The refrigerator plays a critical role in our homes, but it’s all too easy to neglect this key household appliance when tidying. An orderly fridge will save you time, money and energy in all aspects of the cooking process: grocery shopping, preparing meals and storing leftovers. Try the below tips to get your refrigerator into shape once and for all!
Toss Expired Items
Start with a blank slate. Before you can begin the organization process, it’s easiest to take everything out – just don’t leave items out for too long! Check the expiration dates and throw away anything that is past its prime or your comfort level. Some items – pasta sauces for example – should be discarded three to four days after being opened, while other items like salad dressings are safe to use for several months.
Perform a Joy Check
Perhaps there are items in your fridge that have not yet expired but haven’t caught your attention in quite some time. Consider whether such ingredients spark joy when you eat or cook with them – or, alternatively, determine whether you have any plans to use them in the near future. If the answer is no, these items can be donated or discarded. If you think you will truly use them, move them to an area of your fridge where they can be seen and remembered.
Additionally, you may wish to use this opportunity to determine which of your items do and do not conform with your current eating habits – or your ideal eating habits. Take it upon yourself to part with food products that do not support your current goals or well-being. Thank them for their service and move forward with confidence.
Store Like With Like
Keep meats and cheeses separate from fruits and veggies – either using the drawers or shelves built into your fridge or by refrigerator-safe containers are useful for corralling items. This will help streamline the food preparation process, no matter how simple or complex a meal.
Such a tactic will also come in handy prior to your next trip to the grocery store. When you can see all your items at a glance, you will be quickly reminded of what you do and don’t need to replenish within a specific subcategory.
Arrange By Height
When putting items back on your refrigerator shelves, place shorter items toward the front and taller items further back. This will allow you to see everything that you have at your disposal each time you open the refrigerator. Once again, whether you are preparing a bowl of cereal or about to begin cooking a large, multi-course meal, you will be grateful that all of the ingredients you need are within view.
Don’t Over Stock
Whether your desire is to limit grocery store trips down the line or take advantage of sale prices, it can be tempting to stock up on items that can be stored unopened in the refrigerator for months on end. However, such items often add unnecessary clutter to your fridge and may distract you from what does need to be consumed.
Abstain from purchasing extras when possible. Always set aside some open space on the shelves in your fridge – in fact, plan to keep about 30 percent of the space empty. This will simplify the process of storing leftovers.
Resist the urge to put things away quickly and dedicate your energy toward keeping this new system in place. When you can easily navigate the contents of your fridge, you will save time each day – and save money in the long run.