Simple Tips To Clean + Organize Your Refrigerator

Today, Debbie shares her favorite tips to help you get a handle on your refrigerator:

When I was single, I found it easy to know what food was in my refrigerator and how long it had been there. Now, however, it’s much harder, because I’m the chief cook and shopper for a family with ADHD. I've found that some simple tweaks have helped keep the fridge so organized that even my kids can find what they need to prepare a meal!

1. Write the “opened” date on perishables, especially those you don’t use often

The printed expiration date won't help you keep track of items whose clock starts ticking once you break the safety seal. For us, that’s sour cream, egg whites, and lunch meats -- stuff that gets dangerous or stinky if it spoils. Knowing the “opened” date can save you from food poisoning if you follow the “use X days after opening” advice on the food’s label.

2. Date your leftovers

When you're packaging up at-home leftovers, write the date on containers in dry-erase marker (you can even buy containers with erasable tags); in restaurants, jot the date on the doggie bag. Bonus in my family: Associating dates with favorite foods has helped my kids understand calendars.

3. Keep a list of leftovers on your fridge

Also on the leftovers front, we use a magnetic dry-erase board on the fridge to keep track of items. Seeing dates helps anyone in your household know what needs using up without having to ask. In our family, it helps me decide what to compost and helps my iron-stomached husband decide what to bring for lunch.

4. Be vigilant about rotation

Particularly when you return home from a grocery store run, be vigilant about placing the newest items in the back and pulling up older foods.

5. Keep food types in consistent places

For example, we have a bread shelf, and our two produce drawers are for “top of the plant” and “bottom of the plant.” Bonus: If everyone knows where an item is supposed to be, they can put it back if they find it in the wrong place.

6. Clean the fridge continually, in parts

When a shelf, drawer, or door compartment empties out (or nearly empties out!), clean it right away. (A good time to do this is when the refrigerator is getting sparse before a grocery run.) Then, when you clear out food before a vacation, clean whatever areas you haven’t touched. These two rules should make it unnecessary for you ever to do a massive cleaning.

Do you have other great refrigerator cleaning and organization tips? Feel free to share in the comments below!

 Quick and continued attention to the contents of your refrigerator will help you avoid those massive clean outs!

Quick and continued attention to the contents of your refrigerator will help you avoid those massive clean outs!

Featured photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash