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.
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?
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!
Then 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!