Do you always cringe at the thought that your visitor will open your refrigerator door and recoil with horror? If so, you are probably often stricken with guilt every time you ransack the whole fridge to look for a food item that you find decomposing at the very back of the refrigerator.
Organizing your fridge does not only make it easier to access foodstuffs; it also facilitates air circulation, which enhances the efficiency of your refrigerator. Moreover, organizing your fridge makes everything stay fresher for longer, reduces your chances of consuming expired food, and saves tons of time prepping a meal.
Stop getting lost in your fridge all the time. Be more confident when you swing your refrigerator door open by learning the tips below on how to organize refrigerator.
Guide on how to make your fridge clean and fresh
Step 1: Clean the refrigerator
The first step towards organizing your refrigerator is to scrub it down. Begin by taking everything. The process of cleaning your refrigerator will not take you more than an hour. If you are bothered by the safety of your perishables, preserve them in a cooler and place the rest of the items on your counter or table.
Once the fridge is cleared, pull out the bins and the removable shelves and clean them on the sink with warm soapy water and a soft kitchen cloth. Alternatively, you can wipe the shelves using a mild cleaning solution and a non-fluffy kitchen towel. Also, throw out all expired and decomposing food as you clean.
You can use natural cleaning solutions available in your kitchen, such as vinegar and baking soda, to give your fridge a clean and fresh start. If you are using vinegar, dilute one part of it with one piece of water.
Put the solution in a spray bottle and use a clean towel to get rid of grime and smudges in all the nooks and crannies of your fridge. Dry the surfaces with a microfiber cloth before cleaning the outer surface of the refrigerator. Do this every once in a while to keep the refrigerator free of dirt and unpleasant smells.
Step 2: Discard expired food
As you put the food back in the fridge, check the condition of each food item. Toss out out-of-date and decomposing food in the bins and clean the underneath of each storage container before putting them back in.
If you have leftovers in food storage containers that you do not intend to cook soon, you need to throw them out. Toss cut of leftover fruits in a zip-top bag and wrap a wedge of cheese in wax paper.
Step 3: Adjust your shelves.
Most fridges have adjustable shelves and drawers. If your refrigerator also has this feature, organize it by setting them accordingly to save time storing and retrieving foodstuffs. Adjusting your shelves also helps you to create more storage space.
Step 4: Line your drawers and shelves.
Use a heavy-duty, water-resistant shelf liner to protect your crisper drawers from drips and spills. The protective lining also makes cleanup more manageable, especially when fruit or vegetables go soft and become sticky. So you don’t need to do deep cleaning all the time.
Step 5: Label everything
Ensure that you get the leftovers labeled by name and date of storage. This way, you will see which foods need to be consumed before others and prioritize what needs to be restocked when you go shopping.
If you cant label everything, at least label foodstuffs that you are most likely to forget, such as cooked foods, dairy products, meat, fish or poultry, and preboiled grains that need to be used before they spoil.
To minimize food loss, you can take a step further and create a list of all items in the fridge and stick it outside the refrigerator. Cross each item off when you use it. This list will further assist you in sorting through your leftovers prep meals according to the most perishable items.
Use this list to keep an inventory of the foodstuffs you store in the freezer as well. Most people often forget the foodstuffs they leave in the freezer.
Step 6: Group similar items and designate shelf space by category.
Grouping foodstuffs and designating shelves for these foods will take your fridge organization a notch higher. Start by keeping condiments, sandwich and salad fixings in labeled bins, vegetables in crisper drawers and leftovers, take-outs, and other packaged foods on the top shelf where they are easily accessible.
Consider keeping most used items like snacks front and center as it will save time to access them and reduce the time that your fridge door is left open. You can also encourage your family to eat healthy snacks by further storing them in easy-to-open containers.
Keep meat on the lowest shelf to prevent the drips from spoiling other items in the fridge, particularly fresh vegetables and fruits, through contamination. You can also decide to keep small bottles and condiments on your fridge’s door’s shelves.
Designate foodstuffs like meat, milk, cream, eggs, cheese, vegetables, and pre-cooked cereals to the freezer because it helps keep these perishables fresh long enough until you are ready to consume them.
Consider getting organization containers and bins with handles to make these items easy to retrieve from the refrigerator.
Step 7: Separate Certain Fruits and Vegetables.
Some fruits produce ethylene that makes other fruits and vegetables spoil or change their original color or smell. These fruits include mangoes, apples, stone fruits, passion fruits, kiwi, and pears. So take out these fruits and store them in a bowl on your fridge’s shelf, away from other fruits and veggies.
Examples of vegetables and fruits that you should completely keep away include carrots, broccoli, lettuce, cucumber, eggplants, and avocadoes unless, of course, you want to ripen a hard-rock avocado.
It is also advisable to store vegetables in their original packaging in the fridge to prevent the transfer of odors and for optimum freshness. If opened, you can wrap the rest of the package in plastic wrap.
Step 8: Store soft herbs like flowers
Fresh soft herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, and tarragon get spoilt as quickly as flowers do. To keep them fresh for longer, trim the stems and put them in a jar of water.
Covering their leaves loosely with a plastic bag and placing them in the middle of your refrigerator also helps keep them a bit longer.
