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Kitchens can quickly become disorganized and a mess. One of the main reasons our kitchens turn into disarray is all the clutter we keep around– both food and other essentials. These 11 kitchen organization tips will show you how to minimize clutter and reduce food waste in your kitchen.
Food can quickly clutter your fridge and pantry, especially if you have roommates! Even if you aren’t clumsy, you’ve probably found yourself dropping a lot of stuff trying to maneuver through a completely filled fridge or pantry. You *could* take them out to get what you want, but let’s be real– who does that?? And, it’s not just food either. Whether we plan to or not, there’s always something new that pops up and takes space in our kitchen (and the rest of our home!) Instead of letting stuff pile up and either remain unused or eventually go to waste, we must minimize excess clutter and reduce food waste in the kitchen. Here are 11 kitchen organization tips for minimizing excess clutter and reducing food waste:
Buy only what you need.
Everyone knows this, but not everyone does this. You can easily say “buy only what you need,” but if you have no plan in place then it’ll never get done. The easiest way to do this is through meal planning ahead of time. And in the case that you want to take advantage of a sale or mistakenly bought more than you needed, you can choose meals to use what you’ve bought in the upcoming weeks.
Plan a no-spending week to declutter your fridge and pantry.
Grocery shopping is a habit because well… if we don’t, we starve. But sometimes we forget about some of the things we have laying around in our fridge or pantry. Worse, it starts to go bad and expire. Instead, it’s a great time to have a no-spending week. It’s great for your budget, minimizes excess clutter, and reduces food waste in the kitchen.
Eat leftovers for lunch.
Lunch is definitely that meal that no one wants to prepare for. So if you have leftovers for dinner, lunch is the perfect time and meal to eat the rest of it.
If you’re just not liking the idea of leftovers, then it’s time to repurpose it into a new meal. Think of spaghetti. There’s so many ways to have it– chicken parmesan, ground beef, meatballs. Or even this Japchae recipe— Cover it in seaweed, dunk into a mixture of tempura powder and water, deep-fry, and you have a whole other dish.
Theme your meals. You’ll be using up any spices or other pantry ingredients you have bought.
Sometimes when we make something new, it also means we stock our pantry with something new. That doesn’t always mean that we’re buying something we’re going to use on a regular basis. Worse, sometimes we buy something like cheese to only use once and then leave it to go bad. To avoid this from happening, meal planning is your best option. But not simply picking a meal for the day ahead of time, but rather theming your meals.
For example, having Mexican cuisine for one week. Or if that’s too much for you, choosing to eat Mexican cuisine every other day for two weeks. Basically to have some kind of plan that ensures you finish what will go bad in a short time, but also to ensure that you’re not just buying ground cumin for it to sit in your pantry (which eventually does go bad).
Use the same vegetables throughout the week.
We can’t always buy the exact amount of vegetables that we need. For example, I usually use about 1/2 a bunch of spinach for one meal. What should I do with the rest? Toss it out? Wasteful idea. Instead, I can use it in any other dishes I have during the week and make sure they pair well.
Freeze vegetables & fruits that are about to go bad.
For vegetables… blanch them, squeeze as much water out as you can, and then toss it in the freezer.
For fruits… You know what’s great about fruits? You don’t have to blanch them before freezing. And it becomes PERFECT for smoothies or acai/pitaya-kind-of bowls.
And remember: there’s no use in freezing if you’re not going to use it. So if you find yourself not wanting to freeze or use frozen vegetables, please buy fresh sparingly.
Reuse plastic bags, but remind yourself to use reusable grocery bags.
We’ve all been there. We forgot to bring our reusable grocery bag, so we opt to purchase those cheaper plastic bags. That doesn’t mean the world has ended. We just need to reuse them. They’re perfect as trash bags or you can use them at the grocery store again. They’re pretty sturdy.
Be wary of buying in bulk.
Buying in bulk usually means better deals, but that may be at the cost of more clutter or worse not being able to use it up before it expires. At what benefit? Maybe saving one dollar? Look at what you usually buy in bulk. Are you actually using all those items up? Or are they expiring? If it’s the latter, stop bulk buying those items.
Only buy snacks and breakfast items after you’ve used up what you have on hand.
We all like options, but that can mean more clutter and more waste. Every time I brought a friend over to my parents’ house when I was younger, they always said I had food. That was because they saw endless amounts of opened snacks and cereal that were either almost gone or near its expiration date. Yeah, I know, pretty wasteful to leave it sitting there. But it also means more clutter. We all hate cleaning up, so by choosing to finish what you have before you buy more prevents waste and excess clutter.
Re-evaluate your cookware & tools. Do you need everything?
There’s always some advertisement telling us that we need this and that, especially when that kitchen tool will supposedly make our lives easier. I mean sometimes it does. I’d much rather have a garlic crusher instead of taking out my cutting board and knife when garlic is the only thing I need cut. But not every kitchen tool is necessary, and if you find yourself rummaging through your kitchen tool drawer that’s about to overfill, take a moment and see if you actually used any of them in the last year. If not, it’s time to donate it.
Doing your part by decluttering your kitchen and reducing (food) waste not only keeps your kitchen looking clean and organized, but helps the environment. Got any more tips to share? Let me know in the comments!
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