Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Refrigerator Zero

I am a big fan of Inbox Zero and am proud to say I achieve and maintain that state most days.

However, our family are not so good fridge-wise, which is why I have decided to tackle the Great White Whale with a similar attitude to email.

You see, the fridge is a place to keep food you are going to eat.

Not food you could have eaten and now it is too late.

Or food you should have eaten but forgot you had.

Or food left from when other food was eaten and now cannot be eaten.

So, here is my plan:

The old method was to wait until you couldn't stand it anymore, when the fridge was so full of assorted Tupperware containing unidentified mystery objects. You then stand with the door open so long the poor thing becomes hoarse with beeping at you, while you pile said Tupperware containers beside sink with one hand, while tossing anything non-Tupperwared straight into the bin. You run a cursory eye over the collection of half-empty jars and bottles, sigh deeply and shut the door. You then lose all motivation for the project, which is a shame because the worst is yet to come. You still need to empty the contents of those containers into the bin fast, so you can empty that bin to the one outside even faster and at the same time, get those containers washed before the smell takes over the house.

NOT my idea of a good time!

So now, I plan to take a moment each day - probably while breakfast is cooking (sounds grander than it is: just waiting for toaster and kettle to do their magic!)- and review the fridge contents. Like my email system I am going to evaluate everything and Ditch, Deal or Decide (I don't think Delegate is a wise inclusion :)) I will take no prisoners: you are either in or out.

Now, in case you are ready to scream about the waste, relax. You see another goal for the year is to reduce food waste. Bottom line is this family are terribly hit and miss, either everyone is here at mealtimes or nobody is, which makes dinner preparation a bit tricky. My husband works eccentric hours which means he might come home at 5pm - or maybe Thursday! So a lot of food is set aside for him but not needed and gets forgotten. We also have a couple of food intolerant and/or food preference issues to work around - which is cool, as everyone is an adult and everyone has rostered days for cooking - so sometimes a second or even third meal is prepared and it is easy to over-calculate what is needed.

At this point you can see the source of all those Tupperware-ensconced mysteries!

We also get all of our fresh food delivered directly by standing order with Aussie Farmers Direct, which is heaven, but if the person who eats most of the bread/eggs/fruit etc is not home much that week, you can be left with unwanted bread/eggs/fruit for consumption. And you can only freeze so much, especially when there is another delivery imminent.

So I have decided to take on the role of overseer and keeping on eye on stocks. If eggs and bread are mounting up, then I will make a bread and butter pudding. If apples are overflowing the fruit bowl, I will stew a big batch. Leftovers will need to earn their keep (and their Tupperware place!) and will feature more in lunch menus!

And with all this extra space in the fridge, the veges can claim a longer life in their own Tupperware Fridge Smart containers, of which we have a great collection, because they will fit! And I am getting back in the swing of pre-chopping/shredding/preparing vegies so everyone can just grab what they need to cook, rather than choosing to cook what is easiest to prepare!

So - no promises, but this is where I am at and so far, so good. Refrigerator Zero - my new productivity goal :)