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How to Clean Out Your Fridge: A Checklist

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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 cleaning sesh is fun and successful.

1. Set aside the time. You’ll need 30 minutes to an hour minimum to clean out your fridge, 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.

21 Comments

  • Anna Spires
    April 21, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    It seems to me that you are storing vegetables in the fridge, in the drawers with no wrappings or bags. Just fresh veggies all stored together and not one seems wrapped or bagged. Is this what your intent was? I ask because I have been at my local store when a box of veggies is opened and often it is just all laying in the box unwrapped, one on top the other. We pick the veggies we want, come home and wrap them in plastic bags to store. Would they be better as shown in your photo? Thank you, Anna spires

    Reply
    • Kirstine S
      February 12, 2021 at 9:47 am

      This is a GREAT question! I wonder why Imperfect hasn’t answered your question?

      Reply
      • Kirstine S
        February 12, 2021 at 9:48 am

        I hope they respond soon….. I’d love to know their answer.

        Reply
    • Imperfect
      February 16, 2021 at 8:16 pm

      Yes many of these items can be stored without any additional packaging if they will be used quickly. As you can see in the picture above though, we did store the asparagus in a jar full of fresh water and other different veggies were placed into the crisper drawers to help keep ’em fresh.

      Reply
    • Cindy H
      April 1, 2021 at 6:19 pm

      If you wrap your vegetables and fruit in plastic, you are preventing the crisper doors from doing their job. They are set to specific humidity for vegetables and fruits. The humidity cannot be regulated or get to the produce, when the fruit and vegetables are wrapped in plastic.

      Reply
  • Anna Spires
    April 21, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    It seems to me that you are storing vegetables in the fridge, in the drawers with no wrappings or bags. Just fresh veggies all stored together and not one seems wrapped or bagged. Is this what your intent was? I ask because I have been at my local store when a box of veggies is opened and often it is just all laying in the box unwrapped, one on top the other. We pick the veggies we want, come home and wrap them in plastic bags to store. Would they be better as shown in your photo? Thank you, Anna spires

    Reply
    • Mo
      January 19, 2021 at 6:41 pm

      Good question. I’d like to know, too. It would be nice if they’d answer you. 😉

      Reply
      • Kirstine S
        February 12, 2021 at 9:49 am

        I agree!

        Reply
  • Diane Nichols
    January 17, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    What is the best way i can compost, i can start. What do i need

    Reply
    • Imperfect
      January 20, 2021 at 11:03 pm

      You can check out our other article about how to get started composting here: bit.ly/3bTPbMB 🌱💚

      Reply
    • Kit10ly
      January 28, 2021 at 5:26 am

      You need a source of carbon, like leaves / grass clippings / straw or even shredded paper or cardboard to completely cover food scraps. Otherwise bugs and varmints feast. So in effect there are two piles, the “working” one being carefully layered, added to every few days, and the hi-carb material, inert and shrinking as it’s used up in your active pile. “Spongy” wet consistency, not dripping—use hose pipe if your climate is very dry. Layer loosely like a huge lasagna, about 4x4x4 pile, with any plant-based “high nitrogen” foodscraps sandwiched between the denser “high carbon” covering material. Fencing can keep it all tidy but isn’t essential. Do not include meats/bones; very small amounts of dairy/oils will be okay. The pile will smell sweetish like a forest floor, and it will heat up as microbes munch and travel through it. Smaller pieces compost faster. Citrus rinds take a long time; I usually throw those away. Lack of carbon “browns” to balance the scraps’ nitrogen content (or too much water that packs everything down & takes up all the airspace) can cause an odor problem—that’s anaerobic bacteria. Fluff with more browns & consider a tarp or roof over the top to shed rainfall. It WILL eventually rot into”black gold”, loose and crumbly and nutritious, but fluffing and turning the pile—basically moving it a few feet with a pitchfork (ideal) or shovel (ok) really speeds up decomposition. You’ll see lots of beetles and stringy white molds, millipedes etc until the pile gets too hot for them to enjoy. Billions of hard-working microbes!

      Reply
  • Maureen Plimier
    January 21, 2021 at 12:34 am

    I store my veggies in an old, but clean all cotton pillow case. Have been doing this for years. So far, no problems and the veggies stay as fresh as though wrapped in plastic.

    Reply
    • Imperfect
      January 21, 2021 at 8:46 pm

      Love this! 💖

      Reply
  • Fazerina
    February 9, 2021 at 5:43 am

    I trim the ends and leave romaine, parsley, celery carrots broccoli kale etc. in the sink a few hours to over night and put them in the crisper bins, they revive beautifully and last nicely. Carrots get sweeter too if soaked in cold water overnight. Wrap anything, especially greens in a damp towel or cloth if storing on the shelves. Keep fresh parsley & cilantro in a recycled wide mouth jar in the fridge door like fresh cut flowers and they last forever. It looks so cheerful and inviting when you open the fridge and reminds you to use them!

    Reply
    • Imperfect
      February 16, 2021 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you for these food waste tips! 💚

      Reply
  • Jan
    April 1, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    I do not like certain veggies, endame can’t eat because I am hypothyroid,. Never cared for Brussel Sprouts. I have belonged to several food deliveries and my husband n I always throw out the veggies we do not like.
    Plus the 20 percent coupon for the first two orders, your site will not accept

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      April 2, 2021 at 11:29 pm

      Luckily with us you can customize each order so you’re only receiving veggies you’ll be able to use and enjoy! If your coupon code isn’t working correctly, we’d recommend reaching out to our customer care team so they can try and get it applied for you 🙌

      Reply
  • Bin Rental
    September 14, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    I just read your article about cleaning out your fridge. I have to admit that it’s one of my least favorite tasks, but something I know is so important! It sounds like you’ve figured out a system for doing this efficiently – can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
    • Imperfect Foods
      September 29, 2021 at 2:22 am

      We can’t wait to hear how it goes! 💚💚

      Reply
  • Dale A (Hartley) Hawkins
    September 30, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    I discovered some green “compostable bags” and have been lining used milk cartons to hold kitchen compost for the garden pile.
    A friend has some green plastic like bags for storing produce in the refrigerator. She claims to have been using and washing (with the laundry) then air drying and re-using them for more than a year.
    What do you have to say about these two items?.

    Reply
    • Imperfect
      October 1, 2021 at 9:44 pm

      We say as long as you’ve done your research on them, and they’re making a positive impact on you and helping limit your waste than go those items sound great! 💚🤗

      Reply

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