My Weekly Sunday Clean-Out Session Saves Me Hundreds on Food

published May 11, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Shot of a young woman searching inside a refrigerator at home
Credit: PeopleImages / Getty Images

If I’m being honest, I’ve never been good at making and sticking to a weekly meal plan. I can barely even remember what’s in my fridge! Instead of over-ambitiously buying way too many groceries, I lower the bar — perfection is unnecessary. Instead, every Sunday I commit to my Sunday clean-out session — just five to 10 minutes dedicated to cleaning out my fridge.

Food waste has always been a big deal in my family. When I was a kid, my mom would often have “Smorgasbord” nights, where we’d take out all the leftovers from the fridge, spread them all out on the kitchen counter, and we’d spoon a little dollop of each on our plates. Calling it a smorgasbord and pulling everything out of the fridge made it feel novel and fun. Mashed potatoes and pickles? Sure! Cold meatloaf and celery with peanut butter? Go for it. A plate of just carbs? Knock yourself out, kid!

Although I’m now an adult and don’t often have the same amount of leftovers our family did, I still continue to do these fridge clean-out sessions for several reasons. I try to live as sustainably as possible, and food waste is a massive problem in America — in fact, individual households make up 37% of the food wasted in America. Plus, I know that cutting down my own family’s waste is something I can realistically do to help the planet.

Sunday fridge clean-outs are also a great money-saving trick. A 2020 study found that the average American spent nearly $1,300 on food that ended up in the trash. By the time Sunday rolls around, I’ve usually forgotten what’s in the fridge, have abandoned any meal planning I might have done, and am tempted by the siren song of takeout. But by cleaning out my fridge each Sunday and reminding myself what’s in there, my credit card can avoid another DoorDash charge. There’s almost always enough in my fridge and pantry to make a nice omelet or a loaded baked potato.

My Sunday clean-outs also help me plan for the week because I like to grocery shop on Mondays. Like I said, I’m not a huge fan of strict meal plans, but I can commit to taking a quick inventory and making a few notes on my phone’s Notes App. Let’s say I notice that I have bell peppers that are almost wrinkly. Then, I’ll check the pantry for tortillas, onions, and taco seasoning. If I have all of that, I know that I can just add an avocado to my list and I’ve got veggie tacos for early in the week.

Lastly, my Sunday clean-outs help me keep my fridge sparkly clean. I hate reaching into the fridge for my favorite beverage or an afternoon snack and finding a sticky substance. (I mean, who doesn’t?). During my clean-outs, I’ll quickly wipe down the shelves and ensure there are no leaks or gooey messes. And by doing this each week, I rarely have to do a fridge deep clean.

Would you try committing to weekly fridge clean-outs?