Project: Simplify ’11: Hot Spot #4 revealed

Time for hot spot number four in Project: Simplify! We’ve worked through our master bedroom closets, our paper piles, and our kids’ toys and clothes. Two more to go.

I think you’ll like this week’s because many of you have requested it for this series. Even if you don’t like it, I know you’ll like the final one.

This week’s hot spot involves some basic decluttering and cleaning, but it also challenges you to think a bit deeper and to evaluate some of your life’s values. You could almost say this is both a decluttering of our physical space and of our daily habits.

Have a guess at what it is?

Hot Spot #4

This week’s hot spot: our pantry and refrigerator.

Yep, we’re going to clean out our pantries from expired spices and stale snacks, and reshelve them in a way that works for us. We’re also going to toss the science experiments from the fridge and clean out the grime.

But I hope it’ll be more than that. I hope, as we clean, we’ll ask ourselves, “Why do we want this in here?” every time we restock the shelves.

Here are the tools you’ll need this week:

• Trash can, compost bin, or both
• Pen and labels (or paper and tape, to make the labels)
• Warm, soapy water
• Baking soda
• Jars and other containers (repurposed, if possible)

Here’s the basic plan for decluttering the fridge and pantry:

1. Empty out the pantry. If it saves your sanity, start with one shelf at a time and do the entire process there before moving on to the next shelf.

2. Handle each item. Toss the expired items in the trash can or compost bin (head here to learn what can be composted). Also get rid of any items you think you simply won’t eat anymore.

3. Clean the pantry. I like using my simple all-purpose cleaner found in Appendix A of my book.

4. Corral ingredients and staples in a more visible container. Nuts, dried beans, grains bought in bulk, and most baking staples work wonderfully in large glass jars.

5. Restock the pantry in a way that makes sense of your space and the way you cook.

6. Repeat with the fridge, taking care to scrub the stinky parts with soapy water. Add an open box of baking soda inside, which helps neutralize odors.

7. If you have time, work on your cabinets, drawers, gadget storage, and other parts of your kitchen.

Head here to download and print the supply list and steps (written above), so that you can tack it somewhere where you can easily see it.

A few tips…

Become aware.

Ignorance truly isn’t bliss when it comes to the stuff we’re putting in our bodies. I believe our bodies were created by a Maker, and this same Maker also supplied the things it needs to keep it usually healthy and running well.

A lot of the things we put in our bodies ultimately were not made by God — they were made by factories and scientists.

Learn more about what your body craves. You don’t have to be a nutritional guru or a certifiable health nut to feed your family well.

Some great websites to start with:

More helpful media:

Organize your pantry so that you can make more wholesome choices.

Put your ingredients — spices, grains, beans, and the like — at eye level, where you can easily use them. Stock snack items up high, making it more of a conscience decision to grab them. It’s also more difficult for your kids to see stuff there.

Repurpose jars.

I’m a huge fan of glass jars and other see-through containers for food storage. There’s no need to buy new containers — when your pickles and salsa run out, wash out the jars and use those.

Not only will things be more stackable and stand up straighter, they’ll look prettier. I’m a fan of a pretty-looking pantry.

Label well.

I mention in my book that my mother-in-law is known for not labeling her jars, so it’s often hard to tell what’s baking soda and what’s baking powder (she knows, of course). Do yourself a favor, and label your items well, especially those in repurposed jars.

“If in doubt, throw it out.”

This is my mantra when I clean out the fridge. If I think the olives might have seen better days, or I’m leaning towards that sour cream having been in there too long, then I just toss it. No need to risk it.

When we lived overseas, food didn’t have preservatives in it, so I felt like I was constantly throwing food out. As an American, the leftovers I was used to keeping for a week would be a goner in two days.

Purge often.

For this reason, I prefer to clean out the fridge regularly. It makes it so much easier to clean when it’s not that bad. And when you handle your food regularly, there’s a higher chance it’ll be eaten. How often have you found a food item gone fuzzy only because you completely forgot it was in there? Me too.

Change a few things at a time.

Photo by Caroline Stokes

I first read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in 2009. At that point, we were eating mostly whole foods, but I didn’t really understand much about organic versus conventional farming methods, or about the value of eating seasonally.

After that book, we decided to eat as seasonally as possible and to buy organic (not necessarily “certified organic,” since many organic farmers can’t afford the certification). It felt like quite a big change.

