Decluttering my fridge – and my diet

While yesterday was a big success in terms of clutter removal, I had achieved a ‘massive fail’ when it came to my diet. As a fan of the ‘Grand National’ I headed to my local pub to watch the race. Some free sandwiches, four glasses of white wine, a greasy Chinese and some chocolate later, I was feeling rather depressed with myself and not exactly healthy.

I blame the excitement of the horse race! I had a perfectly nice dinner with lots of fresh vegetables at home in the fridge waiting to be cooked. But somewhere between walking home from the pub and my front door, my resolve had gone AWOL and the lure of prawn crackers and special fried rice had seduced me. The result was the food that should have been eaten, was now having to be chucked away as it was out of date.

It has been estimated that UK household’s waste around 15 million tonnes of food each year according to a new report. This equates to, on average, 60 pounds worth of wasted food a month. And I’m sure I’m one of the culprits.

Clutter is definitely one of the reasons I waste so much food. When I open my fridge, I am usually forced to perform an impressive display of dexterity as I catch the margarine, yogurts and vegetables that come tumbling out. This means I tend to grab the first thing I find in an attempt to stop the food avallanche. I am obviously buying too much and being unrealistic about what I can eat and when. If I’m going out I’m hardly likely to want to attempt a complicated, or time consuming recipe, when I return. And don’t get me started on those jars lurking at the back of the fridge. I was never very good at science at school, but I think my teacher would be impressed by the interesting molds that I have been cultivating.

It’s obviously time for a blitz, especially as I am now forced to go to the supermarket! These are the new tactics I am going to embrace to prevent a repeat performance.

1. Remove everything, old, half eaten, wilted and past it’s ‘use by date’ out of the fridge and into the bin.
There is no point making myself ill for the sake of a Cumberland sausage. Make a list of replacements of staples where needed. This really isn’t a nice activity as it shows just how much food I am wasting.

2. Have a look and see how much space I have the freezer.
What needs replacing if anything and how much processed food do I have? What can be swopped for a healthier option? Answer – probably a lot.

3. Write a menu plan out for the week
I will write this on the calendar, making allowances for days that I’m working late or going out eg when I won’t feel like cooking much. I can then add the ingredients I need to my shopping list.

4. What are my cheat options?
With a young baby to entertain I’m taking the ‘lazy boys’ approach to cooking and I am not feeling guilty. So where I bought a butternut squash now I buy a pre-chopped butternut squash in a packet. This saves at least ten minutes preparation. I guess less for my money, but I am less likely to throw the whole vegetable out because I haven’t got round to cutting it up.

5. Start supermarket shopping online.
It sometimes feels like online shopping takes me longer, but somehow I seem to spend less. I still see lots of offers but I don’t have to hunt around the shop for them and I only buy offers on things I would normally buy. I only choose buy one get one free if I think I will genuinely use it and pop the other one in the freezer. Again it may look like a good offer, but if goes off before I can use it then its not.

The other bonus of online shopping is I save on petrol and time and it cuts down on my impulse buys. The downside is I have to pay a bit for delivery, but I can offset this on the savings I’ve made. I’ve also found that I have no control over the sell buy dates, so I tend not to buy meat and fish this way unless I plan to use them straight away.

It will probably take a few weeks to get into the swing of these new ways and it’s forcing me to think about the foods I eat on a regular basis. I always claim to be a healthy eater, but relying on convienience foods because I feel permanently tired is probably not the answer.

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