Spring cleaning the kitchen: a no-buy month challenge

So, what is this all about? First of all, it’s a very strange way to start a food blog, so there’s that. At least it’s setting the tone of what you can expect from the beginning!

We all know what spring cleaning is: that time of the year when your mum went crazy and started throwing out all your crappy toys, tattered clothes and that amazing burgundy jean backpack that you swore you could use one more year, and gave you allergies by making you dust the whole damn house. Or maybe that was just my mum? 🤔

Why spring clean the kitchen?

Regardless of how insane (or not, I love you mum) your mother was, the kitchen is usually a place that doesn’t get the spring cleaning treatment. Most people have half-used packets of something and mystery frozen tupperware full of some other something.

Spring cleaning the kitchen is all about making sure your ingredients are all used up, given away to someone who can appreciate them (ask friends and family, if unopened maybe give to a local food bank, or use the app OLIO), or thrown away if past safety point.

You will save some money (though some will be used again when you re-stock, if you need to restock) and eat some ermm… creative meals, which may be mazing or just plain weird. You win some, you lose some.

I don’t necessarily do this during spring. It usually happens 2 to 3 times a year, sometimes I have so much stuff that I need a whole two months to go through the lot and other times I’m done in about 10 days. Basically, when I find myself in a cooking rut, with a messy pantry or with a whole bunch of half used packets I do a spring clean.

How to spring clean the kitchen?

The main step is to stop the influx of new ingredients. That massive weekly shop? Not gonna happen.

Shopping is kept to an absolute minimum and only for bare essentials. It might work for some to set an spending limit, or to only buy when you are truly out of something you really, really need. I’ve done both and they have their pros and cons, see what works for you.

The only things I definitely can not live without are 10 items that I will post on Tuesday with a printable that you can take to the store with you, and full explanations of why I think they are true essentials and alternatives. As a sneak peek those things are: water, salt, sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, margarine, plain flour, soya milk, vegetable stock cubes and brown onions.

I also top up vegetables and fruit, but only when I’m at rock bottom empty levels of them. All of the counter-top, refrigerated, frozen and canned options must be finished before I buy something new.

Rules

  • Buy basics that you really need, not that you want
  • Don’t live off basics, make sure you use the ingredients you already have even if they are not things you would normally use
  • Think out of the box and use online tools to help you come up with recipes and alternatives
  • Be open to trying new (and sometimes weird) recipes
  • Don’t be scared of getting rid of things you know you won’t use: gift, donate or swap
  • If you can, find a buddy. You can swap ingredients or help each other come up with ideas. Or join me on Instagram with the hashtag #springcleanthekitchen
  • Make sure you eat nutritionally sound meals
  • Go on for as long as you need to or want to. It could be a few days or several weeks.
  • Think of possible meals and write them down. Winging it can be hard when faced with a random mix of ingredients
  • Sometimes one strategically thought out non-basic ingredient can open up many possibilities (herbs and spices are good options)
  • Once done: before your first big shop, deep clean the kitchen and tidy up your tools
  • Once done: have a plan for your first big shop, or you’ll be back at the starting point straight away!

Click here to read all the posts in the Spring cleaning the kitchen: a no-buy month challenge topic. And don’t forget to check my Instagram to see what I’m eating and cooking as I go through the challenge. Join me by tagging with #springcleanthekitchen

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