Cleaning the refrigerator is one of those chores that often gets neglected. If you’re anything like us, fridge organization isn’t at the top of your chore list. Out of sight, out of mind, right? This year we’re making our New Year’s resolutions ahead of time. To keep ourselves from having to do a big fridge clean-out a few times a year, we’ve committed ourselves to keeping things clean and organized year round. Follow the hints below to keep your fridge nice and tidy, and you’ll find yourself wondering why you didn’t try it years ago!
Keep like items together.
This is a great idea for both organization and safety’s sake. Cross-contamination can happen easily, so don’t keep your meats and veggies in the same drawer. Keeping like items together also makes it easy to find things in a hurry and is pleasing to the eye (if aesthetics are your thing).
Mind the fruits and veggies.
We have a rule of thumb. Cook or eat the vegetables and fruits first that spoil fastest. Using those up first prevents them from being forgotten in the crisper drawer and shriveling up before their turn.
Separate raw meats.
Keep raw meats from contaminating other foods by storing them in a crisper drawer or a separate, clear bin. This makes cleanup easy in the event that raw chicken juices escape from the package. Just take the bin or drawer out and give it a good cleaning in the kitchen sink!
Keep condiments in the fridge door.
Since door shelves are the warmest part of the fridge, you should only store things there that don’t spoil easily. Condiments, bottles of water, and canned drinks are fine here. Items like eggs and milk, though, need cooler temps and should be stored on the inside shelves.
Label everything you freeze.
Wondering what’s in that mystery Ziploc bag of…brownish goo? Could be Granny’s Giblet Gravy. Could be an old batch of baby food. Next time, label it and there’ll be no doubts!
Use clear, airtight containers.
You already know that using airtight containers keeps your food fresher for longer. But they can also help with organization—especially if you use clear containers, making it easy to see what you have at a glance.
Do a weekly wipedown.
We hate cleaning out the fridge, so we try to make it easier on ourselves by wiping things down once a week. Designate a day each week to do a quick wipedown, and you won’t find yourself struggling to scrape crystallized syrup when you finally decide to do a deep clean.
Check expiration dates.
Sometimes it’s okay to ignore the “sell by” or “best by” date on a container…for a little while, anyway. But make a habit of checking expiration dates on containers that you haven’t looked at in a while. Use your best judgment. If it’s not something that spoils quickly and has a “sell by” date of last week, it’s probably fine.
Do a deep clean every few months.
As long as you stick to the rules above, you shouldn’t need to deep clean the fridge very often at all. Toss whatever’s gone bad; wipe shelves down regularly; and keep everything in its place, and you’ll use much less elbow grease when you do decide to do a deep clean.