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  • Writer's pictureCathy Borg

Declutter Your Fridge and Stop Wasting Food. Bonus 2-Week Grocery List - Just in Case!

Updated: May 31, 2023

We're being asked to limit our visits to grocery stores, so why not use this opportunity to take charge of something we can control - our food. A survey of what food is in our fridge and cupboards will give us a good idea of how well we are prepared to weather a self-quarantine if required. And having an appropriate supply of healthy food is a good practice any time: it allows flexibility in meal planning and more time to take advantage of sale prices. So let's take a stab at it.

Because self-isolation usually lasts for two weeks, it makes sense to have enough food to feed you and your household for this length of time. It's also sensible to stock your kitchen with healthy nutritious foods that support your immune system. The refrigerator is an important component in this process.

Of course, anything that belongs in a fridge has an expiration date. So the first step in decluttering and organizing your fridge is to uncover any food that has gone bad or is well past its expiration date. (Best-before dates refer to quality, not safety; they tell you how long a product will maintain its peak freshness.)

1. Take an inventory: Empty your refrigerator and sort by category as you go. (I like to do this one door, one drawer and one shelf at a time.)

2. Toss out-of-date items. If you can't find a "use by" date it's probably years old so compost it.

3. Clean the shelves, trays and drawers as you empty them. Wipe down bottles and food containers as well. Spray the inside of the fridge with a solution of vinegar and water and let it sit while you are cleaning the trays and drawers in warm sudsy water. Wipe dry the inside of your fridge.

4. As you return the food to the fridge, organize it logically:

  • First in, first out: Shift the older foods to the front and be sure to use these first.

  • Leftover shelf: Designate a spot in your fridge just for leftovers and label each with a date. (Use the leftovers within a week.)

  • Designate drawers - one to vegetable, one to fruit, one to meat, a small drawer to cheese and butter.

  • Keep like items together such as dairy products, snacks, beverages and put condiments on the fridge door.

By keeping your fridge organized you can avoid wasting food at a time when our supply chain is stretched to the limit.

In 2017 the National Zero Waste Council conducted research on household food waste in Canada, and the results were astonishing.

  • 63% of the food Canadians throw away could have been eaten.

  • For the average Canadian household that amounts to 140 kilograms of wasted food per year – at a cost of more than $1,100 per year!

  • For Canada as a whole, that amounts to almost 2.2 million tonnes of edible food wasted each year, costing Canadians in excess of $17 billion!

  • All types of food are wasted, but in Canada the most prominently wasted foods by weight are: vegetables: 30%, fruit: 15%, leftovers: 13%, bread and bakery: 9%, dairy and eggs: 7%

This is one set of statistics nobody would want to be part of. Keeping your fridge decluttered and organized is one of the keys to healthier and environmentally responsible living. We really don't have time or food to waste.

TOP TIP: After you've decluttered your fridge make a grocery list of foods you'll need for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Shop for proteins (include fatty fish and plant proteins), whole grains, fruits and vegetables (include dark green and bright orange produce) and healthy fats.


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