Haven’t cleaned out your refrigerator since the Ice Age? Experts show you what to boot—and what to buy.
The Cluttered Original
1. Not-so-smart carbs
For extra fiber, trade some white bread and English muffins for corn tortillas or whole-grain pita.
2. Wrong yogurt
Switch to Greek because it contains twice the protein. Look for brands with no more than 10 grams of sugar in 4 ounces; pick plain or mix plain and flavored to cut back on sugar.
3. Mystery food
Use clear containers for storage to avoid losing track of leftovers. The one exception: “Store desserts in opaque containers so you won’t be tempted when you open the door,” says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Slim by Design and dad of three.
4. Wilted lettuce
Clamshell containers protect prewashed greens better than bags do, but you can extend the shelf life by moving greens to an airtight container lined with a paper towel.
5. Messy shelves
Designate separate shelves for frozen veggies, proteins, and grains so it’s easy to mix and match for a meal. Label any dishes that you made yourself.
6. Moldy sauce
Jarred tomato sauce often spoils five to 10 days after opening, so freeze what you won’t use. Buy brands sans added sugar, like Classico Riserva and Newman’s Own Organics.
7. Coffee concern
Even sugar-free creamer contains 15 to 25 calories per squirt, plus it’s packed with artificial ingredients. Use milk plus a drop of vanilla extract instead.
8. Seltzer overkill
Cut back on the space needed for beverages by investing in a SodaStream to DIY carbonated water from the fridge’s tap.
- RELATED: 5 Days of 15-Minute Meals
The Healthy Remake
1. Ready meals
It’s crucial to have a stash of dinners that you can pop into the oven or heat up on the stove.
2. Pre-prepped ingredients
Find out how cooking a big batch of beans and quinoa on weekends can set you up for healthy eating all week.
3. Fruits and veggies up front
“My research shows that you’re three times more likely to eat the first thing you see when you open the door than the fifth thing,” says Dr. Wansink.
4. Kids’ snack section
Set aside space on one of the lower shelves so kids can easily help themselves to a snack once or twice a day. Rotate items such as string cheese, yogurt, small containers of cottage cheese sprinkled with a little cinnamon, baby carrots, zip-top bags of cut washed grapes, and wholegrain mini bagels with peanut butter.
5. Healthy shortcuts
With fewer drinks, there’s more room for ingredients that will make meal prep faster: jarred roasted red peppers, cubed raw sweet potatoes, and ready-to-eat tofu.
- RELATED The 20 Best Snacks for Kids
5 Foods You're Probably Storing Wrong
Even though some fridges have built-in slots on the door, your carton belongs on a shelf and in the back, where it’s the coldest.
Evict them to the counter. They start to rot at below 50°F, according to a study from the University of California, Davis.
Unleash it from the tightly wrapped bag and store it in the fridge upright in a vase filled with water (not kidding) or at least on damp paper towels. Ditto for fresh herbs.
Are you among the 82 percent of shoppers who store raw chicken on an upper shelf? Move it and other meat down to prevent juices from dripping on foods below—and, if at all possible, place it on a large platter to contain spills.
Open hot sauce or Sriracha
Keeping it in your pantry is fine; after all, your fridge shelves and door are probably crowded enough.