“no groceries” update 2: organizing

Avoiding spoilage by using ingredients that could go bad before using longer-shelf life ingredients is an important goal in my “no grocery store” challenge. But, what do I actually have on hand? Again, time plays a big part in successfully managing food and sustenance for my family. Taking the time to know what I have, where it is, and what should be used when, all of these are elements I must consider.

A few years ago, I connected with the idea that I can’t keep a space uncluttered if the Things in it don’t have “Homes.” I began to be relatively strict about having things go back to certain spots. Our home is still full of stuff, and sometimes I get behind in keeping the clutter under control, but, for the most part most of our Things have Homes. The musical instruments are in that basket that lives on top of the radiator. The silk scarves are in that basket by the play kitchen. The playmobil people are in that drawer, the animals are in that drawer, the structure pieces are in that basket. The more precise the categories for Homes, the easier clean up turns out to be.

On Wednesday and Thursday, my daughters were sick. What this meant was I had no childcare (so I couldn’t do much billable work) and for the most part, the girls zoned out in front of Winnie the Pooh and a bunch of movies. An unexpected appearance of “free time.”

I decided to make Homes for the Things in my refrigerator.

First, I took everything out:

Then, I consolidated, re-containered, and assessed:

I grouped things in way that made sense to me, though there are some tougher categories that may lead to some re-disorganization (foods for school lunches vs. foods available for meals).

I put the items back in the ‘fridge (before and after):IMG_3212IMG_3223








I took a peek at the pantry to get a sense of what’s in there:







In the last 24 hours or so since I’ve had it organized in a way where certain categories have “Homes” in the refrigerator, it has been easier to take things out and put them away and still know what’s in there. I think this will help me cut back on waste and improve how I use my time planning and making meals.

My children were sick, so they were out of my hair for a long stretch of time. Taking the time to do something so “unimportant” isn’t something I would’ve likely done otherwise. Normally, I’m dealing with staying on top of things as a parent, running the household, and getting work done to have an income that’s almost sufficient for me to live on (when combined with support from my ex-). Again, I am very aware of how lucky I am. Things are difficult, but so much less difficult than I know they are for people who live in real poverty.

I differentiate myself from people living in “real poverty” not because I think it’s bad that I have so little money, but, because I am aware of the advantages I live with in my life. When I think of what it would be like trying to do something like this project if I were working a regular full-time job and carting children back and forth from childcare and managing all the rest of life’s regular tasks, I know it would be too much. If it hadn’t been for the surprise break, I’m not sure I would have done this—justifying doing “unnecessary” tasks is difficult. I already know this new organization system is going to help me make the best use of the food I have on hand. It’s truly a luxury during this difficult and somewhat frightening time.

4 thoughts on ““no groceries” update 2: organizing

  1. I’m not sure I would call this “unnecessary” this may be one of those “important but not urgent” tasks that could make all the difference in your daily endeavors. Good for you. Want to help with mine?

    • Ha! I actually *love* organizing clutter. And, yeah, I don’t think it’s unnecessary, either. But, I think the fact that I enjoy it makes it feel like goofing off, if that makes sense?

  2. I feel so much better when things are organized. I make lists for ordinary chores so I don’t forget things, don’t have to backtrack (and waste gas), and I like crossing items off as I complete them. My fridge is organized (though there isn’t much in it for one person), but my pantry could be much better. It does help with using things up and not buying what you don’t need. I just bought unnecessary hair products because some were in the “wrong” drawer. Good thing those have no expiration date!

    • Being organized is already helping with this whole process. But, there’s a certain kind or level of organization that I’ve only ever failed at — keeping lists. I can keep general ongoing lists, but, keeping track of what’s on hand, for example, is something I won’t do consistently, so it’s nearly pointless.

      I can definitely see you as someone who’s a heck of a lot more organized than me in that precise kind of way. :-) Still, realizing that “everything in its place” was so helpful has seriously changed my life. It happened a few years ago. And, once I stopped harshing on myself for being “uptight” about it and realized it was making my life easier, I like it a lot now and get a bit annoyed when I realize something doesn’t have a Home.

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