Good morning, all!
Okay…how many of you have a man (or male child) who opens the refrigerator to “look” for something that he declares immediately is not in there? I have two such creatures in my house. Here’s a typical conversation about the fridge.
Male: “Where’s the mayonnaise?”
Me: “On the door.”
Male: “No it’s not.”
Me: “Yes, it is.”
Male: “Well, I don’t see it.”
Me: “Bottom shelf, left corner, behind the mustard.”
Me: “Just where it always is. Always.”
(Insert heavy sign and eye roll here. And apologies to any man who may be reading this and who – bless him – doesn’t have this problem.)
Naturally, a person who can’t find the mayonnaise right where it always is isn’t necessarily going to put it back there. I have labeled shelves that no one can read. How? How can this be?
When I was trying to decide what to do for today’s tips, Teresa suggested that I address the fridge
When I was trying to decide what to address this week, a friend suggested the refrigerator. The quickly messed up and disorganized refrigerator. And since it makes since because we organized our pantries last week (didn’t we?), that’s what I’m going to do. At my house, the fridge can get messy pretty darn quick. So I have learned that I have to straighten it out weekly; any longer than that and it becomes a serious challenge instead of a 15-minute fix.
That being said, this is what I TRY to do every week/month to keep the fridge under control.
1. Tend to the leftovers.
If you have leftovers that freeze well, freeze them in single-serve portions. For example, when I make lasagna, we eat it for dinner once and the once as leftovers. Then I take the rest and cut it into serving size portions and freeze them individually. That way I can pull one out for my hubby’s lunch or have a quick dinner solution when I need it. Just don’t leave them in there long enough to grow mold. Please. Do not conduct your own science experiments. Unless you’re a homeschooler because we homeschoolers have to do what we have to do. 🙂
2. Have a designated place/shelf for leftovers.
In order to make tip #1 easier, have a designated location in the fridge for leftovers. I have a shelf where I store all my leftovers. Then I only have to clean off one shelf when I’m ready to toss or freeze the leftovers. When you toss them, wipe off the shelf and you’re ready for the next week. 🙂 We have a weekly “Leftover Buffet” for dinner on Thursdays. Any leftovers remaining by Monday get tossed. That’s the day before trash pick up day so it clears my fridge and doesn’t invite critters to visit the garbage can during the week.
3. At least once a month, go through the bottles and assorted jars and toss those that are out-of-date.
This isn’t hard, but it takes a little time. Just pick a day (again, I’d suggest the day before trash pick-up if possible) and go through all the jars, bottles, etc. on the refrigerator door or hiding behind the milk carton. Check the dates. If anything is out of date, into the trash or down the garbage disposal it goes. Please recycle when you can! It will take a little longer to sort through these things, but let’s take care of our planet here.
4. Organize your refrigerator into “zones.
Keep healthy snacks and foods front and center. I find this is an especially important thing to do. If there’s chocolate cake in front of the grapes, am I really going to move it and choose the grapes? Umm….probably not. 🙂 But maybe that’s just me. I have found that I eat better and make wiser choices when healthy foods are “in my face” when I open the refrigerator door. I also keep a “collection” of water bottles chilled and easy to reach so that I choose them instead of sweet tea. If you have specific things for your little ones that you don’t mind them reaching into the fridge to get, put them together in one particular area so that they can get to them easily.
Keep track of what’s in your produce bins. It’s best – my my opinion – to only buy produce that you know you’ll use within the week. If not, you (ahem…I) forget what’s in there and when I check the drawer, the produce no longer resembles what you (I) brought home from the store. And it’s squishy. And smelly. And then you have to take out the crisper drawers to clean them and it becomes a big deal. Ugh. So don’t do that, okay? This is personal experience I’m sharing here.
5. Wipe up spills immediately.
If you spill something in the fridge, wipe it clean right away. Do not let it sit. Things tend to get sticky or drip down to the shelves below. This is especially true of soda, sweet tea, juices, and jellies. Sticky things become sticker if left alone. And then you have to scrub. And scrub. That’s no fun. Of course, cleaning spills isn’t fun anyway, but a big sticky mess…well, that’s really not fun.
And periodically – once month would probably be ideal, but maybe not realistic – take empty the shelves, take them out, wash them in warm soapy water, dry and return them. Do the same for door shelves and the veggie/crisper bins.
Now…if you’re fridge is a HUGE mess and is so full that you can barely see the light that comes on when you open the door, you need to do a major cleaning. That means taking EVERYTHING out and putting it in a cooler. Remove and clean all the shelves. Determine your zones. Only put back into the fridge the things that are fresh and usable. If your fridge is empty after this cleaning, please start your weekly maintenance as soon as you have put things in there. And don’t let it happen again! 🙂
Note: Don’t let items be pushed against the vents in the back of the fridge. It makes it less energy efficient. A stuffed to the gills (or vents) fridge is not good for anyone.
Okay…that’s it. Once it’s clean, it’s really not hard to keep clean. However, a clean fridge does not ensure that a male person will be able to find the mayonnaise. Even if it’s the only thing in the fridge. Just saying.
Have a BLESSED day!
P.S. Now that the pantry and fridge are organized, I’ll be back to my “room by room” challenge next week. So I’m “shopping” in my house to see what I want in the entryway.