Today I launched into a task I’d been putting off for a while.
I cleaned and organized my fridge.
I find a cluttered refrigerator is not only a frustration when you’re trying to make dinner, but it can also lead to wasted food, because items are left to decay out of sight.
That certainly doesn’t inspire healthy eating. So, if your fridge could do with a little TLC, take a look at what I did.
Okay, here’s my before and after shot…
As you can see, it wasn’t very tidy, and there certainly wasn’t a lot of organization going on in there! It was more a matter of open the door and dump said item.
Anyway, the end results are very pleasing, and it was definitely worth the effort.
How To Organize Your Fridge
So, here’s what I did to turn my fridge into a chilled, zen-like space. This is your refrigerator organization 101, if you like :-)
Step 1: Empty The Fridge
Pretty basic, but it’s best to clear your kitchen worktop or table, and set absolutely everything out of your refrigerator, so that it can be scrutinized and cleaned throughly.
Step 2: Look For Ancient Artifacts
If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably have a few. Here’s what I chucked…
Those jars had definitely been lurking in there far too long.
I didn’t have any fresh produce to get rid of, because each week I check those when I bring the new items home from the supermarket.
You need to throw all expired items, and take a look inside any plastic containers for those dreaded moldy bits.
Just as a reminder, here’s what some of those packing date terms actually mean:
- “Display until” or “Sell by” are for the supermarket only, and don’t determine food quality. You can basically ignore these, within reason of course.
- “Best before” — as long as you’ve stored the product correctly, these foods will be good a little after the date.
- “Expiry date” or “Use by” — you should definitely toss these items, if they are past their dates.
Obviously, with some foods you can tell right away if they are off by the smell.
However, that is not to be relied on solely. Many illness-causing bacteria have no smell, and you cannot even tell by it’s look or taste. So, if in doubt, throw it out.
Once you’ve decided what won’t be going back into your fridge, organize items so that like things are together. For example, oils together, mustards together, jams together, etc. It’ll make finding things in a flash so much easier.
Remember, when your fridge is clean and organized, your fresh food won’t get hidden from view and therefore risk spoilage, so it really is worth the effort.
Step 3: Scrub A Dub Dub
Okay, it’s time for a real clean up.
Ideally, your fridge should get a once over each week, to mop up any spills etc., but most of us are guilty of “forgetting” to do this.
So, a really good go over with hot, soapy water, and antibacterial spray is important.
I removed my drawers and shelves completely, and popped them into the sink for a good scrub.
Then, I wiped out the empty fridge to clear crumbs and food debris. I used kitchen roll for the worst areas, then a damp cloth to get it really clean. A dry piece of kitchen roll is great for getting everything sparkling again.
While you’re at it, give the door seals a really good clean, too. There will probably be crumbs and other food bits in there.
So, now that your fridge is sparkly clean, you can put everything back again.
Step 4: Store Items Correctly
My preference for storing leftovers in the fridge is clear, glass containers.
This is because they don’t become stained, they’re safe for microwave reheating, they last a lifetime, and you can actually see what’s inside them, which means you’re more likely to use it up.
My favorite are Pampered Chef. They are a bit expensive, but so durable, and I just keep going back to them over and over again.
Obviously, a combination of plastic and glass works, too, and I do use both in my fridge.
Once you put any leftovers in a container, you need to label them clearly. I am terrible for not doing this, but it is a very good idea.
So, get a marker and some sticky labels or post-it notes, and write the date and contents on each container. You should do this for both your fridge and freezer.
It’s also a good idea to store leftovers at the front of the fridge at eye level. That way you can see them and eat them before they go off.
13 Tips For Refrigerator Organization
1. Keep the fridge temperature at or below 40°F (4°C)
2. You will notice that I tossed the plastic wrapping from my fresh produce. Plastic bags are not the best way to store foods. I find they sweat and go off more easily, and it’s horrible to reach into a bag of carrots and realize they are slimy.
Instead, take them out of the package and store in the crisper, or if appropriate, put into plastic or glass containers, which can then be stacked to make the most efficient use of your space.
3. Try to avoid storing fruits and vegetables in the same crisper.
4. If you have a salad spinner, use that to store lettuce and tender leaves to help keep them fresher.
5. Fresh herbs should be treated like a plant. Placed them upright in a glass with a little water, and put some plastic wrap loosely over them to protect from the cold air.
6. Some items like mushrooms and avocados, are best kept in a paper bag.
7. Store dairy foods towards the back of your fridge, rather than in the doors. The door temperature fluctuates more than any other spot in your fridge, which could lead to food spoilage.
8. Group dairy products like milk and yogurt together, but place cheese in it’s designated compartment in the fridge door. It’s also a good idea to remove cheese from it’s wrapper, and loosely wrap in parchment paper instead, to prevent sweating.
9. Butter has a tendency to pick up flavors from other foods, so keep it away from strong smells by placing in the storage box in the door also.
10. Raw meat should go at the bottom of your fridge to help prevent contamination.
11. Don’t keep leftovers in your fridge for longer than 2-3 days. If you think you can’t eat them within that time, it’s best to freeze right away. That way you can be sure they are good.
12. Try not to stock your fridge too much. Air needs to circulate around the food to keep it cool, otherwise you’ll end up with warm spots and cool spots — probably why I always end up with frozen spinach leaves!
13. Also, remember that not everything needs to be stored in the fridge. There’s probably a few things in your fridge which you could take out, to give yourself more space.
I don’t normally store potatoes, onions, or eggs in my fridge. And, I like to keep some fruit in a fruit bowl, as well as in the fridge, so that it’s not all becoming ripe at the same time.
For more tips on correct fresh produce storage, check out this article on refrigerator organization.
Step 5: Keep It Going
The challenge is to keep your fridge clean and tidy, now that you’ve put all this effort in.
One of the best ways to do that is to always put things back where they belong. Everything should have its own assigned area, so that you can easily find it, then put it back later.
You should take a few minutes every week before or after your weekly shopping to do a quick clean out.
Chuck anything that’s off, and clean any spills. Then, you can easily restock with your new fresh produce.
Stick a magnetic organizer on your fridge door to put pens, notepaper, food labels or sticky notes in. That way you can easily mark and date leftovers, or you can quickly write something down for your next trip to the supermarket.
Phew! Now that I’ve cleaned my fridge, it’s time to tackle my freezer. But, that’s a job for another day! :-)
What method do you use for refrigerator organization? Please share your tips with me!