Refresh Your Fridge

by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence

Whether you are a gourmet or grazer, most people open their refrigerator between 15-20 times daily. If you have kids, you might say that estimate’s low! When you look inside your fridge fantastic, what are the first things you see? Does it look like an organized stainless steel farmer’s market or a shrine to “take-out containers from the upper west side”? 

The reality is it probably falls somewhere in-between. Have no fear spring is a great time to refresh your fridge and get that 1.75 cubic feet working for you, not against you! How can you get a fridge to work for you? It’s not rocket science, but it is behavioral science. By tapping into some key tenants of what makes humans tick, we can build systems that help us make the best choice, the easiest choice. Let’s face it, whether we like it or not we are creatures of habit.

First Thing We See We Eat

You open the fridge and research shows you are 30% more likely to grab the first item you see. Refresh your fridge by filling the front with good for you foods like: fruit, cut-up veggies, yogurt cups, hummus, hard-boiled eggs, and cheese sticks. Want to make access even easier? Put in a fridge turntable, so you can spin around foods from back to front. There will be less opportunity for food to be forgotten, and greater chance that produce will be eaten.

Get Good Gear

As all athletes know, good gear matters for performance. If we want to be good eaters, they same rules apply. Here are some top items to help refresh your fridge:

  1. Baskets With Handles. This allows you to organize food by category/type, use shelf space better, and provide an easy way to pull food out.
  2. Mason Jars. These beauties stack nicely; provide the visual appeal and ability to see what’s being stored, and are environmentally smart for decreasing use of disposables and plastics.
  3. Glass stackable containers. Same as Mason Jars, but are even better for stacking pre-made meals.
  4. Multiple Blender Heads. This extra spend will save you on “I didn’t have time for breakfast” excuses.
  5. Peel-able Labels. Keeps you organized and your food safe when you put a “use by” date on your items.
  6. Six Pack Containers. Use these to organize condiments in door shelves. They are not just for beer anymore!
  7. Activated Charcoal Odor Absorbers. They come in many different forms, but sometimes you really do need to reFRESH the fridge!

Size Matters

Like to buy in bulk or large containers? It’s a great way to save money, but can lead to overeating. Human and animal studies show that we eat to complete! The more that is put in front of us, the more we consume. This is why stocking your fridge with mini-sized favorites will help you enjoy those foods and keep your intake goals on track. 

Still want to buy in bulk or with large containers? Make sure you invest in some great fridge gear that we highlighted above to separate and pre-pack items into smaller containers. Yes there is work in that, but now you’ve set-up your very own grab and go. 

Planning Pays

Speaking of grab and go, my favorite refresh is how we plan our cooking.  Since we are going to be stocked with the great fridge gear we’ll be ready to roll. To make pre-planning a habit, it will take at least 3 weeks of consistently doing this behavior.  So don’t give up! Here are some systems I do each week to make eating well, super easy:

  1. Bulk cook! When you are cooking lean meats and grains, why just cook for one night?  “Plan-overs” save you time! For example: take the extra grilled chicken, rice, and roasted veggies and put them in stackable glass containers. Now you are ready for tomorrow’s lunch. A key ingredient is to make sure you have plenty of fun and flavorful condiments that can help re-imagine the plan-over meal for the next day.
  2. Breakfast before bed! Throw together smoothie ingredients (frozen fruit works great for this) into several blender heads so that you are ready to go for a week’s worth of breakfast. You can stack them in your fridge door, then in the morning plop it on the blender base for a no excuses nutrient packed wake up call. This system is great for an after work/workout snack too. 
  3. Mason Jar Salads! One of the longest lasting ways to store salads is in mason jars (1-2 weeks depending on ingredients). Another benefit to this method is human eat with their eyes. Mason jars give visual appeal to see the color, textures, and layers of your nutritious creations. Stack these salads and veggies during the weekend. That will inspire you to easily get those veggies eaten each day for the next week.