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Stop Kitchen Science Fiction: Eliminating Spooky Leftovers

“Leftovers” by JD Hancock / Description of image: A collage image of a vintage fridge ajar with four purple monster feelers escaping. Overlaid on a wallpaper background.

Stop Kitchen Science Fiction: Eliminating Spooky Leftovers

In the last Quick & Delish meal planning session, the ‘black hole refrigerator’ was described as the foods and ingredients that were left in the fridge unused and turned into an unintentional science experiment. Sound familiar? How do we solve fridge black holes, food waste, and frustration in the kitchen?

Over the years, clients have shared the feeling that when they grocery shop, they waste food or when they cook, they waste food. When grocery shopping or recipe planning, most of us have the best intentions to use what we purchase. Really, the area to give more attention to is making a plan for the ingredients and meals we create, including how we organize our refrigerators and food storage. This helps reduce waste and spending. 

When asked for my recommendations on how to eat on a budget or save money while eating healthy, my first thought is how to harness the power of looking in the kitchen before creating the grocery list. Grocery shopping before reviewing what you have in stock is like buying new clothes without checking your closet first. Going through the fridge every month for things that have spoiled means it’s too late! By reviewing your kitchen before shopping or keeping an up-to-date kitchen inventory, you can navigate with what you already have. This creates a plan to utilize what you already have, and you won’t buy as much. 

Helpful Tips To Avoid Food Waste

Organized refrigerator full of fresh produce, food in clear containers, and bottles on the door.

As for what’s currently in your fridge – is there a cut open avocado? Half an onion? Leftovers from a few nights ago? When food goes out of sight and out of mind, it has the potential to become science fair fodder. If you find yourself frequently spooked by things in your fridge or pantry, here are some suggestions to stay more organized and clear about what’s where:

  • Ideal containers are clear, single serving size, stackable, with labels
  • Keep similar items/ingredients in the same container – if it’s stored already prepped in a container, it’s 1 step closer to becoming a meal
  • Leftovers and partial meals – combine into a cohesive meal sooner than later (4 bites of brown rice from Chinese takeout gets put into a soup or added to scrambled eggs and veggies the next morning)
  • Drawer or shelf inserts (made from reused containers or purchased) are your friend! Store small packages or similarly-sized items together
  • Have a ‘use first’ drawer or shelf – train yourself to look here first for ideas so nothing ends up in the back or shoved in the door
  • Get rid of unnecessary ingredients, like unused condiments in the fridge door or pantry

Relieve yourself from the pull of the black hole kitchen by taking simple steps toward kitchen clarity, which could mean as little as 3 minutes a day. These few minutes spent organizing can help you reduce food waste, save money, and feel on top of your health.

To learn about creating your own simple, healthy meal planning system and getting support to meet your health goals, schedule a free one-on-one Nutrition for Wellness Strategy Session with me! 

To receive meal planning tips, recipe ideas, and to learn about meal planning events, join my email list.

Cheers to your health, Alicia

By Alicia Connor, MA / Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Chef

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Author Bio:

Alicia Connor a pretty brunette with dark wavy shoulder-length hair wearing a denim jacket as she leans on a kitchen counter with assorted veggies in front of her.
Alicia Connor

Alicia Connor is a registered dietitian nutritionist and chef who is passionate about encouraging lifestyle shifts with a focus on meal planning and simplifying healthy eating. Alicia built a career as a chef, including working at a top San Francisco restaurant. As a young adult facing hereditary vision loss, she took control and pivoted to another career as a dietitian to grow roots deeper than ‘just cooking.’ She has seen the impact of meal planning and nutrition in her clients over the years, often through their increased energy, empowered weight loss journeys, and freedom to pursue more of their passions due to increased confidence.

Moving away from the mindset of dieting, Alicia helps clients build a toolkit of strategies to reduce stress and increase peace of mind. She supports her clients through one-on-one sessions and a virtual meal planning program to build helpful habits and create actionable plans to meet their goals.

‘Quick & Delish by Alicia Connor’ is a video cooking series on YouTube where Alicia presents easy recipes with minimal steps for flavorful, balanced meals. 

Image Descriptions

  • Header: “Leftovers” by JD Hancock / Description of image: A collage image of a vintage fridge ajar with four purple monster feelers escaping. Overlaid on a wallpaper background.
  • Organized refrigerator full of fresh produce, food in clear containers, and bottles on the door.
  • Author photo: Alicia Connor a pretty brunette with dark wavy shoulder-length hair wearing a denim jacket as she leans on a kitchen counter with assorted veggies in front of her.
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