Organizing your fridge is one way to ensure that you are not wasting your money on groceries that end up forgotten or expired because of clutter. Having a well-organized fridge can save you time and energy when cooking or searching for something to eat because everything is visible and arranged in an efficient manner. An overfilled fridge can also reduce airflow, reduce energy efficiency and contribute to more expired foods. Here are some steps to cleaning up the clutter of your fridge and making your food storage more efficient.
Step 1: Clean Out the Fridge
The first step to cleaning out your refrigerator is to take everything out and clean all the surfaces of the fridge. Depending on how messy your fridge has become, you can spray and wipe everything down with a cloth or for big messes and spills you can take the shelves out and give them a soak in warm soapy water. Consider using non abrasive cleaners so the plastic is not damaged. Avoid harsh chemicals and opt for a food-safe alternative when cleaning surfaces where you will store your food. Vinegar mixed with hot water works great as a food-safe cleaner for breaking down gunk in the fridge. Storing an opened box of baking soda in the back of the fridge will absorb odors and keep the fridge smelling fresh.
Step 2: Throw Out Expired Food
Now that your fridge has been thoroughly cleaned it is time to replace everything in the fridge, but first you must decide what you want to keep. Be sure to check all expiration dates and throw out any expired or spoiled foods. This is also the time to throw out things that you know you will never use. Maybe there is a sauce you used for one recipe and didn't touch for a year after that, it may not be expired but it is safe to part ways and throw it out. Reducing unnecessary clutter will not only prevent you from forgetting food but also keep it fresh longer. It is best to aim for a fridge that is about two thirds full for the best energy efficiency.
Step 3: Organize the Shelves and Drawers
If you know where everything is in your fridge you will be less likely to forget about things and will reduce waste, Most fridges have designated drawers for fresh fruits and veggies and each shelf can also serve a designated task. Be sure not to store fruits and veggies together in the same drawer because veggies do not tolerate ethylene that is produced by many fruits. The top shelf is the first shelf you see when you open the fridge so it is good to put foods you reach for most often here. It is also a good place to put leftovers and takeout as a reminder to eat them before they spoil. The warmer spots in the fridge are the top shelf and door so avoid storing highly perishable items like meat here. It is a common misconception that milk and eggs should be stored in the fridge door, but this spot is the most unstable as far as temperatures go, especially if the fridge is opened often. The middle shelf is usually the one with the most space so you can place tall containers here. This is also one of the cooler spots so it makes a great place to store milk and other dairy products. Fish and meat should be stored on the bottom shelf because it is the coldest spot in the fridge. This will prevent odors from wafting through the fridge and ensure your food will have the longest possible shelf life. Storing meat and fish on the bottom shelf will also prevent liquids from dripping down onto other food, placing these on a tray can aid in easy cleanup. As for the door, it is a great spot for non-perishable beverages and condiments.
Step 4: Using Containers
Now that you have a designated spot for each item in your fridge, you can take it further by using trays, bins, baskets and storage containers to streamline your organization. This is both visually satisfying and user friendly. Bins and baskets can help you compartmentalize your fridge and give everything a home. Using clear storage containers will aid in identifying what exactly is in your fridge, they stack neatly and they are easier to clean. You could even make a bin designated for things that will expire soon as a reminder to yourself to eat them first. Also lining the shelves with kitchen towels or paper towels can aid in easy cleanup.
Step 5: Take an Inventory
Making a list will give you an updated inventory of what is inside your fridge without having to sift through it. This could be particularly helpful when meal prepping or planning what to buy when grocery shopping. An inventory doesn't have to include everything that you bought that week but writing down which veggies and meats you have on hand and need to use can be helpful. Making a plan to use everything you buy before it expires will not only save money but it will also prevent food waste.
Taking the time to organize your fridge can have many benefits. Your kitchen will run more efficiently and prepping meals will become less of a hassle. You can reduce odors and wasted, moldy food from hiding in the back of the fridge. When you waste food, you are essentially wasting your money. An organized fridge with clear containers will allow you to see everything without having to dig through the clutter and in turn make your life easier.