How to Use the EmptyMyFridge App to Plan Healthy Meals and Reduce Food Waste – MUO – MakeUseOf

Forgotten, abandoned ingredients are one of the biggest challenges for healthy meal-planning. Use this app to stop throwing away food.
Have you ever bought certain groceries intenting to use them, only to have them sit in your fridge until they go bad? If so, you’re not alone. Food waste is a huge issue, and often, food is wasted because you don’t remember you have it.
With takeout and frozen meals as easy go-to options after a long day of work, it’s easy to ignore the fresh foods you have in the fridge. Luckily, there’s an app that can help you use your groceries before they go bad: EmptyMyFridge.
Put simply, the EmptyMyFridge app works to reduce food waste by monitoring the contents of your fridge. This ensures that no food gets pushed to the back of your fridge and forgotten, only to be thrown out when it’s finally discovered.
It was originally released for Android and iOS in 2021. Created by Felix Lambert and Jinri Kim, the EmptyMyFridge app has received numerous updates since its initial release. Based on the app’s reviews, it’s clear that Lambert and Kim are dedicated to answering customer concerns because they often add a feature shortly after it's requested in a review.
But how exactly does the app work? Can it really help you reduce food waste and effectively meal plan? Check out the app’s best features!
Download: EmptyMyFridge for Android | iOS (Free)
Initially setting up your fridge in the EmptyMyFridge app can take some time, but after this, it doesn’t take much to keep your fridge updated.
On the home screen, there’s an Add button on the bottom navigation bar that you can tap to quickly add a new food to your fridge. You can search for an item or use the app’s pre-built lists to add multiple items at once. These are the pre-built lists you can search through:
There are pros and cons to each method of adding new foods. Right now, neither method allows you to customize the quantity of the item you’re adding. If you use the search bar, it’s easy to immediately sort each item into your Fridge, Pantry, Freezer, or Preserve lists. But it’s a bit time-consuming to manually search for each item.
On the other hand, if you use the pre-built lists to add foods, it’s super easy to add multiple ingredients one after the other. However, you don’t get to choose where the food goes at this point, so it’s all sent to your Fridge. You can sort foods later, but it’d be nice to be able to sort as you add with both methods (and customize the quantity, too!).
Lastly, there’s a built-in AI barcode scanner, so you can easily scan anything that’s packaged. Most items will be found through the scanner, but sometimes they come into the app as food items that aren't recognizable for recipe matching.
For example, a can of generic black beans from Target would scan in as “Good & Gather Low Sodium Black Beans,” rather than just “Black Beans.” When the EmptyMyFridge app tries to match recipes to your fridge’s current ingredients, it’d be able to match “Black Beans,” but not Target’s longer, more specific title.
For that reason, it may be better to enter foods and ingredients manually.
Unlike many other meal-planning apps, the EmptyMyFridge app uses ingredients you already have on hand to find the perfect recipe to make. Simply navigating to the Recipes tab will automatically populate recipes that match the ingredients in your Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry. On this screen, you can use the dropdown menu at the top to select between No Diet, Vegetarian, or Vegan.
If you know you want to use a specific ingredient in a recipe, you can use the filter button at the top right. You can select up to three essential ingredients that must be in a recipe together and then look through all the customized results.
Meal planning can be a difficult task, especially because there are so many unique ways to do so. For some, planning and cooking meals for the entire week on Sunday works perfectly, and for others, this results in wasted food because you get bored with eating the same thing. You might try learning to meal plan with SideChef or another app. However, with the EmptyMyFridge app, weekly meal planning isn’t as necessary. At a glance, you can see which ingredients you have and use the in-app recipe links for inspiration when you need it.
One of the most common reasons for food waste is forgetfulness. People don’t intentionally waste food; they do so by accident because they forgot the ingredient was even in their fridge or couldn’t think of a way to use it.
When you add an ingredient to EmptyMyFridge, it’ll usually have an expiration date already set, based on what the item is. For example, when you add “Banana,” the expiration date is set for five days from the current day. If you add “Eggs,” the expiration date is set for 21 days from the current day.
It’s easy to customize the expiration date for each food item if you don’t like the automatic date that was set. On the Fridge tab of the app, locate the ingredient you want to edit and long press its icon until you see the Food Detail screen pop up. On this screen, you can change the ingredient’s quantity, expiration date, if it’s been opened or not, and whether you want it in the Fridge, Freezer, or Pantry.
When an ingredient has only five days left until it expires, you’ll see a green bar on that ingredient’s icon that reads “5 days left.” If a food has one to three days before it expires, that notification bar will turn orange. When you've reached the expiration date, the bar turns red.
One of the worst parts of meal planning is figuring out which ingredients for a recipe you have, and which ones you need to buy. Finding a recipe to cook is already a hassle, but then you have to spend time looking at the ingredient list and comparing it to your fridge and pantry. And sometimes, you still manage to miss items!
With the EmptyMyFridge app, you'll find recipes that are personalized to the ingredients currently in your home and can easily see which ingredients you're missing for a recipe. Then, with a simple tap, you can add all or some of those missing ingredients to a shopping list in the app.
Surely there are some people out there who enjoy meal planning, but most people probably don’t. When you already have a job, school work, or anything else that takes up your time, spending time deciding what to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every week is a huge hassle. But with EmptyMyFridge—and other helpful meal planning tools out there—meal planning just got a lot easier.
Sarah Chaney is a professional freelance writer for MakeUseOf, Review Geek, Laptop Mag, and other publications. She received her bachelor’s degree in English at the end of 2020, and shortly thereafter left her full-time job to make freelance writing a career. Sarah covers a variety of topics, including software- and hardware-related content, Android apps, video games, board games, and general tech.
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