Food Organisation Made Simple and Effective

I won’t beat around the bush; food waste is a massive problem here in the UK, and part of it is down to bad food organisation at home. You might think that chucking away the odd squishy banana, mouldy loaf of bread, or out-of-date half bag of flour isn’t anything to cry over, but It’s not just the food you’re wasting. It’s the cost and energy of producing the food, the travel it has to go on, and the emissions caused. Shopping from local independent stores, from farmers’ markets and sourcing food produced in the UK as locally as possible has become a huge topic, and for good reason. This is what many people don’t realise, and that is why food waste is such a huge concern. Think of how much went into producing that brown banana you just threw out, and it’s not just the environmental impact; it’s the impact on your purse. When you waste food, you effectively put money into the bin.

According to Tesco PLC the average British family wastes approximately £800 worth of edible food a year. That could pay or partly pay your rent or mortgage for a month! If you’re thinking, wowser trouser, you’re not alone. 65% of UK adults admit to buying too much food that ends up being thrown away, as highlighted by The Felix Project.

So, if that’s just shocked you into prioritising reducing your food waste, listen up!

Getting organised massively reduces food waste.

As a professional organiser, I see a scary amount of food waste every week in client homes, which is why I shout about getting organised to prevent it from the rooftops. When it’s just you chucking the odd thing out, it doesn’t seem like a big problem. Imagine if most weeks you emptied cupboards full of out-of-date tins, bags and jars into the bin as I so often do.

Food Organisation Made Simple and Efficient | The Space Creator

The common misunderstanding is that decluttering for food organisation is wasteful. Well, yes, of course, decanting tonnes of food into the compost bin, or even worse, the general rubbish, is a waste. However, that waste would never have occurred had those people been organised with food. Now, I’m not highlighting this to shame anyone; far from it, because life happens. I’m using this as a true and common example of how imperative it is that we all take responsibility for decluttering our food cupboards and get organised for good.

You see, once you have food organisation sussed with organised cupboards, freezers and fridges that aren’t full to the brim, you’ll stop wasting food. You’ll be able to see what you have in, without buying, just in case. You’ll use food up before it expires. Not only that, you’ll start to save money on your weekly shop and likely eat more healthily, too. Food organisation should be a priority on your decluttering and organising journey.

So what are the steps to effective food organisation?

1. Declutter the food in your kitchen

Before you can solve your food organisation dilemmas, you need to declutter. How you do this is going to depend on a few factors, including your available time, space and energy levels. The ideal situation is to pull everything food-related out of your pantry, larder or cupboards, categorising it into piles of like items while you go. If this isn’t possible, do one item at a time, check the date and decide whether to keep, donate or bin. If you tend to get overwhelmed, exhausted or only have a few minutes per day to spare, choose one cupboard, shelf or drawer at a time and do the one item at a time method. For a tailored plan of action, you can book a 1:1 Kickstart Power Hour with me; the money you save by no longer wasting food and cash will quickly cover the investment and the mental clarity gained will be priceless.

For items that are still in date but you realistically won’t use in time, take them to your local food bank or supermarket with a food donation basket. Olio is a fantastic free app to download. Aimed at preventing food waste, you can even list food that has passed its use-by date, providing you think it could still be eaten; most tins, herbs and spices can still be safely consumed way past the date. Use your common sense, but ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the person accepting the item from you, so don’t worry, you won’t have a lawsuit on your hands. Let’s say you’re off on holiday, and you have half a loaf of perfectly edible bread that won’t fit in your freezer. You can even list that!

If you have a glut of items that are too far gone to donate, please, as much as you can, try to decant the contents of any jars, bags or tins into the food waste rather than lobbing it all in the general rubbish bin. It’s so much less wasteful if you’re able to do this. Then rinse out the jars or tins and recycle them. I understand that not all areas of the UK have food recycling yet, and I also completely understand that it can be tough if you’re pressed for time, have a full food waste bin or are just incredibly overwhelmed. We want to make food organisation as eco as possible. I see every single situation in my line of work, so please don’t feel guilty, but do make a point of getting organised and being mindful of purchases going forward.

To make it easier, ensure you do this on a day when your food bin is empty and you have enough time. Again, you could break it up by doing a little bit each day or week if you have a huge amount to get through.

