Do you have a system for your refrigerator or do you simply put your groceries away wherever you can find a space? It might surprise you to know that a properly organized refrigerator not only improves how easily you can find what you are looking for but also extends the shelf life of your food. Read on to find out how to properly organize your refrigerator.
Add some of your own storage solutions
While some refrigerators come with storage compartments in the door and in the body of the fridge, such as vegetable drawers or egg compartments, you shouldn’t just rely on the included storage when organizing your food. Purchasing some glass or plastic storage bins is an easy way to keep products of certain types together. Here are some examples:
- Use an open-topped storage container to store small jars of condiments together, such as chutney or mustard.
- Use a large container with a lid if you have multiple types of cheese. Make sure you wrap all the different cheeses individually.
- Use airtight storage containers to store items such as berries or cherry tomatoes.
- Make sure the storage containers you use are made of clear plastic or glass so that you can easily see what’s inside them.
Adjust the shelving to suit your needs
All refrigerators have moveable shelves, but you can often find yourself forgetting that you can move them around. Make your shelves work for you. If you have a lot of small items, you can put some shelves closer together in order to allow a bigger gap at the top or the bottom. If you have primarily large items, you can remove one shelf altogether to create more room.
Think carefully about what you put in the door
It’s common to put milk or eggs in the fridge door, but that’s not the best place to keep them. The door is actually the warmest part of the refrigerator, so keeping items that are prone to spoilage there isn’t a great idea. It’s better to keep your milk on the bottom or middle shelves of your refrigerator.
The door is best saved for items that don’t spoil as readily, such as soft drinks or vinegar based condiments.
Be careful about which fruits and vegetables you store together
When you’re storing fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator, it can be tempting to just throw everything into the vegetable drawers. After all, that’s what the drawers are for! Unfortunately, thanks to a chemical called ethylene that some fruits and vegetables emit, doing this can actually cause your produce to spoil quicker. Here are some tips about which vegetables you need to keep separate.
- The most common fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene are apples, avocados, bananas, peaches, pears, peppers, and tomatoes.
- Ethylene-sensitive vegetables include asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, peppers, squashes, and zucchini.
- If you have any of these vegetables or fruits, make sure that they’re stored in airtight containers or in different parts of the refrigerator.
This may seem like an obvious tip, but make sure everything you keep in the refrigerator is covered and airtight. It may be tempting to pop half an avocado in your refrigerator uncovered because you plan to use it later the same day, but even a few hours uncovered can cause your food to oxidize and go bad far quicker than if it were kept covered.
Plastic wrap is commonly used to wrap food to make it airtight. While this is better than nothing, it’s actually surprisingly difficult to get an airtight seal using plastic wrap alone. You can also use resealable plastic bags or a small airtight container.
It is best to use the smallest possible container to fit the food you wish to store as putting a small item in a large container will cause it to oxidize due to the large amount of air in the container.
Store your meat with care
Careful meat storage is among the most important parts of refrigerator storage. The bottom shelf of the fridge is the coldest and the part that’s least prone to cross-contamination in the case of leaks.
However, if you’re defrosting meat, you may wish to put it on the top shelf as sometimes the bottom shelf can be so cold that your meat won’t properly defrost if stored there.
In this case, always put your meat in a sealed container, not just in the package it comes in. It’s also a good habit to place a glass tray underneath any container of meat in your fridge so that if leakage does occur, it’s contained and can’t reach other foods.
Don’t overfill or underfill
Overfilling your refrigerator can make it difficult to find what you’re looking for and can also block vents and ducts, meaning that cold air can’t circulate properly within your refrigerator. An overfilled refrigerator also means more time spent with the door open searching for what you want, which means that the fridge can get too warm.
Underfilling may not seem like a problem, but it can lead to too much cold air being lost when the refrigerator door is opened as less mass is in the fridge to retain the desired temperature. Refrigerators perform best when they’re about two-thirds full.