Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What am I supposed to do with all these ketchup packets??

Several weeks ago, I saw a Hoarders episode in which I saw myself again. In this particular episode, the woman who had the hoarding problem had an almost empty bottle of dish soap. She had a full bottle as well, but she really struggled with tossing out the emptier bottle. It wasn't because she had any emotional attachment to the dish soap bottle. She didn't. She figured there was enough for at least 2 sinks full of dishes, and she wanted to use it instead of letting it go to waste. I have so been there. And while I don't think that there is anything wrong with someone wanting to get the last couple of uses out of a bottle of shampoo, dish soap or laundry detergent, I think it's okay to throw it away, too.

I've been working in the kitchen again today. I finally got around to wiping out the refrigerator. (Why does it always take longer to clean it than the amount of time you expect to spend on it? Or does it just take me longer?) I came across a bottle of strawberry jam that probably only had enough jam left to cover one piece of bread. It wasn't moldy or anything. I'm sure it was still good. But I did give myself permission to just toss it. I tossed several things that I didn't toss the other day when I cleaned out the fridge. It was liberating.

I also peeled and washed 4 pounds or so of carrots that were starting to get little roots on them. They were all still good, but I didn't want them to go to waste. We'll eat them. And we'll be more likely to eat them now that they're peeled and washed and ready to just lift out of the storage container and start munching. I got the carrot peels and the limp celery together for the compost and noted that we'll need to get the celery eaten in the next couple of days, or the rest of it will be headed to the compost.

Overall, I feel good with what I've accomplished today, and what I'll continue to work on once I'm done posting. But for the life of me, I can't tell you how much I struggle with those little packets of ketchup, honey and soy sauce. I seriously never know what to do with them! We rarely, if ever use them. The little containers of ranch dressing go fast, though. I often send them to school in the kids' lunches, because they're perfect for dipping the celery and carrots in. But ketchup packets? Forget it!

We probably have 40 or 50 in a little box in my refrigerator. We also have 6 or so horse radish packets, 10 to 15 honey packets and half dozen or so soy sauce packets and sweet and sour packets. Add 6 sweet & sour dipping containers, a couple of BBQ sauces, a couple of containers of marinara sauce and 3 or 4 little tubs of teryaki sauce, and you get an idea of what's in the picture.

We'll likely use all the little tubs of dipping sauces eventually. But I have no idea when, or if we'll go through all the packets. I suppose I could squeeze the ketchup ones all into my ketchup bottle, but realistically that's not going to happen. I guess they'd be handy to hang onto to use at a picnic, but we usually just toss the bottle of ketchup in the cooler. It's not as messy as the packets.

I don't know what I'll do with them. All I know is that I really struggle with throwing them away and wasting them. Each packet contains maybe enough for a single use, so why can't I think of them like the jar with the 1 serving of strawberry jam and just chuck it?

I know it sounds strange to not be able to make a decision on what to do with ketchup packets. It seems like such a simple decision, but for someone like me - not so much.

I've decided that I will allow them to take up residence in our refrigerator for 2 more weeks. If we haven't used them by then, they will be sent to work with my husband for others to use in the break room. I even set the calendar on my phone to remind me to send them to work with my hubby. Once they leave my house, they'll no longer be my problem.

The kitchen table and counter on the other hand? I'll do them tomorrow.


  1. Great idea for the ketchup packets ! My hubby keeps all of this condiments as well, I finally threw a bunch out, but next time I will take them to work,lots of times we need stuff like that there

  2. If it's really bothering you, stop using a bottle of ketchup until you've used up the packets.

    We keep ours in the fridge so that when we go out to a specific restaurant I love (they do NOT SERVE KETCHUP!!) I can have ketchup with my meal somewhat unobtrusively.

    I know how weird that sounds. And my family already teases me for it.

    But that's okay. My tastebuds are happy and we're not hoarding ketchup forever.

    Just for awhile.

  3. Have you watched The Marriage Ref? Well last night we finally got around to watching last week's episode and there was a couple that were having a fight over his obsession to take every single thing he can from a hotel room; shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. They had a couple of plastic drawer containers to hold all of his stuff, his side of the argument was that they would always be prepared, she just thought it was crazy that no matter what he always had to take the stuff, anyways I think sending it to work with the hubby is a good idea. Jason Alexander was one of the panelist and told the guy to donate the stuff to homeless shelters and what not, especially if he is going to continue to take the stuff.

  4. There is just something that I noticed that you'd casually mentioned in your post. It's actually pretty cool, and you may already know about it.

    Once you buy your celery, wrap it in tin foil/aluminum foil. It will seriously last forever (I had some in my fridge for well over a month, and finally chucked it because I was tired of looking at it. It was not limp at all!).


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