Having A Weekly 'Clean-Out' Meal Is A Great Way To Keep A Stress-Free Fridge

Fridge with full shelves
Fridge with full shelves - TY Lim/Shutterstock

The refrigerator may be one of the central appliances in a home, but even so, it's not immune to mess and stress. It sees a lot of traffic throughout the week, such as a fresh load of groceries, last night's leftover takeout, open bottles of condiments, containers of meal prep — the list goes on. There are many guides online as to how to keep track of the contents of the fridge, but one delicious way to deal with near-unwieldy kitchen inventory is to have a weekly 'clean-out' meal.

What does this mean? In short, using up bits and bobs of ingredients and leftovers in the fridge to create a brand-new meal, in order to 'clean-out' space so the fridge can receive new items. On a particular day of the week, identify what items need to be used up in the fridge before they expire, and lay them all out on the counter. The exact combination will definitely vary, but it is likely that there will be a small range of starches, vegetables, proteins, and condiments. With a little creativity and a can-do spirit, a unique and delicious meal will be ready for the household to enjoy. And who knows? A new family favorite could be invented through sheer resourcefulness.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Meal Ideas For Repurposed Ingredients

Leftover takeout noodles
Leftover takeout noodles - Hamik/Shutterstock

It can feel like a proverbial kick to the gut to throw away food that is perfectly fine. So, thinking of how to repurpose said food into something new and appetizing is not only delicious but purposeful. If you have a container of leftover lo mein, a carrot nub that didn't make it into this week's meals, and the last two eggs left in the fridge door tray, it all can be combined and turned into a refreshed bowl of stir-fried pasta. Or how about a few bits of cooked bacon, a wilty sprig of herbs, and a half portion of the quinoa leftover from Monday's dinner? Chop up the bacon and herbs and toss them with the quinoa for a hearty grain bowl of sorts.

Condiments also get a chance to be used up in this clean-out meal, especially if there are household members who are not fond of eating leftovers. Carefully or liberally season these new creations to give them fresh flavors, effectively disguising that the meal was not fully made from scratch, but showcasing it was made with care and attention.

Extra Tips To Keep Tabs On Your Fridge Inventory

Containers of prepped ingredients
Containers of prepped ingredients - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Leftovers from meals and some surplus ingredients are inevitable in the course of day-to-day cooking and life in general. It is therefore important to stay on top of fridge inventory as much as possible, so that precious food that languishes at the back of the shelves doesn't inadvertently contribute to the problem of food waste.

There are several fridge organization tips worth looking into to eat better and save money.  'First in, first out' is by far one of the most handy. This simply means to use up items in open containers or those nearing their expiration dates before opening or purchasing new ones. Storing food in clear containers will also greatly help, so time isn't wasted opening up containers just to find out what is within. Labeling these containers clearly with their contents and date of storage will also aid in the decision-making of what gets cooked and eaten sooner than later.

However, remember that no system is infallible, and there will be occasions where food just has to be discarded if it's gone bad. Do not be too upset! The trick is to minimize these instances, and move forward with even more intention when purchasing groceries and cooking meals throughout the week.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.