Less, Please! Capsule Kitchen: Step 2 (w/ bonus Inventory Worksheet)

Less, Please! Capsule Kitchen: Step 2 (w/ bonus Inventory Worksheet)

Kitchen Clean-Out + Pantry Inventory

This is the second in a series that will walk you step-by-step through the process of building a Capsule Kitchen to streamline your grocery list and simplify the weekly process of meal-planning, shopping, and cooking—while helping you to meet your kitchen-related goals.

Step two of the Capsule Kitchen project is really similar to how you would start a capsule wardrobe, but instead of cleaning out, organizing, and observing your closet, you are going get to work on your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Knowing what you already have is essential to curtailing wasteful shopping and you’ll end up with a fresh and organized kitchen to start your capsule with a clean slate.

Clean out your fridge, freezer, and pantry

Take everything out so that you confront and take stock of every item. Throw away anything that is expired, funky, or has been in your freezer for more than 6 months. Deep clean and logically organize your shelves and doors so that everything has, and will have, a place. Use appropriately sized containers to further define the spaces (think KonMari method closet). You should feel happy when you open the doors to your refrigerator and pantry.

There are much cuter examples out there of neatly organized fridges, but for the sake of transparency, this is my actual fridge situation.

There are much cuter examples out there of neatly organized fridges, but for the sake of transparency, this is my actual fridge situation.

Use What You Have

You will not inventory perishable items in your fridge that will expire in less than 2 weeks (fresh meat, seafood, produce, dairy, eggs). Instead, do not buy groceries for a few (3-5) days and to try make these items work until you use them up. As you take a small break from any kind of grocery shopping, pay attention to what really feels essential to you and your family. This will be a really important step to help you determine your capsule staples (Step 3), which will build the main bulk of your capsule kitchen. (Also, if there are any prepared foods in your freezer that you don’t see fitting into the vision of your capsule, try to use them up now.)

Create A Capsule Kitchen Inventory

For the rest of your less-perishable items, use this free worksheet to inventory what you have. As you making shopping lists and do weekly meal-plans, the inventory will help you keep track of what you have so you can envision possibilities and make sure that you don't double up on ingredients that you already have.

As you organize, keep these tips in mind:

1. Store produce that has a stem in the fridge like you would fresh cut flowers. 2. Store bulk ingredients in clear, sealed containers. 3. Keep ingredients that you cook with often within easy reach, like this box of spices above my stove. 4. Store ingredients that you often use together in a container or tray so you can pull them out all at once.

1. Store produce that has a stem in the fridge like you would fresh cut flowers. 2. Store bulk ingredients in clear, sealed containers. 3. Keep ingredients that you cook with often within easy reach, like this box of spices above my stove. 4. Store ingredients that you often use together in a container or tray so you can pull them out all at once.

  •  Store as few things on top of the counter as possible for a clean, decluttered look and open work space.
  • Take a second to think through what isn’t working about your current kitchen set up and rearrange your storage system to make it work logically for your everyday needs.
  • Store things you typically use together in the same place in a container or tray for easy access. For example, I use a container for small baking ingredients like baking soda, baking powder, salt, yeast, and vanilla so that when I'm baking, I only have to pull one thing out instead of six. I also keep all my most frequently used spices in a basket above my stove so that they are easily accessible.
  • Throw away any open bags or boxes and store your pantry ingredients in sealed, clear containers.
  • Make sure you are storing your produce correctly so that it will stay fresh for as long as possible. This resource is helpful, and one easy way to remember how to store produce is to think about how it is stored at the grocery store. Refrigerated or room temperature? Misted or dry? Sealed or ventilated?
  • Now would be a great time to sharpen your knives, season your cast iron, and restock any cooking supplies you need. Make your kitchen a happy place that you want to cook in!
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