Minimalism or spring cleaning? Week 2 #minsgame 2

This week, I’ve been pondering the question – am I moving towards minimalism or just spring cleaning?

#minsgame, decluttering, minimalism
Week 2 – 77 items decluttered

I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter. Whatever ‘this’ is, it feels good and I’m glad I am doing it.

Take my bathroom cupboard. Sure, there might be more in there than Dave Bruno lived with for a year, or Rob Greenfield’s entire worldly possessions – but it works for me.

One of my first decluttering efforts (pre-#minsgame round 1 last year) was to deal with this cupboard. The cupboard had been so full, when I opened the door random stuff fell out. It’s stressful enough trying to administer medication to ease your toddlers breathing at 3am, without triggering an avalanche of sticking plasters, spare deodorants and expired beauty treatments all over the bathroom floor. Something had to change.

And it did!

#minsgame, decluttering, konmari, Marie Kondo, Minimalism
My bathroom cabinet – before, after and now (over a year later)

About a year later, I called a plumber to replace the bathroom faucet. As he walked through the door it suddenly dawned on me that he’d need the cupboard under the sink cleared so he could work in there.

Previously, this would have sent me into a panic – trying to deal with all the stuff, dreading putting it away again later, the embarrassment of moving 14 packets of tampons in front of the poor plumber. Instead, I simply scooped everything into a nearby washing basket and quickly put it back again when the plumber left. It wasn’t a ‘thing’ – it was a total non-event.

#minsgame, decluttering, konmari, Marie Kondo, Minimalism
Marie Kondo says we all have stockpile of something – guess mine is tampons! 14 packets found buried in the disaster that was my bathroom cupboard

This week playing the #minsgame I’ve made doing anything in the garage a non-event. My goal for the rest of the month is to also make doing the following non-events:

  • finding baking supplies in the pantry
  • working at my desk (spoiler alert – I am going this right now – whoop, whoop!)
  • accommodating someone in the guest room
  • finding something to wear.

Wish me luck!

Where are the clutter hotspots in your home? What’s the single biggest difference you’ve noticed from decluttering?

 

Looking back and heading forward – #minsgame 2

While my first go at playing The Minimalist Game got underway with a fair bit of angst and trepidation, this time around it’s fun!

week1final
Week 1 – 23 items decluttered

Lesson learnt

It was only this week, when I started decluttering again on a daily basis, that the lesson of last year’s exercise really came home to me.

As I went through cupboards and drawers, I noticed I had a different mindset – stuff was just stuff.  Letting go of stuff is so much easier than it was the first time around.

Benefits realised

While doing the Minimalism Game again came about on the spur of the moment, on reflection having a year-long gap between rounds is beneficial.  A whole year has gone by and I haven’t missed or regretted a thing I decluttered last June.

What’s more, I continue to notice the benefits of last years big purge. When I need something from my plastics shelf, linen closet or bathroom cupboard, I just go and find it – no searching through an overflowing mass of clutter, no sense of dread, no swearing as I try to shove everything back in with one hand while trying to slam the door shut with the other!

Energy spent < energy saved

The energy I expended on last years Minimalism Game has been eclipsed by the energy I’ve saved on a daily basis through reduce sighing, searching, stuffing and swearing!

It’s so worth it. In my head, in my heart – I know this.  With this knowledge I am excited to get stuck into round 2.

Have you noticed lasting benefits from decluttering?

 

 

 

But, why?

If, like me, you live with a three year old, then you probably ponder a seemingly endless array of “But, why?” questions everyday!

Right now, I am participating in WordPress’s Blogging 101 course . The course poses a great question, “Why do you blog and not just keep a diary?”.

Obviously, I write a blog because I want other people to read what I write. But, why?

Connection
One reason that I write for the world to read is because I want to connect with people with similar interests. Yay for other people who struggle with the indecision around hoarding vs chucking out plastic take out containers and like to share ideas about using up breadcrumbs! I’m pretty stunned that people actually read what I write. And commenters – oh my goodness, you truly make my day and give me so much motivation to continue.