Two years later, and I’m reading the book once more with my local book club. And I’m reminded that the things that were so new to me back then are common sense to me now. It’s a no brainer to me now to wait until late spring to eat strawberries, or to not mess with zucchini until the summer.

My point is that if eating whole foods in season is new to you, don’t feel overwhelmed. Pick just two or three changes to make right now. Make them a habit, learn to enjoy them, and then focus on a few more things.

For my family this year, we’re focused more on eating meatless, because we really only want to eat grass-fed/grass-finished beef and pasture-raised chicken as much as possible. It’s not very affordable, so we’d rather do without than support the conventional meat industry.

That’s just us. Learn what you can, and make choices, a little at a time. One well thought-out choice is so much better than putting the blinders on.

Finish by Friday

Do your best to finish by this Friday. Post your before-and-after photos either on the blog or on the Simple Living Flickr pool, and then come to Simple Mom to link up (I’ll provide a spot on that day’s post). Spend the weekend resting, relishing in your work, and oohing and ahhing over everyone’s accomplishments as you browse the links.

This week’s giveaway

Everyone who participates in this week’s hot spot — and then links to the before-and-after photos on her blog or the Flickr pool — is automatically entered to win this week’s giveaway! As I mentioned earlier, all the prizes are tools to help further simplify your life, not more “stuff.”

eBooks galore!

Photo by Natalie Maynor

I love the topic of eating well, and there are so many fabulous bloggers out there who write about this very thing. Many of them even have amazing ebooks — tools to help you toss out the junk and feed your family well. One participant will receive all of these ebooks:

1. Gluten-Free and Good for You!, by Laura Coppinger

This ebook is filled with all kinds of gluten-free tips and information to help you to either eat gluten free, or to be able to serve gluten free meals and snacks to family members and friends who have gluten free needs.

2. GNOWFGLINS Fundamentals

Wonder how to get the most nutrition from the real foods you already eat? Confused by the zillions of websites, pages of information, and oodles of recipes? The is the companion eBook to our popular and life-changing Fundamentals class of GNOWFGLINS eCourse. In 14 lessons, it will help you make your kitchen healthy, one task at a time, one week at a time.

3. Have Your Cookie… and Eat it Too!, by Laura Coppinger

Love a sweet treat every now and then? Trying to avoid white flour and processed sugars? This e-book features 20 delicious treat recipes that use only whole wheat flour and unprocessed sugars such as honey, maple syrup or rapadura (dehydrated cane sugar juice).

4. Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time, by Stephanie Langford

This ebook is a 76-page compilation of practical, relevant and varied “baby steps”, designed to take you on a one-year journey. One of the major premises behind the way that Stephanie has written it is to keep it from being overwhelming. The intent is to focus instead on the little victories in each positive step we take forward, one step at a time.

5. Healthy Snacks To Go, by Katie Kimball

When you’re trying to avoid processed food, coming up with something quick can be a challenge. Healthy Snacks To Go features diaper-bag friendly snacks that are toddler-approved and will help your household be prepared for the classic call of, “Mom, I’m huuuuungry!”

6. Herbal Nurturing: A Family Healing & Learning Guide, by Michele Augur

As a “friend along the journey,” this 44-page book walks you through preparing basic herbal remedies for you and your family, from childbirth to arthritis, and everything in between! Naturally prepare for cold/flu season, PMS, headaches, sunburns, postpartum, tummy aches, rashes, and more with over 30 recipes, additional homeopathic suggestions, and healthy-living tips.

7. In the Kitchen: Real Food Basics, by Kate Tietje

Are you new to real food? Looking for familiar recipes? Or maybe you’re not as new, but you still need healthy, familiar recipes to cook for family or friends who are still rather skeptical. Or, are you looking for a way to learn about why real food for yourself or others? This book is the answer. It will show you how to cook real, recognizable foods in your own kitchen. Foods that everyone loves, like pizza, ice cream, and French fries, that have been made over with healthy ingredients!

8. Kitchen Stewardship in the Big Woods: A Family Camping Handbook with Real Food Options, by Katie Kimball

This ebook gives an overview of how to get started camping, what to bring, the proper campin’ attitude, and of course, real food adaptations to standard camping fare. No need to compromise with hot dogs and white buns just because you’re out in the woods with a campfire!

