Keeping my fridge clean is actually quite important to me. Not only does it make it easy to find what you need and helps food not go bad, but it saves a lot of money. I use these practices not only in my own home, but also in the kitchen I manage at Mercy Ministries. For the purpose of this post I am not focusing on how to clean your fridge, but rather how to purchase the appropriate amounts of food, drinks, sauces, act… I hope that you find these tips helpful!
For many people this can be tough, especially with the urge to purchase only “healthy” food because summer is here. I think a lot of us go through the store and pick up a bunch of fruits and veggies thinking that if you have them stocked you won’t eat “bad” foods. Then we open up our fridge a week later to find most of it is starting to go bad.
- Start by doing a food log for 1 week. You can type this up on your phone in a note or e-mail. Figuring out what you are eating and how much is a great indicator of what you should purchase.
- Plan 2-3 easy dinners for that week knowing that you will have left overs.
- Realistically plan out how many times you will go out to eat or choose an unconventional meal (such as just snacking for dinner).
- Account for your “unhealthy” snacks. Yes we would all love to purchase and only eat veggies andhummus or fruit and nuts for snacks, but that isn’t the reality for most individuals. Figure out 1-2 unhealthy snacks that you know you would want and portion them out into serving sizes. That way when you just need that piece of chocolate or bag of chips they are ready for you in appropriate portions.
- For me this is chocolate. I like to purchase chocolate from Trader Joe’s and portion them out. I then place them in the freezer that way when I want a piece I have to go into the freezer and let them thaw for a few minutes before consumption. This almost always deters me from going for seconds.
2) Purchase the minimum amount that you need.
If all else fails you can go to the store for a forgotten item, but stick to the ingredients you need for your dinners and lunches and be on your way. It is really easy to go over board with picking up lots of fruits and veggies, but in reality how much of that will you actually eat. It may look nice in your cart, but when a week goes by and they are still sitting there you probably won’t feel as good.
- Plan 2-3 dinners for that week and set days to cook them.
- Plan out your lunches. Most people eat basically the same items for lunch or they eat left overs. Stick to what you are comfortable with. Use your food log to determine how much you actually need to buy.
Keep track of what you eat by the end of the week. What ever you had excess of repurchase less next time. That may mean that you have to run out before the next shopping trip, but that is a good thing! Your fridge should be almost empty before the next trip.
Aim to never throw out anything! While we all end up throwing out food due to spoilage, do your best to not let it get to that point. This will help you save money in the long run.
- Always make sure all condiments are in date.
- Keep some masking tape and/or a sharpie in your kitchen. Write a quick date on your condiment when it is opened. If you haven’t used the already open condiment in a month, toss it. It obviously isn’t essential in your kitchen and is just wasting space. (It also probably isn’t sanitary anymore being open that long)
- Set a limit for yourself: decide how many condiments you will allow to be in our fridge and stick to it. Condiments take a lot of space and most likely you only use a couple on a regular basis.
Some weeks you may not be sure how much you will be eating at the house. The best way to avoid spoilage in those weeks is to either purchase some frozen veggies and protein or put them in the freezer yourself when you get back from the store.
I almost always put the protein I purchase straight into the freezer. While we do eat animal protein often, sometimes our daily lives can get busy and we can’t eat it before the expiration date.
I hope these tips help you for your future shopping trips!
**Pictures were taken at the end of the week.