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 are a few things
Profile suggests 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:
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.
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
- 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.
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 drinkssitting out in the open weighed 24 to 26 pounds more.
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.
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.
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
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