The Kitchen – Spring Cleaning and Organization

We’re having a garage sale soon.  I’m a little nuts because I really don’t have a whole lot of time and energy to purge, purge, purge.  But nevertheless, I’ve managed to declutter and remove “the stuff” from our house.  And in the process, our house “lost some weight.”

(Sometimes I want to add the line “Manager of Stuff” to my resume.)

It feels so great to remove stuff from closets, out from under beds, and from the tops and depths of the kitchen cupboards.

Speaking of the cupboards…

(Okay, I did that on purpose!)

…from the cupboards, I decided to rid our kitchen of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and hydrogenated oils. Above is what came out of the pantry.  All baking products, many of which have been sitting up there for months.  Now out they go…

…from the refrigerator, I plan to exchange the ketchup and jelly next week, after I buy some simply fruit spread and HFCS free ketchup.  (I know, I know…I should just get rid of it all now, but the children might plan a mutiny if I remove 2 of their favorite condiments without warning.)

I was not only inspired by the garage sale and overall “house purging,” but also by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  If you haven’t watched, you should!

How about you?!?  Are you ready and willing to rid your pantry of HFCS and hydrogenated oils?! Have you done any spring cleaning and organization in your kitchen yet?


  1. says

    I’m doing the SAME THING & inspired by the same thing as well! It was and has been really disheartening to see exactly what and how much of that stuff is in the foods in our house. I’m making little changes too – I’m looking for support from them, not mutiny 😉

    I also have to say I bought your cookbook a while back and LOVE it. I’m a horrible cook, so just trying to think up recipes, let alone keeping them on a budget was just not working. Your cookbook has been very helpful so, THANKS!

  2. says

    I haven’t done any purging in the kitchen yet, but I have been purging elsewhere in the house and especially in the attic. Our attic was disorganized and had stuff up there that needed to be trashed or given away so I organized some of it, threw some away and am giving some away. I’m not completely finished yet. We have an annual “cleanup” day in our neighborhood every year where the trash service will come by and pick up all sorts of things so I’m sure we’re going to have to go through our attic soon and clean out a bunch of stuff. Not to mention we have a ton of paper and books that needs to be organized in our office. I definitely hear you about the HFCS though, I’m thinking about trying to get rid of it and eat less of it in our diet too. It’s definitely going to be tough, I’m amazed at how many things high fructose corn syrup is actually in. It’s unbelievable.

  3. says

    My youngest son is ADHD and we have not had anything with HFCS in our house for quite a while now! It is very hard as it is in almost everything! I LOVE Jamie Oliver andhis cause, I have been complaing for years about our school lunch program!

  4. Ninja Mom says

    I got rid of HFCS/hydrogenated oils a few years ago. For a while I was making my own bread, but time constraints made it difficult to keep 4 teenagers supplied all the time! I’ve found that Orowheat brand doesn’t have the bad stuff, and they’re OK with it. I also make a vast majority of our food – we don’t do packaged or convenience foods. I do buy organic canned tomato products for things like salsas, spaghetti sauce, etc. I LOVE that this is a popular thing to do now!! We will be a much healthier world for it.

    • Karen says

      @Ninja Mom,
      I have oro wheat now for both my husband and me! Its good to know. Its a little pricier for his dark rye but its cheaper than getting it @ his work for lunch.

      Is the cost for these types of items more expensive than regular type of stuff? And what brands carry these items? I’d be curious to see it. I’ve been meaning to watch the food revolution show but I keep forgetting! I wonder if it will make people change their ways outside of the tv show?

      • Ninja Mom says

        @Karen, Sometimes they’re more expensive, but usually they’re right alongside the “regular” items. You just have to read the labels.

        There may be a lasting effect from the show, but I think people will do what’s easy. If it’s relatively easy to do, people will gladly follow. If it becomes a pain, they won’t bother. Hopefully if there is enough demand for fresher foods/food with less chemicals, and it will become easier to find, so that the trend will continue. Just my 2¢.

  5. says

    Hi Erin,
    Just curious. What will you replace the HFCS ketchup with? I’d like to know, because I may try to do the same thing. Is this something I can get at Kroger, or at a specialty food store?

    • says


      I’m not sure yet Kim! I’m going to look at Kroger to see if any of the brands don’t have HFCS. I know there is ketchup that is made with sugar instead of HFCS. It needs something to sweeten it! I prefer sugar over HFCS :)

      I’ll let you know what I discover.

