Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Road to Simplicity Starts With Cleaning the Refrigerator

In a quest to declutter and hopefully simplify our home, I wrote a series this past winter called "Tackle That Tough Spot". I decluttered and reorganized our home office, the garage/mudroom/pantry, the foyer closet and the kids' toys. Aside from our constant struggle with wrangling the toys, these areas have remained organized all of these months later.

I have gotten away from my mission, so I have decided to tackle another area of agitation. Every time I walk into my kitchen, this mess was causing me frustration. And the only person to blame for it was me. I attach everything to the refrigerator with a magnet thinking that I won't forget about it if it is on the fridge. But the fridge eventually looks like this and not much gets noticed. A refrigerator adorned with my kids' artwork can be cute at first, but this had gotten out of hand and much of the artwork was from this past school year.

And the inside was packed with too many condiments, old inedible leftovers, and freezer burned Christmas cookies.

One morning this week, I walked past that refrigerator one too many times. It was time to conquer it and take control.

So with my babe napping and my oldest coloring, I started on a project that took up an afternoon. I eventually enlisted my oldest to help clean.

I removed everything.

And I mean everything.

I scrubbed, sorted, organized and tossed. In the refrigerator, I found lots of old condiments, some from 2008, and leftovers from last week that were not too appealing. In the freezer, I found a few bags of bread ends that nobody will eat, some Christmas cookies, muffins from the winter and bags of half eaten, freezer burned, mixed vegetables that all needed to be tossed.

When my 2 year old woke up from her nap, she let me know in a way that only a 2 year old can (read: tantrum) that Elmo and her letter magnets were staying on the door. My 4 year old also wanted to keep a few of her favorite magnets too.

The side of the fridge will remain our family's command central with a calendar, coupons, invitations and other important information.

I sorted through my kids' art work and moved the pieces that I want to keep to a plastic container where I am storing art work. There is a wall in the play area of our basement where the kids can tape as much artwork as they want to display.

There is so much room on the inside now that leftovers won't get lost, although I can't promise that they won't get ignored. And I'm not buying another condiment until I am positive we don't already have one.

It feels so much better to walk by the fridge now. I feel lighter. My kitchen feels lighter. And now I have to keep it this way. And hopefully, we will waste less food from now on too.

Now that I have taken control of the refrigerator, I am going to find another tough spot to tackle in my quest to declutter, reorganize and simplify our home.

Are you on the road to simplicity? Is there an area in your home that needs tackled? What is it? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Clutter always seems to start with the fridge and spread. First, the fridge, then the pantry, then the junk drawer, and so on until you're buried in it! Good for you on taking the first step.

    One thing we've found that works with the fridge is to keep things in the same place, so dressings always get grouped in the same shelf area, milk goes in the same spot, yogurt goes here, fruit goes there, etc. etc. etc. This routine will help you identify when something is getting out of control.

  2. We have been in transition for almost a year. Yesterday we moved our stuff into our new house, which is just over half the square footage of the old house. The old house was too big and much of it empty, but we are definitely feeling like we need to pare down and simplify. So yes we are on a road to simplicity. It definitely feels good to unpack and just pick up an item (that we haven't seen in a while) and say, "I don't need this" or "I don't like this" or "if I needed this info I would google it I wouldn't look it up here". Really looking forward to the journey of simplicity - it is such a good feeling to not be tied to stuff.

  3. First of all let me tell you how much I enjoy your blog! I came across a post you did on meal planning & it was perfect! I have since gone back, to read other posts.

    Recently we had a crazy storm whip through Northern Virginia. It was bad enough were my family was without power for a day & a half.

    ALL of our fridge & freezer food had to be tossed. I HATE wasting food, but in this case I did not have a choice. I scoured the fridge, & freezer. When I went grocery shopping I DID NOT stock up on everything that was pitched, just the stuff I know we use.

    I love that it is so clean & fresh in there now. :)

  4. OK, you have convinced me: I am going to do the same thing. I am going to EMPTY that sucker and start from scratch. I periodically go through the fridge and toss but I really need to do what you did ESPECIALLY in the freezer! I also need to do my CLOTHES!!!!!!!!!! I YI YI, I have way too many clothes! Thanks for the inspiration!!!! XO, Pinky

  5. I love having a clean fridge. I did what you did about 2 years ago and now every 2 weeks I clean out the inside of the fridge and freezer before I go to the grocery store. It feels good knowing what I have on hand and that what is in there gets used.

    My family is going out of town for 4 days this weekend and I'll be home on my own. I've got a couple of closets that are on my list + my pantry cabinet. It feels good to purge!

  6. My husband put 2 lazy susans in our refrigerator. Before they were there the back corners of the refrigerator we where things got lost. Now when I really want to know if we are out of pickles I just give the lazy susan a spin!

  7. Seriously! A clean fridge can do wonders - It's amazing how much stuff you can save from going bad just by being able to see it.

    I've started making a habit of going through the fridge every other day and pulling leftovers to the front. Been throwing out a lot less stuff that way!

  8. The Wife always makes fun of me because the fridge is the only thing I care about being uncluttered. I have no idea why it bothers me so much but the inside of my fridge has to be free from old food and crap!

  9. @Money Beagle - everything is now grouped together by category, I just have to keep it that way.

    @Rose Welty - wow, that is quite a transition to cut your space in half. Good luck with your journey, it sounds like you are on your way.

    @Denise C - thanks for your kind words. I'm sorry about your power outage and the food loss, but the bright side is a clean fridge.

    @Pinky - I try to purge my clothes with the change of seasons.

    @Nancy - have fun with your alone time.

    @Molly - the lazy susan idea is a great tip. I have them in my spice cupboards and they are so handy.

    @Ella - I am going to make a habit of cleaning it out every Tuesday which is the day we put our trash out at the curb.

    @Evan - my husband is the opposite, he never even noticed the mess.

    Thanks for all of the comments.


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