I was at a friend’s house a couple of years ago and I opened the fridge to put something away and it was nearly empty. At first I was surprised, but considering my friend had a bunch of kids (like we do) and a pretty low budget for groceries, I should have expected it.
A couple of weeks later I was at another friend’s house for dinner and she opened her fridge. It was “stuffed to the gills.” Whatever that means. There was literally no place to put anything. And finding something as simple as the butter for dinner required a juggling act that made the cat in the hat to look like an amateur.
I went home and looked inside mine and realized I was somewhere in the middle, but I learned some lessons from both these ladies I want to share with you.
My first friend- the one on the tight budget-knew exactly what was in her fridge. Nothing would get shoved to the back and forgoten. It was quick and easy to clean her fridge-she could always wipe up any spills quickly and easily. She did not have money to waste on wasted groceries, so she simply had only exactly what she needed for the week- no more, and perhaps sometimes maybe a little less than she needed.
My second friend-the one with the overflowing fridge had lots of waste going on. She had so much abundance, that she, in effect had less to use in her meal prep than my friend with much, much less.
Since that realization years ago I see my fridge as one symptom of how my household is doing. When I have a bunch of stuff crammed in there, I am being wasteful. When I go to clean it and cannot even get to the spills without a great balancing act, something is wrong. A much emptier, organized fridge can be a blessing to our family.
However, too empty of a fridge can lead to inefficiencies. A good number of condiments that we use and enjoy are helpful. Keeping enough cheese, eggs, fruit and milk to feed my family without resorting to convenience or less healthy foods are helpful. When we run out of these items, I have to work harder, make extra trips to the store, or have less than satisfying meals. Also, not a good thing.
Today I cleaned out the fridge and looked around in there. There are a few things we need to use up ASAP or they will be wasted. There are also some bottles of condiments I need to discard. (Why is that certain bottle of salad dressing still sitting there- make a note not to buy it again!) And, today I am making a “Leftover list” that will be posted in the kitchen so that everyone can see which leftovers need to go FIRST, and what is in danger of being wasted. Another thing I am doing is trying to be conscience of freezing some leftovers for future meals instead of just storing them in the fridge. I am going to make a container in the freezer for holding small, single-size serving leftovers (These will also have a section on my leftover list.).
While it is so empty, I am going to line each drawer with a paper towel that will help keep the fruit and veggie drawers organized. I am also going to update the baking soda in the fridge.
So, what state is your fridge? Do you need to clean it out or pick up some staples? Do you have a set day for cleaning out the fridge each week? How do you organize your leftovers?