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Friday, November 15, 2013

Operation Fridge Clean-Out: 5 Easy Steps to a Clean Fridge & Not Wasting Food

Things are getting real around here.  I actually opened up our fridge and vowed to snap a photo without knowing exactly what it looked like inside.

At the time of this particular photo, it had been a busy week.  The two previous nights the husband had been in charge of dinner for the kids as work events kept me late.  So honestly I hadn't even looked in our fridge other than for the 5 seconds it took me to get milk out for my cereal in the morning.

I like things orderly, organized and mostly in their "place".  The husband?  Not so much.  I often admire him for that.  He can gently toss a plastic container of leftovers in the fridge on any shelf, not with an afterthought that it is only halfway sitting on the shelf and next to the milk.  When clearly in my head....nothing sits on the milk shelf but MILK.  {We buy 4 gallons at a time - it requires a whole shelf}.

After opening the fridge and snapping the photo I quickly realized we needed to clean up a bit.  We had also vowed to not go the grocery store on our usual Friday "grocery day" just to make a point to use up what we had.  To cleanse a bit....

So here was my plan.

I wanted to clean out the fridge, yet use up what was in there and put those ingredients towards future meals to get us through the week.  Easy right?  

This is what I found in the black hole taking over our fridge.
  • milk
  • cheddar cheese
  • bacon
  • cottage cheese
  • sour cream
  • yogurt
  • oranges
  • apples
  • carrots
  • bread
  • spaghetti sauce
  • lunch meat
  • eggs
  • beer
  • random condiments - ketchup, mustard, jam, salsa, mayo, butter, pickles, hot sauce, steak sauce, coffee, etc.
Here we go.

Step 1.
Take EVERYTHING out of your fridge.  This means everything.  Set it all on your kitchen table.

Step 2.
Clean the heck out of your fridge.  Get out the elbow grease and scrub it down.

Step 3.  
Take inventory of all items.  Write everything down, right down to that last drop of mustard.  While taking inventory be sure to take the time to wipe containers down as well.  Stuff like salsa jars and ketchup bottles had a tendency to get sticky and messy {especially if kids are in the house!}.

Step 4.
Put everything back in an organized fashion.  Items that are used daily keep up front and center.  Easy snack items like apples and carrots keep visible {pre-cut those carrots - much more tempting to have for a snack when they are already ready to go}.

Step 5.
Meal plan.  After you've put everything back....admire your work.  Then sit down when the house is quiet and look at those ingredients.  What do you have that can be put into meals? Get creative.  Use everything.

This is what I came up with.

Remember our fridge was pretty empty....we were challenging ourselves!

Breakfast Egg Casserole
{using up eggs, bacon, cheese, milk, hot sauce}

{using up cheese, milk, bacon}

Baked French Toast
{using up bread, eggs, milk}

Fruit Salad
{using up apples, oranges, mayo - yes, we have a family recipe that uses mayo in fruit salad!}

Chicken and Egg Salad
{using up pickles, mayo, carrots, eggs}

Baked Stuffed Shells
{using up cottage cheese, cheese, spaghetti sauce}

Panini Night
{using up lunch meat, bread, cheese and many condiments}


I came up with 7 meals out of this mess!  And here is where I should really add a sixth step.

Actually make these meals.  So far we've had two.  But the rest are there still waiting for me.

Stick to the plan and make these meals.  You will feel a bit proud when you use all of this up and it doesn't get thrown out.  And if you can take some extra time to prep a few of these at once it will also save time.  In 30 minutes I can easily have the fruit salad, egg salad and breakfast egg casserole prepped and ready to go {umm....make sure to put the kids to bed first}.

Who is going to tackle Operation Fridge Clean-Out?

Would you like to comment?

  1. Great idea, Ally! Shared on my Facebook page! Thinking I might have to complete this clean-out this weekend!

  2. Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca)November 18, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    OMG, I totally need to clean out my fridge ... and freezer ... and cupboards! Yikes!