The inside of the Spy Test Kitchen’s refrigerator is not a pretty sight – but it will be soon. We started 2024 with such promise. We were going to keep fruits in one drawer, vegetables in another drawer, with a bin for breads, and another bin for cheeses. Deli turkey and leftover meatloaf were to have their own drawer, along with the stick of pepperoni for Friday night pizza. The condiments should have been nestled all snug in their own bins on the door, with containers of 2% milk and half and half just below.
Instead, the mustard is filed away with some beer on a door, the bag o’salad is tucked in a drawer with the Boar’s Head Lower-Salt turkey slices, the peppers are rolling around with the apples, and last night’s leftover sausage and peppers has the pride of place, in a crumpled Baggie, on the top shelf, just at my eye level, where I tossed it last night. Plainly, there is no order here. I have never been a fan of new year’s resolutions, so thank goodness I am taking up this cudgel mid-week, mid-way through January. There will be tidiness. Eventually.
For a raft of reasons we had to buy a new fridge recently, and we are still getting to know its wily ways. We have been unlucky and flooded out by refrigerators with ice makers and water dispensers in the door, so this new one merely dispenses ice into a bin in the freezer, which is a huge improvement over the old, crotchety, leaky ice maker. (Except for the day a few months ago when Mr. Sanders accidentally dropped an open bag of Tater Tots into the ice cubes. I still think of that day, when I suck a bit of Tot up a straw with a mouthful of nice, cold fresh Diet Coke. But I digress.) It is a brand new, shiny refrigerator. The contents of the fridge should know where to go, naturally.
I laughed about an article about life in New York City recently. In New York City you can pay someone $150 per hour to come organize your life. There is a 2-hour minimum consulting fee, first of all, as the professional organizer assesses your pathetic, discombobulated way of living. If I could afford it, I could have a pro come in an reorganize my entire life! They could Marie Kondo-ize my sock drawer, my winter wardrobe of turtlenecks, sweaters and yoga pants, sort through my bottles of watercolors, and tidy up my tray of brushes. The garage would be spider-free, with the tools sorted by handle length and season. The front hall closet would have his and hers sections for winter coats and rain coats, and a shelf for artisanally crafted baskets for gloves, hats and dog poop bags. In the pantry, the boxes of stale Triscuits would be curated into designer-favored lucite containers. All sell-by dates on the artichoke hearts and canned goods would be boldly marked, in calligraphy, with Sharpies. And the books! The books would be organized by subject, and then alphabetically by author, except for the stack by my side of the bed, in which there are three I am reading, one I am considering reading, and the one I should be reading but have managed to dodge so far. Oh, then there is the linen closet, my shoebox of receipts for taxes, and the kitchen drawers – not every aspiring drawer can be a junk drawer.
Obviously the idea of hiring a professional organizer to come into our home is as much a pipe dream as living a luxurious life in Manhattan would be. I can’t afford such foolishness, and anyway, I wouldn’t want anyone rummaging in my fridge or my books. The idea of organizing our whole house is daunting. I procrastinate and I avoid major undertakings. Weak-willed, I wander through Instagram and YouTube, looking for help and inspiration. I also read other peoples’ New Year Resolution lists. And as much as I scoff, there are some admirable gems to be gleaned from these sources.
Baby steps! The Guardian had an enormous list of New Year’s Resolutions which was daunting. Transform Your Life I particularly like 28: “Doing a timed 10-minute tidy with my partner and kids every day. This has improved the cleanliness of the house significantly. Untidiness no longer drags down the mood. It also means we don’t need to do lengthy chores at the weekend.” I think I can manage a 10-minute tidying up every day. 10 minutes of attention to the refrigerator and its contents every few days would be enormous. 10 minutes on my sock drawer might be overkill.
Re-think how to store food in your fridge. Everything we have learned about storing food is counter-intuitive to using up every bit of our food so we don’t waste it, or the efforts of the farmers who toiled to bring us our sustenance. When I open the fridge, I don’t see all those good vegetables and fruits – they are tucked away in dark, out-of-sight-out-of-mind drawers. I see the jar of mayonnaise that isn’t going to go bad overnight. I need to see those carrots and radishes that will make a tasty little schmakeral of a snack. I need to be reminded that that asparagus would make a nice addition to dinner tonight. Fruits and vegetables, front and center! Jiaying Zhoa had great idea about eating more plants; I wish it was mine. How to Feng Shui Your Fridge
The Washington Post has a practical way for you to eat more plants, and to make yourself happier and healthier: Refrigerator Hack Our new fridge is about to be transformed!
Welcome to 2024! Introduce changes gradually. Stand on one foot while you brush your teeth – 2 minutes a day to better balance. Walk a little farther every day. Smile at a stranger. Take 10 minutes to tidy a corner or a fridge. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Make frittatas to use up bits of cheese and veggies. Be happy.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien