Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Five... Organized Refrigerator!

Hey people! I've been pretty quiet this week... I know, but for good reason.  We've decided to keep Ace home for one more year of preschool at home with mommy.  It was a last minute decision, which has had me scrambling to plan out the coming months of fun learning activities.  I want to make sure my "baby" is ready for kindergarten when it's time.  More on our preschool at home to come.

Today, I want to share my organized fridge with you.  I know some people might be thinking... enough already!  Organizing the fridge is just one small step from being OCD, but it's really not.  Lot's of good can come from having an organized fridge.  For one, less food is spoiled.  If you always put your leftovers in the same place and clearly label them, you are more likely to not forget about them in the back.  Also, with an organized fridge you will (or should) spend less time looking for things with an open door, which lowers you fridge temp, and causes it to work harder, therefore jacking up your electricity bill!

Yes... I absolutely see the irony in this picture with the doors wide open.
Now that you know why organizing the fridge is a good thing, lets talk about how to organize your fridge.  As with any project in my home (or anywhere for that matter) I start off with some research.  Turns out, I am not the only one into fridge organizing.  I have gained lots of newfound knowledge in terms of where to store things.  The last time I did a fridge shuffle I kind of winged it and just moved stuff where I thought it looked best.  This was not conducive to long lasting food, which is why I did so much research this time around.  There is tons of info out there, But I will keep it simple and share just 5.  So here we go...

Friday Five: Tips For Organizing a Refrigerator.

1. Milk.  When I was mentally planning out my new organized fridge, I was thinking of placing my milk on the door along with our OJ.  I just thought it would look good there and be a good use of space.  I figured that would be the best place, Wrong!! Milk is supposed to be placed as far to the back of the refrigerator as possible, and is best kept at a temperature of between 38 and 40 degrees F.  

2.  Meats and Cheese.  I keep my meats and cheeses in the same drawer.  Keeping them together makes for easy sandwich making.  Ziplock storage bags are my best friend.  We don't go through meat super fast.  So when I buy it, it is separated and frozen into smaller portions.  I keep only small amounts in the fridge at a time, and the rest is kept in the freezer.  It is best placed in the lower section or where ever is closest to the freezer.  

3. Fruits and Veggies.  While people often group fruits and veggies together, these two healthy food options should be stored separately.  Veggies do best in high humidity.  In my fridge I have a humidity controller, and it is now set to its highest level.  My berry type fruit (strawberries, blueberries, and grapes) get a water and vinegar rinse before being sliced and placed in glass containers for easier snacking.  This is great for the kids, because they basically want what they see.  Too bad I have a problem seeing the chips I hide from them, or the cookies for that matter.  I have recently begun storing my other fruits out on the counter.  This again is so they are in the kiddos (and mine and hubby's) faces.  If you were going to store your fruit in the fridge it should be in a low humidity drawer often called the crisper.  I used to think the crisper was the place for veggies since crisp lettuce is way more appetizing than wilted... turns out I was wrong.

4. Labeled Leftovers.  I always store my leftovers on the top shelf, so they are in my face and I am more apt to use them.  Even then, sometimes things don't get eaten, or I forget how old they are.  Then I had an idea.  To all you Pinterest junkies out there, ever see a great tip and file it in your brain under one of these days?   I do, all the time.  A while back I saw a cute idea to use chalk on a lid for labeling the date of leftovers.  While cleaning out one of my school drawers in the kitchen I came across one of my chalk markers.  HELLO!! I immediately tested it out on my lids.  It didn't work quite so well.  Then I tried it on the actual glass and it was perfect.  Even my hubs was impressed, which is not easy to do.  Generally, leftovers are good for 4 days, although I typically give my leftovers a week in the fridge before tossing or eating them.  Now we can clearly see when something needs to be eaten, no more guess work!  FYI - I've been using this system for about 2 weeks now.  It works, but the glass tends to sweat so the chalk is always wet.  It doesn't bother me, or the hubs, but I can see it bothering some people.  

5. Containers.  Don't be afraid to containerize in the refrigerator.  Putting like items together makes grabbing things quickly, easy.  Again, we need that fridge door to be open for as short a time as possible.   I use a fridge binz for juice boxes and another bin I grabbed from my pantry to contain my refrigerated snacks.  Now it's packed with Danimals yogurt smoothies for the kiddos.

Take a look at my organized refrigerator... isn't she pretty?

One more bonus tip - I read this tip years ago, before I ever owned a home.  When one of your shelves is getting slightly low on food, move the few remaining items to another shelf or area.  Give that section or shelf  a quick wipe down (2 minutes... seriously!!).  I use a vinegar and water solution.  If you do one shelf at a time as they begin to empty it's easier to maintain a clean fridge.  I use this strategy and it really helps.

Thanks for reading!

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