Spring is just around the corner and you're probably feeling energized and ready to tackle the tasks that'll freshen up your home, right? Why not start with the refrigerator? You'll feel great once it's all in order, plus you'll reduce food waste and it'll even help streamline your grocery shopping and meal prep well into the future. Check out these helpful spring cleaning tips to get a jumpstart on reorganizing your refrigerator.
Spring Cleaning Tip #1: The Prep Work
Before you really get into organizing your refrigerator, it's best to start with a clean slate. And that means doing a deep clean of the interior. Start by taking everything out — from the food to the shelves and drawers. As you remove food items, check the expiration date to see if there's anything you need to toss. So, make sure to have your garbage and recycling bins nearby during this process. Also, if you have a camping cooler, haul it inside to keep your cold items nice and cool while you're scrubbing your empty fridge.
Now that your refrigerator is empty, fill your sink with soapy water. It’s time to clean! Start by washing off the fridge shelves and drawers. You might need to let them soak for a few minutes if anything has spilled on them.
Next, dry the shelves and drawers off with lint-free towels. Let them finish air-drying on your kitchen counter while you wipe down the interior walls of the refrigerator with a vinegar-water spray. Give the walls a final rinse by using a wet cloth and wipe down with a dry towel.
Once everything is dry, secure the components back in the refrigerator. Now it's time to learn how to organize your storage space.
Spring Cleaning Tip #2: Everything In Its Place
Maximizing the food storage in your fridge can help you keep things organized. Plus, it’s a great way to reduce food waste. After all, when you know where everything is and can see it, it's easier to know what's on hand and what you need to pick up at the grocery store.
With that said, there are some specific places where you should store certain foods and ingredients for ultimate freshness. You'll want to keep these spots in mind as you get organized.
- The very bottom shelf: This is where you should store raw meats — and only raw meats. That way, if their packages leak, they won't contaminate anything else stored in the refrigerator.
- The lower shelves: These spots tend to be colder than the other parts of the fridge. Store things like deli meats here. You should also consider keeping milk in the far backspace on a lower shelf.
- The middle shelves: Temperatures tend to be most consistent here. So, store eggs and dairy products like yogurt or sour cream on the middle shelves.
- The top shelf: Keep leftovers and other packaged foods here. They'll be easily accessible and don't require the same chillier temperatures as milk and raw meat.
- The drawers: These are meant for your fruits and veggies, and they're definitely where you should keep those foods. Fruits go in the crisper drawer and veggies go in the drawer with higher humidity.
- The door: This is an ideal spot for condiments, salsas, jams, pickles, salad dressings and other bottled or jarred items. The door is usually a little warmer than the rest of the refrigerator, but these items typically have preservatives that keep them fresh.
Spring Cleaning Tip #3: Smart Storage
Now you know where your food belongs, but how do you keep it organized and see everything that's in there? This spring cleaning tip can help!
We’re talking about clear storage containers. Clear plastic bins are useful for organizing and storing for easy visibility, and you can put just about anything in them. For instance, these storage containers are great for prepackaged snacks of grapes and cheese that you plan to throw in school lunches, too.
Another way to keep your fridge uncluttered? Label everything. Place labels on bins and even your door compartments so the whole family knows what goes where. This makes it easy for kids to help with cleanup, but it also helps you track what you have and what you need to pick up on your next trip to Food Lion. And to cut down on waste, label a bin "Use This First" and fill it with items that are expiring soon.
Spring Cleaning Tip #4: Grocery Shopping with a Strategy
Before going to the store, take a picture of the inside of your refrigerator with your phone. If you can't remember whether you're out of something, the picture can serve as a helpful reminder.
When stocking up on items that are on sale, store the older products in front of the new ones once you're home putting things away. Think FIFO (first in, first out)! If you have a hard time seeing the expiration date on an item, use a permanent marker to write the bought date on the lid or packaging for easy reference.
With these four spring cleaning tips, you can have a reorganized refrigerator at the ready! Now, it's time to try out some new spring recipes. Check out our Fresh Ideas blog to learn how you can put all those properly stored ingredients to good use!