Weekend Projects

Weekend Projects: Do a Mini Fridge Cleanout

published Dec 17, 2021
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Man opening refrigerator. You can see lettuce, green onions, carrots, and other produce in the door. The rest of the fridge is full of food.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Styling: Tom Hoerup

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

A couple weekends ago, we cleared out space in our homes to make room for the inflow of new items that may be coming our way over the holidays. The exercise is a great way to make sure that our storage spaces don’t become over-burdened. Besides looking junky, having too much stuff makes it harder to enjoy the good things you do use, and it makes it harder to use your space and your belongings efficiently.

Nowhere is this more true than the refrigerator, where disorganization and overcrowded conditions mean frustration and money down the drain. I’m sure I’m not the only one who buys Costco pesto and breaks into it only to realize there’s already a half-full jar in the back of the fridge!

With holiday cooking just around the corner, let’s take some time to clear out our refrigerators. This way we’ll know if we still have Crisco and cream cheese or if we need to replenish. We’ll also make room for the casseroles and sides and dips and cartons of eggnog and all the winter things so we can store and serve without shoving and cramming and a million quick trips to the store.

This Weekend: Do a mini fridge cleanout.

We’re not going to empty out and thoroughly clean the fridge this weekend. We’re just going to clean it out, and, as we do, take mental notes about what we have and don’t have.

To do this, try the following:

Make a rough plan of what you think you’ll be cooking over the next few weeks, along with ingredients you will need. Write down what you can.

Clear out leftovers that are too old, produce that’s no good, and any condiments or other foods that are past their use-by dates.

Put the remaining items back where they belong. If you have fridge zones or labeled shelves, make sure that everything is in its place.

Wipe out any obvious crumbs or spills.

Revisit the list you made in the first step, cross out what you have on hand, and add the remaining items you need to your shopping list.

Enjoy a fridge that’s ready for the most wonderful time of the year.

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Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.