If you keep your kitchen - fridge, freezer, pantry, cabinets - organized, you’ll avoid buying foods twice, and you’ll actually be able to use up what you have without wasting food! I’ll write more about the freezer and pantry later on, but here’s some good info for the fridge!
1. What to Clean & How Often to Clean It
Once a season
Spring cleaning doesn’t just relate to the spring season! Do some good cleaning at the beginning of each season.
Wipe down your shelves and drawers with some slightly damp paper towels.
Once a month
This can absolutely be done more frequently, but at least once a month check through everything in your fridge and in the door of the fridge - dressings, sauces, veggies, meats, etc. - and throw out what’s expired.
Once a week
Check foods that expire quickly & throw out anything that’s expired or is looking or smelling expired:
Sauces, e.g. tomato sauce
Raw meats & fish
Wipe up spills ASAP before they have a chance to harden - those hardened spills are a PAIN to wipe up later on.
2. Extend the Life of Your Food
Keep leftovers in AIRTIGHT containers
I prefer glass containers because there’s no risk of BPA or other plastic contaminants. Lock lid containers work well such as these ones, but honestly these are my favorite glass storage containers because they’re so nice and BIG! :)
If you’re not going to eat something right away, FREEZE it
You can freeze SO MUCH food - so if you can’t eat all you have or you’re going out of town, put these items in your freezer to have for later:
Fruit - bananas, berries, grapes. Add to smoothies, add to yogurt, or use in baking. Typically better to eat frozen rather than thawing first. Wash & cut your fruit before you freeze it.
Veggies - veggies that freeze best are leafy greens, corn, winter squash (e.g. acorn), carrots, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets. Wash & cut your veg before you freeze it.
Dessert - this is a fantastic trick to help eat less dessert if you tend to eat large quantities :) “out of sight out of mind” right? You can put cookies, chocolate, etc. in a plastic freezer bag or a glass container.
Meats - remove the meat from the store packaging and place it in a freezer bag. Thawing meats in your fridge is best because if you don’t use it, you can refreeze it again (if you thaw using other methods, you MUST cook the meat before refreezing).
Bread, bagels, etc. can all be stored in the freezer! Pre-slice before freezing
Get rid of PLASTIC in your fridge
Plastic pulls in and traps humidity - and cause organisms and bacteria to grow on fruits and vegetables, leading to rotting and mold! Yuck!
Keep your produce in the produce drawers in your fridge without the plastic bags.
3. Organization Tricks for the Fridge
Group “Like with Like”
On each shelf - group similar items with similar items. Here are some examples - but you do what works for you!
All dairy products
Put produce in the produce drawer
Have 1 shelf for prepped ingredients (e.g. cut up fruit) that you’ll use for the week
Meat drawer or shelf (keep defrosting meats in their own sub-containers to prevent contamination)
Use Clear, Stackable Containers
I’m fairly obsessed with these :)
Upper vs. Lower Shelves of the Fridge
Berries (surprisingly!) will last longer at the top since produce drawers are too moist
Dairy - including eggs, milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, and sour cream
Keep Certain Items in the Door of the Fridge
Ketchup, mustard, relish
Bottled water, soda, juice
Nuts should be stored in the fridge rather than in the pantry if you have room. When nuts are exposed to too much heat (as they can be if they’re by your stove) they can go rancid.
Bananas should be separates and stored individually. When bananas stay in a bunch, ethylene gas is emitted - making them ripen faster.
Tomatoes should not be stored in the fridge! It changes their taste and texture.
Avocados should be stored at room temperature until they’re fully ripe. Then store fully ripe avocados in the refrigerator. If you've got fully ripe avocados that you want to last, place them in the fridge in a plastic bag - they’ll typically last another 3-5 days.