4 M – Margarita`s Manic Monday Minutes _ Organizing Your Fridge in 15 minutes
Everyone that has a home has a fridge. I don’t know one family that doesn’t. That means that with it comes the need to keep it clean and (in my view) organized with containers. Keeping it clean means you stave off any possible food cross contamination (see tomorrow’s post on that subject), you keep your family healthy and you save money. In Toronto, single-family households discard about 275 kilos of food waste each year. This much food waste can be avoided if you keep track of what is in your fridge. When you stock your fridge, do you clean it out too? I want to know, how often do you clean your fridge? Once a week, once a month or every few months… once a year maybe? I certainly hope it is not the former because you are doing your family a disservice.
Cleaning your fridge is something you can do in 15 minutes or less (depending on how much food you have in there). I would suggest that you clean your fridge when it has the least amount of food in it. So pick a day that you know you will have room to move things around as you clean it.
I start from the top down and move from left to right.
- Clear off the top shelf. Review any items that may be expired or have been in your fridge for longer than 6 months.
I love olives, my family does not. Olives do not usually come in small jars so I tend to buy them, have a few meals with them than relegate them to the back of the fridge. Invariably, I end up tossing half a jar out. This is not a good use of money but I don’t want to give up getting olives altogether. Solution: buy olives in bulk. Although they maybe pricier, in the long run, I will save money and not waste food.
Place juice boxes in easy to remove containers. I am a BIG, BIG fan of containers that you can pull out. I’ve organizing containers in my fridge before it was a ‘thing to do’. You can buy different sizes but you want ones that are see-through and that run the length of your shelf. It is a more efficient use of your space. We have Three in our fridge. One for juice boxes, one for yoghurt, one for condiments and two for milk bags.
- Buy a milk bag storage container. In this next of the woods, we buy our milk in bags (you get three at a time). That means that you need to stack the other milk bags that are not being used in a container. When we had babies, we had two types of milk one for us and one for them. Now we all drink 1 % but we still have about 6 bags a week. They can take up a lot of space if you don’t have a container that stacks them easily. You can buy these containers at most kitchen stores. Use them, they make sense.
- Use your cold meat/cheese drawer to contain these items. I wish I had one more drawer in my fridge because I often use the one that we have. These drawers have slats that open and close for more or less moisture and coolness. We eat a lot of cheese and some cold cuts so this keeps them in one place and easily accessible for the kids to make their sandwiches.
Use a container to hold all those well used items. On our second shelf we have our favourite condiments in one container. That is where the peanut butter, jam, mayonnaise and (some) salad dressing sit. They are easy to pull out and easy to return to. This is a lifesaver on a buys morning. The kids know where those staples should be. If you want, you could take the whole container out, put it on the counter and when breakfast is finished put the whole thing back. There you are easy, peasy lemon squeezy.
We have two crisper drawers at the bottom: vegetables in one fruits in the other (and the occasional milk bag when we’ve bought too much milk ). I always place a paper towel at the bottom of each of these drawers to keep moisture out and for easier clean up. Don’t tell me you haven’t forgotten a cucumber in a drawer and next thing you know it starts to leak juices. Ugh. Awful stuff. It happens so make sure to make it easier on yourself by placing the paper towel at the bottom.
If you fridge door has storage compartments this is the perfect place to put all those jars that we tend to accumulate. I love Kozlik’s mustard. Since I can only buy it in Toronto (2 hours away), I tend to buy multiple bottles at a time. They are all in one area. I have three shelves one for short jars, one for medium size jars and one for taller containers. Size does matter and placing them in the right container makes it easier to find.
- Wipe down the different compartments and take stock as you do. Once again, get rid of any food in jars that you have not used in 6 months. Get into the habit of buying smaller containers. I KNOW ITS CHEAPER if you buy a big jar of pickles but if you just end up throwing them out, are you actually saving money?
There are many container that you can use to keep food longer or to make it easier for you to access it. This is important because you use the food that you have and your kids get into the habit of eating well. Going through your fridge at least once a month (yes, once a month people), is a good way to keep track of what you have, what you need to re-stock and what is not a ‘family favourite’. At this time of year, its a good time to re-evaluate if you want to minimize the amount of processed food in your diet and the lack of fruit and vegetables in your meal plan.
Clean your fridge with a natural cleaner (such as Better Life) because you really don’t want any chemicals touching your food. Keeping your fridge clean and orderly will help you save money because you will not buy one more bottle of ketchup or one more package of cream cheese ‘because I thought we were out’.
This task only takes about 15 minutes to complete but if you have one of your kids help you (as I did with my daughter), we were done in less than 10 minutes. Don’t wait… do this important task today!
Tomorrow’s #GO_DPRO challenge task: 5 Ways to avoid Food Contamination.