Can’t find anything in your jam-packed fridge and freezer? If looking for the milk carton is starting to feel like an Indiana Jones movie, get your fridge in order with these 10 nifty tricks. A bit of order will go a long way and help you save time, avoid food waste and make it easier to plan meals. Let’s get started!
P.S.: Because we thought of everything, you can download planning lists from here. 🙂
Empty the refrigerator.
Knowing what’s in your refrigerator is the first step to keeping it organized. After cleaning out the shelves and the inside of your appliance, take inventory of what’s in there and get rid of anything that doesn’t seem fresh. If you have any doubts, check the MAPAQ’s Thermoguide. Also, don’t forget to replace your baking soda boxes – they’ll neutralize bad odors. Finally, make sure to check your appliance’s temperature regularly. Your fridge should be at 4 °C, and your freezer, around -18 °C.
Put everything in its right place.
A fridge’s temperature varies from one spot to the other. The closer to the freezer, the colder a spot will be. Therefore, the top shelves are perfect for perishable foods like eggs, meat and dairy products.
Drawers: Produce belongs in the two drawers with humidity regulators. The “high” setting is ideal for peelable fruits and veggies. The “low” setting, which blocks out humidity, is perfect for storing fresh, leafy produce. Make sure to separate fruits and vegetables – some fruits release ethylene which can make vegetables rot faster.
The door: The door is the warmest part of the fridge. It’s where marinades, condiments, jams and drinks belong. Avoid placing eggs and milk close to the door – not only is it warmer, it’s also more sensitive to temperature variations.
Make perishable foods a priority
Eat foods that perish fast first to avoid food waste. For example, strawberries and raw meat go bad much sooner than apples or cooked meat. If you want to freeze your perishables, make sure to repack them in freezing bags to protect them from air and keep them fresh longer.
Store similar food items together.
Get some plastic baskets or containers at the dollar store and fill them with similar food items. That way, you won’t end up forgetting about them or letting them go to waste.
Add a snack space to your refrigerator.
Do your kids beg for a snack as soon as they get home from school? Make sure they get a healthy and nutritious fix with a designated snack section in your fridge where you can store cheese, yogurt, dip, hummus and fresh cut veggies. Control their portions by placing the food in small, single-portion plastic containers. After all, you don’t want to spoil their appetite for dinner!
Keep a leftover lair.
Make sure your leftovers don’t get lost in the shuffle by keeping them in a designated spot in your fridge. They’ll keep for about three to four days.
Free up space in your kitchen fridge.
If you’re lucky enough to have a second refrigerator and freezer, make the most of it! Use it to store your staples or bulk items, such as milk, yogurt or condiments, or any other food you’re not planning on using in the next few days. That way, it’ll be easier to see what’s in your kitchen refrigerator, and the latter appliance will benefit from better air circulation and efficiency.
Make a list of what’s in your freezer.
Even if you follow the golden freezer-organizing rule – big containers on the bottom, smaller containers on top – it can be hard to keep track of what’s in there. Keep it easy and breezy by making a list of what’s in your freezer, complete with quantities, and sticking it on the door.
Make a weekly fridge and freezer inspection.
This quick and painless weekly routine will help you round out your grocery list and avoid buying things you already have. It also serves as a reminder to prioritize already-opened dairy products, freezer-burnt frozen foods and soon-to-expire perishables.
Have a weekly fridge-clearing feast
Soups, omelets, salads… Empty out your fridge by combining all of your ingredients into one dish. Or, make it even easier and place all of your leftovers on the table and let everyone make their own plate. It doesn’t matter how you use your ingredients, as long as they get used.
With an organized fridge and freezer, it’s much easier to know what ingredients you have in your kitchen. Also, making a grocery list is less of a challenge and it’s faster and easier to make delicious and nutritious meals. Win-win!
** RUEL G et al. «Favorable impact of low-calorie cranberry juice consumption on plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations in men.» Br J Nutr. 2006 Aug, 96(2), p. 357-64.
Thanks to our collaborator
Annie Ferland is founder and editor of the magazine Science & Fourchette and a nutritionist. Epicurean and a lover of photography, she shares her creations and tips about nutrition on her blog, Science & Fourchette. Her motto: simplify science to put on your plate.