I can’t be the only one who’s fridge descends into chaos from time to time. Especially when we’ve been busy. I open the fridge and want to close it again…
…mostly empty containers
…questionable leftovers that got pushed to the back & forgotten
…condiments haphazardly balancing on shelves instead of put away properly
…a milk jug with literally 1/4 cup of milk in it (please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to!)
Having a messy fridge is frustrating.
You can’t find the food you’re actually looking for. Other foods get hidden and spoil before they can be eaten. It makes it overwhelming to want to cook a meal.
So it’s time for a cleanout! Where to start? We’ll be emptying out the fridge, wiping things down, and then weeding out things before they return.
1) Empty out the Fridge
Put everything on the counter. If you don’t like your meats to sit out too long, feel free to put them in a cooler while you do this process. But the key is to get EVERYTHING out. Even the door items.
2) Admire how big your fridge looks without food
3) Clean the Fridge
Spray down all the shelves inside and on the door with your favorite non toxic cleaner. Remove any drawers and wipe them out well. Wipe all of the shelves to get all of those crumbs, food particles, and sticky spots gone. I often find a lot of crumbs accumulate under my bottom drawers. I’m not sure how, but this is life.
4) Sort & Declutter your food
I start by sorting food into groups…dairy products, meat for upcoming meals, condiments, veggies, fruits, drinks, leftovers.
Once sorted, start with one group (any is fine). Look at expiration dates and toss anything expired. Check for mold growing or bad smells (also toss!). Or if you know that food has been in there for a while, it’s probably a safe bet to toss it.
Once the bad stuff is tossed, decide if this is a product you even use. Maybe it is a condiment you bought for a specific recipe but will not likely ever use again. Or it was something you tried but didn’t like. Either way, let it go. Keeping it in your fridge means that you have less space for the foods you DO love. Keeping these things does not get your money back. If you know of someone who WILL use them, feel free to pass them on. But if you won’t get around to doing that for weeks, just toss it and move on.
Additionally, you should do some label reading as you go. Read your labels and look for products with high fructose corn syrup, msg, artificial colors, and preservatives. Today is a great day to start weeding out those items. Make a list of things you want to replace with healthier options. For example, a lot of ketchup has high fructose corn syrup. But there are many options now for naturally sweetened ketchup. Even some big brands have honey sweetened options.
5) Separate your fridge into zones if possible
I like to keep my dairy products together, my food for meals this week in one section, veggies in one place, leftovers on a separate shelf, etc. It might also work well to have a section of quick grab and go snacks or lunch box items for the whole family to access. Do what makes sense to you. But think about how you use your food and how it will make the most sense to arrange it.
6) Fill that Fridge!
As you put things back, organize them as best you can. Some fridge foods like awkward and large veggies just don’t organize well. I use my crisper drawers when possible, but another great option is to use organizing bins. I have gotten some plastic basket/bins from the dollar store that I use both in my cabinets and my fridge. They help corral those crazy shaped items and keep them in one place. These clear fridge bins are also really nice as they are see-through:
Other Fridge Favorites:
Here are a few other products that I like for keeping my fridge clean, organized, and waste free:
Reuseable Zip Bags
There are lots of brands of these, but these are 2 I like:
Glass Storage Containers
I have loads of these containers now. I love that I can throw hot food right into them without worrying about anything bad leeching into my food. And I can microwave right in them as well. Plus they are oven safe too!
There are also some great divided containers out there that are great for lunch prep. These two are great options:
Now to maintain it…
And sometimes this is the hard part! But with a few tips you can keep your fridge looking great!
1) Wipe any spills as soon as they occur. This keeps the fridge much cleaner and will mean less work in the future!
2) Keep leftovers in one spot so you can find them. I try to keep the oldest stuff in front but sometimes that doesn’t work. I find it’s helpful to keep a list on the outside of the fridge of what you had for dinner each night so you can remember how old something is and know what to eat first.
3) Keep condiments to a minimum. Less is more!
4) Plan your meals around the veggies in your fridge. This helps you use up what you have before it can go bad.
5) Never just throw something in there in a rush. It only takes 5 seconds to put it where it goes. This will go a long way to keeping things organized (this also applies to other cupboards, cabinets, and drawers). Make this a new family rule!
Now you have your fridge sparkling and organized…what’s for dinner?