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What did you find in your pantry or dry food storage last week? Anything that surprised you? Were you able to use any food up before its expiration date? I've been on a pasta kick because of all the noodles in our pantry right now but I'm not complaining!
If you are just joining us, here's the deal:
I still had this mindset of decluttering being a big ol’ chore up until a few months ago when I read this fantastic post from Nony at A Slob Comes Clean. It was like a huge light went off in my brain! Decluttering is simply the act of getting rid of what doesn't belong, isn't needed, or belongs in the trash. It doesn’t mean buying a whole slew of new bins for your things to go in or coming up with some type of system that you hope will change your life - that’s organizing. It’s a whole different ball game. Right now, I’m in the game of decluttering. I just want things GONE.
When there’s less stuff, especially less of what has no purpose in your home anymore, organizing can often happen naturally. You won’t be cramming thirty towels into the closet because you only need ten and they fit nicely. You don’t need to dig through a tub of medicines to find what you need only to keep coming across bottles that are long since expired.
Here’s my challenge: Each week, take on ONE area of your home. I’ve already made the list for you so that part is done. Go to the area, throw away trash, put items that you no longer need but are still in good condition into a donation box, and put other items where they belong. Simple!
Week 11: Fridge & Freezer
Oh boy did these need help! Full disclosure: there were items in my freezer that came with us on our move 2.5 years ago and I'm not sure how long before that they came into our possession.
I simply kept pushing them back further even though I knew they were there.
That's a huge reason I'm doing this challenge. It's forcing me to face all the stuff I've been ignoring around the house for far too long. The piles I glance over because they are always there. The papers crumpled in the corner because they aren't in my way. The broken toys in my shelf that I'll get around to fixing "one day."
Well, that one day is here and I'm facing the fridge and freezer. The fridge is hard because there is so much turnover in it. What fills it one week is completely depleted in a few days! But there are certain items that seem to creep to the back corners and disappear for weeks if not months or years ;) Hopefully it's not that bad but you never know.
That bottom needed to be cleaned without question. So even though this is a decluttering challenge and not a cleaning challenge I couldn't skip wiping that down.
I found THREE bottles of caramel syrup in the door. How does one house end up with THREE bottles you ask? Well, both boys had ice cream sundae parties in school and we volunteered to bring the syrups. And then the syrups got sent back home at the end of the day. And we always have one on hand for ice cream nights. So I combined what I could and now we are done to two bottles of caramel syrup.
And then there are the scary leftovers. I reached the black hole at the back of the fridge and found all these containers with food that was no longer fit for consumption... human or otherwise (plus the empty bottle of syrup).
Those containers were purged of their contents and sent through a very hot washing. Blech. And now I'm also trying to remember to label our food when it goes in the fridge so there is less guessing games when it comes to contents.
On to the freezer!
Another gross bottom of an appliance. And see all those black bananas in the door? I kept putting the really ripe bananas in that spot so they'd keep until I was ready to make banana bread. Except I didn't. And then the kids would leave the freezer door cracked and they'd start to melt (and leak all over the bottom of the freezer) and then freeze again. Those went straight to the trash.
As for everything else I found to get rid of from the freezer: lots of freezer burned bread, partial bags of veggies, chunks of ham, unknown bowl of something (not pictured), and an ice cream bar that had been hiding for I'm not sure how long. I decided eating it would go against my better judgement. All of this food was freezer burned from the freezer being left open on occasion. The whole thawing/freezing/thawing/freezing thing isn't so great for food!
Now that there is less stuff in the freezer it should close easier. Occasionally the kids would grab an ice pack and something would get caught, especially items in the door or in the non-existent bottom shelf area. So I DIY'd a fix for that.
Like my "new shelf"? I couldnt' believe that shelves for this freezer are about $30 each. Um, no thanks! I grabbed a shoe box from the recycling pile and turned it into a basket. It works and fits perfectly. Someday I might get a real one but really, is it that big of a deal?
And now that I've posted this picture for the entire world to see I know realize that I didn't clean the vent at the bottom of the fridge when I cleaned everything else. Whoops. I guess I get to add that to my cleaning schedule for kitchen day today!
Cleaning out the fridge and freezer has made me realize how important labeling food is before putting it away. I always label my containers when I'm freezer cooking but rarely with leftovers. That needs to change so I'm not inspecting containers and wondering what in the world it is. I also need to keep better track of food I put in the freezer so we aren't forgetting about it and needing to throw it away later. Most of that bread was put in the freezer before a vacation and could easily have been pulled back out when we returned home. I'm not a fan of throwing away money in the form of food!
But now that all the food that isn't edible is gone we can go forward with better habits and make sure we are using what we put away. Leftover day is going no where in this house!
What did you find in your fridge and freezer? Were there any items that surprised you? How do you keep track of what you have stored in the fridge and freezer?
Share a picture in the comments or on social media with the hashtag #clutterbusterchallenge of what you found to declutter.
Come back next week for week 12 of the Clutter Buster Challenge when we go through our small appliances. Figure out what you use consistently and what gets ignored. Don't let items you don't need continue to take up precious storage space!
If you are looking for a better way of keeping on top of your homemaking tasks now that you are steamrolling through all this decluttering you might be interested in a new course from Humorous Homemaking. Home Management How To: A Guide to Daily Success is open now! I've got a post about my experience with this course here but this is a great course for you to take control of all the household tasks in a way that is tailored specifically to your family and life.