Have you ever been in a situation when you come from the grocery shop and try to cram the food into your refrigerator, but there is not enough space for everything? It does not matter how big it is, our fridge always seems too small. And it is prone to develop chaos inside because:
- we tend to buy too much, more than we actually need;
- we tend to forget to take care of the fridge;
- we tend to stuff the fridge hiding everything instead of presenting it for our convenient use.
There are my 3 no-chaos refrigerator rules. I believe you could find them helpful. And I hope they would inspire you for some fridge reorganization.
Rule No 1: Keep the refrigerator clean
What would be your answer if I asked you to confess how often you are cleaning your fridge? Yes, not the kitchen, but the fridge. And not the door of the fridge, but inside of it. Many people do this only twice a year and usually when they spill something or when it smells bad. But let’s admit that not always you open the fridge with just washed hands and that the food you stuff into your fridge is not always clean, as packages are touched by thousands of hands in the shops. Bacteria, parasites and viruses can be transferred to your refrigerator shelves and can cause food poisoning. Food that is left in some corner of the fridge for too long can become dangerous as well as transfer contamination to other products.
In an ideal life, you should do the weekly meal planning before you go shopping for groceries and you should also inspect and clean your fridge on a weekly basis. This habit saves lots of time, as you know in advance what it is going to be served every day of the week. It also helps to maintain the fridge clean simply because you buy only what you are really going to consume quickly. In a week after the shopping you should not see any perishable foods but only condiments in your refrigerator. This, almost empty fridge is so appealingly asking you to quickly wipe its shelves and drawers. And then comes a new cycle with fresh new food.
Never clean the fridge with kitchen soap or some multi surface cleaner. They can leave some fragrance behind, which will be absorbed by food. If there are spills or bad odor, it is better to use specialized odorless detergent for refrigerators, or use a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a liter of warm water. If you want to wash the shelves or drawers in a sink, let them warm up to room temperature so that there is no danger of cracking during washing because of the dramatic change in temperature.
Rule No 2: Keep your refrigerator odorless
Do you know that in refrigerator models that have two compartments – freezing and chilling, the air is transferred from one compartment to another, because they are cooled by the same system and share the same air? This is why the ice cubes in your freezer compartment might have the same flavor as your leftovers of lasagna in the chilling compartment. If you want to keep fresh smell in your fridge, it is very important to cover food in airtight wrap. I, personally, try to avoid cling film, as it contains hormone-disrupting phthalates that make it soft and use only paper and plastic bags or boxes. Food covering is not only important because of the odor distribution, it is also very important for the maintaining best quality of your products. Both fridge and freezer draw moisture out of food. So every time you leave an uncovered plate with leftovers, or a piece of uncovered cheese, or just fresh greens, you will find them getting drier and less tasty every day. Even eggs stay fresher longer when refrigerated with their carton box and not transferred to the open egg tray.
Looks nice like this…
But stays fresh longer like this…
Wiping up spills as they occur, discarding everything that expired, keeping food covered and cleaning the refrigerator every week will keep your fridge smelling fresh. In case you missed one of these steps and the unpleasant smell is coming right from your cold machine, try to place an open cup or box of soda or a half of lemon on the shelf of your refrigerator, this should help to get rid of bad odor that was probably already absorbed by refrigerator’s plastic parts.
Rule No 3: Keep your refrigerator organized
There are 2 types of organizing the fridge – one is for safety and another for convenience. The best way to organize your fridge is to combine them together.
Organizing with safety in mind
Different parts of the refrigerator maintain different temperature. The warmest part of the fridge is the door shelves and the coolest place is the lowest part at the back of the fridge.
Use these principals organizing your refrigerator with food safety in mind:
- The door is the warmest part of the fridge. Shelves there should be used only for condiments and butter, not for milk bottles, eggs or ham.
- Upper shelves of the fridge keep the temperature cooler than the door shelves, but it is still relatively not very cold, that is why it should be the best place for drinks, ready-to-eat foods, like yogurt, or cheese.
- The middle shelves are the best for eggs, milk, leftovers and cooked meats.
- The lowest shelve is the coldest part of the fridge. It is the safest place for raw meat, fish, poultry and even for some perishable leftovers.
- Drawers are designed to hold produce at specific humidity, which is so important for vegetables and fruits and makes this place best for those. Important tip: always separate apples from the rest of your vegetables and fruits, because apples give off ethylene, which speeds the ripening and rotting of many other vegetables and fruits; store apples in a separate fridge drawer or in a sealed plastic bag.
Organizing with convenience in mind
Organize your fridge into different zones to allow you to find items quickly. Designate areas for dairy, meat, fish, cheese, leftovers and other. Label designated areas that everyone in the family would know where to put things back. Label, which drawer is for vegetables and which is for fruits. You can organize your fridge, but if no one else knows the new system, you will end up with chaos in your fridge again.
A very good practice is dating everything that goes into your refrigerator. It is so easy to forget what and when you bought, especially if you do not do meal planning. The expiry date is written in such a small font and if you put one package on another, you can cover it easily. This is the reason of the enormous amount of food wasting all over the world. You can use sticky notes, washable marker or labeling machine to label your food.
I like to take perishable foods out of their packaging and keep them in boxes. I label these boxes writing the content and expiry date and keep them on the lowest shelf of the fridge and place the label facing front. If you do meal planning, you can even write a week day that you are supposed to use this item for food preparation.
Following these 3 no-chaos refrigerator rules helps to use the content of your fridge wisely, eat only fresh food and save lots of money. I hope you found some useful tips in this post. So, are you going to reorganize your fridge? 🙂