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fridge cleaning

(image: Kyrre Gjerstad)

Your refrigerator isn’t just an appliance. It’s a key kitchen storage center. How do you improve the way your fridge can help you store food efficiently?

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Some days, cleaning my fridge feels like a lesson in microbiology. Whether it’s a rogue onion lurking in the shadows, or a stray Tupperware filled with god knows what, we’ve all tackled a not-so-tidy fridge at some point.

If you’re sick of produce perishing before its time—or rummaging around to find something, anything that’s edible—maybe it’s time to treat your foodstuff with a little more respect. (Before it grows legs and becomes sentient.)

The cost of food waste (a primer)

As leading environmental campaigner Tristram Stuart so eloquently puts it, “There must be something more sensible to do with food than waste it.” Well said, sir. (Slow clap, over here.) While Tristram mainly campaigns for the responsible use of less-appealing-looking food—like misshapen potatoes and vagrant bread crusts—letting good food spoil hits you where you live: it’s a waste of money, time, and resources.

Winning at fridgey things

I’m not here to lecture you about the occasional moldy pepper. Some food waste is unavoidable. But if most of your food is as rotten as a Jennifer Lopez movie—sorry, JLo fans—maybe it’s time to rethink your shopping habits and fridge setup. To win at fridge cleaning and organization, you need to think outside the icebox.

Follow these tips for a fridge that’s as clean as a whistle:

1. Become a basket case

Most fridges are terribly laid out, making it almost impossible to get a bird’s-eye view of your grub. And if you can’t see it, you can’t eat it. It makes perfect sense to hide chocolate chip cookies from sticky hands. But concealed produce and dairy is more problematic.

To get a sneak peak of what’s in stock, store like items together in labelled baskets. You could pair lunchables, condiments, greens, and fruit in separate baskets for easy access. Just toss a blank sticker on the front and label away. If you’re a keener, you could also label your door racks. With a bit of organization, sauces and red peppers won’t drift into the dark recesses of your fridge, only to be exhumed weeks later. When everything’s in its place, you cut back on needless waste.

2. Shop with meals in mind

Everyone knows they shouldn’t go grocery shopping when voraciously hungry. (Unless you need mountains of pies and donuts.) But shopping without a plan is equally fruitless. Instead of grabbing random items, plan out your recipes for the week, and buy only the ingredients you’ll need. Make sure you write a list before you hit the store.

Halfway through a grocery shop, I’ll peak into my cart and assess what I have for each meal, from breakfast to lunch, and dinner and snacks. If nothing can be paired together, I start tossing like an Olympic shot put champion.

3. Invest in fridge mats

Whether it’s tipped-over sauce or meat drippings, scrubbing the gummy insides of your fridge is a job that’s daunting for even the most domestically inclined. Instead of scrubbing and scouring your fridge, again and again, lay down some fridge mats to soak up spills. When it’s time to clean, simply remove the contents of your fridge and wipe down the mats. Voila! Your fridge is as good as new.

Take-Home Lesson
Most of us aren’t fond of rotten food and a messy fridge. But with a few simple organization and mind-set shifts, your food—and fridge—will stay fresh for longer.

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Tanya Roberts

Tanya Roberts is a writer and marketer who loves to spin stories about interior design and home decor. She is principle strategist at Bluefinch.ca