Marie Kondo’s gentle approach to the Japanese Kon Mari method of tidying seems to be taking the nation by storm right now, and truthfully, what better way to decide if clutter should stay or go than to ask “Does this object spark joy?”. Eating the CSA way involves a lot of prep work, cooking, and storage, so we encourage you to start preparing for your first share by asking yourself this very question (or even, “is it regularly useful?”) about the things in your kitchen! Making sure that your workspace is uncluttered, that you have plenty of free storage for your veggies, and that you keep only the most useful tools on hand will help you make the most of your CSA share!
We aren’t advocating for simply throwing out foods or tools! Before you begin, take a few minutes to think about these alternative ways to use things up or find new homes for extra items.
Unused fresh food items can either go into a creative clean-out-the-fridge stew or stirfry, or be added to the compost bin where they turn into a valuable resource for growing more food!
Unexpired and unopened shelf-stable items can be donated to your local food bank.
Space-hog knickknacks and unused tools can be dropped off at Goodwill or posted in your local Buy Nothing Group.
You can also consider pooling your resources with friends and share joint-custody of those important but large and seldom-used appliances!
Not quite ready to move something out of your kitchen? Try what some lean-operating farms do! When something goes unused, it can be “tagged” and put it in a special area of the farm called the “red tag” area. If it becomes forgotten or unused during the time period you’ve set, its time for it to go!
Now, let’s get started!
Clean Out Your Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry
This is the easiest category! Begin by clearing out anything that is stale, shows evidence of pantry moths, is moldy, or severely freezer burned. Then consider composting or using up any specialty items that you bought to try out of curiosity but never ended up using more than once or twice (we’ll be giving you our tips on how to stock a useful pantry in a later post!). Last, give the inside of your fridge, freezer, and pantry a thorough wipe-down, especially those all-important veggie drawers!
Declutter Your Countertops
Many kitchens (especially in rental units) don’t offer much counter space to begin with, and this can be pretty frustrating when you have a lot of chopping and other prep work to do. Making the most of what space you do have is essential, so take a long hard look at any items that are taking up a lot of valuable real estate. If you have decorative items that make you smile every time you walk into your kitchen, keep em- making the kitchen feel like a happy place to be in is important- but if you have things sitting out that can be easily stowed in a drawer or cabinet, or that you no longer enjoy, use this opportunity to free up some more workspace.
Assess Your Tools And Appliances
Do you have any broken or completely unused tools hanging around in your drawers or cabinets? Give them the boot! The same goes for your appliances (particularly the very specialized or very large ones). If you feel undecided about something like that giant icecream maker that takes up space in your cabinet for 9 months out of the year, now is the time to ask yourself that Marie Kondo question or give it a “red tag!”
Most of the recipes you’ll likely end up making with your farm veggies will only require the most basic tools, here is our personal list of essentials:
A sharp chopping and paring knife, whisk, small and large spatulas, large spoon, food processor or blender, mixing bowls, frying pan, deep heavy-bottomed pot for long slow cooking.
Cast A Critical Eye On That Storage Container Collection
If you are anything like us, you have probably steadily accumulated quite a vast array of jars, bottles, tupperware containers, and bags over the years. Now is the time to pare this down to items that are actually useful for storing produce and leftover meals, and get rid of anything that is broken or missing a lid! Many of the veggies you will be receiving will keep for longer if they are placed in closed containers in the fridge (more on storage tips to come!) so keep that in mind when deciding on what to keep and what to recycle.
If you are trying to go plastic-free but don’t want to spend a lot of $$ to overhaul your storage collection, consider visiting your local Goodwill store to keep an eye out for inexpensive nylon or cloth bags and glass jars or containers!