Mini Mission Monday ~ Perishables

mini-logoMini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It takes the guess work out of decluttering and makes it easy and “fun” for you to achieve some quick decluttering.

Time again to do some mini missions to track down those perishable items that might be past their used by dates. This doesn’t just apply to food of course. There are all sorts of things that perish when left unused for a long time. So lets see what we can find.

Monday – Check you medicine cabinet and first aid kit for any medications, ointments etc that are past their used by dates.

Tuesday – Seek out any stretchy things that have lost their elasticity such as hair bands, rubber bands, elastic, underwear etc.

Wednesday – Declutter any makeup that has lingered too long with or without use. Especially used eye makeup as it can harbour all sorts of nasties. Anything with oil can also go rancid from sitting around too long such as lipsticks, lip balms, creams etc.

Thursday – Declutter any batteries that no longer have any life in them. Especially those rechargeable ones that will no longer hold a charge.

Friday – Also round up all the pens, be they ball point, gel, felt, etc, around your house and toss out those that no longer work.

Saturday – And of course the pantry and fridge are good places to seek out out of date items. Don’t be too precious though, food is often quite edible past its used by date but now would be a good time to use it up so it doesn’t get wasted.

Sunday - Sunday is reserved for contemplating one particular item, of your choice that is proving difficult for you to declutter. Whether that be for sentimental reasons, practical reasons, because the task is laborious or simply unpleasant, or because the items removal requires the cooperation of another person. That last category may mean that the item belongs to someone else who has to give their approval, it could also mean there is a joint decision to be made or it could mean that the task of removing it requires assistance from someone else. There is no need to act on this contemplation immediately, it is more about formulating a plan to act upon or simply making a decision one way or another.

Good luck and happy decluttering

Random Acts of Miscellaneous Kindness

(Little thoughtful acts for no reason but to make a complete strangers life a little easier.)

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. This has been ‘stage one’ of decluttering my inlaw’s house. So many perishables have been moved on but still haven’t really put a dent in the work to be done.

    I have noticed and my SIL has observed too, that our MIL can suddenly want to be rid of something that we would have assumed is a sentimental item but is rather attached to an everyday item.

    I have set in place this arrangement: a one week cooling off period for items of (perceived) sentimental value. After that it is offered within the family. Then and only then will I drop it off to the Hospice store (Goodwill). I also think I should keep an inventory of what gets given away and donated. I didn’t pack their last house and the packing was done by a number of people and was rather randomly assembled, so I don’t want to find myself solely responsible for missing items.

    Useful stuff or new unused stuff that my MIL says to give away – I put it past my SIL before offering it to my kids for their homes. That way the sons get first opportunity to benefit from it before grandkids – especially as mine have left home, whereas my nieces and nephews are primary school age.

    Had dinner with my BIL and SIL last night to explain how things have been done so far ie starting with the broken, expired and tatty while sorting everything else into ‘like with like’ ready for stage two. This way they know how I work and the bags and bags of rubbish aren’t causing them concern.

    Stage two: present MIL with her collection of, say, 8 tea strainers, ask her to choose one, re-pack the 7 others for ‘one degree of separation’. Inventory what is being packed away and seal box, move to basement for three months. She has a fear of not having an item or not being able to afford a replacement, so to take away straight away could be too sudden. Eventually it will go to donation. I also suspect that she loses items amongst the clutter and has bought replacements. I will probably write her some sort of guarantee that if she needs a new tea strainer after the 7 others have been donated that I will buy her one. I’m going to start with kitchen-ware as I think/hope it will be less controversial, ie corkscrews, she doesn’t drink wine and besides which wine comes in screw top bottles in NZ.

    • Moni, you are taking a really thoughtful and patient approach to helping the inlaws, keep up the good work. I’m lucky that my only battle to decluttering is with myself!

    • Moni, I am so proud of how you are doing this. I know it is making it harder and last longer but it will be so much easier on MIL.

    • Well done Moni, I think you have absolutely the right approach to this project. Giving someone who is attached, for one reason or another to their stuff, extra layers of security when it comes to letting go is a very gentle approach. This is exactly what is needed in these situations. Well done you!