9. Real Food on a Real Budget: How to Eat Healthy for Less, by Stephanie Langford

This ebook is written as a primer for families who want to learn how to save an average of 20-30% on their food budget ($100-$200 per month for most families), while at the same time serving better quality and more nutritionally dense foods. Based on six years of hands-on experience and hundreds of hours of research, Real Food on a Real Budget is packed with practical tips and suggestions to help you become a better a steward of both your finances and your health.

10. Simple Food {for winter}, by Shannon of Nourishing Days

Use the harvest to provide nutrient-dense, delicious, and easy-to-prepare meals all winter long. Simple Food {for winter} is the first of what Shannon plans to be four seasonal cookbooks that emphasize real food and sustainable living. This 58 page book contains 30 recipes, 10 full-color photos, and three essays. The spring ebook is on its way soon!

11. The Everything Beans Book, by Katie Kimball

Is your grocery budget struggling? Do you wish you could improve your family’s nutrition without breaking the bank? Have you always wanted to use dry beans, but you’re afraid of the complexity of cooking them or just don’t have any good recipes? Beyond recipes, The Everything Beans Book also offers over 20 pages of information to facilitate your new love of beans and make sure you can cook with dry beans without any stress.

12. Think Breakfast… Outside the Box, by Laura Coppinger

If you’re looking for great recipes, helpful ideas, and new ways to prepare a healthy breakfast for your family, this ebook is just what you need. Learn why it is important to think outside the box for breakfast (outside the poptart and cereal box, that is!). Read helpful tips for preparing healthy meals to begin your day, and learn how to prepare these foods in advance for quick, convenient breakfasts. The recipes in this ebook use only whole wheat flour, natural sugars and other wholesome ingredients.

This should get you started on some light reading, eh? I honestly wish I could win this hot spot!

Ready… Set… Go!

Alright, are you excited? I am. Use this week’s hot spot as an impetus to get your family on a journey towards eating whole, local, real foods.

I can’t wait to see all your photos this Friday.

How do you think kitchen organization ties in with eating habits?

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Thank the Lord that I get a break from this one! Courtesy of the military, we moved recently and could bring NO FOOD OR SPICES with us at all. It’s hard to have to buy everything from scratch, but at least it’s all new and decluttered from the beginning! HEHE!

  2. YAY! I have a huge fridge fetish! I can’t wait to see everyone’s pictures!!

  3. I do this as often as I can so it will not be a huge task but I know it is needed. The fridge needs cleaned and the pantry has gotten out of order again. It is easy for us to feel better about cleaning out because my daughter’s school has a regular collection box for a local food pantry. I can drop off goods when I pick her up from school.

  4. Kitchen organization absolutely makes a difference in how I feed my family – if it is a good place to be, where things are easy to find and use, I am much more likely to make healthier choices for meals and snacks!

  5. Okay, I really think I can do this one! My cupboards are not that bad, and my fridge needs clearing if I’m going to fit anything else in it ever. And, I would really like to win that prize! I actually just started researching resources for whole foods eating guides.

  6. First of all, is there a link on compost missing from above? I am interested to learn more on that subject.

    I kept guessing this week would be something to do with the kitchen/food. Your choice of hotspot is inspiring – it is not the space that we should worry about, it is the stuff that we need to re-think. A cleared counter top is nice, but if I don’t get the right idea of what to buy and what not, it is still junk that I am organizing…

    • Thanks for noticing the missing link! It’s fixed now.

      And yes! You said it well — a cleared countertop is nice, but it won’t last long, and it’s not helpful inwardly if we’re not intentional about how and what we cook.

  7. Thanks for the challenges, you certainly have gotten me moving!!! About the only thing in our freezer is ice, and lots of it… we literally have a the iceberg that could save SubSaharan Africa from a drought… and I guess I will be tackling that this week… I have a day or two to raise my enthusiasm…!!!

  8. Ohhh, this is going to be a great one. Our new kitchen is scheduled to be installed on April 18 which means the old one is coming out beginning April 4. The cleaner and more organized my cupboards and refrigerator are the better! Really though, you don’t want to see my spices! How much cumin can one family own — even if they are regular bean eaters.


  9. Ohh I am so excited! I am on spring break this week and am looking forward to actually being able to do your challenge right along with you!

    This January I completely cleaned out our pantry and freezers and blogged about it here.

    I was amazed and embarrased to find the ingredients for 48 quality dinners and 28 quick meals on hand.

    This week I am going to update the meals list I made in January and go through the rest of my kitchen drawers and cabnets.

    Thanks for the challenge! it is so motivating to have a group to clean with!

