The Kitchn Cure Day 2: Tackling the Refrigerator (with Zen Poetry)

published Sep 8, 2015
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(Image credit: Dana Velden)
(Image credit: Henry Chen)

The Kitchn Cure Day 2: Wipe down refrigerator door shelves and produce bins.
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I’m not usually a fan of cleaning my refrigerator. I’m not sure why — I love a sparkling fridge with everything neatly arranged and in its place — but somehow, I often can’t get there. The task always seems so daunting, so mired in guilt around half-used jars of mustard and sticky, mysterious spills I’ve somehow managed to avoid.

But the Cure presents a solution that has me actually kind of excited to take on my fridge, a little sleight of hand that makes it possible even on the busiest of days.

The Secret to Cleaning the Refrigerator

The secret is simple: Just do some of it today and finish the rest tomorrow. I know this postpones that wonderful feeling of accomplishment we get when we tackle and complete a daunting task, but for many of us, this might be the only way we can get it done. Don’t worry, the payoff will be there tomorrow when you finish the job!

And while we’re at it, a few more words about pacing. So often we put off tackling a large project because it seems too intimidating or monumental. There are so many decisions involved, so many things to sort through, so much gunk and guilt to wipe up (more on that tomorrow). When confronted with such things, it’s not unusual to find yourself backing slowly out of the room, turning off the light as you shut the door behind you.

But you don’t have to do it all at once! Take a leaf from Zen poet Kobayashi Issa’s notebook. He wrote that famous poem that goes: “Climb Mt. Fuji O snail/but slowly/slowly.”

Find the pace that suits your nature, one that reflects a sane response to your life. Don’t strive to be someone you’re not — wholeheartedly be who you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re a snail or a hummingbird, you’ll make it to the top, in your own way and at your own pace. The world needs all types in order to thrive, so be steadfast and true to your nature, no matter what your speed.

Accordingly, we’re only going to tackle half of our refrigerators today — just the door and the bins. We’ll leave the shelves for tomorrow.

Hummingbirds, you may find yourselves doing your whole fridge and skipping tomorrow’s task. That’s just fine. But snails, this just might be the pace that fits you perfectly.

(Image credit: Dana Velden)

Today’s Assignment

  1. Fill a bucket with warm, slightly soapy water and have a cleaning rag or sponge handy.
  2. Remove everything from your refrigerator door and produce bins. It’s fine to just leave them on the counter, as you won’t be at this very long.
  3. Remove bins and wipe down bin area with soapy water.
  4. Wipe down door shelves and inner door edges.
  5. Wipe down bins.
  6. Sort through everything you took out of the refrigerator. Throw away or compost/recycle expired food. Feeling a little squidgy about how much you’re throwing away? We’ll get into that tomorrow, but bottom line: Don’t worry, it happens. Consolidate jars when possible and label when necessary.
  7. Return fresh produce to bins. Wipe down remaining jars and return to their shelves. Hint: If you don’t already, it’s really helpful to group things together and give them their own area (Asian condiments, mustards, etc.) for easy location.

A quick note on refrigerator size. I divided the refrigerator based on my model, an average, medium-sized fridge with the freezer on top. If you have a large refrigerator with a ton of door shelves, you may want to tackle just the door and leave the produce bins with the shelves for tomorrow.

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(Image credit: Henry Chen)

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(Image credit: Dana Velden)

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