One of my zero-waste gurus, Bea Johnson, has been very open about the way she minimized her home that she shares with her husband and sons. She shows beautiful pictures of an all white house with orange accents here and there, closets with only enough clothes for a week's rotation, and cupboards containing mason jars filled with bulk products. The ideas were so inspiring when we initially went zero-waste that I think I went a little overboard with the purchase of reusable items.
Now that I've calmed down and realized we can't all realistically live such a minimal lifestyle, I've found what works for us in our home. The biggest area in most homes that need a refresh are the kitchens, where food gets lost and wasted each week. Here are some pics of our organization that I hope will inspire you to hit the reset button in your kitchen and start saving money by not wasting food:
Our house was built without a pantry, so we use our space as best we can to properly stock the kitchen for any meal prep situation. Keeping items facing forward, using the FIFO (first in, first out) method, and keeping everything clearly labeled really helps us.
If you have the ability to apply chalkboard paint to your pantry door or cupboards, I highly recommend it! This really helps when you have guests or family over, as the labeling directs them to the items they need while you're busy with other things.
It's smart to keep your oils and vinegar away from direct sunlight and excessive heat because they'll go bad a lot faster. Notice the oils are in the compartment farthest away from the stove in order to maintain some level of coolness and freshness.
Keep drawers organized in the fridge, and exercise the FIFO method each time you grocery shop. That includes putting your freshest produce at the bottom of the crisper drawers too. (And make sure your fridge is ready for unexpected company by having quick snacks and drinks ready for the guests!)
Keep meats separate from veggies and fruits in your fridge, and put some glass jars in there to save vegetable remnants for vegetable stock, and chicken remnants to make chicken stock later. Garden picks, like hot peppers, can be cleaned and frozen to be enjoyed year-round. Be sure to slice and freeze your bananas if you're a smoothie drinker too.
Finally, know what you need to store at room temperature in order to maximize the food's nutritional value and freshness. As a general rule, whole onions, tomatoes, bananas, stone fruit, and garden-picked veggies need to stay out of the cold. As you can see in this shot, we aren't minimalists in our zero-waste lifestyle...but we are organized and use everything we own.
I hope this inspires you to go through your kitchen and really assess what you have and how you can organize it for your cooking needs. Anything you don't want that isn't expired will be happily accepted by food banks, so get started on cleaning your kitchen today! Let me know how it goes or if you need any organizational suggestions in the comments below.
Till next time,
Dallas Farmer Gal