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Put an end to wasting food...

Why would I choose the fridge of all things to feature this week? Well, November is Organizing Your Refrigerator Month! I imagine it's because of all of those Thanksgiving prep & leftovers... I used to waste food. A lot of food. I would have great intentions of eating my fruits and veggies, but they'd just end up rotting away in the drawers. Or I would attempt to cook new and 'exciting' recipes, only to get lazy and go out to eat instead - so those ingredients fell by the wayside. Or how about those leftovers that get shoved in the back of the refrigerator and actually grow an assortment of colorful fuzzy friends we call MOLD. So not only was I was wasting food, but also containers! ;) What is a solution to all of these issues and more? Two words my dear friends: meal planning. I plan our meals one week in advance. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks a day. I like to use fresh, whole foods as a large part of my cooking so I don't want to buy too far in advance or it would spoil before I could use it. One way to do this is to have a recipe compilation on the computer so as you plan the meals, just copy and paste the ingredients of the recipe into a separate word document that doubles as your grocery list. Once the menu is done and the list is completed, comb through the list and delete items you already have, or add items you need (mainly toiletries, pantry staples, and things of that nature). To create the recipe compilation is time consuming at first, but it's a one time deal and it's easy to add to! It is well worth the initial investment of your time- and as stated earlier, it's actually a financial investment because you know you will use every item you shopped for and nothing goes to waste. Then hang the menu in your command center so everyone is on the same page.

I have a recipe binder that I pull from. I will pluck 7 dinners for the week and shop for those ingredients. We are "boring" and repetitive with our breakfast, lunch, and snacks to keep things simple. We are also on a tight grocery budget!

Something our family recently started using is Kroger's ClickList. This is a great way to keep your fridge stocked and save money at the same time! You order the food the night before, and you pull up to the store and they bring the groceries out to you! You don't even get out of your vehicle - it is glorious! There is a $4.95 fee, but I justify this by knowing I would have spent far more in impulse purchases. Also, you can load coupons directly onto your Kroger card through the click list website. Genius!

One thing I love using in the refrigerator and freezer are baskets. I keep fresh produce, yogurts, applesauce, etc in these baskets and it makes it much easier to grab and I don't have to dig or shift items around. There are containers made specifically for the cooler temperatures of your fridge and freezer, but I have found that Dollar Tree baskets work just fine.

A final tip to keeping your fridge fresh is to pair the task of cleaning out the refrigerator with garbage day. Our trash service comes every Tuesday morning, so each Monday evening I make sure to go through our fridge and toss expired items and old leftovers. If there is time, I give the refrigerator a quick wipe down.

Don't neglect your refrigerator go another day! Happy organizing, friends! :)

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