The first week of this challenge is all about learning what you have and organizing it. Our goal for this week will be to learn exactly what we own and give it a home so it is most likely to get used. Utilizing pre-existing resources is a big part of being more self-sufficient.
Today we are going to ease into this. I find it really difficult to begin in the bedroom or a hall closet where I tend to find things I’m attached to. In my experience, it has been much easier to begin with food. I’m not attached to anything in my pantry or refrigerator and I instantly benefit from its organization.
Today, I challenge you to tackle the pantry and the refrigerator/freezer. I know for many it isn’t as easy as saying go explore and organize the pantry, so this is what if find easiest.
1. Begin by opening a paper grocery bag and setting it aside for donation items. I always find things I don’t intend to use.
2. Remove everything from the pantry, floor to ceiling. The pantry should be empty. I usually spread everything out over the kitchen table.
3. Organize the things you have removed, placing noodles together, canned tomatoes in one section, canned soups in another, etc.
4. Consider the things you are organizing. Have you forgotten when you actually bought that canned soup? Are you questioning if you will use that pancake mix? If you aren’t sure some of these things are worth keeping, donate them. There are people who do need it and will eat it before it expires! Set these items in the bag and keep working.
5. Once you have everything organized, put it back into your pantry neatly, keeping relevant foods together so they are more likely to get used rather than repurchased.
6. Repeat this process in the refrigerator and freezer.
While I’m reorganizing, I also like to consider what will be easiest to maintain once everything is in place. For example, I always end up with small bags of baking goods (nuts, marshmallows, chocolate chips, etc.) When these are all laid out they are cluttered and I forget about them. I find it easiest to keep it all in a little basket and dig through my basket when I want to bake. This method may not work for you, but do consider what will work best for you when reorganizing your pantry.
In the refrigerator, I find it helpful to keep a bin somewhere visible. I fill this with foods that need to get used. Before I go shopping, I will place leftover produce in the bin so it can be eaten before the newly purchased fresher produce.
In the freezer, be sure to question anything that has been in there for too long. I am queen of putting some blanched vegetables in the freezer and never looking at them again. If you find yourself with random frozen goods, have a definite idea of when or how they will be used before giving them a new home in your newly organized freezer.
Now, pat yourself on the back. You just completed day one! How many forgotten foods did you find? Were you surprised by anything? I found some lentils, which I had completely forgotten about…and moved with. Now I must decide what to make with lentils.
Tomorrow we will be tackling a new part of the house. If you don’t want to miss any of the challenge updates, be sure to subscribe via email or RSS feed in the upper right hand column. You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook.