Prepare for success by turning your refrigerator into a lean, mean, clean machine.
If you’ve ever seen the 1984 film “Ghostbusters” movie, you’ll remember the scene where Sigourney Weaver’s character hears growling coming from her refrigerator. She opens it to discover a supernatural scene inside, complete with a raging, horned demi-god. My fridge situation may not reach such epic proportions, but it does get pretty nasty, pretty quick. If you want to eat more healthfully—and prep meals quickly—a fridge detox is just the ticket. Here are three easy steps to tame your refrigerator.
Step 1: Ditch the Junk
Grab a garbage bag and get your recycling bin ready. The first step is an oh-so-satisfying purge. Toss out any of these:
- Fake foods. Ditch the highly processed “treats” like peppermint non-dairy creamer, an old tub of margarine you bought for a specific cookie recipe, and anything else of dubious nutritional value.
- Any items that are past their expiration date, or simply growing a moldy rim. Eww.
- The random, half-used things you obviously don’t truly use or enjoy—or you would have eaten them already. Marmalade and capers, I’m looking at you.
- Creepy condiments: How old is that apple butter we bought on vacation? Wait, when was that vacation? Toss it. Also scrutinize labels. Does that salsa or ketchup hide a bunch of added sugars? Ketchup, for example, may contain up to a teaspoon of sugar, depending on the brand.
Step 2: Purify the Space
Now that the junk food, highly processed food, and food old enough to join the AARP has been removed, you’ve got a lot more room to play with. Take everything else out onto the counter and get ready to detox the fridge itself.
Jill Nystul, of the blog One Good Thing, recommends using a hot vinegar blend to clean appliances like the fridge or microwave. Mix one cup white vinegar with two cups of hot water and 10 drops of lemon essential oil. Put the mix into a glass spray bottle, spray it inside the empty fridge, then wipe it up with a damp cloth. The hot vinegar helps dissolve any sticky, caked on goo, and the lemon essential oil is a natural sanitizer.
When you go to put food back into the fridge, designate a specific space for meat (if you eat it) that is separate from vegetables and fruits, to avoid any chance of cross-contamination.
Step 3: Replenish with Healthy Foods
Stock the fridge with foods that make it easy to get quality nutrients, even if you’re dashing through the kitchen on your way to a meeting or activity. Here’s how:
- See Food. Put the less healthy food out of the line of vision, toward the back of the fridge, and the superstar foods—vegetables—front and center. Aim to have a three-day supply of cut-up celery, jicama, snap peas, or baby carrots in a glass dish, staring you in the eye. The glass container trick can also work if you are someone who struggles with getting enough hydration. Use a carafe of water with some cut-up cucumber or strawberries floating around to entice you to sip.
- Power veggies. If you are into making smoothies, keep beets, cilantro, ginger, and lemons on hand in the veggie bin for quick detox blends.
- Choose condiments carefully. Instead of artificial ingredients and Day-Glo colors, opt for seasonings and toppings such as tamari soy sauce and nutritional yeast.
- Grab and go foods. Have basic building blocks—hard-boiled pasture-raised eggs, organic chicken, Greek yogurt, beans, fresh greens, and whole grain tortillas—so you can mix and match foods for a healthy meal within minutes.
Now that the refrigerator is full of clean foods, the only growling in the kitchen will be coming from your stomach.
Want more? Try this simple path to a nutritional detox.