Before we begin today's event, I must apologize for the week's worth of radio silence from a certain Mensch. Unlike Sochi, Lafayette, Indiana has been receiving record snowfall, freezing temperatures, and general discontented misery recently. Unfortunately, windy misery fronts cause school cancellations, which means LO has been spending a great deal of time bored at home while I attempt to work with the laptop resting on BB. (Note: that doesn't work).
In any case, the weather has become springlike of late (i.e., degrees in the positive double digits), so I have hope that I will have
no few further interruptions of my writing schedule.
Today's Frugal Olympic event is refrigerator organization. Like luge relay, organization is a relative newcomer to the Olympics, although tidy frugalistas have been petitioning for its inclusion for quite some time. But considering the fact that Americans throw away 40% of the food that they purchase, this is clearly a place where frugality can shine.
J and I are definitely guilty of throwing away food. Some of this has to do with genetics. I come from a long line of women who hate to see good food go to waste--but who are also not great at figuring out what to do with odds and ends of food. This is why when I was growing up, we would keep Tupperware around for the sole purpose of "aging" leftovers in the refrigerator until they were no longer good food and could be thrown out in good conscience.
(I am also genetically related to my father, the man who would clean out his refrigerator once a year, whether it needed it or not. He would excitedly bring containers into the other room to show off the incredible colors that bacteria and mold were capable of creating in his refrigerator. And indeed, that bright blue growing on something that used to be food was quite beautiful).
But though genetics plays a role in my refrigerator chaos, most of J's and my food waste problem stems from the fact that we are both organizationally challenged. J has an engineer's mindset that seems to think "if it fits, then that's where it goes!" (Which is why you will often find a carton of eggs precariousy perched on top of a head of lettuce in our refrigerator.)
My organizational issues stem from the fact that I'm a perfectionist. If the fridge is overflowing and gross, I'd rather just throw things in there and close the door because I don't have the time take everything out, clean everything, disinfect everything, and replace it all where it belongs. So rather than make a minor improvement by removing the soon to be Humpty-Dumptied eggs from the top of the lettuce, I prefer to make it worse by shoving in whatever else I can fit.
I wish I had a picture of this chaos. (Actually, that's a lie. I'm very very glad I did not think to take a picture of that because there are some things that the wider Internet really doesn't need to see).
However I recently re-organized our refrigerator, for what I hope to be for good and for all:
(And believe me, this is a model of organization compared to our usual food maelstrom.)
However, as much as I badly want to maintain this level of organization in order to keep from wasting food, I know it's only a matter of time before J starts playing edible Tetris with our munchies and I start treating the refrigerator as if it's inhabitated by Zuul.
So, in order to help keep track of the food in there, whether or not it's easily seen/accessible or perched on something ridiculous, I will also be keeping a leftover list and an ingredient list on my refrigerator door.
And since I'm more likely to do something if I make it pretty, I've made my lists rainbow colored:
My intention is to laminate these bad boys and write on them with wet erase markers, so I don't have to go from wasting food to wasting printer ink. You are welcome to use these lists for your own refrigerator organization events at your local Frugal Olympics.
Has anyone found a wonderful refrigerator organization solution that they would like to share? It's your turn to compete! Tell me in the comments about
your kitchen organization successes (or epic failures, because of those are fun, too). One lucky Olympian who comments on any of the four frugal
Olympics posts will be entered to win a signed and personalized copy of
my new book, The Five Years Before You Retire.
You may enter up to four times (once per event), and I
will pick a winner randomly on
February 28 March 7. (Changed to reflect the fact that I am totally behind!)