Does anyone else obsess and stress about the mess (!) between Christmas and the New Year? During the few days I take off that week, I often go into full-on cleaning mode, clearing out the refrigerator and freezers, tackling the cabinets and pantry and organizing the drawers. Speaking to my Jewish friends, it’s similar to preparing for Passover, searching for “chametz” and “kashering” the appliances.
While I was cleaning out the freezer this year, I kept finding more and more dubious bags of…stuff. Stuff so covered over with ice that it was impossible to make out if it was meat or veggies. Or both. Heart breaking, I threw out tons of food and vowed never to let that happen again.
(Last night I pulled out what I thought was frozen eggplant and it turned out they were roasted hot peppers. SMH.)
My pantry is actually an 18″ wide closet on the side of the refrigerator. Which is great because everything is right there while I’m cooking. Not so great is the fact that it’s 24″ deep, which means stuff gets pushed to the back and forgotten until the week between Christmas and the New Year. I’ve been after MR to build me shelves that can be pulled out and the stuff in the back can be accessed. Remember, ladies, if a man says he will fix it, he will. There is no need to remind him every six months about it.
(My favorite meme. Even MR liked that one.)
I can’t do anything about the black hole in my pantry right now, but I did do something about the black hole residing in the freezers. The door on the pantry cabinet is about four foot high, so I painted a large portion of the inside of that door with black chalkboard paint and noted each shelf and the downstairs freezer and inventoried each and every item in the freezer and marked it down on the blackboard. Now I’m able to see at a glance what we have and can erase and rewrite as we use and add food.
No more wasted food. And it’s easily found when we need it.
I tried to do an inventory on the stock of food in the basement, but I haven’t come up with an efficient way like the blackboard. I tried keeping a book on top of the fridge, but if I don’t see it immediately, I tend to ignore it. The stash downstairs is mostly canned food, bags of sugar and Costco-sized boxes, larger things that won’t fit in the pantry upstairs, but there are things down there that are used pretty often. So I came up with this idea:
DAY 12 of 30:
Make a list of 20 things you use often and put them in the note section of your phone. Whenever you see a sale on any of these things, stock up.
- Crushed tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- Brown Sugar
- Olive Oil
- Veg Oil
- Parmesan Cheese
- Laundry detergent
- Mozzarella (blocks or shredded or both)
- Cheddar cheese (blocks or shredded or both)
- Orange juice
- Chocolate almond milk (freezes better than regular almond milk)
Mark on your phone list how many of the items you bought. If you use one, delete it from the number on your list. Keep a running tally even if it’s in the freezer and on the blackboard. Keep an eye out for coupons for extra savings!
Do you have any other suggestions for pantry staples? What’s in YOUR freezer?