Fall Clutter Busting: The Fridge

The fridge.

Ah, the things I've seen in people's refrigerators. It's amazing that something that takes up relatively little space in one's home, and is used many times on a daily basis, can hold so many objects of clutter. I think fridge's have black hole capabilities.

I think we have a lot of unconscious associations about food that causes us to clutter up our fridges. At the core, we have a basic primal need for food. But that gets distorted by a cultural obsession about weight and diets. Mix that in with commercials that present snacks and quick meals as edible holy grails. And then there are the warehouse grocery stores that we shop at that present us with overwhelming choices that on some level confuse us and makes us buy things we don't actually want to eat. I remember buying a box mix for tofu scramble because it was on sale and the photo on the box made the final product look like a Vermeer painting. But then it tasted like crap and I tossed it.

I've seen a lot of people fold in on themselves when they think about clutter busting their refrigerator. But I help encourage them to move forward because if it's making them feel that way, then its making them feel that way all the time. Clutter busting your fridge will give you peace of mind and help you have a better relationship with food and your body.

So, let's begin. Have one trash bag next to you. There will be no donations or recycling today. Open the door to the freezer part of your fridge. This is an area where food often drifts into and gets lost in the arctic tundra. I've had clients find a frozen lump of some kind of possibly meat? and not know what it is. Some of them want to hang onto it. What helps is when I say, "Okay, let's take it out and cook it." That gets them to drop it into the trash.

So take all the items in the freezer out and put them on a clear table or counter space. If you have a really big freezer, you can take one row of food out at a time. Again, removing these items from their usual home helps you get perspective. Seeing all the items in their usual space is confusing because it screws with your need to prevent change. For some reason, we are built to maintain stability, even if that stability hurts.

Pick up the first item and ask yourself, "Would I eat this now?" "Would I serve this for dinner tonight?" "Is this delicious?" "Would I buy this if I were shopping at the grocery store right now?" "Does this make me hungry?" "Would I avoid this if it were served at a buffet?" "Do I have this because it's 'healthy' and I'm supposed to eat it, and I don't want to, but still I can't throw it out because I'm supposed to eat it, so I'd rather put it back in the freezer and not think about it?"

You want to see if you're actually going to eat this item of food or not. You know. "I like this" or "I don't like this." If there's confusion about something, it's not for you. It's okay to let go of food that you are not going to eat. I've had a few clients feel guilty about it. Some would rather hang onto some food they are not going to eat rather than "be wasteful." But then your freezer and fridge become a refrigerated trash can. You can encourage yourself by knowing that you'll feel happier without the presence of things you're not using.

Move onto the next item with the same line of questioning. Again, imagine that you are shopping for groceries. Do you want to buy this or not? Do you want to spend money that you earned on this piece of food? Thinking these ways will help hone your discriminating abilities. It will spread and help you be a clutter buster for yourself in other areas of your life.

After you've gone through all the freezer food, put the items that you are keeping back into your freezer in a way that's pleasing to your eye. The areas of your fridge are like a living room. You arrange your living room in a way that feels good to you. Your fridge is just a smaller room.

Now let's move onto the fridge part of the fridge. Start with racks on the inside of the door. Take out a row at time and place them on the cleared space. Pick up the first item and ask yourself if you use and like this. I've had a lot of clients be amazed at how many spices and condiments that they actually have, and how many are not being used. Maybe we really liked a particular ketchup but now we don't care for it anymore. Or we bought something to try it out and we didn't like it. Today is the day for it to move on.

Sometimes people find a container of something that's empty. That's how unconscious we can get. Other times clients have things that other people brought over for a party that wasn't used and has just sat in the fridge since then. The client may feel "gift guilt" about tossing this visitor. But since it's not their taste, and the person who brought it over would say, "Just toss it", they toss the item.

Also keep an eye out for things whose freshness has expired. You can open the lid and take a wiff. Or look for bulging sides. These suggestions can be used for any other area of the fridge. I had one client who told me that his fridge had a bad smell but he couldn't figure out where it was coming from. I opened the fridge and was met by a very bad odor. I took a look around and in the very back of one of the shelves I found a plate containing gray matter. It was covered with plastic, but that was a conciliatory gesture. I pulled out the item and it reeked. Neither of us could figure out what it once was. But it was tossed.

You can't blame yourself for any of these clutter lapses. Like I was saying, there's a lot of unconsciousness going on. This clutter busting is waking you up and helping you see more clearly.

Continue on with each door rack and then move onto the main shelves and the produce drawers. Some other items to look for: take out food that's more than a week old, fruit and vegetables that are old they couldn't even be sold in the discount area of the grocery store, expired expiration dates, and food that you're not sure how it even got in there.

Before you put the items you're keeping back in, get out some cleaner and paper towels and wipe down the inside of your fridge. Dirt and grime can be clutter that causes you to feel tired and chaotic. This whole clutter busting process is a way to create more peace of mind. You can never have enough peacefulness.

I hope you're enjoying your fall clutter bust. I like taking you through the process. It can make you feel at home in your home. If you feel too overwhelmed and find you can't make it through the clutter dens of your kitchen, I'm available for online video clutter busts. My rate is $75 hour, payable through PayPal. Clutter Busting your fridge takes less time than you imagine. You can email me at brooks@clutterbusting.com