20 Tips To Navigating The Office Fridge

If you're making the effort to bring your lunch to work, then consider the following list your official in-office eating edict. These tips she light on how to keep your office's refrigerator and overall kitchen area running as efficiently as possible, and you'll even see some ways to keep your desk lunch healthy as well. Click ahead to see 20 Tips to Navigating the Office Fridge.

All of the Fruits… All of Them

You don't need to use your office fridge for every last food item. Try keeping things like bananas, avocados, and healthy dried fruit at your desk to cut back on office fridge clutter. You may even find it useful to keep a small cutting board at your desk as well.

Bring Only Prepared Meats

No one — and we mean no one — wants to worry about getting food poisoning while at work. With that said, there's no reason to bring uncooked poultry to work with you, leaving it waiting to infect your colleagues' food until you cook it during your lunch break. Raw meat is a culinary endeavor best saved for the comfort of your own home.

Coffee Culture

Does your office kitchen have a Keurig? Do you share a French press? Regardless of your coffee-making method, don't leave the coffee station in a state of dismay. Wipe up milk spills, clean out coffee vessels, and don't leave any coffee (grounds or single-use cups) behind.

Consider Aromas

It's impossible to keep everyone happy in any aspect of life, but dining on one of the world's smelliest cheeses every day just seems rude. When possible, save the more pungent food items for your home kitchen — your coworkers' noses will appreciate it.

Community Creamer

There are certain things that more than one person uses in an office. Coffee add-ins like creamer are a great example of this. Don't be afraid to let the office know that the creamer you just put in the fridge is OK for community use. Who knows, maybe you'll even get brownie (coffee?) points with the boss this way.

Don’t Be a Thief!

We're guessing your office doesn't have a designated kitchen sheriff, dedicated to protecting the integrity of your refrigerated lunches with a banana pistol and a 401K. If you find yourself reaching for Stacy's pad Thai, or if you somehow black out, only to come to and find yourself digging in to your desk neighbor's açaí bowl, stop yourself immediately! Once you become the office fridge thief, your reputation is tarnished for good, and this office ain't big enough for the two of us, partner.

Farewell Ketchup Packets

It may not appear in your pocket thesaurus, but there are hundreds of condiment-based synonyms for "clutter." Ketchup, mustard, and soy sauce packets, when introduced to the office kitchen area, seem to multiply asexually like prokaryotes. When one person puts her or his leftover mayonnaise pouches in the fridge, it signifies to others that this type of practice is OK. In an effort to cut back on the uncontrolled reproduction of things like artificial sweetener packets by a new form of unwitnessed binary fission, we have two words of advice: Just don't. There's no reason to save condiments — they'll just result in clutter in the fridge or on the counter.

Green Power

While you don't want to waste too much space, a way to make sure that you're eating healthily while at work is to put a bag of greens in the fridge. Spinach can be used in many ways, and a bag of it takes up little-to-no space.

Honor Thy Coworker

The honor system, a system that works just as often as it doesn't, is something that should be held sacred in an office kitchen. Not only should you refrain from stealing, but you should refrain from using others sauces, spices, or silverware without asking. The kitchen should be a place where it's safe to let your bowl dry without having to worry about it being tainted by another's lunch.

Hot Sauce Is Your Friend

This metabolism-boosting condiment can make the dullest of desk lunches teem with spice. We love Cholula, but any hot sauce should help to kick your metabolism into high gear. If you're someone who refrigerates your hot sauce, label that big bottle of spicy goodness and toss it in the fridge. If you're like us and go through a 1.33 bottles of the stuff a week, you may see no need to refrigerate it, but still label it and put it somewhere safe! 

Label Food With Name and Date

You go to the fridge on your lunch break with an empty stomach and a hopeful heart. You open the door, the synthetic light from inside blinds you. When your vision returns, your eyes are met with a sea of food containers. Dozens of clear containers with blue and red lids sit before you, but you can't quite tell which ones are yours. Further, who even knows when these were put in here? Save everyone the trouble of experiencing a mealtime mix-up or a rancid food "oops" and label your meals, condiments, and anything else you stash in the fridge or kitchen with your name and the date.

Only Bring What You’ll Eat

If you're used to eating one sandwich for lunch, don't put 12 in the office fridge. Space is something to keep in mind, so bringing in what you'll eat for one day is a good way to ensure that everyone has a shot to stake his or her claim on the unclaimed territory in your office kitchen.

Reusable Bottles Help Everyone

You heard DiCaprio: Climate change is real. With that being said, you'd better be using a reusable water bottle and not leaving a trail of plastic water bottles behind you. By spending a little money now on a bottle that you can use every day, you'll be cutting down on office clutter while also doing something great for our planet.

See a Spill, Clean a Spill

Don't let pride get in the way. If you see sauce or sugar spilled in the fridge or on a countertop, don't let it go untouched — no one wants to see a year-old sauce fossil on the office refrigerator shelf. Grab a towel and clean it up when you see it, and feel free to finger point after the mess is gone.

Shut the Front Door!

Everyone has encountered a refrigerator door that just doesn't seem to shut properly. In an office environment, an open fridge door could result in 20 people's packed lunches going rotten (not to mention the unfortunate spoiling of the thousands of unclaimed yogurts that inhabit nearly every office refrigerator). Do everyone a favor: Even if your fridge door closes snugly, be a pal and make sure it's firmly shut.

Stash a Frozen Meal

Depending on the culinary culture in your office, the freezer to the fridge may be as Antarctica is to North America. Sure, a bag of frozen peas or two may have set up a research station in the back of your office freezer, but we're willing to bet there's still a lot of unclaimed land that is being quite underutilized. Consider stashing a healthy frozen food in your freezer to go to on a day when you're hungrier than expected or perhaps when you forget to pack lunch. Oh, but there's a caveat: Don't forget about those frozen raspberries you put in there!

Stock Healthy Condiments

Whether it's extra virgin olive oil, spicy brown mustard, or a Greek yogurt dressing, there are many healthy things you can stock in the office pantry or fridge to make your lunch more nutritious and less bland.

Supply Cleaning Supplies

Have sprays, towels, and other cleaning supplies easily accessible near the fridge or in the kitchen. Try some of our pantry item cleaning hacks and tips for green cleaning.

Try Meal Prep

Even if you've done a great job prepping your meals for the week, stuffing 25 containers in the refrigerator at work does more harm than good. With that being said, prepping meals ahead of time is a great way to take the guesswork out of what you'll be eating. A few neatly packed (and labeled) prepped lunches will fit nicely into any office fridge.

Wash Your Dishes as You Use Them

If your office has a dishwasher, you're lucky. If you're restricted to a sink and a drying rack, you're less lucky. Both of these scenarios, however, can end in a dish disaster. Don't let your office kitchen turn into the dish-pocalyptic setting that it so easily can — make sure that you're washing things as you use them. There's no reason to wait. A sink buildup does nothing but frustrate others, and a full dishwasher should be ran and emptied as soon as possible. Clean kitchens make happy coworkers.