Motivation
Another reason that I blog rather than keep a diary is for external accountability. I’ve only made it through the introduction of Gretchin Rubin’s Better Than Before , but I’ve already discovered that I’m clearly an “obliger” . Bascially, this means if I don’t feel like I’m letting someone down by not doing it, then chances are I won’t do it! Lame, but true. Publishing here creates an expectation amongst my audience that I will keep publishing, and that’s the kind of motivation that I need to keep writing.

Readers, commenters and followers you are the reason that I blog. I really appreciate that you give your precious time to my humble opinion. I am very grateful – thank you.

Do you blog? Why? What motivates you?

New Year challenge fatigue – and it’s still December

My January tradition is to attempt (note: not complete!) Apartment Therapy’s  January Cure . I wasn’t going to attempt it again this year. Then I saw “decluttering” in the blurb and thought maybe they are changing it up. This provoked in me an irrational need 1) to know and 2) not to miss out. So needless to say I’m signed up.

Then I got an email about Courtney Carver’s The Busy Boycott 21 Day Challenge. Oooh that sounds good.

And finally just now I have seen that Joshua Becker’s  Uncluttered starts January 1.

Decisions, decisions! Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the great simple living options – ironic huh?

Are you trying out any challenges for the New Year? Got any recommendations?

A social way to reduce food waste

It’s Friday – Food Waste Friday. I need to report in and account for my food waste, but first I must share – well a new way to share!

Introducing Social Pantry

This week I tried out a new service linking up people with food to share with those in need of food. It is called Social Pantry and it’s a network of community food sharing Facebook pages. The pages connect people who have more than enough food, with people who know someone, or are themselves, in need of a little extra.

Food waste, #foodwastefriday, social pantry, sharing economy
My first Social Pantry post

A Social Pantry has just started up in my own community and I am keen to support it. While not the primary purpose of the service, I thought it could also help me solve a food waste problem. I was given a packet of coffee capsules, but they don’t fit our machine. They have been languishing in my pantry as I haven’t been able to think of anyone to pass them onto. Usually they would remain sitting there – probably for years – until eventually being thrown away when are they are long past their best before date and of no use to anyone.

So I listed the coffee capsules – no takers as yet unfortunately.

Monthly results

While I have been slack at checking in with my food waste lately, I have still been taking photos!

Food waste, #foodwastefriday
Some of my food waste to 6 November 2015

Over the last month I have thrown away:

  • 1/2 a chicken breast
  • 1/4 of a lettuce
  • 3 potatoes

Plus two kiwifruit and four limes that I didn’t manage to take pictures of. Definite room for improvement!

How has the food waste situation been at your place recently? How do you find a good home for food you don’t need or can’t use for some reason?

#UseYourLoaf – reducing the amount of bread that goes to waste

It is Friday – Food Waste Friday – and this week, as well as reporting in on my food waste over the last two weeks, I want to focus on bread.

Entertaining overload

It’s been an exciting time around here over the last week or so. My husband’s Mum came to stay with us and we celebrated my son’s third birthday with a party for his friends and their families. Food was of course a feature of the celebration. As a host the last thing that I want to happen is to run short of food – so I always tend to over-cater.

Knowing that I would be reporting in to you all definitely had an influence on how I prepared for the party. I thought to myself “What will I do with any leftovers of this?” as I put together the menu, and when, the evening before the party, a friend advised that their family couldn’t attend due to illness I scraped one item off the menu entirely.

Needless to say getting rid cake is never a problem in my family! The only thing that I got wrong was majorly over estimating how much popcorn a group of little kids can eat. Unfortunately, by the end of the party it was already going stale and I couldn’t see a way back. So there was 2 to 3 cups of popcorn that went to waste.

#foodwastefriday, food waste
Oops – too much popcorn!

I neglected the fruit bowl this week and resulting in three oranges going to waste.

The worst thing since sliced bread

This week my Twitter feed was a-buzz with the #UseYourLoaf hashtag. Use Your Loaf is a campaign run by Love Food Hate Waste UK  to help people reduce the enormous amount of bread that is wasted.

Here in New Zealand bread is our most wasted food item – collectively we throw away 20 million loaves a year, an average of a whopping 4.4 loaves per person.