    • says

      You can also make your own! It doesn’t keep as long (because it’s fresher!) so you would have to keep up with it more. Recipes abound on the internet and you will have to play around to get the taste you like, but it’s worth it to know the #1 kid condiment is made by you! :-)

    • says

      @Kim, We like Muir Glen’s ketchup, when I’ve bought it in the past. (It was a stocking stuffer for my husband one year as a joke!) :) It’s HFCS-free & gluten-free.
      I often see $1.00 off coupons for their products, too.
      Michele :)

    • Jenelle says

      I get HFCS Free Ketchup at Trader Joes or make my own. The TJ’s brand is wonderful and not very expensive either. i think it’s $1.29/ bottle.

      • Mary Smith says

        Kim, I buy Heinz organic ketchup. They also just recently came out with Heinz Simply ketchup which has sugar instaed of hfcs.

        The taste difference between hfcs and sugar is amazing! You taste the actual food itself instead of an overly sweet taste. Mott’s organic apple sauce is another example of a product that is better with sugar.

        Many products are quietly replacing the hfcs with sugar. I was thrilled to find Gatorade G, no hfcs!

        If you are a soda drinker you can get coke made with sugar in the Allentown, PA and Cleveland, OH areas. It’s a great treat to have every once in a while.

  6. Sara K says

    We tried to stop using both after I read Dr. Sears’ “The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood.” Still, I buy ketchup with HFCS (but will switch now that it’s allegedly out of some products) because I like ketchup. And, I’m pregnant and I prefer “fake” syrup to real maple syrup (which is what my boys and husband use, and what I’ll go back to using once my taste buds can handle it). It is scary and sad what’s in all of the food in our super markets. I haven’t had the chance to watch Jamie Oliver’s show, but from what I know about it, it sounds fantastic. I hope people can all start to make small changes and see a big impact.

  7. For The Love Of Veg says

    We too are doing the same thing and we are actually on a journey to become vegan so there is a ton of stuff we are pulling from our kitchen and we are actually going to donate it all…

  8. Jill says

    We have been working on it the last couple months. I buy organic ketchup for my son, who eats ketchup on everything!

    The part that really grosses me out is the range of products that have hfcs.

  9. Ceci says

    I too cook our dinners every night. We very rarely go out to eat. I never buy prepackaged foods. They just taste too salty to me! I absolutely love to cook. I do limit our sweets and things that do contain HFCS.

    Erin, I just bought your cookbook the other day. I hope that I can learn to make my dinners cheaper and maximize my coupons. I have just started couponing and am gradually trying to learn the ropes. It would be nice if you did some more about cooking gluten free recipes. We have gluten allergies in our house and so I have to do my best to cook meals that are inexpensive, yet fall in our gluten free requirements.

  10. says

    We cut out HFCS, trans fats, and hydrogenated oils years ago. We took a look at some the health problems our extended family members had/have and switched to a low fat, low salt, and low cholesterol diet as a preventive measure. We’re eating better and cheaply because we make a lot of stuff from scratch. So I don’t buy the you can’t eat healthy for cheap argument :)

    If you have an Aldi, their Fit and Active brand is usually free of bad stuff. Also strangely enough, I found regular sugar used in jelly marked Sugar Free – I suppose they use less. Meijer Naturals ketchup is supposed to be HFCS free (a cashier at Aldi told me!) but I’m going to try making our own just to see if I can do it.

  11. says

    I have been watching the Food Revolution. It is amazing how so many bad things are hidden in foods that are labeled healthy. We have been cooking from scratch for years . . . making all of our cereal, granola bars, snacks, breads, etc. We feel better and it is a whole lot cheaper. Ketchup is our final item. My 3 boys love it so much that they might have a nervous breakdown if it wasn’t in the fridge. I have a recipe for ketchup from an Amish cookbook that I might try next week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  12. Lauren says

    I am LOVING Jamie Olivers show. He is really inspiring! I compulsively read ALL labels, as I have a daughter with nut/peanut allergies, so we do OK, but I do want to eliminate a little more HFCS. It sneaks into our house in so many products! Did you read about some HFCS containing mercury? scary.

  13. says

    I try to keep HFCS out of our house as well.