2. Sensible food organisation

As a professional organiser, thinking of having food together in one area is obvious, but I often see food scattered about kitchens with pasta and biscuits stuffed in a cupboard with glasses and plates; this is not good food organisation. So, basic kitchen organisation 101. Keep food with food. Even if you have a teeny, tiny kitchen, dedicate at least one cupboard, shelf or drawer to food alone.

Group like with like together. Tins together and ideally subcategorise so beans, soups, et cetera. Pasta and rice together, condiments, snacks. Do you see where I’m getting at? If you’d like me to do this for you, don’t forget you can book me in-home here for 3, 4 or 6 hours.

Food Organisation Made Simple and Efficient | The Space Creator

To prevent food waste further, check the dates and put the ones that need using up first at the front or top to ensure you see them easily.

You may have seen fancy matching jars and containers with everything decanted into them on some social media channels, but a word of warning. Decanting can sometimes result in more food waste! Food organisation doesn’t automatically mean decanting. It takes maintenance and discipline. Yes, you can easily see how much you have and when you need to buy more, which is the main benefit alongside the aesthetically pleasing aspect, but there is a lot of work to be done to keep on top of it. If you don’t have enough time to maintain lots of decanted containers, please don’t be tempted to do this with all ingredients. Stick around for my upcoming blog post for all the details on decanting food.

3. Take inventory

Now that you have decluttered and organised your food supplies, you want to take an inventory of everything you have. This might seem like a big or perhaps even pointless task, food organisation overkill, but bear with me. After seeing the new space and organisation, you’ll likely want to create even more space. Think about how long it takes you to write a shopping list when you have to rummage through cupboards and the freezer or how much waste you create if you don’t bother! Imagine if, instead, you could grab your food inventory and scan through, taking a matter of seconds…

Having a list of ingredients makes meal planning so much easier and quicker, and not just that; you’ll actually have a cheaper shop because you can choose meals that incorporate what you already have. Shop your home first! Once you’ve done this, you could potentially halve your food bill for the next few weeks; trust me, I’ve done it myself and for hundreds of clients! You can pick up my pre-made, easy-to-use food inventories here in my Meal Prep Bundle. This food organisation 101 guide comes complete with a how-to-use section, fridge, freezer and pantry inventories, meal planning tips, shopping lists and weekly meal planners with various designs to suit your style!

4. Don’t forget the fridge

The fridge is something that tends to be less urgent on the inventory front as food gets consumed more quickly, hopefully! That being said, fridge organisation is key to achieving a good level of food organisation. It’s still handy to use inventories for condiments and open jars because, generally, once opened, things need to be used within a certain amount of time. So writing the ingredient with the date you opened it will further help to prevent food waste.

Quick fridge food organisation tips:

1. Keep like with like together, e.g. all veg, cooked meats, raw meats, cheese. 

2. Keep raw meat away from cooked meats, ideally raw at the bottom in case of leakage (sorry, vegans) and cooked meat above. 

3. Turntables like these are great for condiments and sauces if you can fit one in. Once open, they must go in the fridge!

4. Drawers like these are handy for cheese and dairy, and containers are good to keep different produce separated if you can efficiently fit them in! Label them if it helps you and your family to keep it tidy.

5. Put anything that needs eating first at the front or on top to remind you and be easily visible.

6. Try to give your fridge a QUICK clean out every week before your food shop; you’ll feel more on top of life.

If you want to see some behind-the-scenes of my fridge organisation, you can watch this YouTube video by clicking here.

5. Plan your meals

To prevent future food waste and stocks from piling up again, I strongly recommend meal planning. For a full breakdown of how to do this effectively, check out my meal planning blog post here, or grab the Meal Prep Bundle! Something I use myself and highly recommend to busy families within my online community is Gousto. A recipe box delivery service saves a lot of time, further prevents food waste and makes cooking healthy, quick and interesting meals super easy. To read my full review, click here.

I hope you found this food organisation article useful. I’d love to hear how you get on with organising your food; let me know in the comments or share your win over in The Space Creator Community’s private Facebook group.

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Looking to work with me in person or virtually? Click here to view my services and here to make a booking. Or email me at amy@thespacecreator.co.uk if you have any questions.

If you have a particular problem area and need help figuring out your goals with a solid plan of action, moral support and motivation, why not book a Kickstart Power Hour session with me? It might just be the nudge to set you on the right foot to start living your dream life…

Have a fabulous weekend! 

Amy xx

-Your decluttering bestie

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