Brits have spent nearly 20% more on grocery shopping during the Covid Lockdown but have been less likely to visit the supermarket - fridges and cupboards across the country have been bursting with food! It’s likely that there are some obscure, half used jars taking up space in our fridges so now’s the time to use these fridge organising tips and spend a few minutes decluttering, cleaning and reorganising your fridge so it's ready for the school holidays and summer BBQs.
Benefits of an Organised Fridge
Having a well organised fridge not only looks attractive (take a look on Instagram #fridgegoals for inspiration) it also has the following benefits:
Storing food groups together in fridge containers means that you’ll be able to see exactly what’s in the fridge and will make it easier to grab things.
You’re more likely to use what you can see so it will also help to reduce food waste and your shopping bill.
Fridge contents will stay fresh for longer as you’re storing them in the right place.
The fridge will stay clean for longer as there’s nothing hiding at the back slowly going off and, if you use fridge organisers, these will catch any crumbs and are easily kept clean.
Four Steps To Marie Kondo Your Fridge
I recommend a complete KonMari style fridge audit to start things off so you know exactly what’s in the fridge – it’s always good to do this just before you do a weekly shop as they’ll be less in the fridge.
Gather all the contents of the fridge together and group into categories of similar items (raw meat, deli meat, yoghurts/puddings, dairy, condiments).
Work through each category and check use by/best before dates – removing anything that’s obviously past its best.
Next go through each food category in turn and look at what you have, making decisions about whether it’s something you will definitely use in future or not. You may find that you’ve got left over ingredients from one off recipes that you’re unlikely to use again (eg: harissa paste, tahini, chorizo) – if it’s unlikely that you will use it before it’s used by date take the decision there and then to discard it.
Wherever possible store things upright to make the best use of space - even your vegetables get the Marie Kondo treatment!
Organising Tips For Your Fridge - Where To Safely Store Different Food Types
The key thing to remember is to always keep raw and cooked food separate in your fridge and aim to store similar foods together so that you know where everything is.
Bottom Drawer: Use for vegetables and fruit – this cooler space in the fridge helps to keep the vegetables fresher for longer. If the drawer isn’t big enough to fit everything just store your veg in it and put the fruit in the main body of the fridge.
Bottom shelf: Use the lowest shelf in the fridge for raw meat and fish – these should always be kept in sealed packs or containers. This is the coolest area of the fridge and will keep the raw meat/fish fresh – storing it low down in the fridge also limits any nasty drips or spillages if the packaging splits.
Lower shelf: Put any fruit or salad that doesn’t fit in the bottom drawer on the lower shelf.
Middle shelf: Should be used for dairy produce – cheese, yoghurts, cold puddings and eggs. I recommend storing similar products together in fridge containers as this makes it easier to see what you have.
Top Shelf: Store any leftovers, ready to eat deli foods (like ham) and things that do not need to be cooked at the top of the fridge.
Fridge Door: This is the warmest part of the fridge and is has the least consistent temperature due to it being opened and closed frequently. It’s best to use the door to store things like condiments and non perishable items like juices and jams. You can also store soft dairy items like butter in the door.
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Having clear organisation and using fridge organiser boxes really helps to ensure that anyone who uses the fridge can return items to the right place once they’ve used them.
TOP TIP: Potatoes shouldn't be kept in the fridge as it may increase their sugar content leading to higher level of a chemical called Acrylamide (this has been shown to cause cancer in animals) The UK Government recommend keeping potatoes in a well ventilated, dark, dry cupboard (I keep mine in a wicker basket in the larder cupboard).
Where Should Eggs be Stored?
British Lion (the official voice of the UK egg industry) recommends that eggs should be stored at a constant temperature and suggests keeping them on the middle shelf of your fridge rather than in your fridge door. Eggs should be kept in their original cartons as egg shells are porous and can take on the odour of other items in the fridge – the cartons help to prevent the odour transfer. If you do decide to take eggs out of their carton do ensure that they have their best before date stamped on them and make sure you use them in date order!
Six Top Organising Tips For Keeping On Top Of Your Fridge
1. When you unpack your weekly shop make sure you rotate the items you already have in your fridge put the closest dated items at the front so they are used up first.
2. Store fruit and vegetables in airtight containers that keep food really fresh and are as clear as glass so you can see exactly what’s in each tub. These make the fruit and veg look really appetising and I’ve found that my family are much more likely to eat the fruit as healthy snacks than they used to be.
3. It can be difficult to remember when you opened jars/packets that are then stored in the fridge so I recommend usinga permanent marker to write the date you opened it on the jar– that way you’ll know when it’s time to throw it out. A quick look in my fridge found the following shelf life for opened jars Pasta Sauce (3 days), curry paste (7 days), pesto (2 weeks), Branston pickle (6 weeks). It's also worth keeping the labels facing out so you can see exactly what you've got.
4. If you have shallow shelves in the fridge door consider buying a thin fridge organiser box and pop this on the shelf – it means you can keep taller condiments like tomato ketchup on the shelf without them toppling out every time the door opens.
5. I recommend have a “use first” tray or space in the fridge – any close dated items or older fruit and veg are placed here to remind me to use them first.
6. Don’t overfill the fridge – you need to leave around 20% of it clear for those leftovers from dinner or ingredients you pick up for the evening meal that day.
Fridge Maintenance – Things To Do Each Week
Now that you've got your fridge organised and looking great let's make sure that you keep it that way!
Before you write your weekly shopping list quickly check the fridge to see what you have & what you need to use up. Throw anything past is sell by date out and give your fridge a wipe down so it’s clean when you put in your weekly shop.
When you take the fridge containers out of the fridge quickly check the condition of everything in the box and wipe down the box to get rid of any crumbs.
I encourage people to do a rough meal plan for the week as it helps to ensure you use what you have and also only buy what you need. It doesn’t need to be really strict and can be as simple as: cold meat leftovers from a roast on a Monday night, chicken meal on a Tuesday, beef on a Wednesday and a Vegetarian meal on a Thursday,etc.
Keep a shopping list open in the notes app on your phone – when something runs out pop it on the list – that way you’ll already know what needs replacing in the fridge.
I'm a Professional Organiser trained by Marie Kondo - if you'd like to know more about decluttering & organising your home take a look at my other posts.
m: 07740 782575