Day 1 Assignment (if you are taking Sunday off, do this on Monday):
(Please note, the assignments for Day 1 and Day 2 are especially ambitious. You are not intended to finish them in one day, but work for an hour or two toward the list. Then, when there is a daily assignment that you've recently done or one that doesn't apply to you, you can come back and work on these lists.)
Go through the following list until you are done or have spent an hour, whichever comes first (of course if you are on a roll, there's nothing stopping you from doing more).
* Put away any out-of-season decorations (for most of you, this will be Halloween, for me it is Easter :O
Then, since Thanksgiving is the next holiday, let's start in the kitchen:
* Go through the fridge and throw away anything expired/questionable or unwanted
* Go though your pantry and make a meal plan for the week using many of the older items you find (think of the stuff you left in your fridge as well). Throw away anything expired/questionable or unwanted. Don't forget the spice rack and on top of the fridge!
* Throw away all expired or unwanted medications/supplements (even if they are not in your kitchen)
* Look through all your cupboards. Do you have more cooking gadgets than you really need? Several pitchers or pizza cutters? How many do you really use/need? Keep only the best ones.
* Go through your cleaning chemicals. If it's nasty or old or ineffective, it goes.
* Clear off the kitchen table. If it's not used during dinnertime (or is a centerpiece or something else that really belongs there), it's got to go somewhere else.
* Wipe down the blinds/ windowsills
* Clean the windows, at least on the inside
I really don't expect people to get this far in one hour, but here are some more ideas:
* Wipe down the faces of your cupboards unless you've done this recently
* Sweep, mop, clean the baseboards
* Clear off the countertops and put everything in a box that doesn't belong in the kitchen. Put the items away after the countertops are clean.
* You could, you know, do the dishes
We are going for a clean sweep here, so don't feel guilty if you throw away things you spent good money on. Let's just move on and learn our lessons:
* Not to buy particular products again that look tastier on the box than they are
* Not to buy things in bulk that we only use half before it goes stale
* Not to buy more ingredients than we reasonably will use (even if we have grand culinary dreams ;)
(I'm only writing these because these are lessons that I desperately need to learn!)
Imagine your kitchen stocked with only high quality, fresh, tasty, and mostly healthy items. There is enough room in the cupboards and pantry that you can move things around without having to re-pack all the sardines and it is easy to see what you have. Now imagine how it would be to cook Thanksgiving dinner for your family in a clean, functional kitchen. Worth throwing out those 6 boxes of Jello pudding you got on sale and decided you didn't like that much? Remember you can donate unexpired items that you don't want to the food pantry; it might help you let go if doing so will benefit others.
You can consider taking a picture of everything you got rid of or write a summary in your journal. Doesn't it feel good? Do you feel like you have a little more breathing room?
If there is something you don't think you'll buy again, but you'd like a chance to use rather than throwing it away, get out a Sharpie and put your own kill date on it. Then, you won't feel like mean old me came through and told you to get rid of it and you never had a chance to try to use it. Put a date on it a month or two from now and you'll have that time to use it. Throw things away when they reach their kill date (even if it's before the expiration date - and consider donating in this case). This way, if you have something gourmet that you don't usually use it can still be part of an overall system for keeping your pantry uncluttered.
Post your progress! I don't expect you to get very far on this list in an hour (maybe not even past the first item!). Depending on how people do, we'll probably re-visit it.