Learning and Development Specialist Natalie Papini shares some strategies
to keep in mind as we freshen up our fridge on National Clean Out Your
November 15 is “National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day.”
Typically, clean out your refrigerator day entails rummaging through nearly
empty bottles of salad dressing and tupperware full of things that used
to be food to make space for the upcoming holiday season. Here’s
a few things to keep in mind when tossing out food as well as strategies
to reorganize your refrigerator in a way that simplifies your life and
helps you stay on track:
1. Buying in Bulk
People who buy in bulk tend to eat half of the food they purchased in
the first week. Not only does buying in bulk influence portion control,
but according to the American Chemistry Council, the average American
household throws out $640 of food each year. For an American family of
four, the average value of discarded produce is around $1,600 annually.
That adds up to roughly 60 million tons (or $160 billion) of produce annually
thrown in the trash. Globally, the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization estimates that around 30% of all food grown is lost or wasted,
an amount valued at nearly $3 trillion.
Solution: Be particular about which items you purchase in bulk. Start purchasing
nutritious options in bulk (such as vegetables) to ensure your precious
refrigerator space is filled with Profile-friendly options. Repackage
the items you purchase into pre-portioned snack bags to avoid over-consumption.
Americans tend to throw away 16% of the food they purchase, so do a quick
scan of your cart before checkout to determine which items are absolutely
necessary and which items aren’t. Finally, consider donating your
throw-aways. Around 42 million Americans live in food-insecure households.
Your food donation helps those in need and simultaneously creates refrigerator
space: a win-win.
2. Organization Hacks
The way you store food can influence your eating patterns. Research shows
that both visibility and convenience impact the amount of food you consume.
You are three times as likely to pick up the first thing you see when
you open your refrigerator door. On average, women who had breakfast cereal
sitting on their counters weighed 20 pounds more than women who didn’t
and those with soft drinks sitting out in the open weighed 24 to 26 pounds more.
Solution: What’s at eye level in your refrigerator? Move nutritious
foods to eye-level shelves and relocate the less nutritious items in a
drawer that is out of plain sight and store them in opaque containers
to eliminate constant temptation. Be mindful of what needs to be stored
in your refrigerator and what can be stored elsewhere. Identify if any
vegetables that you store in your refrigerator can go without refrigeration
and conveniently place them in plain sight on a counter. This will free
up space in your refrigerator and ensure your most nutritional options
are visible and easy to grab when hunger arises.
3. Ugly Food
Ask yourself if you’re throwing something out because it’s
rotten or because it’s ugly. We live in the ‘social media
era’ and there’s undue pressure on food to be pretty. This
cultural shift in favor of “camera cuisine,” a consumer mandate
that food must be visually appealing, leads to more food waste and lost money.
Solution: Embrace ugly food. You’ve probably heard the age-old adage
that It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, it’s
what’s on the inside that counts. The same thing can be said for
your food. Don’t let a few dents in your bell pepper keep you from
getting your vitamin A on! Rather than throwing out the asparagus that
is “too white” or “not green enough,” eat it,
cook it into a recipe or donate it to your local food pantry. Call ahead
to your local pantry to determine what foods are accepted as well as if
they can accept foods that require refrigeration.
So, what are you waiting for? Scan your fridge and create a plan of action.
Get out your
Profile Grocery Guide and make a list for your next trip to the supermarket. Last but not least,
be mindful of what you’re throwing away: that rusted lettuce or
bruised bunch of bananas could feed someone in need.
Painter, J. E., Wansink, B., & Hieggelke, J. B. (2002). How visibility
and convenience influence candy consumption. Appetite, 38(3), 237-238.
Wansink, B., Hanks, A. S., & Kaipainen, K. (2016). Slim by Design.
Health Education & Behavior, 43(5), 552-558. doi:10.1177/1090198115610571