After a long day at work, you go home and open your refrigerator to find something for dinner, and you see a crowded and a very disorderly inside, it makes you just order a take-out food instead. Sounds familiar? Kids open it and shout that there is no food inside when in fact, they are just too lazy to look for one.
Refrigerator space can be a big problem. It creates confusion, doubles your spending and causes so much food spoilage.
If you are able to address this problem, you will save time, money, food and you won’t be so stressed finding food to cook for the family.
Useful tips for organizing and maximizing your refrigerator
Maximize the space
It means you have to fully utilize all the nook and cranny inside your refrigerator.
a. REFRIGERATOR DOOR can store the following:
- Unusually shaped.
- Frequently used or looked-for items like condiments, milk, and juice.
b. UPPER SHELVES are best for:
- Big containers, like left-over’s in a platter.
- Frequently used or looked-for items in horizontal containers. Box-type containers like the polycarbonate containers use space better than round ones.
c. LOWER SHELVES may be used for:
- Meat or fish being thawed so that if it drips, it won’t fall and spoil other food products.
- The crisper at the bottom is great for fruits and vegetables. Remove from their plastic wrappings, and wrap in newspaper instead.
d. FREEZER is great for:
- Put the meats in the inside, and ice cream towards the front as the children will most likely look for it.
- Put same items together in one area, like frozen cooked foods at one side, and raw in the other.
- To be efficient, use containers that are almost similar in size.
- If you have a freezer pull-out drawer, put small items in there, like the flat ones.
- Label using masking tape. Put the date cooked or date frozen (for raw food).
- Freeze it flat. You can vacuum seal your liquids like soup, pasta sauce and other foods in freezer bags, and lay them down flat. It freezes faster and also thaws faster when you need to eat it. Vacuum sealed food will help you save a lot of space in the refrigerator.
- Keep a list of foods in your freezer taped outside your ref. Cross out the items as you use them. It will save you from having to open your freezer door for a long time to check what is inside, and it makes it easier to plan meals.
Adjust the shelves inside your refrigerator
They are adjustable, you know. You can choose to make more head space in the upper shelves as you wish.
- SIDE-BY-SIDE REFRIGERATOR: pull the shelf towards you, lift as you pull.
- TOP OR BOTTOM-MOUNTED FREEZER: tilt the inside or back end of the shelf.
Organize the contents of your refrigerator
It will save you the headache of searching, plus an orderly refrigerator will inspire you to cook some more, or well, eat more.
a. Start at ground zero.
Remove everything inside, clean the refrigerator, and before putting it back in, check expiration dates, quality of the food, check by smell and look if it has discoloration or molds. Put back inside the ref only those that you are still going to need or want. If you haven’t used it for a month, toss it out. You won’t miss it.
b. Do groupings.
Put together condiments in one area, beverages in another, and so on. Everything will be so easy to find if you do this. You can buy similarly shaped containers so that even if the sizes vary, you can still stack them.
c. Some items do not need to be refrigerated. Keep only the ones that need to be kept cold. Milk, if not opened, can be just put in the cupboard.
Store left-over’s wisely
You can still use them in the near future, but you have to package and preserve them correctly.
a. Label with ‘contents’ and ‘date cooked’ so you can easily identify it.
b. Let the newly-cooked extra food cool down before putting inside the refrigerator.
c. Put the earlier dates at the top so you can use it first.
d. Foods with strong odors, like onion or cheese, have to be placed in individual containers and separated from the other items.
e. Vacuum seal your left-over foods to preserve its quality.
If you can plan ahead, when you cook in bulk, get only the portion you are sure to finish, and the rest can be vacuum sealed in one-serving portions for future consumption. There is a very important thing that you need a suitable vacuum sealer machine for your food like the foodsaver models.
While space organization in your refrigerator may be a usual problem for us, there may still be other problems we have with this appliance.
Here are a few more with the recommended solutions:
My refrigerator uses too much electricity, thus costing me more in electricity
- Older models usually do consume more electricity so think about changing units.
- Before buying, do your homework about the brands and models you want, especially about electric consumption.
- Minimize opening the refrigerator or freezer door for a long period of time, or too frequently. When warm air enters, it raises the temperature and requires your refrigerator to work more.
There is some weird smell in my refrigerator
- Look for the cause of the smell and throw out. Don’t even give spoiled foods or beverages to your pets.
- It would be a good time to clean it out. Remember to unplug to be sure. Defrost the freezer. Use soapy rag to wipe the shelves, surfaces and the exteriors. Follow it with a damp rag to remove the soapy water, which can be sticky if left to dry. Lastly, use a dry rag.
- Do not use harsh chemicals inside your ref. It may affect the quality and smell of your food.
- Keep your refrigerator clean at all times. Any food spills have to be cleaned immediately to make sure bacteria will not thrive in it.
- As much as possible, use only sealed containers. Freezer bags are recommended for foods inside the freezer.
I am going on vacation. Do I leave the ref plugged in?
That may not be recommended for safety reasons. Instead, you may do these:
- Plan ahead before your trip. Use up whatever perishables or frozen items you have. If you can’t finish it, donate it before it goes bad.
- Defrost freezer and remove ice. Do not leave it in unless you want to return to a puddle on your floor or bad-smelling water in the bin at the bottom of your ref.
- Try to clean it before leaving. Then leave with it wide open so there would be no odor or molds when you come back. Put a stool in front of the open door so it wouldn’t accidentally close.
Any equipment that you take care of can serve you well. Refrigerators play a very important role in the health and well-being of our family.
Maximize its use and life by following the tips mentioned above.