It’s Monday, so welcome to Day One of our ‘Declutter & Spring Clean’ Tenner Week budgeting challenge. We’re starting the week with a few very quick declutters to make life easier and more streamlined, and today’s activity is to declutter your herb and spice rack.
Herbs, spices and other seasonings are fantastic for giving relatively plain meals a whole lot more zing and interest, so it’s great to have a selection of them within easy reach. For most of us, this means a spice rack, a box on a kitchen worktop or a shelf in a cupboard. It also might include salt, pepper and maybe a sauce or two.
As wonderful as these collections are, they’re often a spot in our kitchens where ingredients go to die, or get forgotten about and turn into dust. In particular, old ground spices can really lose their flavour or even become bitter, and they can go off.
Before we start this tidying and organising exercise have a good think about the herbs, spices and other condiments you use regularly, and semi-regularly. For example, in my house we use black pepper, Italian style dried mixed herbs, ordinary mixed herbs, chilli flakes, smoked paprika, ground cinnamon and dried oregano the most. Our semi-regular ones include cumin, coriander, bay leaves and a few others. Be honest with yourself.
The main aim today is to make your most-used flavourings the easiest to reach for, so there’s less time spend looking around when you’re trying to make a quick meal, and to make sure they’re still in date.
Here’s the quick declutter:
- Get everything out of your spice rack, out of the ingredients box, or off your seasonings shelf.
- Clean the rack, box or shelf and dry it well.
- Go through your seasonings – has anything gone very out of date? Is there anything you don’t like or never use?
- Make four piles: throw away, give away, keep (most used) and keep (less used).
- Get the ‘throw away’ pile herbs and spices into the food waste bin, and recycle or wash and reuse the containers.
- Check the ‘most used’ seasonings and wipe or dust their containers if necessary.
- Make it convenient – put favourites at the top of the spice rack, place them at the front of the shelf etc, or put them together in a container nearer to the cooker.
- Wipe/dust the ‘semi-regular usage’ ingredients, and group them together so they aren’t in the way of your most used seasonings.
- Look at the ‘give away’ ingredients if you have any, and put them to one side to give to a food bank (must be unopened and in date) or other local food project, or to give away on the Olio app. If possible, get them out of your home before the end of the week.
- Add anything important to your shopping list, such as new ingredients or a small storage box.
Hopefully this should only take a few minutes. You might like to set a timer to help you get everything done on time and avoid any distractions.
What’s happening here
I’m just getting used to the idea of having £10 for grown-up pocket money instead of the tenner being my total personal spend for the week (you can also do a £25 personal budget if you need to do a grocery shop), but my plan today is definitely to have a zero-spend day if possible.
There’s a rough menu for the week that I wrote up yesterday, and the aim is to avoid buying any food if we can, then I can just have my £10 pocket money kept completely separate for a treat or two. There are some weird unlabelled bits and bobs in the freezer that are probably Christmas leftovers and I’m determined to use those up, plus there’s enough in the fridge, and fruit bowl to see us through. I froze some bread and milk as well, so we hopefully won’t run out of everyday staples either.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that there are lots of almost-empty bags of pasta shapes in the cupboard – why is there always half a portion left in them? – and I’m going to try to work out how to use them all up by checking their different cooking times.
I’m itching to clean up the two little shelves we have our herbs and spices on, and I’m sure there are a few seasonings there that’ve gone well past their good-to-eat time. Some of them are years old and probably taste like dust and not much else. My plan is to wash and keep any jars and pots, and maybe get a small refill or two from a plastic-free shop after the budgeting challenge is over.
How do you think we’ll get on today? Do you have any interesting plans?