    Warrior MAMA Lisa

  10. I’m excited about this one too. I’ve been wanting to pretty up the pantry for a while. Love your idea of using glass jars to corral beans, nuts, etc. Thanks!!

  11. ~Tsh this is great because we just redid our kitchen so their is absolutely no clutter or messy cupboards in there,you can see on my blog:0) honest miss:0)
    ~The reason that I am so happy is that I have had a very challenging couple of weeks emotionally that has set me back on this project that I so wanted to be fully involved in.
    ~I know life/god throws things our way and only what we can handle,It’s just that I was teteering with his last challenge.A week long visit with a very absent father,I hadn’t seen him for eight years,it was very challenging emotionally and physically~BUT~ he left yesterday,bittersweet,and now I can get back on track and seeing as I have this base covered I should be all caught up by next monday:0)

    ~Thank you so much for your inspiration,it was truely a gift to stumble across your book xxx

  12. I’m excited for this one as well. An organized kitchen helps make cooking (from scratch) easier and faster. Let’s face it, in a culture where fast and efficient are praised, it can sometimes be difficult (at least for me) to cook up a whole meal from scratch. I’m looking forward to this purge!

  13. I am so excited it’s the kitchen! I’m on maternity leave and spending so much time at home I have realized that I need to give my pantry shelves some TLC. I am already looking forward to moving my baking soda into a glass jar, much prettier than the plastic bag and elastic I currently keep over it. 🙂

  14. I’m so excited about this give away! I will definitely be coming back to this page for my birthday wish list : )

  15. Yay! I’ve been hoping to clean out my refrigerator for a loooong time. It’s just plain yucky in there. I always love it when it’s cleaned out, but for some reason I hardly ever do it! I think doing it once a week would be great. I know it will save me money by not wasting food, too! I just have to make myself do it!

  16. Not sure if I’ll get to this one or not. We’ve been a sick pit here, including me. But I will check out all those links as I try to become more natural & green.

  17. Oooh I was right! I already took before pictures and labelled a bunch of containers in my cupboard. Now to tackle the fridge….ugh…..I think I might need to do the freezer too!

  18. I like this one…I’m learning all I can to wage an all-out war on the foods in our kitchen. I’ve been slowly steering the family towards eating better, but not everyone is on board. Getting the junk cleared out just might help!

    One question: I have 5 half-used canisters of cornstarch (leftovers from a science lab at my son’s school). I use cornstarch sometimes, but not very often. How long will cornstarch last? And what can I use it for other than thickening soups?

  19. Great Timing.
    Yesterday I printed out a pantry inventory list to go through my cupboard ready for the beginning of month stock-up shop. I spent way too much on groceries last month, so this month I will be using up all the excess things in our cupboards and stretching meals to save a bit – some real planning needed and this will give me a great picture of what we have – and what we do and don’t really use!

  20. You mentioned some of Michael Pollan’s other books, but Food Rules is a great book to help people make those changes in their diets and buying habits. Pick one or two rules and start with those. When you feel like you have made them a part of your daily life move on and incorporate another one or two.

  21. AGH! I knew it! As I stood in my pantry this morning – unable to find something, the thought hit me. The next spot is going to be the pantry. I am one who hates it, but will love the results. Thank you!


  22. I actually started on this yesterday! And I cleaned out my freezer a week or so ago. I like having my beans, sugar, salt, etc. in glass jars. 🙂 I am going to do even more actually in just a few minutes here!

  23. Yea! Yea! Yea! This has been on my week to tackle, and with some birthday money and motivation from my MIL, I conqured this hot spot last week. Even remembered to take pictures “just in case” it turned up on your list. My husband even joined in and tackled rearranging and purging our dish cabinet. Commemorative pint glasses our college days certainly found a new home!

    My main motivation to organizing was to get our foods regrouped in how we actually eat. Our snacks were all over the pantry, and my 3 year old was constantly scaling dangerous objects to reach what he wanted. Now, all “kid friendly” foods are on the bottom two shelves and my son is THRILLED that he can gather up all the supplies for his breakfast cereal.

  24. I did a pantry makeover last fall:

    It started off REALLY bad and I got it under much better control. Months later, I now need to brush it up as the kids (oh, okay, and my husband) haven’t always honored my systems or labels. On the whole, though, it’s been a LOT easier to cook healthy, whole meals when I know exactly where everything is and can grab it at a moment’s notice. Grocery shopping is easier too, because even if I forget to add something to my shopping list when I run out, it’s easy to tell what’s missing with a quick glance. I also learned that I don’t need nearly as many pots, pans, storage containers and the like as I had been trying to stuff in there.

