Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Organizing The Fridge
If you are like me, the summer can mean a fridge crammed full with food and drinks for the family. The summer time means cold drinks, salads and fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables that all take up a lot of room in the family refrigerator. This year I decided to treat the space inside my fridge like I would the inside of a closet. Both the fridge and a closet are designed for storage and it was time to make my fridge more efficient.
The above picture is of my fridge. I have a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer so this means that the fridge is narrow but tall.
This is the top shelf. Up here I keep things like syrups, jams, yogurts and drinks. I found that a lot of these jars were small and I wasn't utilizing the vertical space. I placed a simple metal rack on the shelf near the back giving me more space to stack these items. It also makes it easier to see what's in back when there are things placed in front.
This shelf contains all of the tall items; the milk, coffee creamer and a pitcher of iced tea. I added another small metal rack to the back corner. I found that Ziplock bags containing partial packages of cheese would get tossed anywhere in the fridge and I would inevitably find moulding cheese, tucked behind the mayonnaise, that we missed using up. The cheese now has it's own shelf and it is easily seen by everyone in the household.
Do you have one of those shelves in the fridge where things get shoved to the back never to be seen again? For me it was this shelf. It was hard to see in the back, even with the glass shelves. Every now and then I would dig back in there and treat myself to a rousing game of Name That Food! Somehow, even when I won, I felt like I lost. I solved the problem by installing a lazy susan. I keep things like pickles, olives, salsa and even some Cheese Whiz on here. When I need to find something I just have to spin the lazy susan.
There is even enough room in front of the lazy susan to keep a couple of small containers like the one full of olives that is there now. If you have trouble bending over to see just what is on that lower shelf, like many of my elderly clients do, try placing clear plastic bins there. They easily pull out so that you can see what's inside and the plastic bins contain any spills making cleanup easier.
The last shelf holds the flats of eggs and bags of milk. We buy our eggs directly from the farmer. The flats take up a lot of space but I prefer fresh farm eggs over store-bought and I believe it's worth the extra space it takes up in the fridge. I could store the eggs in regular, cartons from the store and will do that if I find the need for more space. I picked up the plastic, milk storage unit at a local container store called Solutions. In Canada, our milk comes in bags that we place in plastic pitchers. Three bags equals four litres of milk. This one is nice because you take the bag from the bottom of the container and fill it from the top so that you always use up the oldest milk first.
The door of my fridge holds all the condiments, salad dressings and sauces. The salad dressings have their own shelf. BBQ sauce and some other sauces and oils that are not used regularly are kept on the bottom shelf. I have one shelf designated for tall items like cooking wines and ketchup, etc.
There isn't much fresh in the fridge at the moment because these photos were taken just before a trip to the grocery store. When I do have more fresh ingredients I tend to cut them up to make more room. For instance, when I buy celery, my kids would not think of cutting some up to eat as a snack. But if I have it cut up and in a bag, it's gone. Same with cantaloupes or watermelon. For some reason the extra step of slicing off some fruit for yourself is lost on my teenagers, but if Mom has it all cubed and in a bowl it doesn't last more than a couple of days.
My friend Linda sent me this photo.
She writes, "This is how I keep my pop in the fridge. When they are loose, on wire shelves, they fall over and slide around. In a basket, they are all together, easy to slide out, choose, and slide back. Basket allows air flow too.
I have another basket full of condiments and small jars that usually migrate to the back of the fridge, grow green, and finally make themselves known by issuing declarations regarding their independence from captivity."
I love how Linda keeps things contained and controlled. Haven't we all opened a jar from the back of the fridge only to discover that the contents have sprouted a five o'clock shadow?
Do you have any tips or tricks for keeping your refrigerator organized?