Organize Unclutter 2008: February – Week 1

FEB 3, 2008

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February’s goal is an organized and uncluttered kitchen. What better start towards this goal than with food! We’ll have 3 tasks to accomplish this week. Let’s be ruthless and purge!!

Tools you will need:

  • 4 empty boxes or heavy-duty trash bags

Label them “Keep”, “Donate”, “Trash” and “Recycle”. If you plan to hold a yard sale or sell online, include a “For Sale” box. Get boxes from your supermarket or local liquor store.

1. Start with your refrigerator and freezer.

Toss any left-over food items. Look at expiration dates of all of your food items, especially items in your freezer and condiments. Toss anything past their expiration dates! (For expiration date info, see end of post.)

Do you have food items that rarely get used? Donate to a friend or toss!

Once you’ve cleared out the old, let’s organize our fridge and freezer.

Take items off each shelf and let’s clean your refrigerator. Don’t forget the door shelves, too! I think the last time I cleaned mine was when I was nesting right before Joshua was born. Yea… that was 6 months ago… yea, I know… that’s gross.

Next, let’s give each item a home. For example: Dairy and juices on the top shelf. Put ready-to-eat food on the 2nd shelf (i.e. leftovers), and food that needs cooking on the 3rd shelf (like meats). Produce go in the drawers. Condiments in the door. Look at what kinds of food you buy, categorize them (dairy, fresh produce, staples like eggs & butter, condiments, etc.), and make a home for each in your fridge. Do the same for your freezer.

Now that the inside is organized, what about the outside?

Do you have tons of paper on your door? Kid’s artwork, lists, school notices, photos, and more clutter the outside of our refrigerator. Let’s clear it off, clean the outside of the fridge (and the top, too) and put back only what is necessary: emergency numbers and your running grocery list. Yep! That’s it! (Hey, I have alot on my fridge… this will be a hard one to retrain myself on.) *IF* you have small children, perhaps a magnetic toy to keep your child entertained while you fix dinner can be allowed. But otherwise, everything else needs to be gone! Put it on your desk for now. We’ll talk about where to put this stuff later.

YAY! You’re done with the refrigerator!! Take a break! You need to reward yourself for getting one task of the week done. After you’ve taken a break, come back here to continue…

OK… you’ve rested long enough! Don’t give up on me now. :)

2. Let’s tackle the other food area: the pantry.

NOTE: The pantry here will refer to a closet for keeping food or any cabinets you keep food.

Look through your food items and purge anything expired. Toss it on out! (For expiration date info, see end of post.) Next, are there any food items you’ve been meaning to try and just never have gotten around to it? Is there anything you bought and the family just will never eat? Donate it!

Are your staples in air-tight containers? If not, work on that. You do not want bugs attracted to your sugar, flour, and nuts.

Now that you’ve purged, time to organize!

If you need to do so, clean your shelves before putting food items back.

Next, group food items with similar items:

Cereal and breakfast foods
Pasta and rice (I keep my pasta sauce here, too.)
Drinks (soda, water, sports drinks)
Canned vegetables
Canned fruit
Canned soup
Baking items (flour, sugar, baking powder)
Packaged food items (mac-n-cheese, Lipton noodles, ramon noodles)

Put these back with labels facing out. I like grouping like items as well – i.e. all of the cans of corn together – so I can see what my inventory is when it comes time to make my grocery list. If you have deep spaces, you may wish to buy shelf extenders. They will make items toward the back of your shelves higher so you can see them better.

Great job! We are almost done…

3. Finally, one last food item to tackle: Spices

Check your spices for expiration and duplicates. Toss out those expired! Donate those you have duplicates. (For expiration date info, see end of post.)

Now look at your spices. What do you *really* use? If you haven’t used a particular spice in over 6 months, chances are you won’t use it again. Toss it!

Buy a set of empty bottles and label them to keep your spices organized. I have these glass bottles and they are only $1.49 each.

