Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Kitchen Clean Out- Part 1- Refrigerator/ Freezer

(Warning: Long and wordy post about how I had an epiphany about wasting food and how I am attempting to fix it.)

Have you seen those commercials where they have people throwing food away while telling how much money Americans lose every year by wasting food?

Well last week I realized I was probably contributing to that average.

We eat at home 90% of the time.  I cook almost every night.  Drew takes his lunch to work.  I try to plan meals for the week, but it just doesn't always pan out.  I buy a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables, but then I get lazy and don't always make the meals they were intended for.

As most of you know eating healthy, mostly whole food meals, isn't always cheap or super fast and convenient.  It takes time and preparation.

On a typical week day I clean up breakfast and then start thinking of what I can make for dinner.. and then I think of it again at lunch... and then at about 3:30/ 4:00 I start to panic internally because I have to make it now or I am going to fulfill the stereotypical housewife when my husband gets home,  in her pajamas with a messy house and nothing to show for the day.

I really hate feeling like that.  I like to eat dinner with my family and I don't like resenting them for asking me what were eating for dinner.  I don't like to feel like I can never have time for myself to workout or play with Alaire or blow dry my hair at the end of the day because THESE PEOPLE WANT DINNER.

During this pregnancy I have had bouts of insomnia.  Sometimes I am up from 2am-4am or I wake up at 5am for the day.  I usually just get out of bed and sit in the living room on the iPad, so I don't wake anyone else up.  I usually end up on Pinterest at some point and recently I have been "researching" other peoples' plans to prepare dinners for entire months in a day.  I get super motivated reading how these people save so much money and in the end, time by doing their freezer meal plans.

Like I said before I realized I was wasting a lot of money on food. The month of February I kept every  receipt for every single purchase I made. I filled out a Dave Ramsey budget, just to see how we compare to his suggestions for the average American.  We spent almost as much money on food as we do on our mortgage.  WTH??  I was fine with it until I cleaned out my refrigerator/freezer and our deep freezer.  I threw an entire garbage bag out of our drawer freezer alone.  There was a lot of wasted meat and frozen fruit and vegetables that weren't stored properly after opening.  

I was getting ready to make a shopping list after I got done cleaning. I ended up finding the ingredients for 10 dinners, WITHOUT buying a single thing.  That is so pathetic.  I then decided that I will not be going  to the grocery store multiple times a week.  I was buying and wasting so much. I was also buying things that weren't on my list and just pretending that they were part of the grocery bill.  If you are anything like me, you run to target for a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread and you come home with a few outfits for your kids, a swimsuit, and some new plastic storage containers for their seasonal end cap.  An under $5 trip turned into a $70 trip. (BTW Target puts those cute seasonal items on an end cap for a reason... suckers like me: )

If you saw this picture on my Facebook and Instagram last night, then you know that I made a whole table full of meals last night.  I am going to tell you how I did it, how I planned for it, how much I spent, and what I actually ended  up with.  Of course I will give you all of the recipes too.  Just bear with me while I get it all organized enough to share it with you.

You are really going to think I am batsh!t when I say that i still  have a handful of meals to make that require a little bit of cooking before freezing.  I will get to that later though.

If you think you might want to try to prepare some make ahead meals for your family, then this is my advice for getting started.

  • Clean out your refrigerator, including condiments, jars, etc.  
  • Clean out your freezer
  • Clean out your deep freeze (If you have one, and you DO NOT have to have one!!!!)
  • Clean out your spice cupboard 
  • Clean out your pantry or food storage(pair like items together, especially the canned goods)
I know that little list alone can be super overwhelming.  Do one at a time, and trust me when you start realizing how much food you have in your cupboards and how much is expired or empty it will be a snowball of motivation to move on to the next item on the list.

If you don't clean out all of your food and ingredients, you may think you have items that have actually gone bad.

So, to give you some motivation I will show you what I did with my refrigerator/ freezer.  To clean both of them out it took me maybe an hour max (and that is with stopping to take pictures and attend to Alaire)

Tools I used:

  • Clorox wipes
  • screw driver (Yes, a screw driver)
  • Vacuum with hose

Okay so lets get started.  If you are going to clean your fridge out, just do it right the first time.  It will make the next time you do it much easier and quicker.

My one piece of advice for any type of organization is to not make it too complicated.  Put things in the most practical spots for your family's use.  If you make it to hard to keep clean, you will earn your staring role in the next Lifetime movie by going ballistic the first time someone puts something back out of place.

This is my door before.  Full of condiments that are half empty, expired and have product running down the sides.

 This is the main refrigerator.  It not horrible, but it is a mess.

 Meats and Cheese Drawer

Start by taking out all of the items in one drawer or one shelf.  Do it this way for two reasons: if you don't have time for the whole fridge at once, and you won't be overwhelmed with all of the crap.
I then vacuum out all of the crumbs.  Don't start by wiping the drawers out with something wet if there are crumbs.  Get them out with the vacuum.  I promise it makes this job 100x faster.
Wipe out the drawer with a clorox wipe or soapy wash cloth.