    I can’t believe it took me as long as it did to get my pantry in shape–but when I finally did it was a really satisfying project and it’s made my life easier ever since.

    Next: my fridge. Does it ever need it! Thanks for the inspiration.

  25. Ok, not excited, but I started! And found FOUR jars of mayo – two open in fridge, two in pantry. Hmm, a fear of being without it? I’ll admit I’m not going the whole way and taking everything out of the pantry shelves – especially the bottom ones – because my 36 week tummy just won’t take. But SOME is way better than NONE. 🙂 Maybe when I look more into the fridge I’ll find something unexpected, and good, for lunch!

  26. Hi! With a number of “cooks” in the house the pantry and fridge tend to end up in frequent disarray. Loving the excuse to get them back in shape.
    Also, on the topic of healthy beef. As beef producers of natural, chemical-free, steroid-free, beef, I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for connecting with consumers who desire healthy beef. In our area at present there really aren’t any known outlets other than the traditional market leaving us with the traditional beef market as our only affordable option.
    Not only is our beef healthier, it tastes better too. I, personally, have always felt it a shame that our beef be mixed in with that which is unhealthy when so many people would enjoy the flavor and healthy option.
    We too have been adopting a whole, living foods way of fueling our bodies. We haven’t arrived completely but are much farther along than we once were. Thank you for sharing about this subject. It is definitely needed info. for today’s homemakers.

  27. OK, this is a much needed challenge for me. My fridge desperately needs some clearing out. I’m pretty good about clearing out the leftovers, but its been a while since I tackled the rest. Maybe I would be at less of a loss for meal planning if I get my fridge more organized.

  28. Just a reminder that any perishable food you decide not to keep that is not expired can be donated to your local food pantry. Please don’t throw it away.

  29. I get t sit this one out too. My cabinets are always decluttered. I can’t shop if I don’t know what I have. So I keep the cabinets clean.

  30. Thanks for the shout-out to! I also agree with Stacy that Food Rules is a wonderful book.

    For those trying to identify food allergies, Stephanie Langford recommend “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” — a book I devoured!

    Also, a good more prose-like one I recently finished was “Growing a Farmer”.

    Gluten-Free Girl is also another great blog and book resource!

  31. This past weekend my husband and I were discussing our food situation and reorganizing how we handle food in our home. A year and a half ago we found out he had Celiac’s Disease so our grocery bill doubled as a result of having to cook from scratch and purchase expensive alternatives. We find ourselves spending a fortune on food and throwing it out because it goes bad so quickly. We’re trying new approaches to our food habits and hope to save money and time while we continue to improve the quality of foods we eat.

  32. Yea!! The kids are out of town with Grandma and Grandpa this week, so maybe I can play catch up on Hot Spot #3 and tackle #4. I’m arming myself right now.

  33. I have been putting off tackling my pantry for a while. I did it back in Aug/Sep. but it is out of control again!
    I’m really struggling with trying to be frugal and trying to eat “wholely”– for a while I was doing very well with shopping only for organic/natural products and avoiding pre-packaged meals (thanks in LARGE part to nursing a baby who was allergic to soy & dairy), but when we started trying to tighten up our budget, it was tough to balance. I feel strongly about eating organically and minimizing our impact on the planet, but I also feel strongly about trying to pay off our debt and live frugally. I’m having a hard time reconcilling the two!

    • Christine says:

      Me too! I’ve been trying to balance it with eating as many whole fruits and vegetables as possible and using the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 list to prioritize what I spend extra money on to get organic and what isn’t so bad when conventionally grown. Haven’t ventured into organic meat yet. Not convinced hormones & antibiotics in the little meat we eat are as significant as pesticides on produce. Also often wonder if conventional produce, pesticides and all, is still healthier than processed food choices. I have a lot of trouble feeling like non-organic produce is dirty though, even if it’s on the Clean 15 list.

