Food Clutter

Maintenance came today to fix our ice maker. It hasn’t worked since we moved in. Having a working ice maker wasn’t on our priority list, since we’ve lived without this luxury for the past 18 months, but nonetheless, they thought it needed to be repaired. Or more precisely, turned on. Whoever last moved the refrigerator hadn’t turned the water supply back on. Now, we have ice.

What’s the point of this story, you ask? Ice makers take up a freakin’ lot of room! The new fridge is already a downgrade in space from the one at our old apartment, which was pretty tiny all by itself; so I’m finding myself overwhelmed by a new kind of clutter – food clutter.

Angie laughs when I say food clutter. It’s not funny. Imagine bags of peppers and cobs of frozen corn falling on your head every time you reach for the ice cream…or worse, imagine that there’s no room for the ice cream! Better yet, don’t imagine…look at this mess…


Yes, it’s an organized mess but still…it’s a mess.

We have no room in either freezer and my mom’s talking about getting a bushel of apples next week! Her suggestion – get a bigger freezer. The minimalist in me immediately started screaming, “Are you kidding?? The solution to clutter is never a bigger container!” Then the practical money-saving me countered with her own argument, “A bigger freezer will allow you go grow more of your own food. A bigger freezer will hold all those containers of ice cream that were on clearance for 99 cents at Food Lion last week.” Practical me has a point but seriously, do we really need 14 quarts of ice cream?

If we lived on a homestead and grew all of our own food, then yes, a bigger freezer might be a necessity. But we live in suburbia, next door to ALDI and one-stop-light away from Kroger. We pass Food Lion 3 times a week going out to my mom’s house. In other words, we have access to food.

The freezer was supposed to be a place for us to store the fruits of our garden so that we could enjoy them after the growing season was over. It was never meant to be a storage zone for the birthday cake we couldn’t finish but didn’t have the heart to throw away or those grocery “deals” that were just too good to pass up.

(When we moved, I found little tiny freezer bags of ham leftover from Easter. They were supposed to be used as pizza toppings but with so much stuff obscuring them from view, we forgot about them. Same story with a jar of leftover sausage crumbles.)

Don’t think for a moment that I’m not fully aware that this whole post is a rant on the pitfalls of abundance. I do feel very blessed to have the problem of too much food rather than being faced with hunger. Which is exactly why food clutter (albeit funny to say) is an important topic.

As people who believe food waste is a horrible problem here in America, we often find ourselves trying to “rescue” food. We gleaned our neighbors garden to keep it from going to waste. We picked peaches from someone’s driveway, pears from another neighbor, and grabbed onions rolling down the road once when they fell out of a truck. When we’re invited to a get-together, we usually leave with all the leftovers.

But then there comes that fine line.

As a minimalist, we believe that we should never have in our possession more than what we can use in a reasonable amount of time – and that includes food. Packing the freezer when we moved was an eye-opening experience for me. It called me out on my own failures. Freezing goods from the garden or Farmer’s Market is a good thing. Even freezing a few leftovers and rescued baked goods is okay. Continuing this behavior into perpetuity without ever eating anything from the freezer, that’s no so good. That’s kind of like hoarding (eeks!) or at least not very minimalist of us. 

So we won’t be buying a bigger freezer, at least not at this point in time. If someday our garden starts to produce more than we can eat or share, then we might reconsider. Or we might invest in canning supplies instead. With our tomatoes and cucumbers winding down to just a salad portion every few days, this is a bridge we can cross next summer. As for now, the solution to our freezer problem is the same as it would be if we were talking about our closet. We’ve got to declutter. Unlike the closet though, this will be a much slower process. We have to work the food clutter into our meal plan without adding to in the meantime.

Rest assured, none of the food will be wasted…not even the birthday cake.

Do you have food clutter? How did you tackle it? What’s the one thing in your freezer you never want to run out of?

PS – Please don’t beat me up over the freezer bags. Our path to a plastic-free home is a work in progress and I long ago ran out of freezer jars. The ones we do have are buried in there somewhere.

10 thoughts on “Food Clutter

  1. You have to have room for ice cream at all times!! 🙂 We ran into this a few months ago. Both our freezer and pantry had some interesting items. We did a month long challenge and ended up with an amazing low grocery bill! It was either toss because it was beyond gross or eat!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Absolutely! Ice cream is a must at all times! We decided last night to challenge ourselves to use at least one item from the freezer per day until it’s down to a “normal” level. This pretty much means we’ll be eating squash every day until Thanksgiving LOL.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I think every one has some level of food clutter. We’ve started clearing on the first of each month when we get paid and make a big shopping trip. The freezer stuff usually gets used the last half of the month and looks pretty bare by the end of the month.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s how we used to operate when we lived in Florida and I like it much better. Stock up once a month, use what you have. I think we just went crazy with all the fresh produce this summer. It was everywhere and I think we thought we had to have ALL of it 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have to watch out for food clutter too! This is our third year belonging to a CSA and I’m learning to use the fresh produce as we go. I’ve done only a little canning of tomatoes and no freezing of produce. There’s something to be said for eating fresh with the seasons even though we find that for a couple of weeks we feature pretty much the same produce items. I try for a diversity of recipes but there are a couple of favorites that get repeated a lot. Often my decision about what to make for supper is determined by the question “what is the most perishable and needs to be used first?” Beets, carrots, kohlrabi, other root veggies, and even cabbages will hold a long time in the fridge. We don’t own a freezer and have a relatively small refrigerator/freezer combo so I try to use up close to everything before shopping again.

    P.S. Tomatoes are easy to can without special equipment. I use a boiling water method since I don’t want to buy a pressure caner. As long as you only put in tomatoes and add the proper amount of lemon juice it’s really safe and easy (quick web search will give you plenty of instructions.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great suggestions! I have been afraid of pressure canning so I’ll definitely look more into the boiling method for next year. This was our first year with the CSA so I completely understand the repetitive meals. For a while it seemed like every dish we made had a zucchini in it.

      Liked by 1 person

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