Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Organization: Refrigerator

Living in the city means one thing: a small refrigerator. When we moved into our apartment here in Vancouver I was actually pleasantly surprised at the size of our fridge. I can store a full week's worth of food in there plus milk and almond milk. This wasn't always doable in our place in Santa Monica.

I am big on being prepared for the week when it comes to meals as you all well know from my Menu Plan Monday posts. I like to plan the meals on Sunday afternoon typically then shop that afternoon/evening or sometimes Monday morning if I have something lying around for breakfast already.

Anyway, a few months ago I got an info graphic in my email about the most effective way to organize your fridge....this didn't come close to resembling my fridge. In fact I was constantly having spoiled food, no one ever knew what was okay to eat or not which made everyone dependent on me before they could eat the food. It was also a disaster for getting ready in the morning. So, I decided to change that....

Let me start off by saying I have all my shelves lined with vinyl shelf liner from the dollar tree. This stuff is awesome. It was quick and easy to measure and cut and it keeps the shelves super clean. I have a few extra rolls in my storage in the even some get too icky, but I clean up any spills as they happen so I don't foresee that being too much of a problem. The liners make the fridge look nice as well. If you want to invest in something a little more durable these Fridge Coasters look awesome, maybe someday I will invest...maybe...hehehe

So here is the top half of my fridge. It includes the top part for large leftover containers like you see for my spaghetti sauce and my spaghetti squash. I also put my large glass containers up here when I am marinating meat or make a salad that won't fit in the veggie drawer. Second shelf I have two baskets to keep the small containers corralled. It just looks nice. The left one is my meal prep containers. This is where I put premade rice/pasta, premade sandwiches, or other small items that are for meals this upcoming week. On the right of this shelf is my leftovers bin. This is where I put the small containers of rice for lunches, leftover meat from dinner for lunches, etc. In this bin many times I put a sticky note on the jars and will write whose lunch they are for the next day so if I am not packing the lunch it can still get done by whoever is packing lunches and everyone gets what they like!  In the most middle shelf I keep our big bottle beverages, sort of lol I keep milk here usually toward the back. I keep my almond milk here & my can of coconut milk toward the back so I can always have coconut cream on hand! Then in the glass container is just coconut milk for my coffee. We don't drink soda so this isn't a packed shelf usually. Here is a close look at those shelves:

This is my fruit drawer. It is right under my drink section. I found it is the best area for the fruits so they are at a grab and go area, plus we never have a ton so it is a great place to keep them! 

Here is the bottom half. Under the fruits are the veggies. These are usually bigger since cauliflower is large, heads of lettuce are big, and bunches of carrots, etc. It's a humidity checked drawer so it can also extend the life of some of the veggies. Not that they last that long. Last is the meat. I used to keep this way at the top, that is dumb. I've had to throw out so much food due to cross contamination and packages leaking. Just like when you grocery shop meat should be at the bottom, same goes for your refrigerator! I keep our lunch meats in there and defrosting meat. I don't have a fridge mat in here because of leakage. I usually line it with paper towels, if I have them on hand. Otherwise I just wash it out with soap and water as needed. Here is a closer look:

Refrigerator door...

Top to bottom...

I keep my yeast, butter, and cheeses up here. They seem to keep much longer here than anywhere else. Not sure why, maybe because the lid thing keeps the cold air locked in so when the door is opened and closed they aren't constantly exposed to the elements.

This is where I keep my jelly and sauces and my husband's beloved bag of bacon. These are usually tall things and this is the area of the door with a lot of "head room".

This is full of condiments. I keep a can of full fat coconut milk in here too lol Can you tell I am a coconut cream fiend? I love it mixed with some shakeology or raw cacao & grade b maple syrup ;) 

As you can see all four of these areas are lined with little coasters. These have helped to keep these shelves so clean! They are vinyl so they are super easy to wipe off with a little warm soap and water if the condiments drip or leak. I highly recommend this, plus it makes it look nice. Here I have a cup of bacon fat for cooking (sounds gross I know, but we are switching to a paleo based diet and it's recommended and makes eggs taste oh so good. I am slowly becoming a bacon convert! I also have a little cottage cheese here and I guess my daughter decided her bottle of water was a condiment now hehe

Here is where I keep miscellaneous things like my flax meal and bailey's. Staples.

Here is where most households would store beer. I store water....hmmm.

So that is my fridge! I find cleaning it out every Sunday while I meal plan helps keep the food updated, I can label anything that needs to be used ASAP and work it into the meal plan, and it helps to have clear areas so I can pre-pack lunches for the morning and have a place to put that stuff so our mornings aren't as hectic. It also allows me to clearly see what is for breakfast in the morning without searching through tons of stuff!

I know this seems silly but when you are committed to eating at home almost every night and are committed to eating a healthy diet keeping the fridge clean and organized is key otherwise it can be overwhelming seeing a pile of stuff and questioning it's age, what to do with it, etc. With most things in life-organization is key! 

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