Bread waste is one area that I feel our household has well under control – well if you don’t count a wee boy who isn’t always keen on his crusts! So I thought I’d share how we do it.

We buy mostly pre-sliced loaves from the supermarket, with a packet of bread rolls every week or two. We also regularly buy pizza bases and pita bread. If we purchase a nice loaf of artisan bread from the bakery it’s usually for a specific purpose. All the pita bread, pizza bases and everyday bread is stashed in the freezer, except for the loaf we are currently eating. On an average week, we have no problem eating the bread before it goes stale. No one is particularly keen on the ends of the bread – I use them for French toast occasionally, and will have them for toast if there is nothing else, but generally they just go into the freezer.

Crumbs

The freezer is our key to keeping bread waste low. The ends of the bread and any leftover rolls or other bread goes into the freezer. I save it all up – sometimes I think it multiplies in there – and  make a big batch of breadcrumbs in the food processor. I put the breadcrumbs into a large ziplock bag and then back into the freezer they go.

#foodwastefriday, #UseYourLoaf, bread
From this …
#foodwastefriday, #UseYourLoaf, bread
To this …

It’s all good and well turning your excess bread into breadcrumbs, but you’ve then got to use them up. I find a nice crunchy topping enhances many a quickly thrown together pasta bake or casserole. However, mac and cheese alone is not going to use up all of my bread ends. You need a couple of “breadcrumb sinks” – go-to recipes that use a good cup or more of breadcrumbs.

I’ve got an old faithful Red Lentil Loaf recipe that is my go-to, but I am pleased to report I’ve found another. Tonight for dinner I tried a new recipe for Tomato and Cashew Nut Strudel. It was easy to make and tasted delicious – plus it uses 2 1/2cups of breadcrumbs!

Check out the Love Food Hate Waste website for more tips on making the most of your bread, including more recipes.

What do you do to #UseYourLoaf? Do you have a great recipe to share that uses up leftover bread?

Planning for flexibility

It is Friday – Food Waste Friday – so it’s time for me to account for my food waste over the past week. Today, I also want to talk about meal planning – specifically how to make meal planning work when you don’t like to stick to a meal plan!

Waste this week

Things are firmly back on track after being railroaded by illness for the last couple of weeks. The only waste this week was an orange, which my husband diligently disposed of before I could diligently photograph it.

Postscript: My husband didn’t throw it out, he just cut off a bit and ate the rest. What a keeper.

The best laid plans ….

Each week, I devote time to writing a meal plan, however, 90% of the time I don’t stick to it – well not to the letter.  Things come up, or when the day comes around I just don’t feel like cooking or eating what I had planned.

To accommodate this, I’ve developed a more flexible meal planning style. Here are some tips on how I make this work, while minimising food waste.

  1. Avoid over-planning

Keep your plan simple. If you like some latitude to follow your mood, planning at the level of “pasta” is probably more appropriate than “Mediterranean macaroni cheese with green salad”. Generally, I reserve being specific for when I must make a certain dish in order to avoid a food waste disaster, or company is coming over, or if I’m trying a new recipe.

  1. Start fresh

Order is important – I start the week with meals that use the ingredients that need to be eaten first.  Salads and stir-fries with lots of fresh veggies go at the start of the week. One-pot wonders that use frozen and canned veggies more towards the end of the week.

  1. Have your store cupboard on standby

The end of my week usually features a store-cupboard-standby meal – something that I can make mostly, if not exclusively, using pantry ingredients and maybe some frozen veggies. If I’ve changed things up during the week and skipped a meal on the plan, I just move everything along a day. The weeks tandby meal then gets carried over to the end of the next week, with no waste.

  1. Use your freezer

If you have freezer space, use it.  As I know how liable I am to change my mind, I freeze a lot on shopping day, even if I plan to use it within a couple of days. Yesterday, I bought and froze the pita bread we ate with tonight’s dinner. On this occasion, I stuck to the plan, but you never know, things can change in a day and I’d rather defrost something than have to throw it away.

Do you write a meal plan? Do you stick to your plan? What are your best meal planning tip?