      • Thank you all for your kind comments – I do feel I should do a shout out for my SIL who coordinated the painting of the interior of the house and sewed new curtains. After I helped with the wall paper striping and prep, she and my hubby did the painting. (I’ve never mastered painting, hubby says he can get it done faster without my botch ups).

        I felt I was walking into a potential family minefield with this work, but I was more or less thrown the ‘hot potato’. I’ve made a point of pulling out of other decisions surrounding the inlaws arrival in town, as I think they’re hearing my opinions enough in the decluttering mission.

        Last night was the first round of decluttering – kitchen drawers. I had to carry items to her on a tray as she has mobility issues at the moment, but possibly this kept it visually less daunting and we were only able to deal with one set of stuff at a time. I was opting for keep one, pack the rest away first degree of separation, but very few items were re-packed, there is a good size box of items to be donated or passed on. Fingers crossed she doesn’t change her mind over night. The good news was that we were able to create enough space that we could dedicate a drawer to tea-towels that previously had to be housed out of the kitchen.

    • Moni,
      As the old expression goes, “You have the patience of Job”. You are a wonderful daughter in-law. Don’t ever forget that!

    • When I donate items I like to take photos on my phone to document. You can also note on the donation slip. In case you need for tax purposes, also.

  2. Praise the Lord I am happy to announce that I will be moving into my apartment at Glencroft the first week of August. SOOOO excited.

  3. Last night while decluttering at my MIL’s – I asked her why she had so many vegetable knives. She said that when they go away she always forgets to pack a vege knife and ends up having to have one (she eats a lot of fruit). After some discussion I suggested that we keep one in the glove box of each of their cars, but I would want to make some sort of cover or sheath so she didn’t cut herself digging around in the glove box. 2am in the morning I had a lightbulb moment. I will find find those tooth brush plastic travel tube things to put the knife in. And will label it knife! And will label the knife too!

  4. Moni, you’ve done such a brilliant job decluttering your own home, you’re a natural for helping the in-laws. One can hope that once they experience the wonderful feeling of a tidy new home, they won’t hurry to fill it up again.

    Deb, you’ve already done all the hard work – and it was a long haul – so your move will be a piece of cake. All you have left to do is remove anything you decide doesn’t fit the new location.

    We, too, are on the move (again!). This house has sold and we have bought one in a small city a day’s drive to the south. We had to move a lot of junk last summer because things happened so quickly and Ian was not physically up to dealing with it. In our short time here we’ve decluttered a lot. Now all we have to do is get rid of the ‘country’ stuff (mower, ATV and trailer, chainsaw, etc) and prepare to live in civilization. I’m actually going to have to buy new clothes!

    • You are right WendyB. My move will be easy. I will actually have to buy a couple of things but I have a good thrift furniture shop to get them from.

    • Idgy of the North

      Congratulations, Wendy B. Hope the upcoming relocation goes well. You may even find winter a week or two shorter.

      • Thanks. Can’t get rid of all our winter stuff but we are definitely looking forward to shorter winters. Now I’ll be able to complain that the summers are too hot!!

  5. I went through my medicine cabinet… 80% of everything in there had expired !!

  6. Congrats Deb. I am so happy for you. All your hard work and waiting will have paid off. I hope you only have things that you love or consider essential in your new place:)

    • Sheryl, Yes, I will only have things that are essential or loved in my new place. It will be mostly essentials. I haven’t been able to do this in years so I am very excited.

  7. Hi Colleen,

    I think we will go with THUR for all the things my husband has pulled out of the shed & left on the curb in the last couple of weeks: work bench, sump pump, salt crystals for water softener, old trashcan, electrical boxes, roofing nails, & manual lawn edger…

    My decluttering is going slower because it’s all paper stuff that I have to read before tossing (nutrition, faith, etc)… I’m glad that I have been reading it because I found a helpful hint for high cholesterol (eat blueberries!) and have been inspired by faith stories… Interesting but slow progress… I have to remind myself that at least I’m doing something about these files, which is better than nothing LOL

    • Colleen Madsen

      Hi Peggy, your husband and doing a great job by the sounds of it. Well done him! And as for that paper decluttering, it sure can be a slow process but so satisfying when it is all done. I sat happily knitting on the sofa while my husband shredded a big pill of old tax papers on the weekend. The husbands are really stepping up.