  34. I am looking forward to this one:-)

  35. Pamela Koop says:

    Excited about these:)

  36. I thought I posted, but I guess the internet ate it!

    I LOVE this hot spot, because I’ve been putting it off for a while. I got everything spic & span and organized back in Aug/Sep. and then it all went astray again. Now my pantry/cupboards are crammed full!
    An issue I currently struggle with is reconcilling a need to be frugal with a desire to eat more “wholely.” We were doing well on the organic/natural/not pre-packaged foods for a while (nursing a child who is allergic to dairy & soy makes you have to eat a fairly raw diet), but of late our budget is making it tough to do. I really have a hard time balancing my need to be frugal & to become debt free with my desire to have less impact on the planet. It is a tough thing for me, as the less planet friendly stuff is generally “cheaper” in terms of the wallet, but more expensive in terms of the planet.

  37. WOW- I needed this today!

    One of my favorite blogs about everything is look in the archives for do-able, uplifting advice!

  38. Oh, I soooo need this challenge right now! A couple other resources that I love:

    Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck (much less overwhelming than Nourishing Traditions as an introduction)
    Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice

    Nourished Kitchen (
    Cheeseslave (
    …and my own! 🙂 (

    • Yes! I completely forgot about Nina Planck’s book, but it’s one of my favorites as well. Thanks for the reminder.

  39. I can’t wait to tackle this. We have cupboards that are so deep things get lost…

  40. “we’d rather do without than support the conventional meat industry.”

    Yes yes YES!!! Thank you for writing that.

  41. I like this one! This should not be too bad since I have now been unemployed for nearly a month and have been trying to look through and get creative with those things.
    FYI: In your plan above (#2) there isn’t a link for which pantry items are compost-able.

  42. Oh I can’t wait to do this… I was just thinking it was time to sit down and clean out the fridge and freezer really good and go through my pantry because I have no idea what’s in either anymore. And I suppose I should really clean out and defrost the chest freezer while I’m at it. And while I do that, I think I’m going to do the fridge/freezer/pantry inventory you were talking about in your book… maybe I’ll finally be able to start menu planning more effectively after this week.

  43. Love it! My roommate and I are looking for a good knife block or magnetic strip thing to store our knives. Any suggestions for storage?

  44. I think your suggestions are very helpful. I would very much like to increase my knowledge about and motivation to use only whole foods in my kitchen so the ebooks would be a real boon.

  45. My kitchen is my husband’s realm and he does a remarkable job of keeping our pantry and fridge clean and organized. But there are some specific goals related to this hot spot of which it’s time to act. (i.e. joining a CSA or similar food co-op).

  46. I’ve been so inspired by these weekly challenges! I’ve been working on them throughout the week, and then get more great ideas from seeing the before/after pics others have posted. My husband has even gotten involved helping, which has been wonderful. We had a bet as to what this weeks’ “hotspot” was going to be – and I won! Gonna prepare an easy dinner tonight, so we have time to begin the pantry tonight.

  47. Oh I can’t wait to see everyone’s pictures. I don’t have one pantry I have 4. Mainly because my kitchen doesn’t have a pantry closet and it’s a small kitchen in terms of storage so I have to make do. The only thing I still haven’t figured out how to store well is spices due to the fact I buy them in bulk. I have been trying different things for 5 years! Any suggestions? 🙂 Now my fridge could use a good cleaning after the milk spilled the other day. Looking forward to working on this challenge.

    • Christine says:

      I need some ideas for organizing spices too. Mine are a mix of jars and small ziplocks. Need some ideas for how to organize their storage and keep track of dates. I’d just write the date on there, but want to be able to refill and redate as I replenish. Maybe I need to use stick on labels that I can pull off and replace with the new dates? Does anyone have an organizing system for storing the small zip lock bags? Or do you put bulk spices in bottles when you get home? Help!!!

  48. My comments keep getting swallowed by the ether!

    I’m super excited about this hot spot, because I’ve been meaning to get to it for a while. I got our pantry/cupboards all ship-shape back in Aug/Sep. but they’ve fallen back to their old slovenly ways!
    I’m definitely struggling with reconcilling my need to live frugally with my desire to eat more organically/naturally. We were doing pretty well at eating raw foods and buying organic when I was nursing my son, because he was allergic to dairy & soy, so we really couldn’t use a lot of pre-packaged items; however, this blew our grocery budget out of proportion. Now that my son has outgrown his allergy and I’m trying to reign in our budget, I’m finding it hard to buy the good stuff because it is so expensive.
    I need to be debt free, but I want to be a good steward of the planet at the same time. I’m really struggling with this problem!

