Downsizing - where to start? We say with the fridge at PumpjackPiddlewick

I love downsizing. I love going through my things and getting rid of any thing I can. There is something so very therapeutic about it, like a weight cast off your shoulders. Some of the items I give away, some I sell. It depends on the item. But where do you start if you have never downsized before?

Start with the refrigerator

Most people I know like to put foods in the fridge but rarely take out as much as they put in. Eventually, hidden at the back, are a selection of forgotten items, out of date, going mouldy, possibly even multiplying. Scary thought.  My rule of thumb is if you can’t see it when you open the door, it doesn’t belong in there.

It doesn’t matter what size refrigerator you have, from small to massive, every 6 months or at least a year you should downsize your fridge.

So how to go about downsizing?

Start at the top and work your way down. Take out whatever is on the top shelf and put it on a nearby counter or table. Don’t worry you aren’t going to take so long that items will warm up (but you may want to be sensible and do this in spring and autumn on a cool day, not in the heat of summer).

Now look over your items. What you are looking for?

  1. Out of date items? – in the rubbish bin / trash!
  2. No idea what it is? – Bin!
  3. Half empty? Gunky lid? Can’t remember last time you ate some – Trash!
  4. Haven’t eaten any in the last year – Garbage! (even if still in date.)

But, I may need it in 10 years time

I know, I know, there is always that ‘what if?’ Such as, what if I want to make that mushroom lasagna with the tahini sauce I have always thought about making? Simple. Buy the ingredients when you are actually ready to make it. (And make it again the next week if you still have ingredients to use up after.)

Now, look over what you are getting rid of. Look for any consistent culprits. Are you someone that buys lots of jars of pickles and then never seems to eat them? Or a large pot of yogurt and it goes off before you finish it? Some items may seem cheaper when bought large or in bulk, but if you wind up throwing some away, especially regularly, it’s no longer a bargain.

Saving Space

What you should be left with is items that are in date, you eat often, and a few basic staples you cook with regularly (essentially your condiments). Put these back in the fridge and hopefully you have paired it down so that you can now see everything on the shelf. Don’t feel you have to push things to the back to take up the space. You’ll be surprised by how having a less full fridge is less stressful, empowering, therapeutic even. Truly.


Here’s some additional hints to help your fridge stay downsized.

  • Only buy when you have finished something, not when it is almost finished.
  • Don’t buy large. Buy what you need, now.
  • Grow some of your own foods, from veg garden to containers inside.
  • Look in your fridge and then make a List for shopping.
  • Give yourself a shopping budget, now reduce it slightly.*
  • And the one I love ~ at least once a week, if not regularly, look in your fridge and pick a food item that needs consuming – anything from a chicken to a cauliflower. Now pick a second ingredient; a lemon or cheese… whatever. Take those two items and google them adding the word recipe, for example; chicken lemon recipe. Find a recipe that as closely as possible matches what’s in your fridge, without you having to buy anything too way out there that may never get used again. Be creative and try something new.

Then what?

Okay you have less food in your fridge, what next? Plan your meals around what you have, rather than what you don’t have. By having less in your fridge you are also more likely to remember what you do have in there.

And, when you’ve done this, it’s time to tackle your pantry or cupboards of non-perishable foods. Repeat all of the above.


Why would a budget help you downsize? (Even if you are lucky enough not to need to budget.) And why do I say, reduce it slightly? A budget, and list, will help you not fill your fridge again. By limiting how much you spend you won’t be tempted by those so called bargains. A list will also keep you focused from buying too many items you don’t need, or stop you doubling up on what you already have.  (And, I know for me, it helps me not forget that key ingredient for that new recipe I wish to try.) By reducing your budget, even just a little, it makes you think what you really need versus what’s an extra. Who knows, try it and you may save some money which you could then spend on a treat for yourself.

Additional help

How to live healthy on 50 (£$€) a week (This will keep you from filling your fridge again.)

3 Easy Tips to Save Money and Cut Down on your Food Bill (Say No to bulk buying and Yes to Meal Planning.)

Time is not a Good Excuse for Eating Bad Food, Recipes included (Says it all really.)

Downsizing, Giving it all up, Changing your Life… Is it very hard to do? (and would you want to?)





  1. It has taken me awhile to get here but I have also downsized my fridge and pantry. What made the difference for me was having a blackboard wall where I could write down something every time I run out. Surprisingly, I now waste far less food than in the past and still manage to buy things when I need them for specific recipes. I do have pantry staples that frequently get replaced – like capers, sundried tomatoes and sardines. But I try to keep it to a minimum. Inspiring post!

    1. Author

      Thanks! I feel so liberated by having less. I don’t have a black board (I love the idea) but I re-use old envelopes and bits of paper clipped together with a bull clip to write what I have run out of on ~ and take with me to the store. Curious – is it more of a French thing to stock less?

      1. Very definitely a French thing. Harks back to small storage spaces and frequent, even daily, shopping for fresh foods! I still shop more like a North American, and stock up on a few extras, but definitely less than before.

  2. These are great ideas! I recently cleaned my closet, which hadn’t been cleaned in almost a year. It was so cluttered I didn’t know where to begin. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Author

      Great minds think alike :-). I just wrote this post on changing over my closet (more fun than cleaning).

  3. I did my fridge already. Now, I’m moving further with the cupboards. I did an inventory last year, and there’s a lot I still can get rid of.
    Love the organization tips!

    1. Author

      Thanks! I need to do my cupboards now. I had sorted them, and we were lucky to not have too much as our place comes with all its bits and bobs, but somehow we have started accumulating. Nothing fits any more so it is time to cull! Any tips from your experience welcome 🙂

    1. Author

      Thanks. I have been surprised how stressful (although I say that lightly) it actually is to keep a full fridge, as opposed to an empty one. I am not sure why.

      I grew up with a mother who had 2 full sized fridges, always full, and much out of date. (I try not to remember that bit.) Maybe it is an opposition thing, but life is so much easier; easier to see, easier to plan; easier to cook when he fridge is not full. Think I’ll stick with it 🙂

  4. These are great tips! I find an emptied and cleaned out fridge so pleasant and it helps me make sure food doesn’t go bad as frequently.

    1. Author

      Total agree! I have far less waste since my fridge has less in it. 🙂

  5. Great tips – the accumulation in our fridge can be insane, but it’s small so that can help. On to the pantry! 🙂

    1. Author

      Lucky you, having a small fridge. We have a smallish fridge, which I try to keep barely full, and the other half is freezer, which has too much in it. I am demon for storing and not really utilising, particularly veg from our garden. Next project 🙂

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