Do you ever open your refrigerator to look for a snack and then pretty much close it instantly because there’s nothing to eat? And then a couple of weeks later, something starts smelling, and you open the vegetable crisper to find the cilantro you bought to make guacamole has liquefied?
LIQUEFIED?! I’m a disgusting person. Click away now and leave me to wallow in the filth that is my fridge.
JK, y’all. I wouldn’t even be talking about this if I hadn’t already cleaned up my act!
Now, I am not what I would call an organized person. There are little piles of things all over my house that need to be put away. Back in my teaching days, I would drive my co-teacher bonkers with the number of water bottles that were on my desk every day. I’m sure she would be comforted/horrified to know they’re all on my nightstand now.
But eventually, the mess gets to me, and I decide something must be done! Then I organize the crap out of it, and everything is peachy until the next disaster area demands attention.
My fridge was awful (see: liquefied cilantro), and it seemed like I was throwing food away unused every week. Our family has a pretty tight budget these days, so I had to find a way to MAKE myself use the food we had instead of looking in the fridge for twenty seconds and declaring it a pizza night. Again.
But I also needed the solution to be easy, because if it’s not easy, I’m not going to do it. #LAZYLADY
3 EASY STEPS TO MAGICAL FRIDGE ORGANIZATION THAT WILL SAVE YOUR SOUL AND ALSO FOOD AND MONEY
Step 1: Scrub-a-dub-dub
The first thing I did was gut my fridge. I don’t have a before picture, but it was gross. Let me ask you something. How on Earth does cat hair get into a refrigerator? He never goes into the kitchen, and all I put in stupid thing is packaged food. HOW? I took everything out, pitched what was expired, and wiped the whole dealio down.
I also like to take out the drawers and shelves every once in a while and wash them with soapy water. Definitely not something you have to do routinely, but maybe a couple times a year.
Step 2: Look without looking
One of my biggest problems is the fact that I never remember the date that I bought something or pay too much attention to the expiration date. I have thrown away a LOT of rancid chicken breasts because I didn’t open the damn meat drawer to look at the “use or freeze by” date. That was my first hurdle to overcome: knowing when the food would go bad.
Since I apparently refuse to look at dates on things, I decided that I needed a list on the outside of my fridge. No, I don’t have a smart fridge that I can look into with my phone like Kristen and Dax because I’m not cool or famous. I have a tiny, crappy fridge, so I had to improvise. Enter the versatile whiteboard:
I picked this one up at Walmart, but here’s a link to the same one on Amazon if you’d like to avoid that evil empire (that is practically my second home).
Seriously, this has been a total meal saver for us. I had no idea what a huge impact this 14×14 inch board would have on me, but it has been awesome. If there was no expiration date on the item, I wrote down the purchase date instead. After we use something, we just erase it so we always know exactly which perishables are in the fridge.
This list was made right after I went shopping, but as we made dishes with those ingredients and had leftovers, we added them to the board so we knew what was available for lunches.
SO EASY, yet so transformative.
Step 3: Be prepaaaaaared!
Hands up if that was your favorite Lion King song! I still know all the words. Scar was so misunderstood, don’t you think?
So, the big buzz in the fitness world these days is food prep. I do not reside in the fitness world, friends, but I will tell you this: prepping some of my vegetables right when I get home from the store has made it 100% more likely that I will eat them before they go bad.
The funny thing is, I initially wanted to organize the fridge for my son. When I have food prepackaged for his lunches, it’s easy for him to help me put it together in the morning. That way he knows exactly what’s in his lunchbox, and he takes ownership of it. But, lo and behold, it worked for me, too. Now when I’m looking for a snack, I’m (slightly) more likely to grab a bag of carrots or green peppers and hummus instead of the bag of Wavy Lays that’s sitting next to me on the couch right now. Hey, I said slightly.
There’s nothing fancy going on here. Yes, I drink bottled water because our tap water sucks, and because I never remember to fill up the filtered pitcher thing. And yes, I use “disposable” Rubbermaid containers because they’re cheap and easy. And I’m sorry, Earth, but my son does take vegetables to school in a plastic baggy. He does. I make myself sick, OK?
Please understand the trust a person has in you if they let you look into their fridge. It’s an honor and a privilege. No judging. Or do, but just talk about me behind my back like a normal person, m’kay?
Anyway, I put carrots, mushrooms, green peppers and broccoli in snack-sized baggies for easy lunch sides/snacking. I did NOT prep the romaine lettuce I bought, and guess where it ended up. Not in the salads I should have been eating, that’s for sure.
The only hard part of this is the time it takes. Honestly, that’s it. If I give myself an extra half hour or so when I get home from the store, I get it all done in one fell swoop and I’m good to go.
Now, ideally, my fridge organization would be pretty because pretty things make me happy, but I haven’t jumped on board that train quite yet. However, if you’re in the market to make your fridge beautiful (yes, it’s a thing!), here is some eye candy:
- 11 Brilliant Fridge Organization Ideas
- 7 Items That Keep Your Fridge Neat
- 4 Steps to Organizing Your Fridge Like a Boss
When it comes down to it, all you need is a simple system that works for you. I wanted to use the food that I bought, and I am, so I’m happy. Do you think fridge organization is something that could help you? What have you done to cut down on food waste? Let me know! I’d love to hear what’s worked for you!