Give Your Fridge a Spring Cleaning
Spring's just around the corner. You're feeling energized and ready to tackle the tasks that'll freshen up your home. Why not start at the refrigerator? You'll feel great once it's all in order, 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 refrigerator organization ideas to get a jump start on your spring cleaning.
Fridge Organization 101: The Prepwork
Before you really get into organizing your refrigerator, it's best to begin with a clean slate. That means doing a deep clean of the interior of this appliance. Start by taking everything out — from the food to the shelves to the drawers. As you remove food items, check expiration dates to see if there's anything you need to toss. It's helpful to have your garbage and recycling bins nearby during this process. If you have a camping cooler, haul it inside, too; it'll keep your cold items nice and cool while you're scrubbing away at the empty fridge.
Fill your sink with soapy water and wash off the fridge shelves and drawers. You might need to soak them for a few minutes if anything has spilled and dried on them. Dry the shelves and drawers off with 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 with water, and wipe them down them with a clean towel.
Once everything is dry, secure the components back in the refrigerator. Now it's time to learn how to organize fridge storage!
Food and Refrigerator Organization Strategies: Mapping It Out
Optimizing your food storage in the fridge can help you keep things organized, and it's even a great way to reduce food waste. When you know where everything is and can see it, it's easier to know what's on hand and what you need. With that said, there are some specific places where you should store certain foods and ingredients to keep them freshest. 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 fridge.
- The lower shelves: These spots tend to be colder than the other parts of the fridge. Store things like deli meats down here. Keep milk in the far back space on a lower shelf.
- The middle shelves: Fridge temperatures tend to be most consistent here. Store eggs and dairy products like yogurt or sour cream here.
- 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 fridge, but these items typically have preservatives that keep them fresh.
Helpful Storage Hacks
Now you know where the food belongs in the fridge, but how do you keep it organized to reduce food waste and see everything that's in there? These tips and hacks can help.
Clear plastic bins are useful for organizing and storing for easy visibility, and you can put just about anything in them. Just be sure to use these to group like items. These fridge storage containers are useful for housing prepackaged snack bags of grapes or cheese that you plan to throw in school lunches, too.
Stackable clear bins are handy for helping you make the most of the space while allowing you to see what you have on hand. Some bins come with suction cups or magnets that allow you to stick the containers on the side walls to maximize your space. Small, clear drawer units can expand your space and allow you to stay organized. Always group like items together — think pudding cups, juice boxes, and soda cans.
Another way to keep your fridge uncluttered? Label everything. Place labels on bins and even your door compartments so everyone 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. To cut down on waste, label a bin "Use This First" and fill it with items that are expiring soon.
Shopping Hacks and Tips
Before going to the store, take a picture of the inside of your refrigerator with your phone. If you can't remember if you're out of something, the picture can help you avoid overbuying.
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. If you have a hard time seeing expiration dates, use a permanent marker to write the bought date on the lid or packaging for easy reference.
With a reorganized fridge at the ready, it's time to try out some new spring recipes. Check out Food Lion's Fresh Ideas Blog to learn how you can put all those properly stored ingredients to good use.