I just hate it when I find food that I had forgotten about on fridge cleaning day! A rotten apple hiding behind leftovers or a moldy onion that somehow found its way onto the wrong shelf can really make me feel like I’ve wasted money. Organizing your refrigerator is the first step to making your food last longer because you’ll be able to see what’s inside and never forget about a bag full of carrots again!
1. Make a list.
My refrigerator can be written on with a dry-erase marker. This makes everything so much easier when you have a lot of people in the house. Every week, I update the list with what’s inside and how many of each item is inside with small tally marks. Every time someone takes an apple, ingredients for a sandwich, or anything, all they have to do is close the fridge and smudge out one tally mark. It seems like a lot of work, but it makes grocery shopping so much easier. We have a lot of leftovers, too. It’s almost like looking at a menu! No more forgetting about leftover soup or spaghetti! It’s all right there on the door. I’m sure there’s a prettier way to do this, but with so many people living in my house at once, I’ll sacrifice the aesthetic for a bit of practicality.
2. Store fresh items separately.
Don’t just toss your fruits and veggies into one drawer in your fridge! Leave onions out in a cool, dark place. Tie them in pantyhose to make them last over 6 months. Did you buy some fresh herbs? Wrap them loosely in plastic wrap and secure the stalks with rubber bands. Store potatoes and apples together outside of the fridge. Store asparagus like you would a bouquet of flowers – in a jar of water! Wrap celery, broccoli, and lettuce in tin foil before you store it in the fridge. Tomatoes should only be stored in the fridge if they are overly ripe! Otherwise, store them on the counter away from sunlight. Keep ginger in the freezer and grate it when you need it. Store mushrooms in a paper bag – not plastic.
3. Wash your fruits.
In a mixture of one part vinegar and ten parts water, soak your berries and fruits for a few seconds before rinsing them and putting them into the fridge. The vinegar will kill most mold spores and keep your berries fresher for longer! You won’t taste the vinegar at that diluted amount either.
4. Preserve fresh herbs in oil.
If you use herbs and oil to cook frequently, consider this really fun idea! Chop up your fresh herbs and put them into ice cube trays. Cover the herbs in oil (I use virgin olive oil or avocado oil) and freeze them. This will keep them fresh and allow you to pop them out one at a time when you’re going to cook! Just put the “ice” cube in your pan and let it defrost slowly – you don’t want to burn the oil.
5. These items should always go on the kitchen counter.
Avocados, apricots, bananas, citrus, garlic, kiwi, melons, nectarines, onions, pears, peaches, plums, pineapple, and potatoes.
6.These items should always go in the refrigerator.
Beans, berries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, corn, cucumber, eggplant, grapes, jalapenos, leafy greens, mushrooms, squash, and zucchini.
7. Store cheese the right way.
Rub oil or butter onto the side of your cheese that has already been cut. This will prevent it from drying out and being unusable. Wrap your cheeses in wax paper or specifically cheese paper – never plastic wrap! Put it in a plastic baggie to keep out any air that you can manage to squeeze out.
8. Pay attention!
Check your food everyday and see what needs to be cooked immediately! Everyone might be in the mood for pizza, but if you know that you need to cook something that’s about to go bad soon, cook it! You don’t want to waste any money on food that’s gone to waste. Cook that meal, and make a tasty dessert to make up for it. Brainstorm new recipes, too! You never know what magical creation might come out of your kitchen just because two foods are about to spoil.
Implement some of these new ideas and see how long your produce will last!