Okay you’re probably wondering what the heck your refrigerator has to do with efficiency. If you could see mine, you wouldn’t be asking that question. I can’t FIND or GET TO anything without taking five other things out. This usually makes me cranky because I wind up dropping or spilling stuff and grousing about how I totally need a commercial size fridge and freezer (and I DO! It’s on my list of stuff to get myself when I make it big someday–and by big, I mean like uber, really successful where I can afford to build the insanely expensive house with the ginormous kitchen it would take to HOUSE said commercial fridge and freezer). But until that glorious day, I’m stuck with my 25 cubic feet side by side.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s better than the midget fridge we had before where even I, at 5’4″ tall, had to SQUAT to see what was in the fridge. But most of the extra space is in depth, which makes it really hard to see what you have because stuff is all stacked and in front of each other.
Hubby to me: Baby, do we have any sour cream?
Me: It’s under the leftover roast.
Hubby: … Roast?
Me: Behind the…nevermind, I’ll come get it.
It is TIME FOR A CLEAN OUT.
Before and after pics are probably in order, and maybe I’ll tack them on tonight when I have time to actually tackle the fridge. But for now I shall leave you with my all important steps to a cleaner, more organized fridge.
First things first, take everything out of the fridge. I know, this induces mass chaos on your kitchen counters, tables, and possibly floors (be sure pets are out of the way), but you need a blank canvas.
Clean all the shelves and drawers. It may depend on how bad they are as to whether you choose to just use some antibacterial spray cleaner or if you wanna actually pull them out and scrub in a sink of soapy water. I guarantee you’ll find them grosser than you realized.
Start with your meat/cheese and veggie drawers. Before you put anything back in there, check the expiration date. If it’s past, chuck it. If you discover you’ve got blue cheese you didn’t remember buying and find out that it used to be cheddar, chuck it. If you find that there’s a cucumber you forgot about that’s turned into your kid’s 6th grade science project, chuck it. If you have something with an expiration date drawing near, make a note of it on a notepad for your next week’s menu planning so that it doesn’t go to waste.
Troll through those leftovers. Are you REALLY gonna eat them? It’s a good general policy to put a date on them when they go into the fridge. If you can’t remember how long they’ve been in there, it’s probably a good idea to toss them. If it’s leftovers like grilled chicken or roast beef, and it’s still good, that’s another thing to make note of on your pad for that week’s menu planning. No reason to let it go to waste if it can be used again.
Go through those condiments. Now these are the usual offenders in everyone’s fridge where you wind up with stuff that expired and never got tossed. Because there are lots of condiments we use only once in a while and forget about. Check every bottle and jar. Anything past it’s use by date, chuck it. You’ll be amazed by how much room you suddenly have in the fridge door.
Drinks take up a HUGE amount of real estate in our fridge. We’ve usually got milk, two flavors of Crystal Light, iced tea, half and half, coffee creamer… And as we’re not going to suddenly NOT use this stuff, I tend toward buying containers that are long and narrow instead of round. That way I can sort of put them across in a row and mostly still see what I’ve got. If you’re a soda drinker (we’re mostly not), they make these nifty add on rack things that can hang BELOW a shelf to help save some fridge real estate.
In general, give some thought to the shape of your containers. If you’ve got a side by side fridge, long and narrow are best. If you’ve got an over and under or French door fridge that’s more wide than shallow, round or square might be better.
There are all kinds of fridge organizers that will give you more shelves between shelves, bins to corral certain types of smaller containers, just give some thought to how to best utilize the space you’ve got.
When you can find what you’re looking for on the first try, it saves you TIME.
If you’re really super organized, you can keep a list of what food is in the fridge and continually update it so you know what you’re working with. But even I am not THAT good.
What’re you waiting for? Go clean that fridge!