A messy fridge is a challenge that only housewives can understand. Opening the door to a clean and organised fridge can be a source of very positive feelings.
However, refrigerator organisation is something many women struggle with daily, simply because there is so much food coming and going. It is always also money-saving to have everything stored in the correct place, which will also help to extend the life of perishable items.
According to a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University in the US, a disorganised fridge can lead to food waste. One way to combat food waste is to make sure you know what’s in your refrigerator. So here are some smart hacks to help keep your fridge organised.
Moderation is key: Though an empty fridge is bad, an overfilled one is worse. Filling every inch of your fridge can lead to forgotten food, blocked air vents, impeded air flow and reduced energy efficiency. If your fridge is nearly empty, consider stocking it with a few bottles of water, which when chilled help the appliance to maintain a cool temperature. Best practice is to aim for a fridge that’s two-thirds full.
Start with less: Clean out expired or spoiled food and old leftovers on a regular basis. Do a deep fridge clean-out before grocery shopping and also a couple of times throughout the week to keep on top of what could be going bad in the fridge.
Maximise space: Taking items out of their original packaging will help you fit more in your fridge. Invest in clear fridge organising bins to keep items organised by category. Allocate each item to a certain food group and then label them. This will save time and help you see what you have in your fridge more quickly as well.
Divide storage: Store milk and eggs on the middle shelf of the fridge. The top shelf and door tend to be the warmest zones, while the middle and bottom shelves get progressively cooler. Since milk is liable to spoil, it should go on the middle shelf, which enjoys consistent temperatures. The same thing is true for eggs. Even if your fridge door has an egg compartment, don’t put your eggs there. Store condiments, which are usually high in vinegar and salt, in the door instead. The top shelf of the fridge is ideal for snacks and leftovers.
Divide drawers: Instead of storing your vegetables and fruit in one big drawer, divide them into groups with separators to help you find what you want more easily.
Plan consumption: To avoid food waste, keep nearly expired items in a labelled “eat me first” box or bowl and put them front and centre where everyone can see them. This way, you will remember to consume them first.
Store meat and fish properly: There are only two places to store raw meat and fish: in the freezer compartment or on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. You can place a tray under them on the lowest shelf that will help to contain any possible leaks and make it easier to clean in case of spillage.
Line shelves and drawers: Though the insides of a refrigerator can be scrubbed down if needed, lining the shelves and drawers with paper towels or kitchen linens can be an easy hack for keeping the fridge clean. By doing this, you won’t need to deep-clean your fridge often, and if you do, it will be as easy as a quick wipe-down.
Keep raw and cooked foods separate: Place cooked and ready-to-eat items on the top shelf of the fridge, always higher than the raw food, to avoid the chance of the latter dripping or falling onto cooked food and contaminating it.
Keep fresh food away from the back: Don’t let food such salads and herbs touch the back of your fridge. The temperature at the very back is colder, and these foods could freeze and go off.
Store food properly: Keep your fridge temperature at 4-5 degrees Celsius. Never put hot food in the fridge as this will raise the temperature. Make sure that all items are well wrapped.
A version of this article appears in print in the 30 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.