A Clean Fridge is a Healthy Fridge!

by Rachel on September 11, 2009

Cleaning isn’t one of my favorite activities, but it’s definitely one that has gotten me through some tough days. There’s something so therapeutic about scrubbing, bleaching, wiping, spraying, mopping, sweeping, dusting, organizing, and beautifying. So this weekend, take your anger for your boss, fear over the economy, and frustration with your boyfriend and channel it all into Extreme Makeover: Your Fridge Edition.

The fridge is one of those things we might not think to clean right away. Or we might know it needs to be done and run in the other direction. “I’ll do it this weekend.” Right. That’s what you said two months ago. You’re living in denial. Just do it today!

If you want to make healthier food choices, you need to make your kitchen a healthier place. And that means taking out all the crap–whether it’s in the form of whole milk, Fourth of July leftovers, or condiments that have know George Bush. When you have a sparkling, clean fridge, it’s good motivation to fill it with sparkling, clean foods.

  • First, put on the Lady Gaga album. OK. Now you’re really ready.
  • Start by checking the thermometer. The temp is your first line of defense against food going bad and making you sick. It needs to be 40 degrees or cooler. And you’ll have the door open for a while, so it needs to be colder while you clean.
  • Drag the trash can over and start tossing. If you can rinse out containers and jars and recycle them, please do! If you’re like me, and would rather lose a piece of Tupperware than smell what’s inside, it’s OK. It happens from time to time. But try to keep it as green as possible!
  • Full-fat cream cheese? Yogurt made with added sugars (real and artificial)? Ketchup with high fructose corn syrup? Done. Gone. Kthxbye.
  • Don’t just clear the drawers and shelves—hit the door for old condiments. Do you have a million takeout soy sauce packets? Three honey mustards but none that actually have a full serving? Three varieties of full-fat dressing? See ya later!
  • Condense bottles to cut clutter. Unless something was super expensive, if it’s pretty old, crusty, and you aren’t going to use it tomorrow, let it go.
  • If you’re questioning whether something is bad or not—and that something is meat—pitch it.
  • As you get rid of stuff, learn your lesson for next time: making grocery lists and meal plans cuts back on waste!
  • Take note of what you’re tossing. If it’s a lot of spoiled veggies, try buying smaller quantities or switching to frozen. If it’s leftovers, you may need to buy less food overall, since one dinner can apparently feed you all week. If it’s a lot of junk food, well, hallelujah.
  • One you’ve removed everything, clean, clean, clean. Clean until you’ve gotten rid of all the grime in the ice box and all the fear and anxiety in your head. Soap and water will do the trick; I know everyone’s antibacterial crazy, but you shouldn’t use anything containing harsh chemicals. This is your food storage space, after all, not your toilet.
  • Put whatever food is left back in and set the temperature back to 40 degrees.
  • Crack open a box of baking soda to keep it smelling fresh as a daisy.
  • Thank Lady Gaga for providing such a great soundtrack.

Enjoy how white and empty it is, and how it’s beckoning you to put healthy foods back in! See that crisper? It needs lettuce to keep crisp! Those shelves are lonely—they want some skim milk and tofu. The door misses all its bottles—show it some love with a variety of vinaigrettes!

Have a happy Friday, Shedders!

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