Posted on June 4th, 2020
A disorganized fridge isn’t just inconvenient; it can lead to chronic food waste and spoilage, not to mention some extremely unpleasant surprises. At one time or another, most of us have experienced the horror of forgetting leftovers at the back of the fridge, only to discover a plastic container full of mold weeks later.
Keeping on top of what’s in your fridge is a straightforward, affordable way to both make your kitchen more hygienic and save money on groceries. If you would like the help of our Indianapolis house cleaners to handle the mess instead, we would be happy to help. Below, we’ve outlined our four favorite strategies for optimizing fridge space:
Make sure your fridge is the right size for your family.
Owning a fridge that’s too small to realistically store enough food is probably the number one cause of poor food management habits. After all, it’s virtually impossible to keep your fridge tidy if it’s usually packed so tight with items that you can’t even see what’s at the back.
To make sure you can comfortably accommodate your family’s food needs, use this rule of thumb when choosing a new fridge: For every adult in your household, you’ll need about six cubic feet of fridge space. If you have kids, you should add an extra two or three cubic feet per child. Likewise, if you cook frequently or have guests over often, you may want to add a few more cubic feet just to be on the safe side, even if you don’t have kids.
In addition to buying the right fridge to meet your needs, purchasing a chest freezer is a great way to build in extra storage capacity. You can use a chest freezer to store leftovers for long periods of time, thereby saving fridge space and reducing the chances of food spoilage. You can also prepare your own frozen dinners, which is a great way to use up ingredients before they spoil and provide quick, healthy family meals.
Educate yourself on the best places to store perishable food.
Food spoilage is a serious problem in the United States. According to research conducted by John Hopkins University, between 31-40% of the American food supply goes to waste every year. While food wastage has multiple causes, improperly utilizing fridge storage areas is almost certainly a contributing factor.
Every fridge is designed to store perishable items in specific locations that are temperature-calibrated to stop those items from spoiling early. Did you know, for example, that you should never store milk and eggs in the refrigerator door? While the door might look like a logical and accessible place for eggs and dairy, it’s actually the warmest place in the fridge – and heat encourages spoilage. Both of these items keep best when placed on the middle shelf, which has a consistently cool temperature, whereas the refrigerator door is ideal for condiments.
Meat should always be stored on the bottom shelf, both because this shelf is consistently cold and because using it will stop juices from leaking onto other items. You can also place packages of raw meat on trays to control leakage and simplify fridge cleanup.
Finally, be aware that you should never store fruit in your vegetable drawer (or vice versa). Vegetable drawers have a high humidity level; this helps keep veggies moist and fresh but hastens the onset of fruit rot. The fruit drawer, on the other hand, has a low humidity level that’s optimized for fruit storage.
(Looking for other ways to streamline your budget and protect the environment? Check out our complete guide to reducing waste at home.)
Clean your fridge out at least once a week.
Despite our best intentions, occasionally losing track of leftovers and other items is almost inevitable. Whether it’s because you spontaneously decide to eat out often or miss items other family members have purchased, things sometimes end up sitting in the fridge for longer than intended. Cleaning out your fridge each week should therefore be considered a necessary chore: Before you do your weekend grocery shop, take stock of everything you have in your fridge and throw out any leftovers that are more than three days old. You should also glance over the expiry dates of purchased items and make a plan to use up food that’s close to expiration.
To keep track of when items will expire, consider placing a white board on your fridge and using an erasable marker to list its contents, along with their expiry dates. This way, you won’t have to review every item in your fridge on a weekly basis.
Don’t be afraid to use bins and baskets in your fridge.
Bins and baskets are useful organizational tools in virtually any area of the home, and the fridge is no exception to this rule. In addition to using trays to store raw meat, consider installing a small basket to hold certain fruits (like oranges) that should be stored on their own, outside the fruit drawer. Having a bin to hold extra condiments is also a handy way to keep your fridge from looking cluttered, especially if you have a smaller fridge with limited door space.
Keeping your fridge clean and organized can be hard work, even if the financial and health rewards are well worth the extra effort. At DeluxeMaid, we know that most families only have a limited amount of time to devote to cleaning – that’s why we do what we do. If you’re struggling to keep up with all of your weekly housecleaning tasks (and who isn’t?) our team of professional maids in Indianapolis can help: Simply contact us for a free, no-obligation quote.