Okay. Confession time. I have temporarily lost my tiny mojo. Since visiting my folks’ house (roughly 3800 sq. ft.) this month I have lost sight of our normal, reduced way of life. I have begun to spread my belongings about and generally just take up far more room than I need. I have enjoyed their deluxe washer and dryer. I have marveled at the number of beverage offerings in their commercial fridge. And the list goes on. Crystal? Well, not so much. In fact, if I hadn’t put her clothes away in the closet she may very well still be pulling from our one suitcase we brought with us. But something has happened to me and now when we talk about Tiny House I find myself forgetting that we don’t need cupboard space for 15 coffee mugs. In fact, we only own 4 coffee mugs so much of the aforementioned space would go empty.
So a conversation we have recently had revolved around the size of the the fridge we want for Tiny House. Considered an apartment fridge, it stand just barely 5ft. tall, is 2ft. wide, and has 9.9 cubic feet of interior room – a combination of the freezer and the fridge. As we talked about where it should go and how we wanted to build it into an enclosure that matched the rest of the interior paneling I got a bit of anxiety that it would not be nearly enough for our needs. Afterall, the Bungalow has a full size fridge and……..oh, wait. We don’t even have 1/2 of it filled. We don’t drink soda. We don’t spend money on juices. We use milk sparingly. Our produce is as fresh as we can buy it. And we don’t typically eat leftovers. And when we do have leftovers they are gone by the next day. What was I panicking about?
That is when I remembered that part of the consumer mindset is that we should purchase items that is suited more for our desires than our needs. We tend to buy food to fill the oversize fridge we felt we had to have. Many of us – if left to our own devices – would keep food items “just in case” and end up with a guest spot on a show I’ll refer to as “Hunger Hoarders.”
We have to fight this feeling though and we have to live within our needs rather than augmenting our needs to fit our stuff! So how do we do that? Here are a few tips on how we can all defeat our epicurious clutter!
You and WHAT army?
I grew up in a rather large family. While we didn’t have a lot of money we did have big appetites and my mother fixed to those appetites and then some. It was as if we had an imaginary army that had phoned up and said they would be stopping by to eat with us and after a day of marching, were hungrier than they could last remember. If we needed 6 hot dogs for the family at dinner, Momma would make 8 “in case we wanted leftover.” NO ONE wants leftover hot dogs. Needless to say those dogs would still be barking nearly a week later! Cook for the mouths at the table at that meal; no more, no less!
Chunk the funk
What self-respecting American family does not have 6-8 varieties of salad dressing in the fridge door? Who doesn’t have the ketchup or mustard bottle standing on its head to bleed out its last drops? Let’s be real though. Very few people will risk the last drops of Italian dressing (now a lovely oil with a few speckles of might be peppercorn), especially when they have to scrap crust away from the lid to squeeze said dressing out. Likewise no one wants to be the last to use the ketchup as that will then make them responsible for rinsing it out and putting it in the recycling can. TOO MUCH EFFORT! It’s easier to pretend you don’t see the aging ketchup and just put a fresh, new bottle in the door of the fridge as well. Part of eliminating the clutter is being real with yourself and recognizing that throwing away a tablespoon or two of ketchup is not as bad as requiring a fridge that can accomodate two, large bottles of condiment cravings.
Purchase fresh produce
Just because the chain market is having a special on naval oranges and you can buy twice as many for half the price, doesn’t mean you have to. Consider what your family will eat within 48-72 hours and only buy that amount. After that most fruits and veggies in our house begin to spoil, ooze mysterious liquid, grow penicillin, or lose all traces of nutrition. It is much easier to buy fresh produce when you run out than it is to try and preserve week-old lettuce by pinching off the wilted leaves. You may even find that you need less crisper drawer space than you once thought.
Limit your ingredients
A few weeks ago I wrote about how to minimize your time in the kitchen and I specifically called out Jules Clancy of stonesoup. She came up with an amazing way to eat healthy and eat within a manageable amount of time which she later turned into the book 5 Ingredients | 10 minutes. Her idea illustrates how to cook wonderful, healthy, and tasty meals in less than 10 minutes using just 5 ingredients. It is an incredible read and really hits home the point of eliminating epicurious clutter.
In our Tiny House conversation it became alarmingly important that eco-stewardship, sustainability, and minimalism were all by-products of honesty and self-realization. As Crystal and I talked I realized that it was a serendipitous choice to continue my minimalist efforts with our fridge (and kitchen, in general). Learning what the minimum in food consumption is will be helpful to our waistlines and our pocketbooks in the long term. If we are not stocking up on it, we are less likely to impulse eat it. If we don’t see it, we probably won’t want it. And if we haven’t cooked it, it simply isn’t there. So next time you head to the fridge to stare into the white light and “take inventory” lend your fridge your ear. You may be surprised at what it is trying to teach you!
What about you? What lessons has your fridge or kitchen or pantry been sharing with you? Are you still living amongst the tupperware temples of a cluttered kitchen or have you taken control of yourself and your habits and learned what you can do to make your home and your mind more clear?