It’s A Food Thing: Cleaning Out the Kitchen

It's a food thing (3)

It only happens once in a while: I get that twitch every time I walk into my kitchen. Things are cluttered in the cabinets, unorganized in the pantry and God only knows what is in the back of the fridge making that awful smell. (we later determined it was Dreamboat’s salmon) And since I’m not working right now, I knew today was going to be the day…

It was time to deep clean the kitchen.

Deep cleaning the kitchen, in my eyes, means going through everything that is in the pantry and purging the things that are out of date and making a pile of stuff we know we aren’t going to eat to donate to a soup kitchen. Then I go through the cabinets and purge excess stuff there: in today’s case, we are getting rid of a A LOT of glasses and stemware that we just don’t even use anymore. Then, it’s time to take everything off of the counters and scrub them down, then vacuum the floor and swiffer wet jet that mother. I even scrub down the fridge, the oven, even the dishwasher (we have stainless steel appliances, thank you move in bonus from 7 years ago)

Usually it takes me a day or two to get it all done the way I like it. This time, however, I was struck at how much food we were throwing out “from our unhealthy days” as Brian put it, and how little we had for a donation.

I started with the dry goods pantry first. It’s the one closest to the entrance into our kitchen, kept our things like rice and pasta, our garbage can and some other storage items in there. That one filled one garbage bag itself. Stuffing, potato things, expired pasta, WAY expired cereal, lots of cookie and cake mixes… it was embarrassing. I couldn’t believe we had accumulated so much stuff and just let it sit there, some of it for years.

Going through it all, I remembered when we got it: The cereal was when we actually took time to eat breakfast before work. It’s been a while since we had done that. Then the potato things – where you mix the freeze dried potato chip things with a packet of powdered cheese and whatnot, then add water and bake – where from when Food Lion was closing. Which was like 4 years ago. Why we didn’t eat them is beyond me. The cookie and cake mixes is from when I was baking every weekend, and I stopped that a couple of years ago because we were trying to make better decisions. It was quite shocking how little we actually had in the cabinet after that, not only because of what we threw out but also because of what we really eat and don’t eat.

Next was the second pantry. This one is next to our fridge, and is where I store everything else you would expect to see in a pantry. Canned goods, pasta sauces, salad dressing, chips, paper towels… things like that. While there was less to throw out in this cabinet, there was still a significant amount. Canned sauces and soups that had been sitting there for at least a year, candy from a couple of Halloween’s ago easy, half empty containers of peanut butter and nuts and raisins. It was a mess.

Narrowing everything down, we cleared up even more room out of this pantry and it’s awesome because now I have a place to stash important things like my lunch bags, my vintage air popcorn machine, ALL of the paper towels, and still clearly see what we have in canned veggies. I had to reorganize some of the shelving because we have some jellies that were purchased while on vacations for use as marinades and sauces (for example: the ginger passion flower jelly I have? AMAZING on pork) and we keep forgetting about them because we covered them up with other things.

The fridge was my final food related cleaning opportunity. (does that even make sense? Meh…) When it comes to the fridge, I’m a little psycho. I pull everything out, scrub the fridge, and then as I put things back in I determine whether or not it’s keep worthy. Thankfully, most of the things in our fridge actually ARE keep worthy aside from some really old bags of salad and some dying veggies shoved in a drawer. I also had some old left overs that I just threw away, container and all, because I had no idea what it was. Tupperware is cheap. I’ll buy more.

The freezer was the easiest to clean up. Aside from some really freezer burned burgers from a year ago and some bad Popsicle, it was pretty good.

All in all, I had three bags of outdated or ruined food to take to the dumpster. It was a shock for a variety of reasons:

  1. We really wasted a lot of food, which in turn ends up being a waste of money. Not cool.
  2. We suck and shopping for groceries. We need to get a better plan going on.
  3. We really need to clean out the fridge/freezer at least once every couple of weeks, cause…gross.
  4. And finally: We need to stop bringing junk in the house because we aren’t eating the good stuff. And that’s the expensive stuff.

So that’s what we started doing.

Meal Planning: This is one of the most frustrating things to get use to. Trying to plan meals and then a grocery list, and do food prep? I kind of suck at it. I’m used to just flying by the seat of our pants, but realistically that’s not going to work. I have a new job that I should be starting on Monday and it’s 45 minutes away. Which means Dreamboat will be doing a lot of the dinner cooking being that he gets home earlier than I will. (I’m still working out my running plan for that too, but that’s a different post)

So what we have been doing is figuring out what we want to eat for dinners each night, and we are keeping ourselves accountable by sticking to it. We check what’s on sale at Publix, we look to see what we already have in house, and we go from there. We are also being careful to make sure that we are using everything that we purchase. Speaking of, I have to cut up the cantaloupe…. anyway, we do prep a day or two in advance if it’s something that is easy and doable, like cutting up veggies and the like.

We’ve also been doing better about breakfasts: I’ve had friends tell me about this time and again and I just finally did it this time, and it was a huge hit. Egg Muffins! We cook up some sausage, cut up some veggies, grab some spices and some eggs, and go to town. For Brian, we used onion, green pepper, mushrooms, sausage and eggs. Mine were mushroom, sausage, cheese. I put the veggies and meat in a cupcake pan, and then cracked some eggs and whipped them up like I was going to scramble them. Then I poured the egg into each of the sections till it covered the top of the goodies, and baked for 20-25 minutes! They are great for grab and go, or for me when I throw them in the toaster oven to eat up.  It did take me almost a dozen eggs to make 12 of these muffins, so for both his and mine, it took 2 dozen eggs. But it was worth it, and is now part of my Sunday food prep.

Not Wasting Food: We eat everything we make, and Brian makes sure we stick to our plan which limits our food waste. Sure, there will always be some food waste: it’s inevitable. But if we throw out another bag of salad or meats for being unused, it’s just not okay. I’ve been making sure we eat food we have in house, and not go out to eat just because we are feeling lazy. It’s a habit that needs to be broken, and after a few months it will be but not without grumbling. I’m usually the one who says “oh, screw it. Let’s go out” and Brian has to remind me that isn’t part of our “get healthy” plan…which is more than just our waistline.

So I got things for salads and sandwiches for lunch, I got things for snacks like granola bars and crackers with cheese, and I got lots of fruit. There should be no reason whatsoever for me to just go out and grab Moe’s just because I’m feeling lazy. Smart first.

Brian and I used to make dinner together and we both miss that. Granted, we won’t get it when I’m working, but we can make it work with the prep and making the plan for the week. It will save calories and money, and it will make our going out to eat moments better. I’m excited to see where this will go. Maybe I’ll really learn how to cook better! 🙂

One thought on “It’s A Food Thing: Cleaning Out the Kitchen

  1. littlemoreeachday says:

    I’ve definitely just tossed things from the freezer that were unrecognizable. 🙂 You’re right – tupperware is cheap! I’m bad about losing things in the freezer too. I’ve started keeping a little list on the white board I use for my grocery list of the things I have in the freezer so that I can incorporate them in meal planning. We also try to take a week every month where we just only buy fresh produce and otherwise eat things in the freezer/pantry. That helps a lot with waste as long as we stay in that practice!

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