It has been a two-year process learning how to eat without processed and packaged foods. Less eating out and more cooking at home. This meant having to reestablish my acquaintance with the elephant in the room, the refrigerator. A beast which gets daily use and abuse. It is rarely given a second thought, so I decided it was about time to ponder over this magical appliance of glass shelves and cold air.
While getting on top of cooking at home, you start paying closer attention to groceries. Pantry items piled up, frozen foods would burn, and vegetables seemed to wilt away in sadness. Over the course of a year, instead of wasting time and money on items for the trash bin, I organized the fridge mindful of expiration dates of all the items coming into the kitchen.
Things like jams, dressings, mayonnaise and miscellaneous condiments were seldom-used. Next step, working with a trainer. This forced me to look deep into the soul food of the refrigerator, and admit what was cram packed on the shelves was no longer a treasure of wondrous options. Opening the fridge became a torment of frustrating catcalls. “I can’t have that.” “This is high in fat.” “Why are there so many empty calories in this world?!”
I decided to use the same approach I use with my clients when cleaning their closets and storage bins. Do you love it? Is it helpful or hurtful? My husband has always loved cottage cheese yet it was something I rarely bought. Now it's a constant in our refrigerator for two reasons, one I know it's healthy, and two I know that it will get eaten. The fridge and freezer contain fresh or frozen fruit, whole unsalted nuts, and fresh meats If I get a hankering for something not in the monthly inventory, then I just go out and get it. Holding onto the “I might use these items one day”, was just cluttering up valuable space in my refrigerator. PS. A fridge with open space has better airflow.
Now that my refrigerator and freezer are under control, I go into the fridge to take inventory and not unnecessary calories. If an item goes unused before it expires then it does not come back in the house for a returning role. Taking inventory allows me to shop faster and only buy what is really being consumed. Of course for larger families this can be more of a challenge if resources don't allow for additional storage of meats and vegetables and other household goods. You would simply need to figure out a schedule to shop for items in a rotating manner. Ask yourself “What makes the most sense for the next four days?”
Why am I confessing this to everyone today? Because 3 months and 20 lb less, I am finally able to release all the unhealthy items from my refrigerator. The jar of half-eaten jelly, gone. Too many carbs. Barbecue sauce that was out of date, no-brainer. In the bin you go. The hot sauce that I love but use only once a year, was a sacrifice, but getting rid of it gave room to fit all our new healthy options.
For me cleaning out and creating an organized refrigerator was initiated because I was cleaning out my body, learning to eat better, training a new way and learning to love myself. It was because my life and circumstances have changed. Therefore, my environment must change. When's the right time for you to reassess the fridge, the closet, the garage? How about today?