November 15th is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day! This is the day when we collectively face down the rotten vegetables we never ate, sad leftovers that have been pushed to the dark back recesses and condiments that are probably older than our pets. Together we will grab our trash bags, don rubber gloves and get ready to battle the yearly accumulation of bacteria and spilled and spoiled food. Your reward will be well worth the time: a sparkling clean refrigerator with fresh and organized contents that will help you feel calmer and eat healthier. Cleaning out your refrigerator can feel daunting, but the rewards are plenty. Let’s do this!

1. Zen Fridge = Zen Mind

There is a reason Zen gardens aren’t completely stuffed with as many rocks, plants and sculptures as can be fit into the space. Having space between objects allows us to see each one and is pleasing to the eyes and mind. Cleaning out your refrigerator means removing expired items as well as food you are unlikely to eat. This will create more space, allowing you to arrange things in a more pleasing—and easy to find—manner.

2. It will make you a better cook

You are more likely to plan, cook and eat healthier meals when you have a general idea of the food items you have on hand. Also, knowing exactly what you have in your refrigerator allows you to combine ingredients in new and potentially delicious ways. As an added bonus, during the process of cleaning out your refrigerator you may also come across some unexpired treasures that you can work into future menus. 

3. It will give you a sense of control and calm

2020 has been a very challenging year for most people and there have been many things that are out of our personal control. Fortunately your refrigerator is a small world that you do have dominion over. Taking the time to clean out and organize your refrigerator can give you a sense of order and calm that you have been missing and can spill over into other areas of your life. Maybe closets next? 

4. It will save you money

Taking the time to clean out and inventory your refrigerator will make you more likely to eat the food you have on hand and less likely to waste food. Buying less food that you don’t eat—because it expires before you get to—has the potential to save you money every week on your grocery bill. Cleaning out your refrigerator is also a great time to evaluate and improve on your shopping habits.

5. It’s healthier for you and your family

Dirty refrigerators can be a breeding ground for bacteria like salmonella, E. coli and listeria and other germs. A clean refrigerator will keep your food fresh longer and reduce the risk of food borne illnesses. Also throwing out expired items will help create more space and better, healthier airflow between items. 

6.  It can improve household harmony

Clean, organized spaces promote household harmony and this is definitely true of your refrigerator. A dirty, cluttered refrigerator can be a hidden source of stress for the whole family.  

Being able to quickly find what you are looking for can save your wasted time and reduce your overall stress levels.

7. It’s better for the planet

The average American wastes over 200 pounds of food per year. Much of this comes in the form of uneaten leftovers and food that expires before it can be eaten. Uneaten food still requires resources to produce like fresh water, fertilizer and cropland and often landfills when it is thrown away. Having a clean and organized refrigerator will help you waste less food and lighten your environmental footprint a bit more.