      • Hi Colleen,

        Yes, we are very fortunate to have husbands stepping up to the Declutter Plate! Mine passed some charcoal bricquettes (for charcoal grill) along to our next door neighbor today as they were both mowing 🙂

        I am still working on the paperwork (reading stuff… endlessly… :p)

        • Peggy, I was just wondering if you really DO need to read all your files??? Sometimes they are just making us feel guilty like we HAVE to read them, because we saved them for a reason, didnt we???? Sometimes it is a relief to just recycle them without looking and remove the guilt. You won’t know what you missed. Ha! Just a thought………..

          • Hi Brenda,

            In this case, reading the articles is something I want to do because they are related to my faith and nutrition, both things I care about. One of the articles was quite a long one about acquired multiple chemical sensitivities (a true story of 2 women with work-related chemical toxin exposure). I have read that story many times, and am keeping it (have already had it for many years). There is another story (from Guideposts magazine) about a woman almost completely disabled by MS who recovered little by little to adopt several children… so touching… I kept that one, too. Then, there are the brief articles with tips on how to lower cholesterol (eat blueberries, for one thing) that I pass along to my husband 🙂 I got through those folders so I don’t know how much of the rest of the paperwork I will feel I want to read. I promise, I won’t let guilt talk me into it! haha There are 2 full drawers to go through yet :p

            • Peggy – would scanning to your computer be an option. You could title them with something like ‘Cholesterol’ for easier reference.

  8. Congratulations Deb J!
    How exciting
    All your hard work will pay great dividends. My neighbor is still working daily to get rid of most of her stuff. She’s been working in earnest for a month. I’m sure I would be surprised at the amount of stuff I have if I was to pack it up, but glad I started decluttering years ago, as I’m sure the same is true for you Deb J!

  9. Yay, Deb J … that’s awesome news! I wish you much uncluttered happiness in your new home!

  10. As recent months have been about renovations and landscaping and now about settling the inlaws into their home, Ive noticed my house could do with some attention on the clutter front. Some of the inlaws stuff has been brought home to sort, launder or clean as the case may be, and there are a few left over piles. We also decided to dismantle the home office desk so we could fit an extra car in the garage during some incoming bad weather. As this was done hastily there wasnt time to do this in an organised fashion, so I have a few boxes of drawers contenrs to re-house. Just little pesky jobs like that to be done, but the higher priority really is the inlaws house.

    • Hi Moni,

      You are what my husband would call “a workin’ machine” haha… I don’t know how you manage to be so productive and patient at the same time…. and thoughtful of your in-laws and other family members needs… WOW is all I can say 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Peggy – why thank you! I have to admit that I’m feeling a bit weary today but I’ve heard there is the final container load arriving in a weeks time and am debating whether to take this weekend off to recharge or get the foundation work done for the incoming stuff. I’ve got a rough idea of what will be arriving next and it is stuff that should go to the basement to be sorted ie tools, exercise equipment, more surplus furniture etc. There is also office type stuff and apparently bags and bags of bedding, duvet inners, blankets etc. So a bit less chaos in the basement would make things easier, especially if we could build the work-bench first.

        • Hi Moni,

          I vote for the weekend off because it sounds like you need a break… and maybe the final container will be delivered late (with luck haha)… If you are rested, it will be easier to deal with things 🙂 <3 🙂

  11. To Colleen: all the recent posts and missions have been great although I haven’t been commenting.

    To Deb J: I am so happy your waiting is almost over and that you will be able to enjoy yourself in your own uncluttered home!!,

    To Moni: it is official now, I think. You have reached sainthood! You must be a very kind and patient person. I’m afraid I would be so annoyed that my Inlaws had waited till this point in life to declutter, that I would consider them outlaws!!! I would probably be resenting my time and energy that they were using. I’m rather selfish with my time, being an introvert. 🙂

    To Peggy W: I never did get around to commenting about your dithering. I thought that was very cute. My word has always been vacillating. I’m always vacillating about whether I’m ready to let something go. Just before your post, I had finally let go of a LOT of socks that I had been vacillating/dithering about. The ditherees are in bags for my next yard sale as most of them were new but unused.

    • Hi again Brenda,

      Thank you for your kind (& funny) comment about my Dithering post 🙂 I had a chuckle about your comment to Moni also hehe 🙂