clEAn and lEAn ~ in the kitchen

Day one – begin at the beginning…

I decided that I should begin at the beginning but like a tangled ball of wool I am not sure where that is exactly.  But a start must be made.

I am already making sure I rise by 8am – perhaps that is late in your book but in mine I love that extra hour of sleep I have now that I am not going to work and it suits me – I feel more refreshed.  I will adjust this back to 7am soon as I think early risers do get more done but for now I am just enjoying some rest.

As soon as I am up I wash and dress so that I don’t  mooch around in my dressing gown (which in my case could turn into an all-day attire if I am not careful).   It is remarkable how quickly you form a routine and I don’t want to get into bad habits that I then have to try and dismantle.

a Monk's Guide to a clean house

It is strange that we had the visit to Mount Grace priory  – I was quite intrigued by the life of the monks especially as I have been reading a tiny book entitled A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto.  He is a Shin-Buddhist monk who talks about the ritual of cleaning and how this helps to have a calmer, happier life creating a refuge from today’s busy world.  The monks have few possessions but what they do have they keep well maintained and clean – everything they have is of value and valued.  The ideas in the book are that your external environment is a reflection of your internal environment – your body and mind.

Sounds good to me so with my cards spread out on the desk I have chosen to first of all declutter and clean my house as I agree with Shoukei that a tidy clean house not only makes for a tidy clean mind but also gives me some sense of order to my life.  It seemed sensible to begin in the kitchen and in particular to start in the food cupboards.

In true Kondo style I removed all the food from the cupboards – tins, packets, jars and storage containers and covered most of the table and the worktops with the contents.  I was quite shocked seeing it all spread out before me on mass like this and it made me wonder how the two of us would ever eat such a mountain of food and why was I going shopping each week for more?

Decluttering the food cupboards

I think the main problem is that some of the packets, jars and tins of food get overlooked as often we might need other ingredients or more time to make something – sound familiar?   I have jars of fruit compote to make crumbles and tins of evaporated milk to make rice pudding yet we don’t really eat puddings I just like the idea of them!

I noticed that with one particular cupboard we tend to use the food at the front and ignore the items at the back – that old 20:80 rule even applies to food it seems.  Recently through lack of time I have made a sketchy menu plan then bought the items to make the dishes rather than making dishes that use up some of the older items.

I also found the remnants of items I have bought for our various visitor’s benefit that we don’t eat and I have been left with the surplus when they have gone home.

The items out of date were the easy ones to dispose of (the guilt not so).  Most of these items were for baking which I have not done for ages and when Little L came and we baked we were limited in what we made by what I could find still in date!

decluttering the cupboardsThen I put red stickers on anything with a use by date in August and September so I can make a menu plan to include these and find suitable recipes.

Finally I refilled the storage containers and grouped together any multiple items.  The visitors foods I will off load onto the visitors!

I couldn’t  decide whether it is a good idea to carry some stock or not.  My keep it simple, lean and minimalist side says just keep exactly what you need and only buy it when you need it therefore reducing storage space and preventing waste when things go out of date.  My thrifty, just in case side, says stock up when there are offers to save money and also in case of emergency like getting snowed in.  Though I must say I can’t ever remember having such an emergency that we have not had enough food.

In the end I decided that I would take the lean approach to keeping a stock of the most used items which is to keep one in hand and when you start to use that one you then replace it.  Some items I use very little of such as honey or flour so I will continue to replace these as I am getting to the end of the one I am using.  For some basic items like instant coffee, butter, jam and cereal I will continue to buy in multiples when on offer as the savings are beneficial and I might keep an emergency kit of baked beans, tinned fruit and other bits during the winter months in case of bad weather.

After a thorough clean and sort I rearranged some of the cupboards (DH will love this as he hates it when I have a move round as he cannot find anything). I am still in the process of switching things about a bit and trying some items in new places as well as using up the red sticker foods.  Once eaten I probably will not be replacing all of these items –  as they are nearly out of date we obviously don’t eat them very often and most of it is ‘puddings’.  The olive oil is the end of a bottle – for some reason we had opened a new one before finishing the old one.

I have designated one cupboard as a ‘stock’ cupboard to take the duplicates – think of it like a mini supermarket – so when we finish something we can check if we have one already before putting it on the shopping list.

So far my cupboards are looking a whole lot leaner and certainly a lot neater  – it is a bit of a work in progress at the moment but when I am satisfied with the outcome I will post some pictures.  I am actually enjoying the process but I really need to change my shopping habits in future to make sure the food we buy is the food we eat.

