Transformation Tuesday: Mins Game Round-Up

How did everyone fare last month playing the Mins Game? 

I started pretty strong, actually setting aside many things for the first week or so. I started with items that I needed to return to people ... the things that had somehow become a clutter "fixture" in the house because I was done reading it or just never used it (we all know how this goes!) so it was a good  time to get these things returned.

Then I went through the kitchen pantry, reviewing duplicates of pans, bakeware, cake decorating items that I just didn't need to keep extras of. After that, I did a sweep of bathroom/travel toiletries, tools/hardware, then the storage unit in the garage.

I wanted to see how long I could play for and it was incredible how all the tiny things added up that were in drawers, shelves, cupboards throughout my home. I made it to about day 26 or 27 before asking my partner to help contribute some items to the purge (mostly the random hardware that I had no idea what they were from/had never used).

 
 

My biggest takeaways were that I need to review paper more often (quarterly at the least) and make a point to not let project donations end up in my home. I work with amazing people who I'm helping through the declutter and reorganizing process. Often times they will offer items they want to donate to me or if I have friends that might need it. Maybe 20% of the time I think "hmm I know someone who might be able to use this" or "this is cute, how could I use it" ... but I rarely end up using them unless it's a consumable or sorts (like paper cupcake liners or a notepad).

By the end of the month, I did experience some purging fatigue - it was harder to look at things with a critical eye and not just start tossing things to meet the number to purge that day. After making it through the month, I'm looking forward to my next challenge - the digital declutter and then emergency action planning.

If you have questions/ideas/comments on either of these topics, let me know! I'd love to hear what tips you have for tackling either of these areas or find out what you'd like to work on - we're in this together, friends!

Year-End Pantry Challenge

After coming home from work last night, I desperately wanted Mr. Gyro's Greek salad to take home and enjoy while watching some TV. However, I suggested non-takeout items to my partner when talking about dinner. He's pretty open to whatever so I figured I might as well eat at home while clearing out the pantry.

One of my biggest issues with cooking dinner is that I'm usually hungry by the time I need to eat. Since I didn't eat my little fruit-and-cheese snack pack at work, we had that as our appetizer while I scoured the pantry and fridge.

I boiled up some red potatoes then roasted them in the oven with broccoli. While that was going, I cooked up some quinoa on the stove and found some basics for a salad (mixed greens, tomato, onion, croutons). I wanted something creamy/saucy and used up the last few slices of bread to spread with a garlic butter and top with white cheddar and parm. 

It was great! Dinner was ready in maybe 25 minutes and I felt good about saving a trip out (and very slowly working toward a zero waste kitchen). I thought about events we have going on this weekend before the new year and need to clear out some of the excess treats and beverages. 

 
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I found some chocolate coins, caramels, Rice Krispies cereal (I really wanted Rice Krispie treats on Christmas Eve and have about half a box left) and searched out a few recipes that don't require marshmallow/fluff. You'll have to follow along on my Instagram to see how these turned out and what other recipes come out of this pantry clear out! 

My hope is to minimize year-end spending, use what I have, and then I can do a quick wipe-down and organizing of my fridge/pantry in the next week.

Please share your favorite go-to "kitchen sink" and pantry clear-out recipes!

Transformation Tuesday #44: Kitchen Pantry Purge

My neighbor and I were chatting recently when she mentioned that she still needed to find time for organizing her pantry. I worked with her earlier this year on her kitchen cupboards and storage, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to do some more decluttering. 

She has a shelving unit in her entryway closet, stocked with dry goods like flour, pasta, rice, quinoa, and canned goods and various sauces/condiments. She admitted that it was probably a quick project since a lot of items were likely expired and just needed to be purged.

We coordinated schedules so I could get to organizing while she was away at work. What an awesome gift to give yourself - coming home to a tidy home (or in this case, a tidy pantry)! Side note: if you have ever wanted to treat yourself to this or gift this to a friend, let me know! 

In just under an hour and a half, I was able to do a simple purge:

  1. Remove all items while grouping into categories (pasta, rice, soup, sauce, etc)
  2. Check expiration dates
  3. Wipe down shelves
  4. Return unexpired items to shelves, still grouped by category
 
 

Roughly half the items were expired so out they went (items on the left of the top right picture)!

We decided that it made sense to get some handy shelf risers, making it easier to see what's in the back. Otherwise, it's easy to get caught in the cycle of not seeing what's there, overbuying that item, and ultimately having to toss it when it passes it's "best buy" date.

I also recommend when you do your own pantry purge, if you are running low on an item, especially one that you get in bulk, tape a note on the pantry shelf or cabinet door as a reminder. The next time you are checking your cupboards before a shopping trip, you can stock appropriately.

Use the capsule wardrobe approach - what has expired in the pantry, note what type of item it is. This is probably something you shouldn't buy in bulk anymore because you aren't getting through it fast enough or it's just not appealing anymore. 

What tips do you have for conquering kitchen pantry clutter? Let me know in the comments below!