One of the more common areas of the kitchen to neglect is the refrigerator, because it is quite literally behind closed doors. However, keeping your refrigerator organized can save time while cooking and can help your food last longer before going bad.
Before you begin to rearrange where you store specific food items, take all of your food out and wipe the fridge down. Install easy-to-clean mats on the shelves, and create labels for each food group you’ll store. These labels will make finding specific foods and unloading groceries an efficient process once the reorganization is complete. To begin, simply divide your food up into storage groups and load your refrigerator according to the guidelines below.
According to Greatist.com, upper shelves maintain a temperature that is slightly warmer than the bottom of the fridge. Here you will want to store ready-to-eat foods, such as hummus, as well as beverages and leftovers in labeled containers.
Eggs are often placed in the door or too low in a refrigerator, but they actually need to be stored in the space with the most consistent temperature. RealSimple.com points to the middle shelf as the most ideal location. If your refrigerator does not have a middle shelf, store your eggs on the upper shelf with your drinks, leftovers and ready-to-eat foods.
Refrigerator temperatures stay slightly lower near the bottom of the fridge. This makes the lower shelves the prime candidate for milk and other dairy products, such as yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream, according to Greatist.com. Many mistakenly store their milk in the door of the refrigerator when, in fact, the door is actually warmest part of the fridge.
Lower shelves are also commonly reserved for meats, due to the colder temperature. Deli meats should be stored in the shallow meat drawer if one is available. Raw meats, however, should either be reserved for a bottom drawer/crisper if there is space, or else stored in a plastic container on the lower shelves. Doing so will prevent meat drippings from contaminating the other foods that will be stored in the drawers, says TheKitchn.com.
The bottom drawers, often called crispers, are reserved for your produce. If your family consumes a lot of fruits and vegetables, separate them into two drawers by type. However, if your fruits and veggies can all fit together in one crisper, reserve the second crisper for raw meats.
Because the door is the warmest part of the fridge, store your condiments here. RealSimple.com explains that condiments, such as ketchup and salad dressing, are high in vinegar and salt; these are natural preservatives that allow the condiments to be stored at slightly higher temperatures. You can also store butter and soft cheeses in the door.
The freezer isn’t just for frozen pizza and ice. You can buy in bulk and preserve foods such as bread, fruits and meats by storing them in the freezer. If you are filling your freezer, Greatist.com recommends using tightly packed containers for easy organization. Always use plastic bags or containers, rather than glass, to prevent breakage.
Many people use the tops of their refrigerators to store food and drink items, such as bread or bottles of wine. Greatist.com advises against this, as heat rises from the top of the refrigerator. Heat affects the flavor of wine negatively and can cause bread to mold at a faster rate. Instead, store non-food items on top of your fridge, such as a slow cooker, a food processor or pots and pans.
Having specific locations for your food items will ensure you always know how to load your refrigerator on grocery day and will be able to find that food when it comes time to cook. More importantly, you’ll ensure food safety and its longevity by storing each food item where it will best be preserved.
This article is presented by Colonial Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Hudson in Hudson, Massachusetts.