Organize your Refrigerator

Continuing my dare to do some spring cleaning (yes, long after summer began), I'm offering a belated response to a reader question:

"organizing a fridge! i still am not sure i understand the usage for those drawers and where to put things"

not my fridge

Anyone who has had the unfortunate circumstance in which they had to remove all the foods from their refrigerator (say, due to long-term power outages) can attest to the refreshing feeling that comes with having a clean, freshly stocked fridge, in which every item is visible and organized in its place.  But where should everything go when you put it back in?  Does it matter onto which shelf or into which drawer the vegetables, fruits, or yogurts go?  Read more to find out.

Step one: SPRING CLEAN!  Really clean out the pantry, the fridge, the drawers.  Take an inventory of your kitchen.  What do you have?  What do you have five of?  What do you need?   Really dig deep and evaluate every item.  Toss anything that is old or questionable.  Take note of things that are nearing their fated 'date' and plan to use them.  

I like try to go by this saying I heard a while back: 

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.  This could apply to your kitchen, your clothes, your garage, your purse.  Don't be afraid to use things, to use things in unique ways, or to toss or donate things you simply do not need and will not use. 

Once you've started with a fresh slate and know what you have, then go food shopping.  And once you've got food, what to do with it? 

How should we store produce?

According to Vegetarian Times, Americans end up throwing away a quarter of all the produce they buy, most often because it's gone bad.  What a shame!  Better to store our food properly, and in view, so that it stays fresh as possible until we use it.

Did you know that some fruits and vegetables are incompatible together?  One might cause the other next to it to go bad more quickly.  Not good!  So keep gas-releasing fruits away from others, so that the odorless, colorless gas won't speed the ripening and prematurely decay sensitive vegetables.

Source: Vegetarian Times

So what goes where?  Help With Cooking provides some helpful guidelines for safely organizing food in your refrigerator.
  • As explained above, fruits and vegetables should be stored separately, to prevent gas-releasing fruit from hastening the ripening of vegetables.  Vegetables should be stored in the bottom drawers, where there's a warmer temperature.  
  • Store raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood on the bottom shelf, each in a plastic bag to prevent dripping or leaking juice.  Any cooked items should be stored above these raw items. 
  • Store eggs near the top of the fridge, where the temperature is cold and will not fluctuate too often with the opening of the door. 
  • Store drinks, sauces, condiments, and other jar products or others with similarly long shelf life on the door compartments, because they'll fare better in the warm air every time the refrigerator door is opened.

If you want to organize your kitchen for successful healthy eating, check out recommendations by Huffington Post and FitSugar.

Don't forget to check out the Still Tasty website to check how long different foods stay fresh in the fridge or pantry. 

How do you organize your fridge?  Pantry?  Have any stay-fresh tricks for us? 

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