Most of the posts this month have been focused on saving time to help get a meal on the table! I've written about Meal Planning and Eating Seasonally, The Essentials of Meal Planning, Progressive Cooking, Post-Market Prep, and Overnight Prep. So now let’s look into some methods that can help save money and/or waste less food. The easiest way to reduce your grocery bill is to continue to use up and be aware of what’s in your fridge and pantry. Throwing out expired food and leftovers is the biggest waste of money!
I mentioned this in the Essentials of Meal Planning post… I believe in a quick weekly fridge purge before meal planning so you’re starting with food that you already have! When done weekly, it only takes a couple of minutes to go through your inventory and clear out expired items, noting those that can be used for future recipes. It’s a helpful habit to practice.
But not everybody wants to do this every week and sometimes things happen and the fridge can get a little out of hand. This actually happened to me last week as I had been out of town a couple of weekends in a row and we also had a house guest and his food. Yesterday, when I went to meal plan, I didn’t really know what was in my refrigerator! If you know that feeling, then The Essentials of a Fridge Sort can help. It’s so nice to have an organized space that’s calming and filled with nourishing ingredients. This process, not surprisingly, is very similar to a Closet Sort.
THE ESSENTIALS OF A FRIDGE SORT:
1. Prepare for the sort by planning it at the end of a cooking week when the fridge is at its emptiest but also before a grocery store trip so you can add any staples to your list.
2. Take EVERYTHING out or you can also work shelf-by-shelf. Remove every item and then you have a few options: ditch anything that needs to go, set aside staples to put back in the fridge, freeze items that can be frozen and won’t get used in the next couple of days (for me: bacon, tortillas, chickpeas), or list leftover items to use in meal planning for the week (for me: a couple of jams, mint, and some white miso).
3. Clean! Wipe down every shelf, drawer and the doors. If it helps, rethink the space. Would adjusting the shelves help? I've removed one of our shelves so we have room for taller items on top. Also know that the door temperature is significantly warmer than the back. It’s best not to store milk or other sensitive products in the door.
4. Restore the fridge. Remember: calming and filled with nourishing ingredients. Store like things with like and arrange them by frequency of use. Our condiments are gathered in a shelf on the door and all of our sauces for asian cuisines are stored in a box on the bottom shelf. The items I want to use the most or soon are stored on the top shelves, like a pitcher of water for my monthly habit, a basket of end-of-season cherries, and some homemade pie dough! I also like to consolidate and move things to smaller containers.
5. Finish and celebrate your accomplishment! After putting everything back in pretty containers, gather those items that are to be used up within the week. A couple of days later, the leftovers have been consumed, the ingredients to use up have been... used up, and new items have been added:
What do you think? How's your fridge looking these days?
+ A look inside some famous people’s (probably art-directed) fridges!: well+good's Refrigerator Look Book.