Notes on Consumption

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No, this isn’t a post about old world tuberculosis.  It’s about “consuming” or even “consumerism,” the concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy.  Or in my case, how that said consumerism caused my food pantry to get out of control.  Which in a way is like tuberculosis in that it makes me sick just thinking about it.

I’ve blogged about this before, and here we are again.  I’ve been dreading it for some time, but thanks to the rain keeping us indoors on Saturday I finally broke down and decided to just do it. I cleaned out the food pantry.

Now, guessing from the photo you probably don’t believe me.  But believe me!  Just come over and inspect the two bags of trash in our dumpster or the numerous cardboard boxes and plastic bottles that filled up our recycle bin when I was done.

I started by removing all of the bottles of alcohol and all of the boxes of tea, and there was a lot!  We have a small kitchen cabinet on the wall that contained mixing bowls, shot glasses, tooth picks, lunch bags, cloth napkins, coffee filters, and other various things that don’t get used often. Earlier last week I decided I wanted to relocate all of that and so I did.  Now I had a new space for alcohol and tea!  Never mind the amount of old tea bags and old alcohol that I pitched.  Or the amount that’s still in the pantry because my cabinet filled up quick (alcohol in the back of the bottom left shelf, and tea on the bottom right). But suddenly, an entire space in the pantry was empty! I hear angels singing!

After some quick decisions on what to put where…baked goods, seasonings, canned goods, breakfast things, chips, snacks, pasta, and so on, the fun part came from deciding what to keep and what else to pitch. This pantry is both tall and deep which has both its positive and negative connotations. Positive:  there’s lots of space. Negative: there’s too much space and things get lost in the back, bottom, and very top. We have a few organization caddies in there as you can see, but I was almost tempted to jump in the car and go to the local organization store for more!

Instead, I combined things…like the 3 containers of cocoa powder we had, or the 3 half used bags of powdered sugar and the 2 bottles of cooking oil.  How does this happen you ask?  Like I said, things get lost and forgotten back there so we just end up buying more.

Then came throwing stuff out!  Oh what fun this was! We had so much freaking candy just buried in there – including Valentine’s candy from 2013!!  Christmas candy. Halloween candy. You name it. And there’s more. Half eaten bags of chips. Old cereal. Half used bags of beans. Old flavored coffees from holidays gone by, also half used. I already mentioned old tea – I threw out about six or seven half used boxes!  There were also about 3 half eaten boxes of Wheat Thins. I thought about processing these to use for breadcrumbs but we already had two cans of crumbs in there that I also combined into one.

Now, I know what you are thinking. How wasteful!  Yep, I agree. I was ashamed not only that my pantry had gotten so out of control but by how much junk food and half-used things we had that we didn’t finish and were no longer good. Or I knew we wouldn’t finish them if we hadn’t already, so I threw them out anyway. And like I said, two bags of trash and half a recycling bin later, my pantry was somewhat clean again. Or at least now I had a mental inventory of what we had.

I’m sure some of you out there suffer from sad pantry syndrome too but I’m not pointing any fingers. I’m also not going to wrap up this post with tips on how to keep your pantry clean when that’s advice I haven’t even been following. I’d like to think I’m a smart shopper.  I don’t stock up on things greedily if I don’t have the room. I like to save money. I like to talk about good deals and saving money with my friends.

But maybe what I really suck at is keeping an organized kitchen, or just like I said before…consumption. And isn’t everyone like that to some point?  We want to try new things so we buy new things and we get them home and don’t really like the new things so if we don’t have children (Hey Mikey! He likes it!) or can’t feed it to the dog, then we put said new things in the cabinet for some reason when what we should really do is cut our losses and throw it out or give it away. But then we think we are being wasteful. We paid good money for those new things.  Yep, and we also made poor decisions by even doing that but how will you know unless you try.  Yep, and how will you keep your pantry clean unless you admit to your mistakes and throw that shitty new thing in the trash.

So, there’s a life hack for all of us….don’t keep it. Give it away. Donate it. Or throw it away. I would have gladly donated some of my stuff to a local pantry but who wants half eaten boxes of Wheat Thins and old bags of Cherry Sours?  So I threw it all out. No regrets. This. Pantry. Is. Clean!

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