If you haven’t heard it from us yet, cleaning out your fridge is one of the best things you can do in your kitchen to make cooking easier and less wasteful. Here is our checklist of ten things to do to make sure that your next fridge clean is fun and successful.
1. Set aside the time. You’ll need 30 minutes to an hour minimum to clean, so pick a fun playlist or podcast and make an event of it!
2. Stay hydrated. You’ll want a beverage like coffee, tea, or your favorite cocktail to help fuel your cleaning efforts. Cleaning is 25% elbow grease and 75% water, so drink up!
3. Ask for help. It will be more fun and go much faster if you have a partner, friend, or housemate that can help you get organized. Try bribing them with the above-mentioned beverage or a chance to eat the meal you’ll make afterward.
4. Do one area at a time. Start by pulling everything out in one area. This is a great way to see what you’ve got, what’s still good, and what you’ll need to use up first.
5. Have cleaning supplies handy. This is one of the few times when you’ll have bare shelves, so it’s a great moment to wipe them down or wash them off so they’re clean and ready to use again.
6. Before putting something back, ask yourself a few questions. Is this something I have multiples of, something I rarely buy, or perhaps something that I just forgot about? By looking at your shopping and cooking patterns now, you’ll be better able to prevent waste later. It gets easier the more you do it!
7. Have a compost bin handy. You’re going to find leftovers that are no longer good to eat and how you dispose of them matters. When food ends up in a landfill it produces methane, a greenhouse gas much more potent than CO2. If you can compost your scraps, please do.
8. Use your eyes, nose, and head before throwing anything away. This goes for produce and packaged goods. Remember that “best by” and “sell by” dates are just overly cautious, unregulated suggestions for most packaged foods. If something looks, smells, and tastes good, it’s probably still good to eat.
9. Practice self-love. Seriously, you’re going to have moments of feeling guilt or FOWO (fear of wasting oranges) and that’s okay. You don’t have a grocery shopping problem, you’re human. We all over-buy food sometimes, but what matters most is how we learn from these moments.
10. Make something delicious. Use what you’ve found and learned from this cleaning party and get to work on a “use-it-up” meal that puts some of your newly-discovered ingredients to delicious use! You’ve worked hard to make your kitchen a cleaner, less-wasteful place, so now is the time to celebrate and share with others.