We’re “starting fresh” this January, completing 22 mini-challenges in 22 days for a cleaner, fresher and healthier kitchen and grocery budget. Just joining us? Read about the what’s and why’s on the mini-challenges, as well as the previous days tasks, and jump right on in!
According to Forbes magazine, the number one resolution that people make and don’t keep is going on a diet. Their solution to this? Making small changes to your eating habits that carry a big impact.
And to think that you’ve already two small and two large changes that are propelling you towards eating healthier and the year is only one week old! Go ahead and pat yourselves on the back – you’ve done a great job!
Yesterday’s trans fat sweep is a pretty big one to take on. It’s ok if you’re still working on this one. There was some emotional attachment to some of those things I tossed in my first kitchen raid, and even in the second one too. Remind yourself that nothing tastes so good that it’s worth risking your health for.
I’m not sure if enough coffee was consumed when I started assigning our challenges to specific days, but cleaning out the freezer AFTER we meal plan just doesn’t make much sense, especially since we need to go through the freezer in order TO meal plan… so I’m vetoing the original line-up and swapping a couple things around. Have no fear if you’ve been a busy bee and worked ahead – you’ll just have a day off when we get to what you’ve already done!
Day 5 – Clean Out the Freezer
Since you’ve already cleaned out the fridge, doing the same to the freezer should be a piece of cake.
Start by taking everything out of the freezer and wiping down all the shelving inside the main area and the doors.
Carefully look at everything before you put it back. The same rules as the fridge apply here too. Throw away anything that is a) expired, b) something you know you won’ eat, and c) spoiled/rotten. The chances of frozen food being spoiled or rotten is slim, but you may run into freezer burn.
Did you know that it’s safe to eat freezer burned food? True, but it may not taste so great. I’ll leave it up to you whether you keep it or toss it.
There’s also one more requirement before you start restocking your freezer shelves – everything must be labeled. Even if you know what it is today, and you’re pretty sure you’ll know what it still is later – label it. Because we all sleep, and we tend to forget things when we sleep, right?
(Or is that just me?)
As you’re putting things back (nice and neat), organize the food so that it’s easy to retrieve later. Like grouping meats together in one area and frozen vegetables together in another area. Here’s a few more tips to help get your freezer under control and working for you:
- Use storage containers to stay organized. This has been a TREMENDOUS help for me. For example, I have a plastic shoe box-sized container on top of a shelf that used to hold our many packages of pepperoni. Since we don’t eat nearly as much pepperoni nowadays, it now holds the smaller, pre-measured items for meals like beans for soup and shredded chicken for tacos. It makes it MUCH easier to grab a single baggie for dinner instead of rooting through all sorts of larger, frozen items in the hunt for one cup of garbanzo beans.
- Sort, measure, cut and package up items BEFORE you put them away. Think about a big cut of steak that you found marked down and intend to use for two meals. Instead of tossing the whole thing in the freezer when you get home, take the time to cut it in half and package each separately. You’ll maintain the quality of the meat (by not thawing and re-freezing the unused portion) and won’t put yourself in a bind when you realize you have a chunk of beef in your fridge that must be used within a few days or it’ll spoil.
- Store individual meal components together. Right now there are two packages of black beans and one package of garbanzo beans in my freezer. One of each will be used for tortillas soup. Since the beans will each be used together in a recipe, it makes sense to store them together in the freezer. When I clean out my freezer later today, I’ll take the two bags, put them in another (probably along with the corn) and store them together in a larger bag. Then when I want to make tortilla soup, I simply grab the one large bag. Hunting for beans will not be required and the chances of losing food in the cracks of the freezer over time are reduced!
Day 4 Update
There isn’t much of an update for day 4. All the trans fat I could find in my kitchen was tossed just a few weeks ago. I do however plan on another sweep in a month or two. Despite my attempts to read labels before buying food, I’m often distracted when my daughter starts biting a potato… through the bag, on the shelf. Or when my son uses a roll of wrapping paper as a sword and nearly knocks over every single item on the shelf… which happened yesterday, incidentally.