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How to declutter the fridge and pantry – to make dinnertime easy

Declutter your pantry and fridgeIs dinnertime a nightmare at your place? Is your pantry a chaotic mess? Is your fridge stuffed to the brim, but you still can’t find anything to eat?

Clutter in the kitchen can be incredibly stressful. When it comes preparing dinner do you ask a. What meal should I cook? b. What have I got in the fridge? c. What ingredients do I need to buy? d. Let’s just get take away?

Option d. is often the easiest but usually the most expensive and the least healthy.
So how do we stop this from becoming a nightly occurrence? Imagine if all the ingredients you needed were at hand and you could whip something up in 15 minutes. Sounds good in theory, but how do we make it a reality?

A lot has to do with what you have in your fridge and pantry, so we are going to look at how to declutter both areas and then restock them so ingredients are at hand to create meals in an instant.

First we need to sort so we can eliminate what we don’t need or use.

How to declutter your fridge

I’m guessing there are at least five half-filled jars in your fridge containing something that you no longer use or is now out of date. We think we will use the remainder, but we forget it’s there or we don’t like the smell/look of it, so we just leave it.

This is the stuff you are going to get rid of first.

Once you have cleared out the jars, move onto the leftovers that are preparing to become penicillin and then any other produce that looks/smells suspect.

Once you have cleared out the fridge use a few drops of vanilla essence in warm water to wipe down the shelves. This gives your fridge a nice smell and leaves it clean to restock.

How to declutter your pantry

Again clear out the tins and packets that you haven’t used in the last six months.

You haven’t used them because

a. They were hidden behind all the other items in the cupboard
b. They are out of date
c. No one likes them.

If they are out of date, throw them out. If they’re OK but no one likes the item, give them to a friend or a food bank if you have one close by. If they are snacks your children don’t like, take them to play group or give them to kids who come over. No doubt some ravenous child will eat them.

Restock your fridge and pantry the smart way

Once the pantry and fridge are cleared then you can start restocking, except this time you are going to stock with a plan.

Have at least six meals planned. You can rotate them, and then use the 7th night as a take away night or just repeat meal 1. List the ingredients for each meal. You can divide the list into sections. eg meat, dairy, condiments etc. This saves money and time, as you don’t wander aimlessly down the aisles unsure what to buy. You just follow the list.

However tedious this may be the first time you write the list, once it’s written you can repeat it week after week. Let’s face it, most of us eat the same things each week, and if you have fussy eaters, there may only be a few meals you know they will consume.

You only need to plan ONCE to be able to execute again and again.

Don’t go shopping without your plan. This stops you buying ingredients you may never use. Stick to the list. You won’t buy more than you need which will create more space on your shelves.

Don’t buy any more than ONE extra of something.

You may think you save time and money by buying for 2 or 3 weeks in advance, but hopefully most of what you buy will be fresh produce and won’t keep for long anyway.

Have you noticed how you ‘forget’ you bought extra last time you went shopping and suddenly you have seven salad dressings in your cupboard. Buying extra just clutters your cupboard and fridge and stops you from seeing what you actually have. You will be back at the supermarket before the extras run out. Keeping too much of something encourages weevils and pests, or allows food to go ‘off’ because you didn’t use it.

So to conclude:

  1. Begin by sorting.
  2. Get rid of what is off, no one eats or is out of date.
  3. Write a menu plan and only shop for what you need.
  4. Spend five minutes each week doing a quick check of your fridge and pantry to assess what you keep or throw out. Five minutes a week is all it takes to stop the clutter re-entering your pantry and fridge. That’s not long to save you hours every week and help you to whip together a meal in moments.

As the saying goes ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’

Image credit: scukrov/123RF Stock Photo

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