I know, I know. Don’t curse me. You have enough on your plate already, from your 2019 New Year’s resolutions to digging out your warm weather clothes one day while braving the polar vortex the next. Kooky! However, global warming is telling me we need to prep even earlier.

Here is our annual, what we are now calling, “sprinter” cleaning list for your kitchen. Take your time…and drink plenty of wine.


Pull out all of your pantry food items.

Take written note of what you have and make a list of all the “holes” in your pantry arsenal.

Dispose of expired items.

Wipe down shelves, jars and cans with a warm damp cloth.

Return items to a place where it makes sense for you, keeping the most used and opened items toward the front for easy access and for quick inventory before making a grocery store run.

Keep overstocked items in one location so you can shop first in your home and manage your inventory more efficiently.


Start with the freezer, remove all items to your sink, defrost if needed and wipe it down with food-safe cleaner.

Take note of what you have and the dates.

Discard old and freezer burned items.

Return items, keeping items with the nearest expiration toward the front as a reminder to use soon.

Repeat above steps with your fridge paying attention to those condiments.

Add reusable fridge/freezer refreshing products or boxes of baking soda to keep the smells down and contained.


Pull out all of your cookware, utensils, food storage items.

Take note of everything and assess your use of it in the last year. Could your kitchen use the space your unused bread machine is taking up?

Get rid of broken, melted and warped items, scraped non-stick (Teflon) pans/pots, plastic non-heat-resistant utensils, non-functioning appliances.

Replace all remaining items in a place that works for you and with your flow through your kitchen. Cramped for space? Use your walls to hang pots, pans, knives and most utensils.

Important tools to have:

A good 6”-10” straight-edge chef’s knife.

Measure your prep area/countertop in your kitchen where you will chop mostly and try to get the largest board for that area. Short on space? Don’t overlook covering your sink or the top of your stove with the appropriate sized board. Supplement your big board with plastic flexible cutting mats, for easy daily cleanup and transfer of chopped items to a bowl or pot.

Buy good quality pots and pans now and you will have them for a lifetime. Buy a starter set then supplement as needed. Add at least one sheet pan, lasagna/casserole/roasting dish, too.

Basic utensils: at least one 12” wooden spoon, a whisk and spatula for flipping (both nonstick), a silicon spatula for mixing, set of at least three mixing bowls (plastic or glass), hand strainer, colander, can/bottle opener, measuring cups (for both dry and liquid measuring) and spoons, a good vegetable peeler, box grater and microplane, hand juicer or reamer, a masher and tongs for non-stick surfaces (both short and long).

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback?  Invitations!  Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!