It is a temptation to put this post in the “Laying Aside Weights” series, but since it really doesn’t have to do with the theme of that specifically, I suppose it will be better to let it stand alone.
The clutter in my fridge is not exactly a weight, although maybe some people would view it as such. It can be a nuisance, but mostly it’s wasted space. It’s cleaned out pretty well now, but the truth of the matter is that it will probably get bad again eventually. Coming from a long line of fridge packers…well, at least two generations…I don’t see myself bucking my genes on this one. ;-)
Not that I wouldn’t like to improve, and I actually think I have some. My mom, in her own right, has improved some to start with and I’ve tried to go a little farther. Neither of us have, nor desire, the “knack” my Gramma had of filling a fridge (and its freezer) with myriads of little plastic containers holding a tablespoon of this or that. I can’t speak so well for our freezers, though we do make the effort to control them from time to time. When you opened Gramma’s freezer it was a good idea to stand back. Just the act of opening the door was likely to dislodge something that was being held in by the mere presence of the door. Trying to extract something could even start a small avalanche. Mom’s freezer and my freezer are sometimes not much better. Sigh.
But, to get down to the point --
I decided it was high time to get the fridge cleared out of excess stuff. Though I do try to date my leftovers to keep them from getting too old, I still sometimes have something that gets missed in the shuffle. The bulk of my excess, however, is the result of opening too many jars of pickles, pushing untasty jams and sauces to the side because I can’t make myself pitch them, and saving “useful” things that are not as perishable as most foods – such as bacon grease. Ahem. (This is the down side of being a bit too paranoid about wastefulness, by the way. There are two sides to that coin.)
I found at least 4 containers containing some amount of bacon grease in the fridge (I think it was five, but I’m not sure). Yeah. That’s a lot of old dabs of bacon grease, considering how seldom I cook bacon from raw and thus have excess to put away. And, don’t ask me how many there are still in there because, though I discarded some, I added another one the other day.
You see, the very best corn bread recipe I have calls for bacon grease (no wonder it’s so good, right?), so I can’t bear to discard it thinking about that delicious corn bread. The thing is, though – I seldom, seldom make corn bread! (Hmm….this looks suspiciously like “weight” thinking to me. Something that does need to be laid aside!) Plus, green beans and eggs are so good fried in bacon grease….
Well, Friday morning is the day our garbage is collected, so Thursday is a good day to do a job like this. In an effort to acknowledge my limitations and not overdo, I made the decision to not clean the fridge at all, but only clear out the items that had no future. I also decided not to try to do the fridge and its freezer on the same day. (We also have a chest freezer, which needs to be defrosted, but it’s not quite so cluttered with useless things as the fridge freezer was – I think.)
If you are a “normal”, energetic, healthy, strong woman (I don’t know many, but there must be some), then you might think this is a bad plan and method and that it would be better to do the whole thing in “one fell swoop” as Gramma would’ve said (only not about the fridge). If you have a chronic health problem, are often overly busy, have kids, homeschool, have hormones or any number of other things that tend to make women tired and run down, I suspect you will see the point in this plan. :-) Anyway, it worked for me.
On the Thursday in question I cleared out the fridge, saving the cleaning for later (apparently much later). Here is what it looked like --
Note the bag of (smelly) garlic on the top shelf – some of it is now growing in my dad’s garden.
You can just see a gallon size jar of pickles behind the milk and orange juice. There were two jugs back there actually – one almost full of pickles that had the “lovely” flavor of vinegar, garlic and plastic. (Not a commonly accepted flavor of pickles, but the result of a company switching from glass to plastic jars.) There was also a glass gallon jar half full of kimchee. Now, I like kimchee, but I couldn’t eat this kind because it didn’t agree with my finicky stomach. My parents and I made the kimchee together, but it ended up in my fridge. Now it’s at my parents’ house.
Notice how you can actually see the light on the top shelf now. That is because the multiple layers of stuff have been reduced! Also, there’s a big, almost empty space on the second shelf. The parmesan cheese has been moved to an upright position on the bottom shelf. On the left of the bottom shelf is an unopened 2 lb. package of cheddar that expired in June or July – of last year. Yeah. Embarrassment, horror, disgust (at the waste), you name it. There were white specks all over it which I thought to be mold, but I decided to open it anyway. To my surprise and relief, it was still fine – NOT rotten! The specks were the salt coming out apparently. So we went ahead and ate it. ;-) (This was some weeks ago and we are still alive, so YES, it really was safe, oh doubters.) :-)
The door doesn’t look a lot improved because I moved some of the odds and ends jars that were crowding the inside to the spaces I opened up in the door.
I actually didn’t take the “after” picture till a couple of days, so there are a few other changes as well, but you get the idea. I think it’s actually even more empty now, and since I did this job in February, I seem to be keeping it better for at least awhile! Not that I think a fridge should be empty. When I have legitimate things to keep I’m fine with it, but the excess of things that were past usefulness was the problem. Also, having the fridge more empty is handy because I can store leftovers right in the pan I will reheat them in, which saves on dish washing! :-)
To my shame, I have to admit that I totally forgot the drawers till later! Ack. I’m not sure I would’ve wanted to “share” them with you anyway. ;-)
Ok, I can’t believe I could write that much about cleaning out the fridge! Looks like the freezer part should wait till another time. Too bad, the story about…..well, you’ll have wait and see. ;-) (We had “wait and see” a lot for dessert when I was a kid. I so disliked that answer!)