When I was a child, I used to be worry about putting my hand into my aunt's refrigerator - for fear than some living organism would bite a chunk of me!! Not that it resembled a garbage can, rather it was this place with lots of jars, packs, bottles, tubes, bags and what not, in different hues, shapes & sizes and giving off this peculiar smell. There was nothing magical about it though; there was enough mystery in it to scare me off!! Now, I like to know what I am putting my hand into and my refrigerator is an area where there is enough appeal with no mystery. How did I get here? Well, here are some specific dos and don'ts, which are simple enough to follow and they are quite simple at that.
Getting it right. Read your refrigerator manual. Know what the manufacturer and experts say about how to take care of it and how it will take care of your items. Know what each area is meant for and what purpose it serves.
Get your refrigerator prepared for the organising.
- Chuck out - food where expiry dates are long past , food gone bad , food that nobody will eat.
- Clear, wipe and clean - all the dried-up drips, the stains from the sauce, the drip from the cracked egg, etc.
- Sort items and have specified areas for each type .Use the pointers which follow further in this article.
- Tidy the door by removing old papers, keeping recipes in a recipe file and take them out only when you need to use them.
- Add the cleaning of your refrigerator into your weekly routine
- Keep your greens & fruits fresh in the salad crisper
- The meat drawers are at the bottom and closed for a reason - they are the coolest area, cannot transfer smells and cause no stray dripping onto other items
- Store your most perishable items (except the meat which needs be kept here only when the meat drawer is full) like fresh diary produce in the bottom shelf
- Keep all leftovers in one area and neatly packed in airtight bins/containers which allow you to see what's inside. If you are planning to use immediately, then fine; else it is always advisable to label these containers with dates & names, so you know whether they are good to use or not
- Group small items together in a bin, for example, sauces, condiments, dips, etc
- Your refrigerator door can be used for items which cannot be harmed by changing temperatures, like resilient pickles, jellies, jams, beer, wine etc
- Pick up add-ons for your fridge like a roll out caddy - allows further compartmentalisation on your shelves and also gives you access to all things stored in it, a tiered can carousel - much the same by giving access to all the cans, green bags for keeping your fruits and vegetables fresher, a Lazy Susan for the fridge, shelf liners to protect against drips/spills and roll-out refrigerator drawers which allow more compartmentalisation and improved access
- Don't lay your bottles on the shelves. Standing them upright on the racks on the door will avoid drips
- Don't delay the cleaning of your refrigerator - cleaning drips or spills immediately will make your weekly cleaning routine easier
- Don't cram your refrigerator - not only are you straining the appliance, you are also causing the deterioration of the items stored. Refrigerators function well only when they are about three quarters full. Buy only what you need and hence, you stock only what you need
- Don't store items which don't need refrigeration in the refrigerator. Some condiments, honey and vegetables like potatoes, etc, don't need refrigeration and can last well at normal room temperatures.
The refrigerator is an extension of your lifestyle and hence should be organised to support and reflect that. Not only does an organised and looked after refrigerator save you money by way of lesser wastage of food and lesser energy consumption through optimum utilisation, it will also not expose you and your family to the dangers of food contamination or food poisoning. Look after your refrigerator and it will look after you.