How to Organize Your Refrigerator and Freezer
Organizing the refrigerator is something that even the best housekeepers among us sometimes find challenging! When you get home from the grocery store, it might be difficult to find a place for all of the new food items. Then as the week wears on, the shelves tend to get cluttered with leftovers and thawing meat. If you have children helping themselves to drinks and snacks out of the fridge, they might move items around and forget to put things back where they belong. Here are some tips on keeping your refrigerator organized and in good condition.
- Give your fridge a thorough cleaning It’s hard to keep a refrigerator in efficient condition when you have moldy fruit in the crisper and spilled ketchup in the door! Take everything out, wipe it all down, throw away anything that has gone bad, and spray the interior of the fridge with a vinegar and water solution. Once it’s all gleaming and clean, you’re ready to put everything away in a more organized fashion.
- Sort your items by type Items that go in the refrigerator will tend to fall in the categories of: condiments, eggs, deli meats and cheeses, fruits, vegetables, beverages, and things like cottage cheese, hummus and dips. Separate freezer items as well, grouping the meats by type and keeping the frozen vegetables together, as well as the ice cream and other desserts.
- Start with the freezer Your exact strategy will depend on your items, of course, and also the size and shape of your freezer. If your freezer is large enough, purchase shoebox-sized clear bins to keep like items together. Try to keep all of the chicken together, all of the beef, all of the pork, etc. Place the ice cream away from the meats, and pile up the bags of frozen vegetables in their own bin. You can also place frozen veggies in the door, if you prefer. Ice packs should go near the ice cubes. If you store leftovers in the freezer, save space for those, as well.
- Now move to the refrigerator Wipe down all of the condiments and place them in the door of the fridge. Eggs should not go in the door; it might not keep them cool enough to prevent spoilage. Place all of the drinks together on one shelf. Put the smaller items together on another shelf. Fruits and veggies go in their respective crisper bins; if you have only one bin, then try to separate them the best you can. Take them out of their plastic bags to allow air to circulate. Deli meats and cheeses should have their own drawer. Be sure that their bags are sealed well to help them stay fresh.
- Think ahead to your needs later in the week Will you be thawing raw meat in your refrigerator? If so, you’ll need a wide, shallow bin to place frozen meat in. This will keep the juices from getting on anything else in the refrigerator, which would be a health hazard. If you tend to have a lot of leftovers, invest in a set of clear plastic stackable containers, so you can see at a glance what you have and won’t have to go to great lengths to find a place to squeeze in one more bowl or plate.
- Show your children where everything goes in the refrigerator If you have little ones, putting a bowl of cut-up fruit and a small pitcher of milk or juice where they can reach it can foster independence without resulting in a big mess. Keep paper towels in a cabinet near the refrigerator so that spills can be dealt with promptly, and encourage your kids to spray and wipe the shelves down whenever they see that it needs to be done.