    We buy Polaner All Fruit which contains no HFCS and is sweetened with (wait for it, wait for it) real fruit and fruit juice.

    I buy the Full Circle brand ketchup which has evaporated cane juice, I believe. I think Heinz makes an organic that also has cane juice.

    If recently did a post about PB&J sandwiches and write a lot about my disdain for HFCS.

  14. Michele says

    My husband is notorious for putting things away in the strangest places I would never guess to look. For this he has earned the title “Inventory Manager” and he loves it. I say add the title.

  15. says

    Our house could really use a spring cleaning/de-junking as well, but i can’t seem to find the motivation or the time . . . at least not until spring soccer is over.

    We do eat some stuff with hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup, but I cook most of our food from scratch, even ketchup from time to time, so I don’t worry about it too much.

  16. Amanda says

    We got rid of HFCS, hydrogenated oils, trans fat, food colorings/dyes, additives, and nitrites! We are also gluten-free! It can be done, but it is hard work sometimes! LOL!

    I think it can be more expensive, but only because coupons and deals are harder to find for some of these products – especially if you are buying products from smaller companies. Buy in bulk when you can (especially for gluten-free flours) and start cooking more from scratch! Invest in a freezer so you can stock up when you do get a coupon or they go on sale.

  17. says

    I have been eliminating HFCS and trans fats from our diets slowly but surely. The battle has been with my husband. He loves his processed foods. I’m still trying to get him to understand that Velveeta isn’t really cheese.

  18. says

    We’ve been HFCS and trans fat free for a while now. Juggling the budget with better food is always interesting, but it’s worth it!

    I love The Food Revolution! I had to leave the room the other night when they told Jamie that FRENCH FRIES counted as a veggie!! What are we teaching our kids?!?!

  19. Jenelle says

    We eliminated HFCS and Hydroginated oils a few years ago. I’ve found the easiest (and least expensive) way to do this is just to make as much from scratch as I can. One thing I have notices is that manufacturers are taking notice, and are removing HFCS. When I was first eliminating it I could only find 1 brand of apple juice without it. Now have noticed it’s been eliminated in most brands. So there is hope!

    LOVE Jamie Oliver by the way, and his show. I hope he is really able to make a difference.

  20. says

    I have been working on those two ingredients along with eliminating artifical colors, flavors and MSG since about January when we did the eating from the panrty challenge and I realized what was really in our pantry! Then I saw Oprah and Food Inc and we are slowly turning to organic products as well. I have found that purchasing them thoughtfully (and using coupons of course) still alows me to meet our same budget.

    BTW Food Inc is aring tonight on PBS!

  21. Vicki says

    When I look at the Heinz ketchup bottle it doesn’t say HFCS it says liquid sugar . Are they the same things?

  22. Laura says

    I hate HFCS, and they put it in everything. My husband and I are both diabetic and don’t want the extra sugar in everything. I second the Polaner All Fruit, it is very good and contains nothing but fruit.

  23. says

    This is something I just started finding out more about. I’ve been reading Robyn O’Brien’s book “The Unhealthy Truth” and completely overwhelmed by all that I’m finding out right now.

    Starting to sort out all of those items and doing this in the step down process. Still trying to get my husband on board, and the kids will take some time… But at least we are taking the steps.

  24. says

    I don’t see how replacing ketchup made from high fructose corn syrup with ketchup made from sugar accomplishes anything. They are one in the same. They both have the same number of calories. Even the American Medical Association says that high fructose corn syrup is no different than sugar.
    Replacing one for the other is little more than falling for the diet fad du jour.

  25. says

    I’ve been cleaning sparodically thru the house. I’ve not bought anything with High fructose corn syrup lately, if I can help it. Ketchup from Trader Joe’s doesn’t have it in there nor does some of the jams I’ve bought. Only thing around is my Pepsi and I’m not getting rid of that or use diet pop~I don’t like it. Hubby drinks diet zero Diet Rite, it has Splenda in it. He’s diabetic. I’m working on cleaning. Biggest thing was fridge a few weeks ago when we got a new fridge/freezer (I’ve posted that on my blog in April). Gotta get some cleaning done for company is coming tomorrow for lunch. Have a great weekend.

  26. says

    I’ve slowly been working on this. My grocery store doesn’t seem to carry an alternative for ketchup. I’d love to hear about any brands that other folks have found, and if they found it at a mass merchant?

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