Tuesday, July 13, 2010


There seem to be endless books, websites, and paid professionals around aiming to help us to declutter our homes and lives. Mostly, it seems, by throwing things out. And sometimes we do need just to say, "I'm never going to use that again" and toss it.

But I can't help having serious reservations about that (apart from the fact that I live with other people. And what the professionals never seem to touch on is - what if the other people in your household don't see clutter as a problem? What if they actually want to keep all their stuff?). Anyway - it strikes me that if we just throw out a heap of stuff, all we do is make room to buy more. Whatever urge made us accumulate stuff in the first place may not have been dealt with by throwing half of it away.

I've been decluttering on a small scale, in a rather different way. I've focussed mostly on the pantry. And I have thrown out very little - rather, I'm searching out overlooked items in the pantry, and using them up. It gives me an appreciation for the abundance that I have already, and it is making my cooking more creative. Instead of cooking the familiar standbys, and repeatedly replenishing a few familiar ingredients, I'm having to think "what can I make with that?"

So far I have used:
a half a jar of dried beans
half a packet of stuffing mix
a small jar of maraschino cherries
various packets of sauce mix
a packet of chocolate cake mix - I don't know where that came from. I never use cake mix, I bake from scratch.
several jars of honey - there are still six left. We had clover honey, blue borage honey, kamahi honey, pohutukawa honey, manuka honey, more kamahi honey, and just honey.
redcurrant jelly
dijon mustard
light sour cream
butterscotch and brandy sauce
half a jar of crumbs from breakfast cereal biscuits (Weetbix, which my New Zealand and Australian readers will know about)
some travel size jars and sachets of jam (jelly, for any Americans out there)

Recipes to follow!

I have also been using up all the odd jars and bottles of shampoo, moisturiser etc that have been hanging around - including little travel sized bottles brought home from hotels and bed and breakfasts. My skin feels well cared for, and my pantry is beginning to look quite neat and tidy.


Kay Cooke said...

What a great idea - what a fantastic conservator you are Catherine - puts me to shame, I'm more of a consumer and a thrower-away-er ... Oh dear sorry about the language - it's late!

leonie wise said...

this is such a brilliant idea. and, as i now start thinking about a time when we will need to pack up our lives again into tiny boxes and cases, i am following your lead and using things up.

carmilevy said...

You've reminded me that we need to start going through our pantry as well. When the dog breaks in to consume the overflow, it's clearly time.