BOOM DONE!  Toss anything old, moldy, expired, or almost empty that you know won't get used.  Put everything back and shut the drawer. 

Fruit Drawer Before

If you have time, literally take the smaller drawers out.  Vacuum where the drawer goes and wipe it out.  This is where the spills end up.  Quick rinse these small drawers out in the sink or dump out the crumbs, and put back in place.  If you have a lot of loose fruit like cuties, put them in a tupperware without a lid or a produce container to wrangle them together.

Fruit Drawer After

Vegetable Drawer Before
Vegetable Drawer After

 I cut up most of the bulk vegetables and put them in freezer bags for soups and crock pot meals.  I put the rest in a tupperware to use for snacks.
 Combine almost empty tubs and containers to take up less space.

 This container was taking up so much space and it only had a tiny bit of food in it.
 Here is the container it fit in.
Wipe down all of the glass.  If your shelves come out or slide forward I would take them out and really scrub them once in a while, especially if you have had any spills.
 So here is all of the stuff that I got rid of out of my refrigerator.  It's not a TON of stuff but it was taking up valuable space.  I probably used 10 Clorox wipes because of the vacuum.  Like I said it didn't take long, but it made the space so much cleaner.  And, because I cleaned everything out, I have a better idea of what I actually do have in there.

Here is my door cleaned out.  It is still full, but everything in it is useful and up to date.  AND almost of all my bottles and jars fit in the door instead of shuffling around on the main shelves.

Here are all of my shelves.  

 We go through a lot of eggs, so I put one set sideways in the back, so I can fit more.

And it's done.  I can see what is in it and it is CLEAN!!!

Next is the freezer, then I swear this post will be over.
 These are some of the items I had to throw out of my freezer : ( 

(I have a drawer freezer with the french door fridge on top.)
Again Take out everything out of each compartment.  This is where the vacuum comes in most handy.  Drawer freezers end up with a lot of stuff in the bottom of them.  Don't be surprised you are going to find hair in there too.
 Vacuum it, and then wipe it down.

 This is the rubber suction piece on the drawer that seals the door shut.  Clean that out too while your at it.  Our fridge is only a few years old and it was NASTY!!

The screwdriver works great for any little groves that may have dried liquids stuck in them.  I wrap a Clorox wipe around the tip and get all of the junk out.

 Put everything back in the freezer.  
 On the left I put all of the unopened vegetables and meat and on the left the odds and ends stuff.
 In the top drawer I put any leftovers that I froze and any packages that have been opened.  
Most of the stuff I had thrown out were things like this that had been spilled because they had bounced around the freezer and weren't shut tight.  Now I know to look her for something first before opening something new.
And here is the final bag that I took out of that freezer.  It was HEAVY too.

I hoped this helped someone get motivation to clean out their refrigerator or freezer.  I did the deep freeze too but it was pretty simple.  I mostly just went through it paired like items together and made a list of what I had and how much of it.

Next I will share how I prepared for the giant meal prep that I did yesterday.  I will tell you where I got recipes and how I compiled a streamline shopping list.  

You can use the same method to make meals for a week too, it doesn't have to be a month. 

 Don't be overwhelmed or think that I am one of those people who can  do it all, because I am not.  I am just really determined to spend more money on family vacations and less on garbage bags full of rotten and freezer burnt food.

If you have any questions you can email me at

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentines Day

I've noticed as your kids get into preschool/school and participate in other activities that little holidays like Valentines Day turn into week long events.  
I swear she got more candy at dance class than for Halloween.  We went out for donuts after dance on Tuesday.

Of all of the cookies, cupcakes, and donuts decorated for Valentines Day, Alaire picked a powdered sugar donut hole.  She ate the whole things without hands, as you do.

Tuesday night we decided to go to a local high school basketball game.  Alaire ate all of her Valentine candy and had a blast.  She brought Julip (the monkey) and tweety (that pink bird in a butterfly cage).

We made our own Valentines for her Wednesday preschool class, but kept them super simple.  Printed card stock with a ring pop on the back.

Her teachers got zebra carmel corn. (SOOO GOOD)

Preschool had a pajama party.  I fixed Alaire's hair into a heart and made her a little knit dress/pajamas to wear.

Grandma Deb and Grandpa Jim sent a big box of stickers, coloring books, candy, and frosting to make graham cracker creations.  I walked away for literally a minute and this happened...
She literally washed her arms with frosting like a surgeon going in for brain surgery.

We ended the night with dad telling her "spooky stories."  
She is obsessed with taking flashlights to bed right now.

On Valentines Day we really didn't do much.  We cut a bunch of paper hearts.  Alaire cut these all by herself.  Can you tell she has been exposed to scissors her whole life?

I found this yesterday.  Last year Alaire made me a heart out of a paperclip.  I think I'll keep it for forever.  The picture is me of course.  

I hope you all had a great Valentines Day with people you love or doing something you love.  

Have a great weekend!! If I get ambitious I might show you some photos of what were doing this weekend.  I'll give you a hint.  Ripping out carpet.  Laying wood floors : )

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Clear Vegetable Soup- One of My Favorite Recipes

I posted a picture of my favorite soup on Instagram last night.  A few people asked for the recipe.  It's freaking awesome and perfect for anytime of year.  I made it a lot last summer from fresh garden vegetables.