In conjunction with this exercise I have been going through my recipe folders looking for new recipes to try and at the same time doing a bit of decluttering here – only keeping the ones I know I would make.  The test for this being would I make this for tea tonight? – if the answer is no because it is too long and complicated or requires ingredients we would not normally buy such as buttermilk then it has been removed and put in the recycle bin.

DH thinks it is hilarious that I have spent so much time clipping recipes from magazines then spending more time putting them into a folder only to spend yet more time removing them.  He is right of course so much wasted time when I know I will only make 20% of them.

I am a slow learner!

 

 

10 thoughts on “clEAn and lEAn ~ in the kitchen

  1. Well you had to start somewhere and the kitchen is as good a place as any. I’m actually very good at buying sale items I only buy things on offer that I know we eat on a regular basis e,g curry sauces tend to get bought in bulk when they are reduced as we have curry most Saturdays. On the other hand all buy-one get one free offers on fruit and veg are ignored because we would never eat it all before it went mouldy. As for the dressing gown scenario I have to confess unless I have a reason to get dressed i.e. go to the gym (straight out of bed) or shopping I tend to only get showered etc after I have finished the day’s paid work which is usually around 10 a.m. It works for me but if I get stuck at the computer it can be as late as midday but I’m still doing things so it doesn’t bother me.

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    1. Good to know I am not the only dresing gown queen! I actually love my dressing gown but am making the effort at the moment to get dressed so it doesn’t become an all day outfit now I am at home. I think I am going to invest in some of the lounge wear – a cosy velour top perhaps and some leggings – comfortable but looks more like I am dressed.

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  2. Another one who will admit to staying in a dressing gown in the morning on some of the days when I’m not going anywhere. Way too comfortable. And I won’t apologize! 🙂 Spent too many years getting up and out the door for work by 4:15 am for the long commute. Decided I have earned the right to lounge in the morning.

    I should probably follow your example in the kitchen cupboards, though I must say I have less than half the usual amount of goods in the cupboard these days. Have changed my eating habits and therefore, not likely to purchase some of the things I might have in the past. Most frustrating thing is buying fresh veg or fruit and not using it up before it spoils (which is very quickly, it seems). Spring mix lettuce being the worst of the culprits. I try shopping just once a week (+10 mile trip), but if I buy enough to get me through daily salads, the lettuce is usually starting to spoil after just 4 or so days. V. frustrating. But I do like your red tag idea for those items close to expiration. Guessing you will be eating a fair amount of apricot compote in the next couple of weeks.

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    1. You are right on the compote – we will be having compote in crumble, compote with ice cream and compote with yoghurt for breakfast I think. It is a shame that we also have a glut of cooking apples as well as the tree in Scotland was overladen this year!
      I need to look again at what I buy – I like the compote but hardly ever make a pudding and generally make a mix of fresh fruit to have with yoghurt for my breakfast. I can only buy it in Waitrose and we only go every 4 months or so – I have obviously picked one up on each recent visit! So this might be one item for the chop – after we eat our way through 3 big jars we probably won’t want to eat it ever again!!
      Perhaps the shops should introduce a range of all day dressing gowns suitable for going out in too!

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  3. I love your idea of red stickers for food needing eating though I must admit I’m not rigid about use by dates. I don’t go as far as one friend though. She has been known to wash the green slime off bacon before cooking it!
    I bet you’ll feel pleased every time you walk into the kitchen for ages. It’s true, tidying, rearranging and getting rid of unwanted things removes a great weight from one’s shoulders.
    I always feel I’ve spring cleaned my mind at the same time.
    I love Mount Grace Priory. The peace there is difficult to explain isn’t it? Sometimes I think it would be good to live so simplistically until I remember the winter months!
    Sue

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    1. Hi Sue – not sure which Sue you are though! I was quite taken with Mount Grace – the monestary more than the house – the house seemed a bit cold to me for an Arts and Crafts place. There is still so much to do in the kitchen but it is already feeling better – maybe I should have started with an easier room if one exists!

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  4. I love your idea of red stickers for food needing eating though I must admit I’m not rigid about use by dates. I don’t go as far as one friend though. She has been known to wash the green slime off bacon before cooking it!
    I bet you’ll feel pleased every time you walk into the kitchen for ages. It’s true, tidying, rearranging and getting rid of unwanted things removes a great weight from one’s shoulders.
    I always feel I’ve spring cleaned my mind at the same time.
    I love Mount Grace Priory. The peace there is difficult to explain isn’t it? Sometimes I think it would be good to live so simplistically until I remember the winter months!
    Sue

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