Keeping your home organized and clean is difficult, especially when it comes to the kitchen. For many, the kitchen is one of the most cluttered areas in the home.
A large part of why the kitchen is often most in need of organization comes from how often it is used compared to other parts of the house. Even if you do not do much cooking, you still consistently bring groceries into your kitchen and store food and beverages in your refrigerator.
If you are not vigilant with organizing your refrigerator, then it is easy for it to become a mess. You may think having a disorganized fridge is not a big deal, as it does not take too long to find what you are looking for even in a messy refrigerator. However, there are potential health risks if you have a disorganized refrigerator. When it comes to food storage, organization not only helps you find what you need, but it also helps keep food from becoming contaminated and may increase how long your food lasts. Your organizational setup may ultimately vary depending on the type of refrigerator you own and the food you store, but there are a couple of common tips to follow to help stay organized.
Finding the Coldest Spots
The coldest part of your refrigerator is in the back, near the freezer compartment. If your refrigerator has an overabundance of shelves, then you can check each shelf with a thermometer to find which shelf has the coldest temperature. The colder the refrigerator, the better it is for preserving food. Consider keeping the following items on your coldest shelf:
- Sour cream
- Cottage cheese
You will want to store raw meat in the coldest part of your refrigerator as well, but there are some additional concerns with storing meat. It is important to avoid cross-contaminating your meat. Always store raw meat in a safe container, such as inside of a bin or a rimmed tray. Avoid anything too shallow, such as a plate since blood and juices can spill over the sides when you take the meat out. Do not skimp on a container, otherwise, you risk meat juices dripping down to other shelves. This not only makes an annoying mess to clean, but it can ruin anything stored on the other shelves.
Organizing Your Fridge Door
Because it is the first part of the refrigerator you see, it is easy to make a mess out of the shelves on the inside of your door. In most cases, the door is the warmest part of the refrigerator. Drinks and condiments do well in warmer conditions. With most refrigerators, the top shelves contain limited storage space compare to the bottom, so keep your drinks and large condiment containers on the bottom. If you have a larger refrigerator with two doors, then consider dedicating one side to drinks and the other side to condiments and cooking oils.
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Prioritize the drinks and condiments you frequently use by placing them in the front. One of the easiest ways for a refrigerator to become a disorganized mess comes from trying to store everything in the front immediately after use, no matter how frequently it is used.
This leads to items getting pushed around on shelves and poorly utilizes your space. When you are organizing your refrigerator door, double check whether your condiments need to be refrigerated.
Group Items Together
One of the most effective organization methods is to group food items together. Not only do you add to the overall clutter of your refrigerator if you leave items loose in your refrigerator, but you risk not knowing what is in your refrigerator. When you do not know what is in your refrigerator, you are more likely to buy something you already have, further increasing the amount of clutter in your fridge. This is especially bad for items with expiration dates since it is easy to mix up the items.
Grouping items is much easier if you utilize the drawers in your refrigerator. The number of available drawers depends on your refrigerator, but most models at least have a set of drawers on the bottom. What you store in the drawers may vary slightly depending on your model of refrigerator. For example, if you have a refrigerator where your drawers are temperature controlled, then you can lower the temperature and use your drawers to store meats and cheeses instead of a shelf.
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If your refrigerator has limited drawer space, then use the drawers to store your produce. Many refrigerators have humidity settings on the drawers. A low-humidity drawer is great for storing the following types of food:
- Ripened avocados, melon, peaches, pears or plums
For your high-humidity drawer, you want to store the following items:
- Green onions
- Leafy greens
If you have a larger refrigerator, then you may have smaller, more vertical shaped drawers. These are great spaces to store smaller beverages, such as individual cans of soda or juice.
Drawers are not the only way to keep your refrigerator organized. For optimal organization, pick up several glass or plastic containers of varying sizes. These containers stack easily in your fridge, and since the containers are see-through, you do not have to go through each container until you find what you are looking for.
Square and rectangular containers are optimal in terms of space efficiency. When you use a larger container, be sure to transfer the contents into a smaller container as you remove items. To make your food last as long as possible, consider placing a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the food.
Purchasing a lazy Susan and placing it on a shelf in your fridge can help you reach items that often end up pushed into the back. For example, place containers of yogurt, ready to eat puddings or protein drinks on the turntable. Then, when you want an item, simply turn the lazy Susan around until you find it. You can store many items on this turntable and it keeps clutter from gathering in the corners of the shelves in your fridge.
If you have smaller items such as cheese sticks that you like to snack on, then you can repurpose items such as a clear plastic soap holder with suction cups to use as a storage solution. Fasten that to the side of the refrigerator and place cheese sticks and similar items in it. This keeps them from being lost in the bottom of a drawer.
When you store leftovers, try and use glass containers or any other lidded container safe for your microwave. Ideally, you can keep all your leftovers on the same shelf. Since leftovers have a limited shelf life you want to avoid mixing the containers with fresher food. If you frequently have uneaten leftovers, then it helps to label the container with the date the items were originally stored. If you frequently have leftovers, then take the time to keep the oldest ones in the front, so you do not accidentally let these leftovers expire or become forgotten in the back of the fridge.
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