah! Spring has finally arrived! It’s time to shed a layer or two, resume your regular pedicure schedule, buy a new pair of sunglasses and, yes, do some spring cleaning. You have your process for switching out your closets. I have my annual recommendations for cleaning out your kitchen. Here we go …


  • Pull out all of your pantry items, e.g., spices, canned goods, oils, condiments, dry goods.
  • Take written note of what you have.
  • Get rid of expired items. This is a great time to get new dried spices and herbs.
  • Wipe down shelves and return items to a place where it makes sense for you, leaving space for the additional pantry items you will need to buy.
  • Make a list of all the “holes” in your pantry arsenal.


  • Start with the freezer, move all items to your sink, defrost if needed and wipe the freezer down with a food-safe cleaner.
  • Take note of what you have and the dates.
  • Discard old items. If not stored properly, most items are ruined by freezer burn.
  • Repeat above steps with your fridge, paying attention to those condiments.


  • Pull out all of your cookware and utensils, including foil, plastic wrap and food storage containers.
  • Take note of everything.
  • Get rid of broken items, e.g., scraped non-stick (Teflon) pans/pots, plastic non-heat-resistant utensils, non-functioning appliances.
  • Put all remaining items in a place that works for you and your flow through your kitchen.

Important tools to have

A good 6-inch to 10-inch chef’s knife or a santoku knife. Block sets should at least have a chef’s knife, pairing knife, sharpening tool and serrated bread knife, along with extra slots to add additional knives you may buy.

Measure your prep area or countertop in your kitchen where you will chop mostly and try to get the largest board for that area. Wood or plastic depends on your taste, but if you are a meat eater, get a board that is a carving board on one side. Supplement your big board with plastic, flexible cutting mats for easy cleanup and transferring of chopped items to a bowl or pot.

Throw out those flimsy and flaky “non-stick” pots and pans. Buy good quality now and you will have it for a lifetime. Buy a starter set then supplement as needed.

There are some basic utensils: at least one 12-inch wooden spoon, a whisk, spatula for flipping, a silicon spatula for mixing, set of at least three mixing bowls (plastic or glass), can opener and bottle opener, measuring cup(s) and spoons, a good vegetable peeler like the Y-peeler, box grater, hand juicer or reamer, a masher and tongs.

Good luck and Happy Spring!

Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter @SCHOPgirl or Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.