Does the inside state of your fridge frighten you? Does it look good on the outside but hide a cluttered mess inside? You are not alone. Although mine appears fairly minimalistic I am ashamed to say it held many mystery meals, stinky smells and extinct expiration dates.
I don't cook and dislike grocery shopping so I also had a LOT to learn about organizing a fridge. I typically throw stuff in and quickly close the door to confine the mess which makes it a mountainous chore to clean when I find the time to do it. It also means I procrastinate and would prefer to play than be productive in this area. With these few steps and tips organizing my fridge was surprisingly fun and E.A.S.Y.
Here are my 3 steps to turn your fridge from failure to fabulous.
1. Empty everything out onto a clear counter space or lay a sheet down on the floor if counter space is already consumed by other clutter.
Check for expiration dates, sometimes hard to find and most often now called 'best before'.
Empty leftovers that have been left for too long. Have a garbage bin handy. Yes, this was in my fridge. YUCK!
Have a sink full of suds to dump the Tupperware in. This saves the smells from seeping into other areas of the house.
2. Clean. Remove shelves and drawers for a good scrub and wipe down every surface. I get a bit obsessive and use Q-tips for the small spaces. A quick wipe with Enjo and water or a homemade cleaner will also work well. Be careful using store bought cleaners, the chemicals they carry can contaminate our food and our families. Ask yourself how healthy are the products you use? Do you want them mixed with your food?
3. Sort, systemize and section off your groceries. Keeping ‘like with like’ means less looking around to find what you need. I like to start at the bottom and build up when placing items back in the fridge.
Meats are always kept on the bottom shelf or a bottom. Keep meat in plastic bag from store or place a dish or paper towel underneath to catch any drippings. This is why they are on the bottom! Those dripping can be very dangerous if cross contamination occurs.
Many fridges have specific drawers for veggies and fruits. These two products have different gases. “Fruits give off high levels of ethylene (the ripening agent) which can prematurely ripen and spoil surrounding vegetables. (Think of the "one bad apple" adage.)
Vegetables like high humidity and space. “The closer they are, the quicker they will rot” according to The kitchn’ Guide to Storing Fruits and Vegetables. For more tips on how to store each and every fruit and vegetable read this article.
Milk, although typically kept on the top shelf or on the door should join other dairy products like yogurt and cheese on the bottom shelf where it is coldest.
Eggs should have a home on the middle shelf where temperatures are most consistent. Leave them in the orgiginally packaging protects the eggs and prevents them from absorbing strong odours and flavours of other foods in your fridge through the thousands of tiny pores in the egg shell.
Butter, soft cheese and condiments can fill up the top shelves or have designated compartments on the door, the warmest part of the fridge.
I had to rearrange my shelves and use my drawers in order to accomodate all these new 'rules' but I am adjusting to the changes nicely. Even milk on a lower shelf which I thought would be 'too much work' is E.A.S.Y. to still grab.
I even condensed my Costco size containers into more manageable sized clear Tupperware, labeled and dated.
Let the fridge have room to breathe. Cool air needs to circulate to keep food at safe temperatures.
I had a few temper tantrums in my head about having to clean my fridge but it was quick, it is now CLEAN and I might even shop for more food!