Clear Fridge Clutter & Improve Health

Over the years, I’ve seen some pretty cluttered refrigerators. Fridge clutter forms in the way of leftovers and expired condiments or, worse yet, uneaten veggies that never made it out of the plastic bags.

Since I moved toward a healthier lifestyle, I’ve noticed that clutter can also accumulate when it comes to diet & nutrition. Clearing this clutter is especially important if you’re attempting to eat well and lose the infamous extra 5, 10 or 15 lbs.

My Epiphany

Back in 2002, a little book called “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui” started me on my journey to organizing and decluttering. I discovered the book while I was killing time with my then pre-schoolers, shopping in Steinmart of all places (not necessarily where you’d expect to find books on Feng Shui).

I spotted Karen Kingston’s book on a sale table. It’s a short book, packed full of information on decluttering your physical and emotional space. I bought the book and read it that afternoon. The next day, I began decluttering.

Tweetable Clutter can and does accumulate in a variety of places. There’s the obvious physical clutter and there’s emotional and mental clutter, sometimes not so obvious.

Clearing the Clutter

Everything was fair game! Anything that I didn’t love or need went in the garage. Soon, my two-car garage that had high ceilings was filled with piles of donations and things to sell. Ok, so I was pretty extreme, but it felt so good because I finally gave myself permission to get rid of the crap I spent hours (and lots of money) accumulating.

The clutter resulted because shopping (and acquiring stuff to fill spaces) had become a hobby. I look back at the money spent on a bunch of stuff, that probably wound up in a landfill, and I likely could’ve traveled to Bali or another exotic location for a few months!

Anyway, the past is the past…

Fridge Organization

Here are some tips for decluttering and organizing your refrigerator and how to use the fridge as a temporary container for the foods you eat each week. I’ll also throw in a few tips for more efficient and healthy food shopping: 

1. Purge – Before your next food shopping trip, prop open the fridge with the trash can. Go through and toss anything outdated, no longer fresh, and leftovers you know you won’t eat (rule of thumb is leftovers should be tossed within a couple of days if not eaten). Go ahead, toss them. You won’t be struck down by lighting for wasting food. You’ll have a chance to redeem yourself in the next few steps.

2. Wipe it out – Pull a few paper towels off the roll and wet them. Wipe out the fridge. You don’t need to make this a big production. Just grab, wipe, toss the towels. (You can always do a more thorough cleaning later, but for now, just do it!)

3. Organize – Use the door shelves for jars and condiments. Use the top shelf for things you access regularly if you have a freezer on top. For French door style refrigerators, use the shelf straight ahead for the “need to access quickly items.” Designate one shelf for leftovers and put the freshest at the back.  Take your fresh veggies out of the bags and organize in the crisper drawers. Put like with like and always put items in the same place. Not only does this save time, but makes it a no-brainer so you’re not saying, “where did I store that” or “I thought I had more of _____.”

4. Use glass containers for storage – If you’re like me, to save time, you make double and triple batches of food such as quinoa or steam peas or open a can of {organic} black beans. Store them in containers so you can quickly put together a healthy salad. Designate one area of the fridge for these foods for easy access.

When I bring home my weekly haul from Trader Joe’s, before I put anything away, I wipe out the shelves. I do this for a couple of reasons: 1. The food I load into the fridge will be what I put in my body, so I want the container (the fridge) to be clean and fresh.  2. Constant maintenance keeps me from having to do one horribly messy clean up twice a year, for example.

The Fridge is a Temporary Container

You want to think of the fridge as a “temporary” container for food storage. The idea is you’ll eat what you by, not store, then toss when it goes bad. Doing this can also save you a ton of money on your food bill.

As far as healthy food shopping, shop the perimeter of the store. This is where the refrigerated cases are located and you will naturally make better food choices. If you do choose boxed foods (a.k.a. processed foods), read the labels on packages. One way to immediately start eating healthy is to stop eating ingredients you can’t pronounce or know what they mean without consulting Google.

Making Healthier Choices

Eliminate the chemicals that are often contained in processed foods. For example, high fructose corn syrup. So, maybe that’s a bad example. We’ve all heard of it, but do we really know what it is: High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn starch that has been processed by glucose isomerase to convert some of its glucose into fructose. 

That’s one example of an ingredient that will cause inflammation in the body. The unknown chemicals that are ingested can and will cause inflammation, which is a symptom of many health issues. In fact, inflammation is now being linked to Alzheimer’s disease. So feed your brain healthy foods that don’t cause inflammation to avoid health issues down the road.

Choose foods that are either in their all-natural state (fruits and veggies, especially lots of greens) or if you purchase crackers in a box, choose the ones that have the fewest and most recognizable ingredients.

Ta da

Here’s a picture of my fridge after a recent food haul. I also juice, so there’s a ton of Romaine lettuce and cucumbers. 

fridge decluttering

Over the years, I’ve heard so many people say how once they organized a space, they would go back and look at it with pride and aw because it felt so good. How nice to have the same feeling when we open our fridge since it’s the place we keep the food that nourishes our bodies.

What does your fridge look like? Is it time for an overhaul? If you have any specific questions or comments, please post below or send me a private message.

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