Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Challenge: Chill Out and Clean That Fridge

In yesterday's post, I talked about reading a book and feeling a renewed enthusiasm for clearing out my fridge and pantry, to keep food organized, use it up in a timely way and to minimize waste.

Cleaning out the fridge is not a particularly exciting chore and one that is very easy to put off. To make things just a little bit fun and build up some motivation, I'm posting this challenge online so maybe we can do it together.
A pic of my fridge from 6 years ago!! I still have these kinds of "zones"
in my current fridge but we haven't bought OJ for years.
Here's the plan, to be done separately for the fridge and the freezer. It does not all have to be done at once, this clean-up can be done 15 minutes at a time over a few days.

  1. Look at the contents and take inventory of what you have in there.
  2. Anything that is spoiled or beyond its usable life, throw it out. Sometimes we shove these things in the back of the fridge/freezer to avoid dealing with the guilt of throwing it out, but it has got to go.
  3. Anything that needs to be used up, gather it together, and think of ways to use it up in the next few days. You can leave comments on this post asking for ideas. Or look up recipes online.
  4. Don't forget the fridge door, which is usually littered with condiments that look like they last forever but don't. If you're unlikely to use a condiment again, toss it out. 
  5. Give the empty fridge/freezer a good wipe down and restock it, organizing food in a logical way. A place for everything and everything in its place. That's an oldie but goodie.

While you're doing the fridge clean-up, fill out this little survey:

  • A before picture of your fridge:
  • The most unusual/exotic/interesting item in your fridge:
  • Three items you always have in your fridge:
  • The oldest item in your fridge: 
  • Item(s) from the fridge that needed to be used and how you used it/them up in meals or recipes:
  • An after picture of your fridge:
Ditto for the freezer...
  • A before picture of your freezer:
  • The most unusual/exotic/interesting item in your freezer:
  • Three items you always have in your freezer:
  • The oldest item in your freezer: 
  • Item(s) from the freezer that needed to be used and how you used it/them up in meals or recipes:
  • An after picture of your freezer:

You certainly don't have to get to all these questions! Just tell us and show us what you want to.

If you have a blog, you could write a post about your fridge and freezer clean up and e-mail me a link to your post.

If you don't have a blog (or even if you do but don't feel like posting this project), you can e-mail me your answers/photos, at onehotstove AT gmail DOT com

The deadline for e-mailing me is Sunday, Aug 4th. On Monday, August 5th, I'll write a post telling you about my fridge/freezer clean up and include all the e-mails and links sent to me.

I'll leave you with a few inspiring/informative articles related to this project:
NPR: Don't Fear That Expired Food
The Kitchn: Fridge-Clearing Cooking, Fridge Efficiency Tips
Apartment Therapy: How To Clean A Fridge, How to Organize a Fridge

31 comments:

  1. Okay, I'm signing up to this challenge though the prospect of sharing the horrors from my fridge with the rest of the world is daunting. But it shall be done and with those words, I leave to get rid of that florescent something lurking in the deep recess of our icebox.

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    1. Awesome! You have nothing to lose except perhaps the fluorescent something ;)

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  2. Hopefully I will be able to join this clean up. I have been thinking about cleaning the fridge for almost a year now. it is crying for a clean up. Although I dont think I will find stuff to throw away. It doesnt look crowded to me. But only time will tell.

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    1. Me too- not much to throw away but there are spills and crumbs that need some serious wiping down.

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  3. Turns out that was purple broccoli - not purple-sprouting, mind. Just your regular flower turned incandescent. Then there was paneer that resembled blue cheese. Thankfully restricted to an airtight box. Again gotten rid of. There's still the half-a-cabbage verging on the edges of inedibility. What can I do with it? I normally make a thoran-like curry (tadka, shredded cabbage, finish with grated coconut-chilli topping). Any other suggestions, please?

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    1. Hmm- cabbage is pretty versatile. If it is verging on inedibility, you'd want to cook it, not use in a salad, eh? My vote is for instant cabbage dosa- mix finely shredded cabbage, cilantro, rice flour, besan, season with salt, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, make a batter using water or buttermilk to a pancake like consistency and make dosas!

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    2. Hi Nupur, how many cups of rice flour and how many cups of besan should I use if I was making this for 1-2 people? How much water do you add? Should this be regular dosa batter consistency or thinner?

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    3. Another suggestion is to make Cabbage-cilantro Zhunka also known as 'Pith perun bhaaji'. There must be a similar recipe on this blog. Since the cabbage is not that fresh adding other herbs (cilantro in this case) shall spruce it up a bit. If you like rice preparations like pulao's then make a cabbage pulao with other veggies and a bit of coconut milk and add mint or thai basil to bring out some great flavor. A friend of mine uses up leftover cabbage in her pav bhaaji, she finely chops it and saute's it like onion before adding other things. That tastes good too!

      - Priti

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    4. Great ideas, Priti!

      Ammani- I eyeball this but let's see. I would use 1/2 cup rice flour and 1 cup besan, and make the consistency about the same as dosa batter. You could add a pinch of baking soda to the batter too (to add some fluff since it is not fermented).

