use it up | new start for your kitchen

use it up
From time to time I feel the need to reorganize my kitchen. To clean all my cupboards, to rearrange my compartments and to use up all my food. This will not only avoid food waste, but it allows for a thorough clean-up of all my cupboards and saves me a lot of money. Instead of going shopping at a store, I shop in my pantry (cupboards… but pantry sounds so much nicer^^).


Do you also want a new start for your kitchen without spending any money? Let’s get started, shall we? 🙂



Use it up.



Let’s start with the easiest part: the fridge.You probably won’t have a lot of food in there that is edible for years to come, right? However, there are always these random jars of pickles, the half-empty jam jar or a variety of odd sauces in the back somewhere.


clear everything out and start cleaning. Take everything out of the fridge and clean it thoroughly. You will not want to put anything in such a pretty fridge if you know you will not eat it anyways.


sort through it all. Now you have all the food in front of you that will spoil quickly. Think about meals you could cook with it. If you know, you will not want to eat it in the foreseeable future, try to give it away to someone who likes to eat, for example, pickles.


store it properly. Before you put the food items back into the fridge, consider rearranging it. The temperature is not the same in every compartment. Therefore, some areas are better for specific types of food than others. To avoid any unnecessary food waste, have a look at this article (you will find a link to a guide under “store food correctly”).




My freezer is usually jam-packed in the middle of January. Not this year, though… We had a blackout, while we were away on our summer vacation and all the carefully frozen fruits and vegetables melted. No worries, I di not throw anything away. I made berry cobbler and fruit syrup.

This just means that my freezer is practically empty at the moment. Bread, meat, plums and a few herbs – that’s it. No need to empty it right away.

However, winter is the perfect time to defrost the freezer! Let’s tackle the next part of the kitchen:


label it. Write on the container or bag what you put in there. No, you will not remember it. Yes, I am absolutely sure. Especially leftovers or soups are very hard to identify. Make your life a little easier and just write down what it is.


record the date. Don’t put down the pen yet. Write down the date, so you know how long something has been in the freezer when you take it out. This way, you can be sure it will not be in the freezer for too long.


wrap it up. Freezer burn is a thing. Try to avoid it and store your food in adequate containers. No! Do not take out the plastic bags. You can use cloth bags for the bread, jars without shoulders for pretty much everything or your old plastic containers (I use them for my organic waste and compost).


Would you be interested in more information on “freezing without plastic”? Just let me know and I will get to work on a separate blog post 🙂


defrost the freezer. Now for the best part: defrost your freezer. Make sure it has below 0°C outside and put the remaining food out in the cold. Defrost your freezer and be happy about the increased energy efficiency and the room you gained!



pantry or cupboards.

Most of my food items are stored in various cupboards. I have different compartments for tea, spices, oil and vinegar, breakfast stuff, preserves, backing stuff and dried goods. Additionally, I have my jar collection full of legumes, beans and grains.


Is it still edible? Take everything out of the cupboards and figure out if it is still good to eat. Look, smell, taste. If you bought your food package-free, you will not find a best-before-date anyways 😉


new recipe ideas. The problem with this kind of food items is that we have often bought them for a specific dish and cannot think of another way to use it. Do you need inspiration for new recipes? Erin (Naturally Ella) has a whole series on exactly that issue: pantry reset.


cool and dry conditions. Make sure your food is stored in cool and dry cupboards. I really like my glass jars because they help to avoid damp food and moth invasions. Maybe you have a cellar where you can store potatoes or preserves. I just want to warn you: “Long absent, soon forgotten” happens faster than you would think.


new arrangements. Everyone has cupboards that they do not use as often as others. With all the food in front of you, consider rearranging your usual order. Take kitchen appliances out of easy to reach cupboards and put the food in there. This will help you to avoid further food waste in the future. Nothing can rot unnoticed in the hidden places of your kitchen anymore 😉



further information.

You will find a detailed guide on storage without plastic here: the definitive guide to food storing without plastic.

“Use it up”-challenges  for you to try out: our next life and My Zero Waste


Do you try to use up all your groceries systematically? If not, what other strategies do you use to avoid food waste?



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