The Single Best Way to Avoid Wasting Food in Your Fridge, According to a Pro Organizer

published Jul 7, 2022
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Do you struggle to use all the food in your refrigerator before it goes bad, wilts, or turns soggy? If you’re like most home cooks, the answer is likely yes. Even with meal plans and food prep strategies, many cooks end up throwing away a portion of the food they buy every week. One clever solution, made popular by professional organizer Holly Blakey, is so simple you can start doing it today: Create an Eat First bin.

The idea, which we spied on Holly Blakey’s Instagram account, is as easy as it sounds: Keep a bin in your fridge and stock it with food that’s on the verge of spoiling or creeping close to its expiration date. By putting the almost-too-far-gone-but-still-good food front and center, you’ll be reminded to cook with or eat it before rummaging deeper. This, of course, results in less food waste — and maybe even some extra-creative meals.

How to Create an Eat First Bin

This concept is simple, but there are a few tricks to making the Eat First bin work for you. First, the container should be large enough to hold a variety of food items and ingredients, including produce, jars of condiments, or leftovers. Blakey uses a pretty woven basket, but there’s no need to invest in something flashy (it will be hiding behind fridge doors, after all). Simple plastic tubs do the trick — and as a bonus, they are washable.

It helps to actually label the bin with the words “Eat First.” It may sound kitschy, but this is less about Pinterest-y aesthetics than a visual prompt. The label will help remind you that this is more than just a box of random food, as well as nudge others in your household to reach for the Eat First ingredients before anything else. It doesn’t matter if you use a label maker or a marker; this is all about creating streamlined efficiency.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

What Goes in an Eat First Bin?

An Eat First bin is an ideal catch-all for fresh produce — no more hiding those carrots away in the crisper drawer! But you can also use it for just about everything else that’s on a ticking timeline. Open jars of condiments with short shelf lives? Add them to the bin. That two-day-old batch of brown rice? Into the bin. A package of cheese nearing its “Best By” date? In it goes. You can even add leftovers or takeout to the Eat First Bin. Just make sure that everything you put in the bin is properly stored, to avoid spilling or leaking.

Like all clever organizational tricks, the key to making this one work is to inform everyone in your household about it. Once you do that, you’ll feel good about starting this easy, eco-friendly tip today.

Do you have an Eat First bin in your fridge? Tell us your tips and tricks for reducing food waste in the comments below.