Step 9: Create room for pantry products
Some food items like soy sauce, nuts and milk, organic nut butter, maple syrup, and other nut flours are often kept on the shelves rather than the refrigerator because they are believed to last longer, even without refrigeration.
However, some of these pantry products, like yeast, spoil very quickly, exposing them to heat and light. So, consider creating a little room for these products to keep them fresh for longer than they usually go.
Step 10: Stack to Save Space
Water bottles and beer or soda cans can be space-consuming at times. So if you often like having cool refreshing beverages consider getting a can or bottle dispenser to help you organize your bottles and cans by stacking them to access them easily.
Step 11: Keep your refrigerator refreshed.
It is inevitable to have infused odors in your refrigerator. However, you can combat this problem by using several natural solutions. Baking soda is often the most common option, but you can also use vanilla extracts to keep your refrigerator smelling fragrant. Alternatively, you could get a fridge deodorizer to keep the herbs, vegetables, and fruits longer.
Things You Should Know About Organizing Your Refrigerator
An empty fridge is terrible, an overfilled one even worse.
If something always falls when you open your refrigerator, you need to get a more significant appliance or organize your fridge to minimize the clutter. Overstuffing your refrigerator leads to a massive waste of forgotten foods and reduces the efficiency and life expectancy of your appliance.
Blocked air vents impede air circulation within and out of the fridge, a problem that could lead to overheating. When the refrigerator overheats, it fails to cool food properly, and hence most foodstuffs items spoil earlier than they should.
It also reduces your fridge’s energy efficiency as the overworked appliance demands more power to cool food. Having a nearly empty fridge is just as bad because it leads to unnecessary energy use. So If you have a large appliance with few users, consider stocking it with water bottles or cans of soda and beer.
This helps the fridge to maintain cool temperatures without demanding excess energy. Avoid these mishaps by keeping your refrigerator three-quarters full at all times.
Pre-cut fruits and vegetables at your own risk.
You probably like keeping your fruits washed and sliced in the most accessible area of your fridge to encourage healthy snacking. Although this habit has its benefits, it also has a downside that you should seriously consider. Sliced fruits tend to deteriorate faster than whole fruits.
The larger the exposed surface area, the shorter the time that the fruit will stay fresh. To avoid the fast deterioration of fruits, wash them and store them whole in the fridge in an accessible area.
Avoid storing your milk cans on your fridge’s door shelves.
Many people recommend storing milk cans on the fridge’s door storage to maximize on space in the refrigerator. Most people don’t realize that the door and the top shelf are the warmest spots in the fridge.
Being among the most perishable food product in your fridge, consider moving your milk can to the middle shelf. It will still be accessible for quick breakfast prep and enjoy a consistent temperature.
You should apply this principle to other foodstuffs like eggs, condiments, and sandwich meats. Save your door storage for beverages like processed juices that can stand temperature fluctuations.
Keep your fruits and veggies separate.
Newer fridge models have two separate drawers designed to store your fruits and veggies. The veggies drawer is designed to have higher humidity because fresh veggies wilt slower in the presence of moisture. On the other hand, the fruits drawer has lower humidity because fruits rot slower in the absence of moisture.
Moreover, some fruits contain ethylene that causes premature vegetable spoilage. Hence, try to keep fruits and veggies separate to keep everything fresh for longer.
The only exception to this rule is strawberries. Strawberries become mushy and moldy in the absence of moisture and have little tolerance for ethylene. Extend the freshness of your berries by storing them in the vegetable crisper rather than the fruit drawer. However, you should avoid washing them before storage because too much humidity works against them.
Keep your lemons and limes in a sealed plastic back with a bit of water.
Most people store their lemons and limes on their countertops. Although this practice still works, you can extend the life of your lemons and limes by keeping them in sealed plastic bags with a bit of moisture in the middle of your refrigerator.
These citrus foods are highly porous; hence they dry more quickly in the open air compared to a humid environment. So as you organize your fridge, use the freed-up space to keep a few lemons and limes.
Meat, fish, and poultry should be stored on the lowest shelf of the fridge.
Meat is one of the most perishable products in your fridge. So you either want to keep it in the freezer or on the bottom shelf because it’s the coldest area of your fridge.
In addition to this, it produces juices that could contaminate other foodstuffs in the fridge by dripping. So keeping it on a tray in the lowest drawer prevents the leaking juices from dripping and contaminating other food items in the refrigerator.
Storing meat on the bottom shelf also makes the cleaning process safer in spillage as the chances of accidentally splashing its juices on other foods are lower.
You can write directly on the refrigerator!
As discussed earlier, making a list of most if not all food items in the fridge helps you minimize food wastage by keeping a comprehensive inventory of all your perishables. The thing with writing on a piece of paper is sticking out items from the list makes your fridge look a little untidy.
The great news is that you can write the list directly on the fridge with an erasable marker. This trick helps you keep track of your food and keeps your refrigerator looking neat.
Line your refrigerator shelves and drawers
Keep your fridge clean by simply lining your shelves and drawers. When you line your drawers and shelves, the lining acts as a barrier between the stored items and your refrigerator’s shelves and drawers.
You do not need to worry about stubborn stains forming on your shelves in case of spillages or smudges. Just remove the liners and wash them. The clean lines not only make your cleaning job easier but also preserves your shelves and drawers.