Go to your fridge. Open the door and tell us what do you see. Is your milk carton placed at the fridge door? Are the middle shelves overflowing with meat items which are stored together with your greens and fruits? If you answered yes to those statements then you need to reorganize your fridge, stat!
Most of us tend to ignore the signs and manuals which comes with our fridge because the fridge’s purpose is just to store stuff to make them last longer right? True but majority of us are lazy so we just dump everything in thinking that it won’t go bad. But not surprisingly, items do go bad. So where you put your food items in the fridge matters if you want to preserve the freshness, longevity and prevent wastage.
But first, clean your fridge! How many years has it been since you REALLY cleaned it from the drawers to the ice trays? Though it’s a cold environment inside, it doesn’t mean bacteria can’t live in there. Those food spills spots can attract bacteria and mold if not cleaned immediately and that can cause cross-contamination to nearby food items. Take some time during the weekend to take everything out, throw away those hidden expired items and wipe those nooks and crannies clean before you start organizing.
Once the fridge is cleaned, these 9 tips that will help you get to a more organized fridge:
1. Arrange food according to the temperature it needs to be cooked
Most professional kitchens will arrange the food in the refrigerator according to food safety and the temperature the food needs to be cooked. Raw meat requires a higher temperature to be cooked so raw meat should be stored in the freezer. Whereas leftovers or ready-to-eat meals doesn’t require a high heat to be cooked so it can be stored at the top shelves.
2. Separate the meat produce from everything else
Keep your fish, poultry and meat produce away from other food items. Put them at the lowest level of your freezer or fridge and in a separate container so that if they thaw, the liquid from it does not drip onto other items so that way you can prevent contaminating other items. Keep cooked meat away from raw meat too.
3. Adjust to the right fridge temperature
Your freezer should be at -18 degrees Celsius  and the fridge should be at 5 degrees Celsius or lower . If possible, place a small food thermometer in the fridge to check whether the temperature is right. Some fridges might show a different temperature on the indicator but it could be warmer inside.
4. Store milk in the coldest parts of the fridge
Usually you would store milk at the fridge door and somehow your milk would turn bad really fast. That’s because the fridge door is warmer than other parts of the fridge and when you keep opening the fridge door the temperature fluctuates. So to keep your milk longer, store it deeper inside of the lowest shelf so that it stays cool.
5. Food or leftovers that can’t be kept long should be put at shelves that are eye-level
Since leftovers can’t be kept for long, it’s best to store them in your view which could be the middle top shelf so you will most likely use the leftovers. Don’t forget to seal them so that it doesn’t dry up or get contaminated. Also, why not try putting some vegetables and fruits there at a day before so that the next day, you might be more inclined to use them when you are cooking? That way you can’t use the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ excuse.
6. Store condiments at the fridge door
Condiments such as chili sauce, mayonnaise and butter can be stored at the fridge door because they don’t spoil easily and can withstand the temperature fluctuations better. So store drinks and sauces that can handle the change of temperature especially since you will be opening and closing the fridge door often. Keep track of the expiry date though.
7. Store fruits and vegetables in the humidity/ crisps drawer
Most of you are not sure about how exactly the humidity drawer works in your fridge but it’s actually pretty simple. If your fridge’s drawer allows you to adjust the humidity level then put it at high humidity when you store your fruits and vegetables (still in its packaging). It allows more moisture and it leaves an opening for the ethylene gases (produced by apples and other fruits) to flow out so the produce lasts longer . If possible, try to separate the vegetables and fruits because the ethylene gas might cause the vegetables to ripen faster .
8. Eggs can be stored in the fridge and at room temperature
The worst place you can store your eggs is at the fridge door. With the constant temperature changes and shaking, it will make the egg whites thinner and other food flavours can easily penetrate through its shell. It is best to store the eggs in the middle shelf in its original packaging to protect the eggs than putting it in the egg caddy at the fridge door.
Also, science has proven that there is no difference in storing in the fridge or at room temperature. Storing in the fridge doesn’t mean it will last longer than putting it at room temperature .
9. Avoid storing these items in your fridge
- Tomatoes, onions, squashs and potatoes. Tomatoes turn mushy, onions will become soft and potatoes will be more starchy.
- Vegetable oils. Vegetable oils such as olive oil will not sit well in the fridge. But you can store nut oils and sesame oils at the fridge door with your other condiments.
- Clean, wet vegetables and fruits. Storing cleaned vegetables and fruits that is not dried or stored properly may cause the produce to spoil faster due to the moisture.
Now that you are armed with tips and tricks to get more out of your fridge, you should try to spring clean your fridge at least once a year. That way you can ensure you have a clean slate to start reorganizing your shelves for efficient storage. Don’t forget to set the right temperatures too!