Now think about a storage solution. Will a counter-top spice rack work best? A lazy susan in a cabinet? Maybe a shelf extender will do the trick? Whatever works best for your space, get it and implement it!

Whew! We are DONE with our food areas! Pat yourself on the back, get a cup of Starbucks coffee, and check in here on the blog to let us know you have achieved Week 1’s Goal!!

Resources for finding expiration dates of food:

FDA Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart

Real Simple’s Surprising Expiration Dates

Expiration Dates

Essential Oil Expiration Information

Spices Expiration Info: Durkee, McCormick, and Spice Island (registration required)

Don’t forget to add your link to Mr. Linky so I know you are participating! If you are not added, you won’t be in the monthly drawing!
Organize Unclutter 2008 Participants

1. Weslee
2. Andrea
3. Jaime
4. Kristi
5. Karen
6. Sheri
7. Nicole
8. Steph
9. Angela
10. Dawn J.

Learn more about Organize Unclutter 2008 here.

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15 comments to Organize Unclutter 2008: February – Week 1

  • I’m here, I’m checking in!! Can’t wait to start tomorrow…. as its 8:00 and time for bed!

  • Jaime

    My fridge is done and I will do my freezer this afternoon or tomorrow. I know think my fridge has looked this good since we got it about 3 years ago.

  • You’re fast, Jaime!!

  • Ok I’m checking in and going to start with the fridge right now, its nap time and limited time to work in :) Not sure if I signed in right or not.

  • Regarding #3, lazy susans and shelf entenders may look organized, but can cause problems when you go to actually find the spice you need. Participants in this challenge might appreciate learning about a new product that is designed specifically to store and organized spice bottles in the kitchen cabinet….called SpiceStack!

    SpiceStack is different from other spice racks because it holds more spices (27 bottles from the grocery store) in less space, and the 3 drop-down drawers allow you to always find the spice you need while cooking. Imagine no more digging around in your cabinets for that dang bottle of cumin!

    Check it out at and Happy Organizing.

  • Fridge and freezer are just about finished. DH was home today with a migraine, so I had him help me clean out the nasty water dispenser our freezer has. I hate that thing!!!

    That Spice Stacker thing looks interesting! $30.00 is a bit too much but I’m sure that in time someone will make a cheaper version!

  • Jaime

    My spices come in a square bottle so I don’t think that would work for me but I plan on having DH make me some little shelves.

    Okay my fridge and freezer are done. No to tackle my lazy susan and one snack cupboard.

  • I’m waiting for Micah to wake up from his nap, then I’m off to tackle the fridge! wooohooo!

  • Go, Jaime!!!

    Josh went down for nap and I got 2 shelves down! Woot! And man was it gross!!

    That SpiceRack looks interesting. I’d prefer if it was all-wood, though. (I’m funny that way. :) )

  • I did it! My fridge and freezer are clean! My husband came home from work and he was amazed!!!! (We had one small casualty….Micah thought it was great fun and climbed in the fridge and cut his upper lip, so we had to stop and do a bit of comforting, but he is just fine!) Today’s plan….tackle the top of the fridge and start at least one of the food cupboards. Wooohooo! I really felt like I did something last night!

  • Jaime

    I just did my lazy susan and snack cupboard which is kind of our pantry. I am really feeling good about all of this. I even picked up the great room and living room. I need to vacuume but Emerson is sleeping so I will wait until she wakes to do that.

    Thanks Christine for getting my butt in gear!!!

  • I just heard about this – probably won’t have time to get started today since babe is waking up from his nap, but I’m really looking forward to it. “Clean out fridge” has been at the top of my to do list for over a week now. This is just the kick in the pants I need to actually do it.

  • Welcome Steph!! Jump right in! I just finished my fridge and it feels great!

  • Jaime

    My spices are done!!!! So that means that it is Wed and I am done with all the tasks for this week :thumbsup: I am so happy with how all of this is working !!!