Every day this week so far I’ve been setting myself small tasks, as I take part in Zero Waste Week. The topic this year is food waste, and I’m determined to both reduce my food waste and establish some good habits that will ensure I chuck less rotten food out in future.
Yesterday’s tasks were to:
- Make a vegetarian goulash – serving the dual purpose of following my meal plan, as well as using up some elderly peppers, tomatoes and courgettes that I found in the fridge a few days ago; and
- Sort out half of the shelves in my big food cupboard.
I started with the goulash.
It was totally satisfying to chop up the rescued veg and, before long, I had a vat of delicious loveliness bubbling on the cooker. That was yesterday’s dinner sorted – and with several extra portions ready for the freezer. Perfect.
Very much in the mood for my next task, I threw open the cupboard door and started hauling things out. Here’s the before picture.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting this to be such a big job. In my head, I believed that I’d cleared the cupboard quite recently, but the best before dates on some of my jars and tins suggested otherwise. My last declutter must have been over a year ago.
I quickly abandoned the idea of tidying out half of the shelves in one sitting. The whole cupboard would need cleared out as any signs of order were gone. Chuck today, tidy tomorrow, I decided. There were tins on every shelf, cereal packets all over the place, and bags of crisps nestling in random nooks and crannies…you’ve literally got the picture.
I grabbed the bin, a food waste bag and made a pile for recycling and they all started filling up pretty fast.
Some of my big issues were that:
- We had several duplicate ingredients – cooking chocolate, oatcakes, coffee (which no one in the house actually drinks!), crisps (flavours that no one likes), cake sprinkles, spices…
- We are the (not very) proud owners of some items that we rarely use such as cinnamon sticks, tiny marshmallows and a jar of value syrup – purchased by the other half for a ‘science experiment’ done with the kids one Sunday morning.
- There were large open packets of things like tea bags and salt that regularly need decanted into smaller caddies, as well as things like bin bags that should be kept under the sink.
- Items such as sugar, a variety of flours were sitting in tupperwears often abandoned and past their best before dates.
Basically the main issue was a lack of organisation. Based on the evidence we clearly purchase duplicates by accident a lot. We fail to empty large packets into their smaller caddies for everyday use, and we keep things in the wrong places. This causes clutter and leaves things to go past their dates. By storing different items in similar looking tubs (although they are all labelled and dated), we end up rummaging chaotically, and missing what we need.
The solutions are pretty obvious – kill the clutter and make sure we can find what we need quickly. If we buy unusual ingredients, we need to have a plan for using them up immediately and not letting them squat in our cupboards until they’ve gone soft and furry.Ban science experiments that lead to food waste.
Today’s task will be to perfect the cupboard – organise the shelves and wash down the woodwork. Hopefully it’ll be good enough to post an ‘after’ photo on the blog tomorrow! I’d better get to it.