My favourite comedy sketch is Michael McIntyre’s take on the interaction between infrequently used spices in the store cupboard. If you ever need a pick-me-up, this is one to watch. What McIntyre highlights, in such a way as only he can, is our tendency to accumulate things we might use once or perhaps we never even needed in the first place. I recently noticed this inclination in myself when I surveyed all I had packed for our Easter weekend away in Wales. I had managed to fill every available space in the car with groceries and clothes that could easily sustain ten people for a week when the reality was that we were two people and a dog away from home for a mere three nights.
If you were to inspect our kitchen now you would find a shelf of rarely used spices, ample boxes of tea, half used bags of every noodle known to man and a freezer chock-full of leftovers for ‘a night when I don’t have time to cook’. For some reason I find myself conforming to the idea that it would be an absolute disaster if I were to ever run out of a particular product at such a time as I actually needed it. This is a totally irrational worry when I live in a city where I am likely to find a convenience store open 24 hours a day within a mile of our flat. I am also too scared to inspect the fridge ‘jar shelf’ too carefully. I know there are half-used curry pastes for curries in which we indulged a good six months ago that should have been used three weeks after opening. If only I knew how to concoct penicillin, that mould may have come in quite handy.
When packing a small suitcase for a business trip last week, Fox (a.k.a husband) remarked that it is rather confronting when one takes into account what we actually need in order to get by. We have a wardrobe and a chest of drawers full of clothes when the bottom-line is that we could probably get by with a few sets of clothes and a couple of pairs of shoes. Yet, the allure of ‘stuff’ gets the better of us and we feel the need to replace things that we seldom utilised in the first place. I have always thought that there is something quite homely about seeing a bulging grocery cupboard or a hall closet that is packed so tightly it is dangerous to open. However, this is one of those mindsets that I have had to reconsider in myself. I have realised that it says far more about my inability to disregard effective marketing than what it means to have a happy home.
In order to counteract this mass accumulation of (mostly) unnecessary goods I am proposing to do a bi-monthly assessment of everything that is in the fridge, grocery and cleaning cupboards and toiletry draws. I estimate that I could save a substantial once-off on the grocery bill just by planning meals around what I already have, rather than buying new ingredients in order to experiment. I may come into difficulty when attempting to find enough recipes to use up all the Garam Masala that I possess but I can try! The same goes for the various miniature cosmetics I have accumulated ‘for when I go on holiday’. On reflection, how many holidays did I plan to take? After consuming what we already have at home I will assess how much I estimate I have saved and in turn I will support a farmer in the developing world by way of a micro-loan. By releasing myself of the clutter that surrounds me I am allowing myself the space to consider my purchases from a different perspective: do I really need it?