Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cleaning out the Refrigerator - Pantry Challenge Update

As part of the Pantry Challenge, I decided to clean out the kitchen refrigerator and freezer (we have a second one out in the garage).  Judging by the expiration dates on some of the things I found in the freezer it's been a long time coming!

I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the before but here is the after picture.

As when I cleaned out the pantry (you can read about that here) I was a little appalled at our wastefulness.  From the freezer I threw out quite a bit including:  1/4 gallon ice cream, two packages of pitas, one package of tortilla, 1/2 a bag of cinnamon rolls......Need I go on? 

Now that I've realized how wasteful we are, what am I going to do about it?  My husband and I discussed the problem and here is how we are going to try and be less wasteful:

  • Inventory pantry and refrigerator/freezer prior to grocery shopping.  This does seem like a no-brainer but I work in a different city from where we live.  A lot of times my husband will meet me at my workplace and we'll have a 'date night' of grocery shopping & dinner.  Because I leave from work I don't always think about checking to see what we actually have in stock the night before. If we're not sure if we have it in stock we just buy another one.  This leads to a lot of duplication.
  • Menu plan.  I don't do a lot of menu planning even though I should.  By planning the menu (and taking inventory while doing so) I won't be tempted to just throw something in the cart because I'm not sure what to buy.
  • Watch fad eating.  My husband lifts weights and he tends to go in eating streaks (which is why we had two packs of pitas and a pack of tortilla shells in the freezer).  He has agreed that when he is in his streaks he will finish all the food he buys before he goes on to the next streak.  If you've checked out the original pantry post and noticed all the cans of tuna in my before picture you'll understand what I mean by streak eating :)
  • Clean out food storage more frequently.  When we put away groceries we use the LIFO method (last in - first out) which unfortunately doesn't work well with food.  If the pitas and tortillas wouldn't have gotten shoved in the back of no man land I would have known they were in there and could have used the up before they expired or were freezer burned. 
 While my real intent is to less wasteful of our food, I'm hopeful that taking these steps will also help us lower our grocery bill which is exorbitant.

How do you keep food from going to waste?

I'll also be linking up this post at I'm an Organizing Junkie 


  1. Ha.... had to laugh at the 'LIFO' method.... people look at me strange when I say stuff like that.... Just remember that you must use the 'FIFO' method instead (First In - First Out)... I too need to eventually Menu Plan.... but.... I'm... P r o c r a s t i n a t i n g

  2. I agree, FIFO would work better but that would require me to be a little more organized. Plus - you've never seen the way my kids put away groceries! Menu planning is definitely something that can create efficiencies and lessen waste but it's something I also tend to procrastinate on too. Good luck with your eventual plan :)

  3. I enjoyed reading your update! We have a huge commercial chest freezer and I am always throwing things in there so as to not waste...then I forget about it because it's at the bottom of the freezer and it turns into an ice block. Must get better!

  4. We're thinking about getting a chest freezer too. We have a regular refrigerator/freezer in the garage but you can't use the freezer in winter. I'm a little afraid though that it will be just one more place to waste food!

  5. What a great plan! I'm working my way through the kitchen this month and wastefulness is something I want to crack down on. I've made an inventory, and am trying to start menu planning too!

    For grocery shopping, I use a list-as-you-run-out, but I also keep a master grocery list of what I think we *should* have on hand at all times. I talk more about it on my most recent blog, but it's really helped me to cut down on buying extras and duplicates!

    Best of luck with your pantry challenge!


  6. I like the master list idea you posted about on your blog, my problem is I'm never sure where to keep it. Typically I don't like to post things on the front of my refrigerator and I have limited space on the side. I'm thinking about getting some kind of stick-up hangers for inside my pantry door. That way I'll be able to keep a list handy but out of sight.