How to Meal Prep When You Have No Fridge Space

by Bill Welles

Regular meal prep and trips to the grocery store go a long way in easing the burden of daily cooking. Meal planning can help our days and weeks go by more smoothly with a sense of organization and routine. And while we’ve all been spending more time at home this year, it’s important to create a semblance of routine in our diet. Many have stocked up on food the past few months, but how do you meal prep and keep a fully stocked fridge when your refrigeration appliance offers little storage space? 

Whether you live in a college dorm or a studio apartment with barely enough room for a mini-fridge— ideally, you should plan to store at least a week’s worth of food at a time. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice the convenience of healthy eating and homecooked meals because you don’t have an excess of fridge space. Larger refrigerators with all the bells and whistles certainly make it simple, but you can still meal prep and organize your meals with limited fridge space just as easy.

If you don’t have the most flexible storage layout in your home, it’s time to get clever and maintain a fully stocked kitchen. Here are a few tips to help make it happen.

Fruits and Veggies That Don’t Need Refrigeration 

We’re all aware of the overall health benefits of fresh fruits and veggies, but they can also do wonders for your meal prep recipes. Any produce item can be a very versatile complement to any dish you make. They help to create a more complete and balanced meal that can last and be enjoyed throughout the week. The only downside of preparing healthy meals is that fruits and vegetables tend to take up a lot of space in the fridge.

If your refrigerator is already too crowded—luckily, not all fruits and veggies require refrigeration. Here are some of our favorites that don’t need to be stored in a crisper drawer: 

  • Tomatoes 
  • Sweet Potatoes 
  • Apples 
  • Lemons/Limes 
  • Oranges 
  • Bananas
  • Pears 
  • Onions 
  • Garlic 
  • Avocados  

Proper Meal Prep

If you’re trying to maximize the space in a smaller appliance, planning your meals ahead of time will go a long way. Once you finish your grocery shopping for the week, start to map out what you want to make with your new ingredients. You might not be making chicken fettuccini until pasta night on Thursday, but taking the chicken out of the original packaging, pre-slicing the meat, and separating it into plastic storage bags will allow for much more fridge space. Especially if your fridge is already pretty full, limiting as much packaging as possible will increase your storage to properly prep your meals for the week to come.

The same goes for your veggies. If you purchase vegetables that need chilling or the weather causes your produce to take a turn for the worse, try slicing and dicing everything up and separate all veggies into your prepped meal containers so they take up less real estate in the fridge. 

Make the Most of Ingredients 

When you have a larger refrigeration appliance, you have the convenience and luxury of storing an excess of food for any occasion. When you have a smaller fridge, it’s crucial to maximize the full potential of each ingredient. For any meal you plan during the week, try to find an opportunity to double down on that recipe whenever possible. Using one ingredient for multiple meals will help you increase available fridge space and help you save a little money.  

For example, if you like to prepare cozy homemade stews during the fall, you may need a container of chicken or beef stock. However, if you only need to use half of it for your recipe, you’ll want to try to use that stock for an additional meal since it’s a clunky container that can take up valuable space. 

More Trips to the Store 

One of the major drawbacks of having a smaller refrigerator is not being able to buy in bulk or freeze an excess of foods. These items will typically save you a few trips to the grocery store, but this also means you’ll be somewhat forced to buy healthier foods that will fit in your fridge rather than unhealthy frozen dinners. Salisbury steak TV dinners aren’t always conducive to a smaller appliance and are typically high in fat and sodium. You want to buy fruits, veggies, and proteins more than any other food item, and regular trips to the store for fresh food make that an easier feat. 

Embrace Your Storage Space

It can be easy to be envious of a big fancy refrigerator that can hold more than a month’s worth of food, but when you can only eat what you can store, you don’t have to worry about wasting food that has gone bad in the fridge. You won’t get in the habit of shoving things into the abyss in the back of the fridge never to be seen again. You can organize your fridge to your liking, keep your food orderly and within reach, and are less likely to fine mystery leftovers when you have a smaller appliance. 

There is no reason to fret if you’re short on fridge space—you can still be efficient and healthy in your eating habits and prep your weekly meals with ease. But if you’re ready to upgrade your refrigeration appliance, give us a call or visit us at Duerden’s to shop our entire line of refrigerators. From compact to full-sized fridges, we have every model to fit your living space and your food storage needs.