We’ve all been there: You get home from the supermarket after spending hours wandering down aisles, shelling out your hard-earned cash on boxes of cereal and cans of soup, and counting down the minutes until you’re able to melt into the cushions on your couch. So you pull into your driveway and after unloading 10, 15, maybe even 20 or more heavy grocery bags and dragging them into your kitchen, the last thing you want to do is organize your groceries and mindfully stock your fridge.
So, what do you do? You shove the “perishables” into your fridge, sliding items in wherever they may fit, and then quickly store the boxes and cans that don’t need to be refrigerated into your cabinets. And the next day, you open your fridge, stare into it blankly for a minute or two, slam the door, and lament, “There’s nothing to eat!”
Well, there is something to eat – you just can’t find it because you probably didn’t stock it efficiently. And chances are, you’re wasting space and wasting food by not paying a little attention to where you put things. In order to save you money, save you space, and save your food, we’ve compiled an easy guide to follow when it comes to stocking your most important appliance: your fridge.
When it comes to the top shelves in your fridge, the golden rule is to remember to never put your meats up there. If there is even the slightest puncture in the plastic wrap covering your raw meats, chicken, or fish, the juices could leak out and drip down on top of the other foods in your fridge. Yuck! That is both really gross and really unsanitary. Instead, you’ll probably want to put any items that are used the most on the top shelf, such as fruits, drinks, and milk, especially taller items since the top shelf usually has the most room.
Aside from the very bottom drawers, normally reserved for fruits and veggies, some fridges have a smaller compartment usually located in the middle of the fridge. This is the perfect spot for cheeses and cold cuts! Stacking your cheeses and cold cuts in this place make it easy to locate the items you need (especially for lunch sandwiches), as well as keep the odors of these meats and cheeses away from the other foods in your fridge. This will also protect your delicate cold cuts and cheeses.
The middle shelves tend to be a free-for-all, but if you can keep your middle shelves organized loosely into categories (ie: jars with jars, snacks with snacks, etc.), you’ll have a much easier time finding the items you need. Also, consider placing larger items towards the back and smaller items towards the front, this way you can clearly see what you have available. (Placing large items towards the front of the shelf will undoubtedly obstruct your view and make you miss the smaller items you might have in there.) These shelves are a great place to store your dairy spreads (cream cheese, butter) and eggs.
The bottom shelves are the ideal place to store your meats, fish, and chicken. This way, if there are any loose fluids leaking from the meats, they can’t drip onto the other foods in your fridge. (The veggies and fruits in your bottom drawers will be protected by the crisper drawers.) This is also a great place to store large, heavy glass jars like tomato sauce or any beverages that didn’t fit anywhere else. The bottom shelves are usually the ones that you least visit, so keep snacks and foods that are eaten more often higher up in your fridge to avoid forgetting about them.
This one’s a no-brainer: When it comes to the bottom drawers in your fridge, fruits and veggies are best stored here. Fruits and vegetables are unusually-shaped and can be bulky. By keeping them out of the way of your other foods, it will make things easier to find, as well as prevent more delicate produce from getting squashed or otherwise ruined. These crisper drawers will keep your produce fresh and out of the way, as well as easy-to-grab for smart snacking.
When it comes to the door of your fridge, leave your dairy out of the equation. The items you store on the door of your fridge are most exposed to the outside, so they’re usually the items to spoil first since they’re not kept the coldest. You definitely don’t want to leave your butter, eggs, or cheese on the door. Instead, neatly line up your condiments (think ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, etc.) on the door. Condiments are small enough to fit comfortably on your door, but leaving too many throughout the shelves in your fridge can become cluttered and take up a lot of space. Also, be sure to check which condiments or spreads (jelly, jam, etc.) don’t need refrigeration, like certain hot sauces and some peanut butter brands. Store those in the cabinets instead.
To refrigerate, or not to refrigerate? When it comes to saving money and saving room in your fridge, the key is asking that question. Fruits and vegetables are usually at the core of this debate. Many people are under the impression that all produce needs to be refrigerated, but the truth is, there are many fruits and vegetables that will actually last LONGER at room temperature! Here’s a quick guide to help you know what needs to go in the fridge, and what can stay out of it.
IN: Lettuce, onions, carrots, celery, strawberries, raspberries
OUT: Bananas, tomatoes, melon, potatoes, apples, avocados
- Keep your eggs in their original carton. This will keep them fresher and safer than in the built-in egg compartment your fridge might have.
- Be mindful of the items you DON’T need to refrigerate. Don’t waste precious fridge space on items like hot sauce, bread, or bananas.
- If you’re not going to eat it, toss it. There’s no need to waste space on leftovers you’re not really going to touch. If it’s been more than 2 days, it’s unlikely it will be used. You might think you’re saving money by storing said leftover foods, but by wasting space in your fridge, you could be taking the place of something else you could be eating (or missing out on) in your fridge. Instead, you’ll waste money on going out to eat or getting takeout.
- Watch those “best by” dates. Don’t leave spoiled or old food laying about in your fridge, taking up space and possibly stinking up other foods.
- Cover your foods. Delicate foods like butter pick up odors from other items in your fridge very easily. The last thing you want is to be spreading onion-scented butter on your toast in the morning – ick! Make sure to keep your butter covered in wax or plastic wrap, as well as stored on a butter dish. Also, be sure to cover up any odorous foods like onions or garlic if you have them in your fridge.
- Don’t take up too much space. By overcrowding your fridge, you’re not letting air flow around your food, which will not allow your perishables to keep as cool as they need to.
Keeping an organized refrigerator is the key to saving you money, space, and time. It’s an automatic stress-reliever that will make things easier to access, and give you a good idea of what you have on hand, while keeping your food fresh. And if your fridge is on the fritz, don’t forget that you can always call Immediate Appliance Service for immediate same-day appliance repair in NJ.
Do you have any tips or tricks to share on keeping an organized fridge?