The fridge is a very important hub in our homes. Having an organised fridge makes it easy to find what you need so that you can put a meal on the table in less time, keep track of what you have so that you can quickly come up with your grocery list, and maximise the food’s shelf life to reduce wastage. Don’t know where to start or worried it’s going to take too long? Professional Organiser Nathalie Ricaud shares her 5-step approach to fridge organisation that will take you less than one hour to execute.
- Take items out of the fridge one by one and SORT them in categories e.g. fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy etc. You may want to store the most perishable ones in a cooler bag during the duration of this exercise.
- TOSS any items that have expired or that look past their expiry dates – if they don’t look appetizing now, you are unlikely to eat them later. Have a pile for items that are still in good condition but that you know you won’t be using and give them away to friends or neighbours if they are interested.
- CLEAN your fridge thoroughly using warm water and baking soda. You don’t really want to use chemicals that may end up in contact with the food.
- ASSIGN A LOCATION / ZONE i.e. shelf, drawer or door rack to each category. Take into consideration:
- Quantity that you typically keep of each category so that you avoid over-flow or under-utilisation of the zone.
- Fridge temperature. The top shelf has the most consistent temperature, the bottom one is the coldest spot in the fridge and the door is the warmest spot with the greatest temperature fluctuation.
- Visibility. You want to keep items with the closest expiry date in front and the leftovers at eye level so that you are most likely to eat them before they expire. Same if you want to encourage your family to opt for healthier choices e.g. the jug of water instead of the Coca-Cola can.
- Accessibility if for example you have children and you want them to be able to prepare their snack on their own.
- CONTAINERISE. If your fridge doesn’t have enough compartments or drawers to keep similar items together, it’s a good idea to invest in some organising products. Here are some of my favourites:
- Clear storage containers for leftovers that ideally go in the freezer and in the micro-wave.
- Lazy susans or turntables to easily find items and never forget something at the back of the fridge.
- Caddies for condiments or jams that you can pick up and return in one go.
- Can dispensers to keep cans in line if you keep a lot of canned drinks in your fridge.
Now that your fridge is organised, you want to maintain it that way:
- Make sure your family members are aware of the location of each category and ask them to return the item after use to its assigned location.
- Once a week, go through the contents of your fridge. Discard the items that have expired, remember leftovers can’t be kept more than 2/3 days. Re-arrange the contents to make sure everything is its in place. Wipe down spills. If you do this before replenishing your fridge, it shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes.
- Every 3 or 6 months, empty down the contents of your fridge and give it a good clean and purge.
Although we are equipped with the best intentions to cook healthy meals for our families, we have a general tendency to stock up more than we end up cooking and eating. So be realistic and buy what you need. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables more often, Sabine’s Baskets is the perfect solution to help you avoid over-purchasing and reduce wastage with the convenience of home delivery!
Nathalie Ricaud is a Professional Organiser and the founder of Get Organised & Beyond, a Singapore-based company that helps individuals and families de-clutter and organise their space, belongings, paper and time so that they can make the most of their lives. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at +65 9635 6946. Check out her blog for tips on how to make your life a little more organised.