Proper fridge organisation isn’t just for aesthetics. It can also help you make quicker meals and prevent waste. When you know exactly where your ingredients are in the fridge, cooking becomes faster and less stressful, and you won’t forget about the perishables that are always hidden in the back of the fridge.
If you’ve struggled with fridge storage in the past, Spacer is here to help. In this article, we’ll talk about incorporating the right fridge containers and fridge organisation habits so that you can have a refrigerator to be proud of!
Step One: Do a massive fridge inventory (and get a rubbish bin ready)
In this step, you’re going to take stock of everything that you currently have in the fridge, while keeping in mind expiration dates.
For the items that have definitely gone bad, throw them out. For ingredients that are just about to go, set them aside and see if you can come up with some creative uses for them in the next few days. Tomatoes that are looking a bit wrinkly, for example, can be used to make an amazing pasta sauce. Leafy greens that are starting to wilt can be used in soups or frozen for smoothies. There are even some uses for sour milk in baking recipes!
Of course, you should go with your intuition here. If something looks like it should be thrown away, don’t force yourself to eat it. Either way, you’ll end up with fewer items to organise in the next few steps.
When you’re down to the ingredients that you’ll keep, do a full inventory, along with expiration dates. For now, you can have this list on a piece of paper or in your phone. Later, we’ll make it more official.
Step Two: Incorporate fridge boxes and dividers
Keeping your food items in plastic fridge boxes has two advantages. One, you’ll know at a glance where the items are in your fridge by storing them in labelled boxes.
The other benefit has to do with air circulation. Refrigerators that are overfilled with bulky items tend to inhibit proper air circulation, creating warm zones within the fridge. But when the cool air is able to flow around plastic containers, you will get a more uniform temperature in your fridge.
Dividers are another way to achieve this and can help with items that are too large to place in fridge boxes, such as leafy greens and celery stalks. Remember that vegetables with stalks, like kale and spinach, will keep longer when stored upright in glass containers with water. Having dividers between these jars and other items in your fridge will keep them from toppling over.
Step Three: Know which foods don’t need to be refrigerated
When in doubt, store your ingredients in the fridge, right? No! There are plenty of items that don’t need refrigeration and will overwhelm your fridge storage. In fact, if you’ve invested in a second fridge, you might find that it’s no longer necessary after this step!
The items that are happier outside of the fridge include potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, onions, garlic, avocados, and, much to the surprise of many, herbs like basil and parsley, and tomatoes. You can also keep bread, coffee grounds, hot sauce, honey and oils out of your fridge.
If you’re suddenly left with a group of ingredients without a home in the fridge, where should you put them?
When it comes to root vegetables and tubers like yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and garlic, you want to store them in a cool, dry, dark place. The perfect environment for them would be a lined drawer, wicker basket, or paper bag in the pantry.
Onions should be kept separately from potatoes because their gases can invite potatoes and other tubers to sprout early. The best place for your onions and garlic is on the countertop where they can get plenty of air circulation. A wire basket or hanging mesh bag is ideal for these ingredients.
This step is going to mean that you’ll need some extra storage space out of the fridge. If you’re struggling to find space in your kitchen, don’t stress. Removing just a few bulky objects, such as your special occasion dinnerware or redundant appliances, will free up enough space for your root veggies. You might also find that you can remove the second fridge if you have one and replace it with a cabinet for your dry goods.
And that’s where having a dedicated storage unit can come in handy. There, you can store that second fridge while you wait for a buyer or in case you need it again. And, you can be sure that your seldom used appliances or dinnerware are kept safe and secure. Spacer has affordable storage options right in your neighbourhood, from Perth to Sydney, so that your items are always within reach.
Step Four: Group refrigerated items into sections
Many of us are unaware that our fridge contains different temperature zones. Some areas are always going to be warmer than others, despite our attempts to facilitate cool air flow with plastic fridge containers. So, it’s a good idea to break our fridge organisation into sections.
Let’s start from the top down. The top two shelves are the least cool part of your fridge, and they’re also the most obvious when you look inside. That’s why you’ll want to store items here that should be used up first: leftovers, ready meals, deli meats, and other items that might be vulnerable to bacteria growth if stored alongside the ingredients on the lower shelves.
In the middle of the fridge, you can store milk, cream, cheese, eggs, and any vegetables standing in water.
Down at the bottom, where the fridge is coldest, store the items that are most vulnerable to spoiling: raw poultry, fish, or meat. As with all of the items in your fridge, these should be placed in the right fridge containers to prevent contamination and leaks in your fridge. And, if you’re not going to use your raw meat products within a few days, they should definitely be stored in the freezer.
Next, you have your fruits and vegetables drawer. Like with the rest of your fridge organisation, this area will benefit from fridge dividers so that you can clearly see your inventory every time you peek in the drawer.
And finally, we have the door shelves. This is the perfect place for items that can withstand the most temperature fluctuations. Canned or jarred items are perfect for this space.
Step Five: Labels and lists
At this point, you have a good fridge layout. But eventually, things can get messy again without proper labeling and upkeep. A couple of labels and a running inventory list will help you navigate your fridge from now on!
In the fridge, we suggest labels that can be updated with a dry erase marker so that you can be specific about your items and their expiration dates.
A running inventory list is another great way to maintain fridge organisation. It can be as simple as a sheet of paper taped to the outside of your fridge or a running log in your notes app. Or, you can go for a trendier look with a mounted chalkboard in your kitchen.
Step Six: Make fridge organisation a weekly habit
We should mention that fridge organisation is never a one time deal. Because we’re constantly replacing the items in our fridge, keeping things organised and reducing waste are also ongoing practices. But, when you start out with practical fridge storage tools and a plan for maximising the lifespan of your ingredients, you’re well on your way to having a tidy fridge with fresh foods!
Have other refrigerator storage ideas? Contact the Spacer team with your best fridge organisation tips!