Decluttering Food Storage

In my past life I not only had a large refrigerator in the kitchen, and a second smaller one, along with a 10 cubic foot deep freeze.  This was practical and realistic for that time in our lives.
When we moved overseas we quickly adjusted to the fact that the refrigerator we now had would have easily fit inside the one we had in Canada, with room left over.  A bit of a quandary at first, however, as the Europeans are known for we too shopped for consumables nearly daily. 

In Australia, we acquired a fridge that was similar to our North American style, and learned quickly that by living a mere 500 metres from the grocery store it was a little much.  Our shopping habits were a blend of both North American and European style.

With our return to Canada, we have had more opportunity for hosting people, therefore at times we would have benefited from having additional storage.  And for that I am grateful.  However, I have learned in the last six months that more is not necessarily practical or realistic for this time in our lives.
Eager to hit the large warehouse grocers, I found our eyes were bigger than our consumption habits.  A number of fresh “bulk” items had to be discarded.  I found that having a freezer full of an assortment of meats and veg is not nearly as inspiring as it is convenient, and we’ve been drawn in by the advertising of buy 4 and save promotions to be an easy sale.
Especially during the holiday season.  I bought quantities of things that normally I would not have.  Suddenly having 14 boxes of crackers, 6 bags of potato chips, and various and other sundry “treats”, became a necessity!

Ugh 🙁
I understand and practise the concept of shopping the outside aisles of any grocery store, where the fresh items can be found.  I nip into the middle ones as needed and consciously skip aisles, because I know browsing can lead to buying.

A couple weeks ago I declared that we would be eating our way through our frozen goods and now after the binge buying for the holiday season I’m including our dry goods as well!

The Fridge Door

This is home to the condiments, jams, jellies, dressings and spreads.  Amongst our collection are bottles and jars used once, thought it would be good, and containers that make me ask where did this come from and why.
Doing an inventory of such food items can be:
Inspiring 
Motivating you to recipe search ways to incorporate one or both of the unique grainy mustards on hand, into a dish.
Reminding you of a dish you created that you had forgotten about therefore changing the status to used twice.
Liberating
I discarded a horseradish that on the label claimed “hot”, however was anything but hot.  Each time I reached for it, I frowned, so I emptied the contents and recycled the jar.  Having it reside in my fridge did nothing but take away space for things that make me smile.
Presentation
Have you ever stood there looking for something and all of the contents just blurred together.  By wiping jams and jellies of the bits that have accumulated, cleaning the shelves then changing the order in which they appear helps to stimulate and refocus what we see when we are looking for something.

The Inner Sanctum

Just as the fridge door, presentation plays a big part on the shelves and drawers.  Out of sight is out of mind.

There are the daily consumables on the shelves: juice, milk, cream, butter, eggs, cheese etc.  Because their rotation is frequent there is little fear they will expire before their time.

However its the tubs of yogurts, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese that once opened the countdown clock begins and if they get bumped to the back of the fridge there is even less hope.

This is where I invest time in organization and presentation.  Just like the grocers, I lean towards having them label out and eye level so when someone is peering inside they are easily spotted and may very well inspire someone to use in their creation.

Produce can be a challenge, when more than one in the household shops, and recently we had more carrots than we could conceivably consume.

Spinach, carrots, apples, celery either get blended or juiced.  I have been using a silicone muffin tray to freeze the juiced goodness for smoothies. This has been a clever way to extend the usefulness of produces, especially when greens start to wither.  

Again this goes back to buying the quantity of fresh that exceeds our consumption.  Being mindful that consuming good food can be rhythmic and because you ate the large bag of spinach two weeks in a row, it bears keeping in mind that consumption fluctuates.

The Freezer

How long do bananas last in the freezer waiting to be made into muffins or a loaf?  Banana loaf is a popular item in my household, however, when the frozen bananas start to make me feel guilty for not having made them into a baked goodie I let them go.  
There is more than one way to use up an overripe banana than tossing it into the freezer to live for eternity. I have chosen to buy less rather than more, rather than having the excess be banished to the freezer.
This past summer when at a warehouse store I decided I would buy a selection of frozen treats.  Turns out only 25% of the pack was popular and in the freezer remains the other 75%, 4 months later.  
I do not consciously like to discard food, however, the reality is that no one is going to eat them.  With it being winter the odds are even smaller, and the odds get even worse thinking it will be another 4 months until frozen treats will be attractive.  

Therefore, I let them go.

The Cupboard

Until further notice in my household I will not be replenishing:  crackers, cereal, potato chips and other snacks.  I’ve already made peace with the fact that I’ve overbought and that despite my best efforts some of what I bought will go stale.
Now that the holiday season is coming to a close, the buy four specials or the bogo offers will drop in popularity until the next “celebrate by serving potato chips” occasion comes around.
As a rule I do not succumb to such offers, however it bears repeating…

Saying “No” once at the grocery store means not having to repeatedly say No when you are at home.

~Sherry Trentini, Creating Space

They suggest not to grocery shop when you are hungry, I would also add not to grocery shop when you are not present.  
Being tired or distracted may lead to you accumulating things in your trolley that do not serve you or your household in a nurturing way.  
I know I have allowed the dazzle of the “good deal”, to influence my purchasing, and I know I have paid the price twofold.  Hence having to consciously declutter my food storage.
Making choices that are contrary to our lifestyle, does not mean that we have completely let go of our Nurturing values.   
We have the power of choice:  choosing to continue in that fashion or not, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Author

Sherry Trentini

As a Life & Grief Coach, I love helping people let go the hard stuff to make room and create the good stuff. I have a healthy respect for the resistance to letting things go, while knowing the liberation that comes from doing just that. I am all about helping you navigate through and towards your future. Additionally, I'm a gratitude junkie, a decluttering advocate and loves to do burpees as exercise!

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