Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Getting My House in Order: Refrigerator

So, as I mentioned, the ice storm last week gave me plenty of time to get some projects done around the house. The biggest accomplishment was cleaning out the refrigerator, which probably hadn't been done since some time in the summer. It was sorely in need of cleaning and organization, as you can see:

It was a pretty straight-forward project, but it took me a whole afternoon to get it done.  I pulled everything out of the refrigerator one shelf at a time, sorting things as I went.  Then I cleaned off each shelf in the sink before pulling out the next shelf.  Once I had cleaned all the shelves and drawers, I wiped out the interior, dried and reinstalled the shelves, and returned the keepers.  Then I repeated the whole process with the door. My dish washer was about 2/3rds full, and I filled it with the newly emptied containers and ran it immediately. That was handy for banishing odors from a few things which were spoiled.
As I was sorting, I paid a lot of attention to the things that I had let go to waste. I wanted to better organize things and establish a system to make sure we eat what we buy and don't let things turn into science experiments. The main trouble spots I identified were: leftover odds and ends, an insane number of lemon and lime slices, a surplus of homemade salad dressings, and fresh herbs.

The solutions I've come up with for these problem areas are:

1. I designated the top shelf for leftover odds and ends that need to be used up.  We don't usually have a problem with leftover meals going to waste. It's things like half a can of re-fried beans, leftover toppings and sauces, and way too many slices of lemons and limes in tiny containers that make their way to the back of the fridge to die. Hopefully having all these things corralled in one place will help us use things up, and will prevent us from slicing a new lemon when there's half of one already cut.  I'm trying to monitor the shelf and utilize the contents in meals or put things in the freezer before they've been hanging around too long.

2. I'm trying to make only enough dressing for the salad I've made that night. I realized that when I make too much, we just don't end up using it.

3.When I buy fresh herbs, I'm going to try freezing half the bunch in ice cube trays immediately after I've bought it. I almost never use a whole bunch of cilantro or parsley, so it turns to green goo in the produce drawer. Yuck.

So here is the after, almost one week later. The contents have rotated a fair amount. So far the new system is working well, although a week isn't really enough to know if it's standing the test of time.

I'm really pleased with the result. I haven't decided the best use for the top right hand section of the door, though. It has a really flimsy shelf, so I need to make sure I don't put anything heavy there. Right now it has essential oil and ginger for sushi. Also, I can't believe how soon I'll be finding a new use for the eggs/dairy section! Lent is quickly approaching. I'll probably put packed lunches there then. Right now I have that with the breads, just to distinguish it from other leftovers. 

What do methods do you find helpful for managing the refrigerator?


  1. What do methods do you find helpful for managing the refrigerator?

    Managing the refrigerator?


  2. :) I just cleaned mine (ahem, well asked God's forgiveness for wasting food again :( ) and took out the trash. I really need to give it a good clean sometime. I always wish when I am doing this task for a family in the wish that food would then not be wasted but I know my family struggles with it too. Just not right. How to right the situation, I am not yet sure.

    I am glad that God loves us and is merciful to us even when we are not what we wish we are in these sorts of details of life...

  3. Anastasia, my refrigerator is so unruly. If I don't give it frequent stern lectures, it gets right out of line. :) But we all have different failings, so some of you may be better at this than I. For instance, my mother's always seems to keep hers in perfect order. You'd think I could have learned from her.

    Elizabeth, I feel the same way about wasting food. In Christian life, even mundane tasks become reframed as repentance. We thank God for his mercy and try to do better.

  4. I actually do have a way that I organize my fridge... don't make fun of me :)

    We stick to a lot of the same foods around here (eggs, yogurts, fresh produce, cheese, meat-- simple stuff), and each item has a place in the fridge. I go shopping once a week and usually before my weekly trip, my fridge is pretty empty, with the exception of some containers of leftovers.

    Before I go shopping, I can an inventory of what is in there and incorporate it into a list of food to prepare for the next week. It really helps in that I am constantly emptying out my fridge.

    I hope you will be able to keep it organized. :)


Thanks for sharing your thoughts--I love hearing from you!