  49. I’m so glad my husband regularly purges our fridge! The pantry could use a quick glance, but since it’s really just mostly baking supplies, rice, pasta, and a handful of recently purchased canned goods, I think I might be golden this week (again). Which is good, since my paper clutter is still receiving a major organizational overhaul.

    You know, the freezer might need a little attention though, come to think of it.

  50. My comments keep getting swallowed by the ether!
    I’m super excited about this hot spot, because I’ve been meaning to get to it for a while. I got our pantry/cupboards all ship-shape back in Aug/Sep. but they’ve fallen back to their old slovenly ways!
    I’m definitely struggling with reconcilling my need to live frugally with my desire to eat more organically/naturally. We were doing pretty well at eating raw foods and buying organic when I was nursing my son, because he was allergic to dairy & soy, so we really couldn’t use a lot of pre-packaged items; however, this blew our grocery budget out of proportion. Now that my son has outgrown his allergy and I’m trying to reign in our budget, I’m finding it hard to buy the good stuff because it is so expensive.
    I need to be debt free, but I want to be a good steward of the planet at the same time. I’m really struggling with this problem!

  51. Just joining you in the middle of your series. I am in great need of someone to tell me where to start around here, so I’ll jump right in. Thanks!

  52. About a week ago I had made a list, on the weekend, of things that I wanted to get done. One of then was clean out the fridge. I was upstairs taking a nap on Sunday and when I came down my husband was in the middle of cleaning it out for me! Shelves pulled out and washed with soapy water and old food thrown out! My fridge is sparkling now and it is a wonderful feeling! And the best part is I didn’t have to do it! Yeah for my husband being spontaneously helpful!! 🙂

  53. I started doing this last January, and have done it twice now. I go through our pantry, refrigerator and freezer to “clear out” what wasn’t used by adding them into our weekly menus (thanks to Org. Junkie!) at the beginning of the month. I’ve become so much better at not purchasing extra food stuffs, and my pantry has been much more manageable!

  54. I’ve really enjoyed this series of posts. You’ve given me some great ideas and have really motivated me. I plan on cleaning out our fridge today and the freezer tomorrow. 🙂

  55. What a fantastic idea about repurposing glass jars for pantry items … frugal, healthy AND pretty. Thanks for sharing!

  56. Alright… I’m “in” 🙂
    Thanks for the motivation…kitchen-messy-kitchen…here I come!

  57. Good point to make a few changes at a time! We recently cut out processed sugar from our diet. Now it is almost second nature and I am ready to work on another step as we lean into eating healthy. I am going to go check out Real Food on a Real Budget. Thanks for the great resources.

  58. Woohoo! Done! (I must admit I had already started… but still, I’m proud!) The only problem: I never get to planning my week of menus before grocery shopping. AND I never cook on weekdays, so most of the time we don’t eat very healthy. 🙁 Got to work on that!

    • Some people use it to thicken stew or gravy, but since we try not to eat it anymore, here’s a fun thing you can do with it: make’s one site with info…

      • OOPS! Hit ‘Submit’ too fast!LOL!
        Instead of planning ‘this’ week’s menu, and being frustrated at the lack of planning and cooking, try planning next weeks menu. I usually have enough things in my freezer that I bought on sale last week, to make a weeks worth of main courses. I add whatever is fresh an on sale this week for sides. If you don’t cook on weekdays, it sounds like ‘freezer cooking’ could help you a lot! It’s where you cook one day (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) and freeze the meals to reheat later. I find that the crockpot is great for this…a HUGE batch of chili on the weekend, plus a few chickens roasting in the oven, three pounds of taco meat on the stove and in a few hours you can have enough to freeze two dinners of chili, taco meat, and ‘cooked chicken’ for all of those recipes that call for ‘2 cups of cooked chicken’!

  59. I so need this one! It’s been a while since I did this, so this will be great motivation!

  60. I am loving this! I really didn’t think my pantry and other food shelves needed much help, but boy was I wrong. This is one where I REALLY wish I’d taken pictures.

    And I love the idea of repurposing glass jars. I feel like my shelves are MUCH prettier now. Here’s hoping I have time to do the rest of the cabinets. That’s a yard sale in itself!

  61. I did it last week and it was awesome!!! Now I know what we have and I plan in using all of that before buying any more food.
    I want to do my fridge this week. Hope I can get time to do it.
    I got the idea and mainly the courage from you blog!!!
    Thank you!!!!

  62. This was a great project. I would never have thought to use my surplus Mason jars to organize my messy pantry. Thank you Tsh!!

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