When we think of clutter, we often think of belongings stuffed in a closet, drawer, or storage room. Perhaps we picture paper stacked on the floor or the counter. Believe it or not, one of the most common places for clutter is the kitchen. Over time, unwanted food items tend to gather in the backs of cabinets, bottoms of drawers, or depths of freezers.
I understand why this happens. Food is an item we feel guilty to “waste.” I remember my mother telling me to clear my plate because the Cambodian boat people were starving. I never understood why my eating would help these poor refugees, but the concept stuck deeply within me. I hate throwing away food… it just feels wrong.
At the same time, periodically clearing out our food supplies is actually a healthy habit. Old food can grow stale, rancid, moldy, or bug-ridden. I once found a glass of old milk on a student’s desk that had been sitting there long enough to gel (kind of impressive that she was able to work at that desk and not be bothered by it!)
Today’s challenge is to remove at least twelve food items you don’t want to eat. Remember to look through the fridge, the freezer, the pantry, the dry goods cabinet, your secret candy stash, and any overflow food storage areas. There may be many reasons why a food would qualify for disposal:
- It is expired or has gone bad.
- You tried it but didn’t like it.
- It has been in the freezer so long that you can’t identify it.
- You’ve accumulated samples or condiments that no one wants (e.g. soy sauce from take-out).
- The person who ate the item is no longer living in your home.
- You bought too much.
- You were gifted treats or snacks that you don’t enjoy.
Whatever the reason, if no one in your home wants to eat it, let it go. If you discover food that is still fresh and unopened, it can be donated to a local food pantry. If you it is stale or inedible, pitch it. If it is a half-eaten container that in theory could still be eaten – but you know it won’t – just throw it away. Holding onto unwanted food just makes it more difficult to store and access the food you want.
Ready to work on an area you use every day? You might be surprised by the results!