It’s easy to turn a blind eye to what is happening in the fridge. Mysterious wrapped up packages are forgotten, expiry dates on jars are so difficult to read and the well-meaning fruits and vegetables you lugged home from the supermarket in an attempt to embark on a healthier lifestyle? They remain wilting in the crisper drawer as testament to your efforts.
If any of the above sound guiltily familiar, it may be high time you clean out your refrigerator. Once you’ve thrown all those things that should not — or cannot — be named, here’s how you can get things organised again. Trust us, there’s nothing like a good clean-out of the fridge. It’s on a scale that’s much smaller than, say, organising your wardrobe — a task for another day — or cleaning house, but the sense of accomplishment is no less satisfying. Plus, hey, your health depends on it.
1. Don’t pack your fridge to the brim
The first rule is not to overcrowd your fridge. Air needs to circulate freely to keep everything cool and fresh. When everything is packed too tightly, there could be pockets of temperature difference and warmer zones that hasten spoilage.
2. Use baskets or trays that slide out
Categorise contents and place them in suitably sized plastic baskets or trays that you can easily pull out for quick access. This prevents a graveyard zone from building up at the back of the fridge.
3. Line shelves with easy-to-clean plastic mats or shrink wrap
Cleaning the shelves is a most wretched task that nobody enjoys. Make the task easier by lining them with plastic mats you can remove and wash, or disposable shrink wrap that you can toss.
4. Organise items by temperature they need to be cooked at
The most important objective of fridge organisation is to prevent cross-contamination — nobody wants to get sick. One way to do this is to keep things that don’t require much cooking at the top (leftovers to be warmed up, ready-to-eat items like cheese and ham) and raw ingredients for cooking on the lower shelves.
5. Keep raw meat and seafood on the bottom shelf to prevent unwanted drips
Stow raw animal produce on the lowest shelf, and wrap them tightly to prevent dribble. This is especially important if your fruit and veggie drawers lie beneath this shelf.
6. Don’t put veggies and meat in the same drawer
Designated crispers and drawers are useful for keeping fruits and vegetables fresh because they have the required humidity. If you have a drawer for raw meat, make sure you keep them separated from your greens at all times.
7. Clean meat and seafood drawers and shelves often
The zones that you use for storing raw meat and seafood should be cleaned the most often.
8. Don’t wash fruits and veggies until you’re ready to use them
Prolong the shelf life of fruits and leafy produce by not washing them until you are going to eat them. If not properly dried, the residual water may encourage mould bacteria growth.
9. Keep ingredients whole until you’re ready to use them
Don’t cut up fresh produce too early in advance, unless you are going to freeze them immediately. This will help keep them fresh.
10. Keep milk in the coldest part of the chiller and away from the door
It’s convenient to slot your milk cartons at the door, but because that’s the warmest part of the fridge, it actually shortens their shelf life. Store milk in the coldest part of the chiller instead to maximise freshness.
11. Not everything needs to be refrigerated
The fridge may be a technological feat but it is not a miracle — not everything needs to go in there, and not everything will stay fresh longer by virtue of being chilled. Tomatoes, for instance, start to lose their flavour once you chuck them in the fridge.
12. Take a photo of your fridge contents before grocery shopping
No time to do grocery lists? Snap a shot of the contents of your fridge before you go, so you don’t end up buying things you don’t need.
13. Store leftovers in clear containers
You’re less likely to ignore things you can see at a glance, so get them organised in clear containers.
14. Lazy susans or turntables are the perfect base for jars
Things that get shoved to the back of the shelves are easily forgotten. Have access to all the jars by organising them on revolving bases.
15. Adopt a first-in, first-out practice
Shift older items to the front so they get eaten first. This will help minimise waste and save on the grocery bills.
There you have it, our 15 ingenious ways to keep your fridge clean. Know any other tips & hacks? Share with us in the comments!