When it comes to healthy food storage strategies, some people swear by meal prep. Others are all about stocking up and freezing certain foods. For me, I’m a huge advocate of taking a Weekly Fridge Inventory. And it’s not nearly as complicated or time-consuming as you might think.
In general, editing your kitchen and maintaining an ordered, healthy space (with cleaner food choices and less clutter around) isn’t a “one and done” kind of deal. To support a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to follow healthy habits and food storage techniques on a regular basis. And that’s why taking a Weekly Fridge Inventory is KEY.
A Weekly Fridge Inventory involves taking 10-15 minutes on a Saturday or Sunday and assessing what you have, what you need, and what you should throw out. Here are 6 quick tips to help you start this super helpful habit (and some examples based on my fridge, pictured above):
6 tips for taking a weekly fridge inventory
1. Check all expiration dates and fresh produce
Quickly check expiration dates on packaged food and go through your produce. Pretty simple, right? Look for expired dairy products, meat, veggies, and condiments. For the example above, I noticed the cashew milk was fine, but the almond milk had been open in my fridge for a few weeks at this point and was past the “best by” date. I’m not always a stickler with “use by” dates, but I know this almond milk had been hanging around for awhile and needed to go. Use your own judgment here, folks.
2. Store and repackage ingredients for freshness and ease-of-access
Consolidation and storing foods more efficiently is a wonderful thing when you’re organizing your fridge for the week. In the example above, I simply repackaged some newly opened goat cheese in a glass container. This method helps some foods last longer, and it makes it easier to use something when you need it in a pinch. It’s a win-win.
3. Position items in relation to their daily use
You may remember this method of organization from my previous post on pantry organization: it’s another way of saying “place everyday essentials in front, and specialty items in back.” That means if you don’t eat pickles every day (see Before fridge example above), it might be time to move the Costco-size jar of pickles to your fridge door.
4. Use or repurpose any food or produce on its last leg
Let’s be real. I often have the mindset of an old woman living in the Great Depression or during World War II rationing. I don’t like to waste anything. That means if that carton of yogurt is going to expire on Sunday, you better believe I’m going to have it for breakfast on Saturday. Have a lot of veggies that are looking wilted? Time to make a hash or a frittata!
5. Prep protein or veggies for the week
While I think full-on food prep can be a little overwhelming to take on every week (especially when you’re busy), I love having chopped veggies and ready-to-eat eggs and protein on hand. In the example above, I had a half carton of eggs left (in addition to a new carton), so I went ahead and hard-boiled the older eggs in my Instant Pot (quite possibly the best and easiest way to hard boil. I use the method outlined here >). I also chopped up cucumbers, and put together a few protein packs for weekly lunches (with turkey, hummus, and veggies).
6. Take stock of what you need to buy for the week ahead
After making space in your fridge, prepping a few key ingredients, and taking stock of what you have, you’ll get a good idea of what you don’t have. That way you can grocery shop for what you need without overbuying or underbuying. This also helps you avoid that moment of standing in front of a grocery aisle with a blank stare, thinking, “What did I need again?!” Or maybe that’s just me.