ORGANIZING YOUR REFRIGERATOR
Having a clean, organized and fully stocked fridge will enable you to grab what you need, when you need it so that you can easily entertain for holiday gatherings. Here are some ways to organize your fridge to make creating your holiday menu less stressful as well as quicker and easier.
Start with the items on the doors – you’re going to work your way up to the top! Remove it all…yes, remove it all! Toss what’s old, almost empty and or expired. Next turn your attention to the crispers. Again, remove it all; toss anything shriveled, moldy or otherwise not edible. Continue to the shelves – identify what is expired, no longer edible and needs to go – toss it out! When you’re done, you should have a very empty refrigerator and you’re on your way to stocking up for your holiday meal creations!
Wash it all down
Bacteria breeds very quickly in a dirty environment and moldy, old food provides a wonderful breeding ground. Using a warm, soapy cloth, wash it all down…doors, drawers and shelves….don’t forget the inside walls or the outside of the door! Yes, get your head in there and reach up to the top and down to the bottom; it’s not such a good idea to put back all that fresh food into a dirty space!
Create a list
The fridge is cleaned, ready and waiting. Create a list of what you wish to replenish and the necessary ingredients for the holiday meal you are planning on serving. Need some inspiration? Click on this link for some ideas. Now it’s time to shop!
Now you’ve shopped and bought the food, but what are you going to do with it: shove it back into the fridge willy nilly…of course not! Start by grouping your groceries into categories: produce, dairy, snacks, condiments.
- Separate the door items into groups such as jams/jellies, salad dressings and condiments and put them away accordingly.
- Define zones in your refrigerator for the other categories. (Remember that the top of the fridge will be the coldest.) Suggested zoning: condiments on the door (most used on bottom, least used on the top); crispers for veggies and produce; bottom shelf for leftovers or prepared food, middle shelf for eggs and dairy, cheeses/cold cuts in the middle and top shelf for the jarred items.
Once you decide on the zones that work for you, it is time to return the items to the fridge. But remember – leave some space between things – food needs air to circulate to keep it healthy.
Extend the life of perishable food
Containerizing and wrapping your food up properly will help to extend the life of the food. Take some time ahead to cut up fruit/veggies and store in containers with lids – makes them easy to grab-n-go; veggies that will perish quickly benefit from being wrapped lightly in unscented paper towels and stored loosely in bags that are not sealed and crispers lined with unscented paper towels will keep food from being damaged by leaks or spills.
If you have followed the above suggestions, you should now have a well stocked, cleaned refrigerator. Now you can reach all the ingredients you will need to create your holiday meal as well as have on hand fresh, inviting produce, veggies and snacks to serve at the last minute for any late guests that might arrive. There will even be room for all the inevitable leftovers to munch on the next day or as a late night snack!