Cooking is a blast, but keeping the kitchen clean can be tough. With so many ingredients, appliances, utensils, and dishes to keep track of, it’s easy to forget to maintain one of the most important items in your home – your refrigerator!
Keeping the fridge clean is an essential aspect of home cooking. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a particularly tidy person, you’re bound to benefit from a tidy refrigerator. We’ll walk you through the how and the why of fridge organization so that you can become a pro!
Fridge Organization Essentials
If you’re dealing with a cluttered fridge, it’s easy to feel like you don’t know where to start. Fear not – we’re here to save the day! Follow these steps to turn your fridge from a jumbled mess to a sparkling storage unit.
Step One: Pull Everything Out of the Refrigerator
An organized fridge needs to be clean, and it’s tough to thoroughly clean out all those shelves and drawers if they’re full of food. Start the fridge organization process by emptying the refrigerator completely.
Your food can stay fresh outside of the refrigerator for long enough to complete a thorough clean, but then it should go right back in afterwards. Don’t worry about your perishable items going bad while you clean the fridge – it won’t take too long!
Step Two: Scrub Drawers and Shelves
Most fridges have fully modular drawer systems. That means you can pull all of the shelves and sliding components out of your refrigerator one by one and clean them all individually.
One at a time, take each of the shelves and drawers from your fridge and scrub them in the sink with warm, soapy water. Then, dry them off with a clean cloth.
Step Three: Wipe Down the Sides of the Fridge
Thanks to splattering condiments, drippy leftovers, and other hazardous materials, your fridge can quickly start looking like a culinary crime scene. It’s time to restore it to its former glory!
Use a rag and some non-toxic multi-surface cleaner to wipe down the sides of the fridge. You may have to scrub a bit to get tough stains off of the interior walls, but you’ll end up with a sparkling refrigerator that looks night-and-day different.
Step Four: Chuck Out Expired and Unnecessary Items
When was the last time you used that can of cheese whiz on the bottom shelf of the fridge? Two years ago on a Saturday night at midnight? We thought so.
While it can be tempting to hoard ingredients for whenever you might need them, keeping things simple is one of the essentials of fridge organization. By examining packaged foods for expiration dates, you can determine if anything in the fridge has gone bad and promptly throw it out if it has. Then, take stock of items you haven’t used in months or even years. These can go, too.
Step Five: Divide Items Into Categories
Your refrigerator is set up to help you keep condiments separate from produce, the meat separate from the yogurt, and so on. You can make the most of your shelves and drawers by turning them into designated drop zones for certain types of food.
Try using the shelves on the fridge’s door for condiments and separating those condiments into categories. Then, put produce into two separate drawers – one for fruit and one for veggies.
Main shelves in the fridge can be used for leftovers, eggs, and miscellaneous items. Then, if you’ve got a spare drawer, set it aside for packaged meat and dairy items.
Why Keep Your Fridge Organized?
There are several big reasons to routinely clean and organize your fridge. Below are a few of the biggest perks of keeping your condiments tidy and your drawers clean.
It’s Safer to Cook When Your Fridge Is Clean
If your refrigerator is full of old – and potentially expired – food, you’re setting yourself up for a culinary disaster. Using food that is well past its expiration date can ruin an otherwise great recipe, and it also has the potential to make you sick.
When your fridge is a mess, it’s easy to lose track of how fresh your food is. Plus, over time, fresh ingredients can go bad simply because your fridge is so cluttered that you forget about them! There’s nothing worse than bringing home a perfectly good ingredient, setting it aside for a recipe, forgetting about it, and then realizing it’s expired. Ugh.
To keep your food from going bad, setting up a fridge organization system can be a huge help. Keeping meat and dairy separate from your produce, condiments organized, and drawers uncluttered allows you to keep tabs on the freshness of all of your ingredients. That way, you’ll end up with the tastiest – and safest – meals you can make!
It’s Easier to Cook When Your Fridge Is Clean
An organized fridge doesn’t just make cooking safer – it makes it simpler, too.
When all of the shelves and drawers in your refrigerator are lined with jumbled and mismatched ingredients, it can be tough to find the motivation to make food at all. Instead of letting your fridge become a chaotic culinary war zone, keep everything clean and need to hold onto your inspiration to cook!
There’s nothing as inspiring for an at-home chef as opening up the fridge and seeing rows of beautiful ingredients that are ready to be turned into a delicious dish. You’re doing yourself a favor by keeping all of those ingredients in their proper places in the fridge – it’ll make it easier than ever to consistently cook great meals at home.
In addition, an organized fridge minimizes the amount of effort you have to put into each meal you cook. Knowing exactly where all of your ingredients are saves you time and frustration, and it eliminates the extra step of fishing around in every drawer trying to figure out where your garlic is or what happened to that brie.
A Clean Fridge Means You’re Ready to Cook
Once you’ve cleaned out your fridge, you’re probably wondering what you should make next. Are you in the mood for a savory crepe with eggs and chorizo, or do you want to keep it comforting with Mamma’s Italian Soup?
At JOW, we’ve got plenty of helpful resources to share with at-home chefs! From recipes and grocery lists to hints and tips for leveled-up cooking, we have everything you need. To get inspired, head over to our recipe page.