How often should we go through our fridges to check for expired food?
Disorganized fridges lead to food waste. A few simple fridge organization ideas can change that! I recommend using a first in, first out (FIFO) approach with food. Rotate older items towards the front of fridge shelves so they are front of mind, staring you in the face. I suggest scanning the contents of your fridge at least weekly for foods approaching expiry. This way, there’s less of a chance of your leftovers growing eyes and staring back at you. Toss/compost leftovers: Fish after 2 days, Meats 2-3 days and Vegetables/Grains after 5-7 days.
Fridge Zones-How to Store Food
Refrigerating your food correctly is important to ensure that your food remains safe to eat and stop harmful bacteria spreading from raw to ready-to-eat foods. According to some experts, the ideal placement for items in your fridge looks like this:
Condiments live well on refrigerator doors. They tend to have higher salt & sugar content and can weather temperature changes that come with regularly opening fridge doors.
Ready to eat foods, packages items etc. are good on the top shelf, well away from raw foods so there is less risk for harmful bacteria transfer.
Milk and dairy products work best on the middle shelf, it’s the coldest area of the fridge. Milk doesn’t last very long in my household so I could likely store it in a cupboard (don’t actually do that, please).
Leftovers. Eye level. Front of the shelf. In your face. If at all possible, be consistent with where you stack your leftovers.
Keep raw meat, poultry and fish on the lower shelf-if drips occur they won’t contaminate other foods
Fruit & Vegetable Crisper Drawers-Ideal for, well, fruit and vegetables. Usually there is a humidity option on newer model fridges for optimal storage conditions.
Deli Meats & Cheeses-AKA My favourite drawer. Our fridge has a delightful shallow drawer under our fruit & vegetable crispers that is perfect for salty nitrates and opioids. Yes, cheese is a drug.
Is using clear containers for products necessary for fridge organization?
You’ve likely seen the clear, acrylic containers used by the good folks on Netflix’s The Home Edit series. The popular product line is available at Canadian Tire for purchase. Alternatively, you can find similar bins at your local Dollarama. Just sayin’. But, are they truly necessary to use for fridge organization?
We all organize differently, I say do what makes sense to you! If grouping food products into clear bins works for you, then go for it! I do enjoy the uniform look of clear containers. Personally, as a “micro” organizer, a series of clear bins housing various categories of food, or meal ingredients, sounds very appealing. They are totally my personal style. However, they could easily become cluttered looking or messy because other people in my household don’t organize the same way that I do! For us, as a family, they wouldn’t function effectively. Organization needs to functional and realistic for your lifestyle.
Have you fallen victim to a “Con Container”?
My mother was notorious for storing leftovers in recycled containers. We called them “con containers”. There’s nothing like week old mashed turnip instead of the strawberry yogurt you were expecting. I have a deep distrust for Imperial Margarine containers.
I highly recommend clear containers for leftover storage. I’ve recently made the switch from plastic to glass storage containers with see-through lids. They are slightly more expensive than plastic but they are durable, don’t stain and last longer. More importantly, you can tell what’s inside with a glance. I believe they eliminate the need to date leftovers for most people.
What about freezers?
Deep, clear and wire bins work well in deep freezers. They allow you to remove the excess box packaging from smaller items to clear up space. They are handy for grouping different products like meats, vegetables and starches. There is less of a need to date freezer foods if you can plainly see what you have using clear containers. You can attach a running list of contents to the outside of the freezer so you can quickly identify what’s inside. For some clients, writing lists directly on the lid of their deep freezer using a washable, whiteboard marker works well!
What’s on your fridge door?
The outside of the fridge is one of the first things that I notice when I walk into a client’s home. According to a UCLA study, a crowded fridge surface often corresponds to the overabundance of possessions in the main rooms of the house. Clutter attracts clutter. It also raises cortisol, a stress hormone in women. That’s why many people feel anxious when their space is in disorder.
By clearing off your refrigerator, it makes a difference in your mental and emotional health. Creating one clean space, like the fridge, serves as a visual cue and incentive to keep going! The only thing I like to keep on my fridge is a grocery shopping list, whenever we run out of something I track it on the list. Well, the list and a few choice magnets with questionable messaging. It’s simple to snap a picture of the list and text it to whoever is doing the grocery run.
Why is having a neat fridge a priority?
A neat fridge saves you both money and time. Food waste is reduced and the need to go grocery shopping for items that you didn’t know you had on hand is eliminated. A messy, unorganized fridge can affect our anxiety levels, sleep and even our ability to focus. The goal of an orderly fridge is a great place to start in an effort to reduce stress-it’s a smaller project that is less likely to feel overwhelming.
Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Fridge Organized
- Prioritize foods that you reach for the most-no need to go foraging for your favourite fare
- Create a snack zone (if you have kids)-place go to snack foods at their eye level
- Invest in stackable storage containers-clear or glass versions are ideal for being able to easily identify contents or to write on
- Consider installing washable refrigerator mats/liners-they make cleaning quick and easy, reduces the need for deep cleaning
- Add a Lazy Susan-group condiments or other products for easy identification and access
Need a hand finessing your fridge organization?
A Sorted Affair offers professional organizing services for your home and office. Fridge organization included! If you find yourself stuck in a loop of fuzzy leftovers and liquified spinach, reach out to Kelly (before your fridge items do ;).
Yours in All Things Sorted,