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    5. So many good ideas! Thank you. The mention of zunka takes me back to my years in Mumbai.

      The cabbage has remained in the fridge for one more day. I'd better batter quick.

      I have another idea for a possible future post, Nupur. Foraging. Today, I chanced upon a glut of sweet, ripe, juicy cherries on a tree in a quiet road. I plucked and ate such a lot of it (much to the embarrassment of my kids who refused to partake of any - shame!), I wondered why we pay so much for perfectly edible food which is so readily and freely available. I'm going back there tomorrow.

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    6. Hi,

      Have you tried the cabbage thepla? Tastes great.. and uses up any amount of cabbage.. Just grate the cabbage, add some ginger garlic paste, coriander, green chilly paste, haldi, masala, oil, salt, a banana and some curd to wheat flour. Prepare a chapati like dough, rest it and then roll out the theplas... really yummy!!

      P.S - You can do this with a variety of 'not so fresh' veggies.. dudhi, cabbage palak etc. are the veggies that come to mind.

      Thanks,
      Meenal

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  4. ooh! the challenge is here! I have a lot of cr**STUFF in my fridge - I always ignore the door. Will be sending you my link/answers soon.

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    1. I have so many condiments in the door- have been using that dijon mustard all week!

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  5. Excellent idea! I did this, but forgot to take pictures. It did make me whip up some pesto to use up a bunch of greens that I knew I wasn't going to get around to cooking before they go bad. And I decided to re-arrange the fridge shelves for better viewing/storage, so hopefully this will mean I'll be more efficient in using my refrigerated foodstuffs!

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    1. Good idea to use up greens in pesto! I agree that arranging things so they are visible/not forgotten is key.

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  6. Hello,

    A fridge cleaning is always a nightmarish aspect.. and I do it for sake of duty alone... thanks for making me see the brighter side of it.. maybe I'll enjoy it more the next time around!!

    The only good note that I can sound here is that I give away fresh food (say to the helpers)... rather than keep it and then give away.. I think thats preventing wastage on a small scale.. yeah I know one would say that I need cook smaller quantities.. but there are times when I suddenly find that I have completely lost sense of proportion.

    Nevertheless, this also helps me keep the fridge clean, and take stock of the food.. even refrigerated food does'nt last all too long in Mumbai which means it would get thrown away.
    And I use the golden rule of using 'not too fresh' veggies in soups or cutlets, of course keeping food safety in mind.. everyone relishes it. :-)

    Take care and happy cleaning...

    Meenal

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    1. Meenal- I agree 100% that when we have extra fresh food, it is best to give away the excess right then rather then letting it get stale. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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  7. I am IN! :-) My fridge looks quite empty now but it's soon going to be packed as we are expecting some guests from India. So this clean up event will come handy to finish leftovers before they hide back in the fridge. I really need a clean up for the doors and freezer! I really need to organize those. I don't know if I have the courage for the before pics, maybe if I click from a distance and send a really low resolution ;-) I might just dare.

    - Priti

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    1. LOL well, pics or not, just getting it done is the most important thing!

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  8. I'm in! Once the weekend is over, I shall start my clean up the fridge project ( have a friend's baby shower coming up, have a cake to bake and decorate)

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    1. Oh my another pretty cake! You're becoming a pro at this!

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  9. I did the exact same thing a few days ago on my blog's facebook page. Struggling with my fridge right now. Now I am motivated and will do it soon.

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    1. Yeah this is a good use of social media, to motivate us to do the not-exciting chores!

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  10. On a somewhat related topic, here's a link to a very interesting series of photographs of what families from different countries around the world bought for a week's worth of groceries, and how much they paid for them. The US family shown had bought mainly processed and packaged foods; the families from poorer (!) countries had their table piled with fresh fruits and veggies!
    http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1626519,00.html

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    1. Kamini- thanks for the link. I read that book a while ago and it had a profound impact on me.

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  11. Oh, isn't this something that needs doing here! A little tricky since the kitchen is no longer my private domain, but I think it could be done. I will work on it... good project for the rainy days we're having.

    Congrats on your adorable new addition! :)

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  12. Hi Nupur, i have been a silent ardent admirer of your blog and have successfully put your delicious recipes to use too! After reading on fridge cleaning on the agenda I feel I am an odd one out as I do not have anything to clean except the odd spill probably because I regularly stock up on fresh fruit, veg and dairy mainly! Is tgat something to be worried about?:)

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    1. Nope- just give yourself a big pat on the back and keep doing what you're doing :)

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  13. Congratulations and all the very best for your new canine family addition! Very adorable!

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  14. I've been away and missed this challenge but I was feeling the same about waste and clean-up when I read this and your previous post. Our vacation accommodation was a funky attic apartment with a very, very small kitchen with an under counter fridge. I was pleased our ability to ate well despite the limitation. I also learned plenty about careful shopping when faced with limited storage options. I hope to bring this new found skill in to my non-vacation life. I'll start by drawing down my fridge, freezer, and pantry.
    Tonight's freezer challenge: small bag of farro, 2 cups homemade vegetarian broth, and unpeeled shrimp.
    Wish me luck.

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