You don't have to use all of the ingredients that I put in, but I love it loaded.  You can also add ANY vegetables that you have on hand.  It's a great way to use up things that are going to go bad in the fridge too.

Clear Vegetable Soup


2 T Olive Oil
1/4 cup of Long Grain Rice
1-2 T Minced Garlic (I like the kind in the jar that you keep in the fridge)
1 chopped Onion

6 cups Chicken Broth
1 1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Dried Basil
1/2 Dried Rosemary
1 cup of chopped carrots
1 bunch of celery chopped
1-3 Red, Green, Yellow Peppers chopped(I buy the confetti frozen bags from Trader Joe's and use one)
2 Turnips

Bunch of chopped Kale
2 chopped tomatoes
2-4 yellow and green zucchini

In a large pot add olive oil, rice and garlic.  Heat it up to medium and cook for a few minutes.  Add the chopped onion an cook until the onions are clear.
Add the chicken broth, spices, and the first group of vegetables.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes
Finally add the second group of vegetables and finish cooking for 10-15 more minutes.

If you are going to freeze right away, add the second group of vegetables and take off of the stove after 5 minutes.  (This will help the zucchini from getting too soft.)

I hope you like it! My family always LOVES IT!   Let me know if you try it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

4 month Bump

Four Months!!! 

I am getting excited!  

This is flying by

I need to pick out stuff for the nursery

I need a car seat 

I need a drink

There it is.  I think I need to work on my self portraits.

Today is preschool day

I want someone to sneak in and deep clean my house.

I think I just got inspired to eat Chipotle for lunch

Have a good Wednesday people!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Evolution of a Craft Room

As usual, nothing is ever FINISHED, but it is so so so close!!! 

Backtracking, here is where my Craft Room/ Office started.  Love the paint, love the curtains, love the pottery barn desk ; )

Then it was simple and clean and just an office.  Obviously no storage, just everything shoved into that little black bookcase.  

I found the chest of drawers at Goodwill for $50 dollars.  It holds all of the office supplies, printer paper and what not.  It got the boot a few months ago into the living room, but is already on it's way somewhere else.

 I bought the rug at World Market.  After a month of having wool all over my freaking house, it got returned.  

Then the shit show began.  I decided to move out of my spare bedroom craft room upstairs and move into the office.  I just started hauling what I used most into the room.  (I am currently cleaning out the old room for the baby.  SO MUCH CRAP!!! I have been donating and giving most of it away.)

Next,  I built the big craft table.  It has so much storage.  Thank god, but sadly it wasn't enough.  It also took me painting it two different colors before I settled on all white.  This is by far one of the best pieces in the room.

There it is all finished.  Everyone that walks into my house comments on it, even men.  It is awesome!

I wanted to find a big old China cabinet to paint and use for more storage.  It took me a long time to find something reasonably priced that was as big as I wanted.  I found it on Craigslist for $80

It is so big and so heavy.  It weighs like a thousand lbs.  

It also blows to paint. : )  I primed it twice and that's where it has been for a few months.  Like I said it is coming together, but not finished. 

Either way, here is what it looks like now.
I took the X desk out.  It was too wide for the space.  I love that desk, but I didn't want it shoved in a corner.  (It has a new home in our bedroom)

I put together this desk from Michaels.  It is customizable.  I love it.  I can put all of the stuff away in a place that was shoved under my craft table.

I like how narrow it is.  It's perfect for my sewing machines, computer, printer, and silhouette.

Here is a view from behind my craft table.  Now you can really see how half done the China cabinet is.

This little corner needs some work too.  I have to make the canvas into some kind of artwork. I need a lamp.  That one is from our bedroom.  I also want to do something that little footstool.  It was my grandma's sewing bench, but it could use some love.

One other thing I need to do is scrape that paint off of the floor.  Whoops!~

I found these ribbon holders at Joann fabric for half off so a total of $20.  I don't use ribbon a lot but Alaire pulls it all off the spool if she gets ahold of it.  The sewing table is Drew's grandmas.  It holds an awesome old steel singer machine.  I have to get those bolts off of there so I can have the sewing machine out.  It is really beautiful.

 This is one of my favorite storage items ever!  It is also from Michaels.  It has little drawers and compartments everywhere and it is on a lazy susan.  

I made these two pillows in about an hour from supplies I already had.  

I might be addicted to making zipper closure pillows.  They are so fast and easy, but look great. 

I freezer paper stenciled this sewing machine on the blue one using my Silhouette.

That's it for now.  Hopefully soon I will have a fully painted China Cabinet, some artwork, lighting and no more paint on the floor.  

So here is the before one more time.

And the after/ current.

What do you think?  Too much?  Any other ideas?

I am going to get ready for the Super Bowl.  I hope you all eat  any and everything good that can be made from all forms of cheese and cooked in a crock pot.  I am going to do a Jillian Michaels video to try to even things out!!