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It seems that as soon as the calendar turns December 26, our minds want to fast forward one week and forget that there’s still six days left of the year. We being to think about the previous year… what was good, what wasn’t so good… and we contemplate some changes so that the next year has a little more “rights” and a little less “wrongs.”
No matter what our resolution or change list entails, the first month of a new year is a prime opportunity to implement them and start fresh. For Crumbs followers, that means 22 days to a cleaner, fresher and healthier kitchen and grocery budget.
Each post will have a specific task for you to complete. Call them mini-challenges if you will. Some will take 5 minutes, some will take longer. Some will be easy, some will be more difficult. It all depends where you are in your real food journey, and how much free time you have at home.
But the bottom line is this: I encourage you to not find, but make the time to complete them all. Tidy kitchens and in-lined budgets don’t happen on their own. And if something is truly important to you, you’ll make time to do it.
Besides – I scheduled the longer ones for a Friday so you had a few extra days to complete them.
So instead of surfing Facebook or catching up on the latest tweets (after you’ve “liked” me and “followed” Crumbs, of course ), spend a few minutes on the day’s task. It’s an easy way to feel accomplished and “productive.” Write the task on your to-do list and then check it off – because isn’t checking those boxes fun?
And if you needed even more encouragement, I’ll be in the trenches with you. Each of these steps applies to me as well and I’ll be posting updates with my progress.
Step 1 – Clean Out the Fridge
Sounds simple, right? It is! Spend 10-15 minutes today cleaning out the fridge. At this time of year, who knows what we’re gonna find! Christmas leftovers, New Year’s leftovers, random leftovers in mysterious foil packages… In order to make best use of what we have, we need to know WHAT we have!
Take a look at each and every item – even if you think you know what it is – starting with the fridge door. This means opening leftover containers and even verifying that the bottle of bbq sauce really does hold bbq sauce! Look for the following while you’re sorting through the contents:
- expired foods
- food you know you won’t eat
- spoiled/rotten food
Purge all of the above. Many foods are safe beyond their expiration date, but there’s really no sense in keeping the ones that expired six months ago. I mean, those dates are usually set by the manufacturer pretty far out (for their own protection). If you haven’t eaten that bottle of salad dressing in nine months, you probably aren’t going to. Toss it.
Everyone has food in their kitchen they know they won’t eat. Like the leftover refried beans you made last week for company… except that no one in your own house likes refried beans. Toss them.
We will talk about re-using food and cooking smart later (like not making a lot of something your family may or may not like, lol). For now, we’re focusing on starting fresh and I don’t know about you, but leftover refried beans from two weeks ago doesn’t exactly scream fresh.
Is there a cucumber that’s wilted and molded away in your vegetable drawer? Toss it. Perhaps some condiment that just smells a bit off? Toss that too. There’s always a chance spoiled food will not sit well in even the healthiest digestive system. Skip the risk and get rid of the food. Besides, completing all 22 days will be tough if you’re hugging the porcelain crown with food poisoning.
While I will always encourage you to save your glass jars, do not let the extra time that it takes to empty the contents and wash out the jar deter you. If you simply don’t have those extra minutes, toss the item and move on. The same goes for those who have a plethora of glass jars already.
Once you’ve deemed your fridge door “safe,” wipe down each shelf with warm soapy water. Dry with a towel and re-stock your door.
With the fridge door completed, work through the main area one shelf at a time, starting with the top. Check eat item, decide whether to toss it or keep it, wipe down the shelf and re-stock. Move on to the next shelf and don’t forget to check the fruit and vegetable drawers!
Once you’ve completed the fridge, try to organize it in a way that best suits you. Do you forget about fruits and vegetables that are hidden in a drawer? If so, keep those on a shelf in plain sight so you can use them in your meals. Put milk and cream on the bottom shelf, at the far back (the coldest area of the fridge). Group similar items together (like all the leftovers) and keep them in one location, even if it defies the “rules.” For example, because single zucchini’s and eggplant will slip my mind if they’re in the drawer, I keep those on a shelf. Since I don’t need cheese everyday and it has a longer shelf-life, I store all the types together at one end inside the drawer.
Get to the bottom of the fridge, take out the trash and pat yourself on the back! Congrats! You’ve completed day 1. Check the box and call it done!
Here’s a look ahead and a guide to the rest of the month:
Day 1: Clean Out the Fridge
Day 2: Eat Leftovers
Day 3: Create a Grocery Budget
Day 4: Ditch Hydrogenated Oils
Day 5: Clean Out the Freezer
Day 6: Eat a Simple Meal
Day 7: Make Money
Day 8: Bake Bread
Day 9: Plan Meals for One Week
Day 10: Clean Out the Pantry & Cupboards
Day 11: Create a Signature Company Dish
Day 12: Use Food Twice
Day 13: Budget Check-In
Day 14: Try a New Fat
Day 15: Make Something from Scratch
Day 16: Ditch High Fructose Corn Syrup
Day 17: Create a Back-Up Plan
Day 18: Save Money
Day 19: Make Yogurt
Day 20: Address Medications
Day 21: Go Meatless
Day 22: Don’t Give Up