My Bubba Gump By Carla Thomas
Another day, another empty Simply Raspberry container chilling in the fridge. My qualms with cohabitation ends and begins with the kitchen. The bathroom? Fine, I can handle the toilet seat being up. The living room and his control of the remote? Sure, I dig watching Sports Center as I write. But, when it comes to the kitchen, that is where I draw the line.
It would be different if we had a huge kitchen with an island, a breakfast bar, and a pantry to hold snacks, but this isn’t an episode of MTV’s Cribs. This is real life, and it’s just our little slice of heaven in Bed-Stuy, New York. With our small counter space and tiny stainless steel fridge, there is just no room for empty cartons and never used spices or spoiled food.
The thing about living in New York is that one must get used to smaller spaces and learn how to simplify. The saying, “waste not, want not,” had to be made for New Yorkers. I have taken the whole, “waste not, want not” approach to my kitchen and fridge. We took everything out and sorted through half empty cartons (some of his favorite things and some of mine), spoiled herbs (mine), unused sauces (both of ours), stale cereal (his) and did an inventory. Some items were labeled as a stable and others as, “buy per need.”
Honestly, I’m not cooking daily with the half of the items in my fridge and although he doesn’t throw empty items out, at least he uses mostly everything. It took all of 30 minutes to reorganize our fridge to its maximum efficiency. We both realized that stocking a fridge – even though it is tedious and maddening – is an art. We learned our food habits; called it a truce and now we successfully have a fully stocked fridge. My kitchen continues to be my sanctuary and in the living room his beloved Sports Center is still on.
Tips on stocking a fridge:
* Think like a grocery store: Use the FIFO method, FIFO stands for “first in, first out.” Grocery stores stock new perishables in the back so that shoppers reach for the older items first thus keeping their stock fresh longer. Apply the same method at home, stock new fruit in the back so that you reach for the older apples first. Place older eggs in the front so that you use them first as well, the same can apply to fresh herbs.
* Fill up on “filler foods”: Stock up on stay-cold nonperishable “filler foods.” These foods will create the illusion of having a stock fridge because having a totally empty fridge can be a huge power and wallet suck.
* Identify your cold and warm fridge spots- the temperature in your fridge varies, the fridge door and the vegetable bin are warmer than the main compartment. It’s best to seal food appropriately to prevent spoilage.