Fridge organisation for families, tips to avoid food waste

A couple of months ago I was asked to become an ambassador for the Dutch agency against food waste (#verspillingsvrij). Which I was happy to accept — food waste, after all, is one of the most serious dangers to the health of our planet. A third of all food is thrown away! A big part of this happens in our kitchen —  something we, as end-consumers, can avoid and work on to improve.

Since the campaign has started I definitely have become more aware of what we throw away. It actually has become a bit of a challenge to throw away as little as possible, and it’s been fun! For example, I found out that a pesto made from carrot or radish greens is delicious! Or that the stems of herbs can be used for cooking: if they are soft (like basil, coriander or parsley stems, or the soft part of mint stems), they can be chopped up finely and used just as you would use the leaves. And that something as blah and seemingly useless as potato skins become a delicious snack if you roast them in the oven with some olive oil and spices!

fridge organisation

One of my own everlasting battles in the fight against food waste however is keeping an organised fridge. I can make an effort, but there are 6 other family members in our house! Surely without any bad intentions, jars with leftovers are pushed to the back and out of sight, and consequently forgotten. So that I have to throw the food away after all. Painful!!

I have made it my mission to work on a better fridge organisation. I have tried and tested different things the past months, and even though things are still not perfect, there is definitely much improvement.

Here are a few tips that I have learned along the way — small tips with a big effect, I hope!

Fridge organisation and tips to avoid foodwaste

  • Keep your fridge temperature at 4 degrees Celsius.
  • Organise your fridge! A well organised fridge is not only important for safe storage, but it will also help to minimise food waste.
  • Everything in your fridge should be covered or wrapped!
  • Use glass or see-through containers to cover or wrap things so you can see what’s inside. (Advantage of glass is that you can also put them in the oven or freezer as well!)
  • Have one or two ‘eat now’ shelves where you keep left-overs as well as fresh food (obviously keeping fresh food separated from prepared food). Make sure your family members know about this and respect your system.
  • A fridge needs to be tidied up as well. Do this daily so you can see what’s in there and what the shelf life is. Move products that are reaching the end of their shelf life to the ‘eat now’ department. (Open jars, with for example pesto or tomato sauce, which need to be eaten within a couple of days, also go to the eat-now department.)
  • You can keep leftovers for two days. In the morning, have a look at what you have sitting on your ‘eat now’ shelf and determine how you can incorporate that in your meal planning of the day. (I love using left-overs for the children’s lunch boxes: cold pasta, pizza, a piece of sausage, some salad in a wrap… My kids love it!)
  • Before you go grocery shopping, check your fridge and see what you have in there and how you can use that in your plans for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Once a week, have a left-over lunch or dinner. This can be fun! And easy of course :).
  • Once a month, wipe your fridge clean. Go through the collection of condiments, jams, etc. and move to the ‘eat now’ shelves if needed. Once a season, deep clean your fridge!

xxx Esther

PS The best eco earth-saving products!


Comments (6)

July 10, 2019

That is somethin which we will try at home,too.
Something else what i found very helpfull is, when I want to cook or bake something I buy the ingedients fresh. So you don´t have surprises at the end of the week, when you go weekly shopping, that there are leftovers and you have to throw them away, and one perfect fit is we have turtels in our garden, so they get all the vegetables which we don´t eat anymore…

Esther in Amsterdam
July 11, 2019

Turtles! How fun! xx

Addie Ladner
July 11, 2019

I love discussing this topic as I too am always trying to prevent food waste and save money at the same time! Two things that I do that have really helped with this are a) before I make a grocery list, I comb the freezer, fridge and pantry and first make a list of all the things that we do have and I am always so surprised to see that when it’s all written down, we actually have more than what it seems and we can come up with a few creative things. Another thing we’ve done to help with waste is just to be ok with a somewhat humble meal of say rice with a fried egg, or some sort of open faced veggie sandwich. Just thought I’d share! Very inspired to organize my fridge when we get home now 🙂 Xx

Esther in Amsterdam
July 18, 2019

Thanks Addie!! x

July 13, 2019

Hi from Colorado,

Another great post Esther. We’ve also signed up for a local compost pick up, which I’ve enjoyed doing. I know many cities in Europe do this for their residents but unfortunately not in my town. Although there is a small monthly fee we get a bag of finished compost a few times a year and it keeps us aware of what we waste. Of course you could also do your own compost … but we have an omnivore dog and we don’t want to risk him getting in there as mold is quite dangerous for animals.

Esther in Amsterdam
July 18, 2019

Thanks Anna! Some towns in the NLs also pick up compost, but not in Amsterdam. We have our own compost in the garden though, it’s a closed system with a lid so secure for dogs. We love to feed our vegetable garden with our own compost, it’s a beautiful singular process! 🙂

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