HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR FRIDGE & FREEZER!
Yes, fridge & freezer organisation is totally a thing, and this is part 2 of my meal planning and preparation.
Without great fridge organisation and/or meal planning you are likely to have a lot of food wastage due to simply forgetting what you have, and what you have getting buried at the back of the fridge. Not only does great Fridge & Freezer organisation help with this, it also makes everything easy to reach and put away.
And to be honest, this was something that didn't really bother me until we really started to knuckle down and work to a budget, and this was when I realised how much money we spent and wasted on food! I was over food spoilage, and not having a plan in place to prevent this.
So if you haven't yet read my earlier blog on Meal Prep you can read that HERE, or if you would LOVE this season's downloadable produce list you can grab it HERE! By buying in-season produce, your food will last longer, be fresher; and likely be grown/produced locally also!
Any good organisation system will work well, and for the entire family. Aim to keep like items together. Keep your deli meats, cheeses, and spreads on the top and middle shelves of the fridge. Things like opened jars and sauces all need refrigerating, however are not as temperature-sensitive, therefore can be stored lower down in the fridge or in the fridge doors. The doors have the most fluctuating temperatures (as closer to opening/always being opened) so things with natural preservatives work well in these areas. I store things like pickles, olives, dips, cheese sticks, medicines, water, juice, wine, and milk here. Pop items like raw meats on the bottom shelves to avoid cross-contamination. I store mine in a basket, (same type as the fresh produce) to catch any drips/juices (not pictured as I didn't have any raw meats in the fridge at the time)
Utilise your fridge draws for all your fresh produce. I use baskets from Big W to section them off/divide them all up, and to separate the already-washed items. The cucumber, tomato, and capsicum in this photo are washed and ready-to-go. The rest of the produce still needs to be cut (obviously), and prepped for meals. When I am cooking for a particular meal, I will wash and cut all of that particular item of produce. And, whatever is unused, I pop into a Pyrex Simply Storage container or in a Tupperware Ventsmart storage container (depending on what it is). I love the Tupperware Ventsmart for things like lettuce, watermelon, capsicum, snap peas, and spinach! It all lasts so much longer. I store my berries in the mini colander from Kmart. Any excess moisture automatically drips underneath, and allows for extra air circulation.
For the storage of foods I use various containers- for different the types and sizes. Before going out and purchasing all of the containers for the fridge, I selected a few to test for size and functionality; to ensure what would store my items well.
And here is what I ended up going with:
I used the House & Home stackable containers from Big W for things like spreads and opened jars of curries, pastes etc. as well as one for the spreads and jams. I used the House & Home Stackable Fridge & Freezer (for the taller & already-opened sauces). The House & Home Stackable with Lids for things like deli meats (stores both the packet and fresh wrapped deli meats really well), cheeses (fits a whole block of cheese plus a bag of parmesan), grapes, as well as butter/margarine. They all work really well, and keep like-items together, and fresh! I literally just slide the container out, and off I go! And most importantly it is an easy system to maintain- by all of us!
For left overs I use either the Pyrex Simply Store Love or Smash Enterprises Lunch Bowl range of items. They both work just as well as one another for leftovers. I just ensure I use the Smash range if I am heading out, or it's for hubby to take to work (plastic not glass). I also use the Pyrex for things like ricotta cheese, freshly cut fruit, or vegetables. It stores really well and stays fresh!
For eggs- I grabbed the egg storage from the Aldi special buys range. I just love how this option holds more than a dozen eggs! It is also stackable,and is often stacked on top of other stackables if I need to add extra items into the fridge. I have 2 spare House & Home Stackable (with, and without a lid). In summary- this layout changes frequently dependent on what arrangement is required/in use.
Some additional other extra tips:
- Clean your fridge on a regular basis- I use a vinegar-based spray, which is now my go-to glass cleaner; using essential oils.
- I wash my fresh fruit and produce with Salt & Bicarb. Wet the produce and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of bicarb, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Let sit for 60 secs, scrub lightly with clean hands, then rinse and dry with a clean tea towel.
- I use the same type of basket for fresh produce as I do for fresh meats and fish, to act as a drip tray on the bottom shelf. (I have one separately allocated just for this)
- Fridge temperature should be set between 1-4 degrees, and ensure you don't put hot food into fridge as it will increase the fridge temperature, and in turn spoil existing food and produce in the fridge.
- Choose the best storage (according to your budget of course) that is easily washable- and wash on a regular basis.
- I buy all my fresh produce such as fruit, veg, deli meats and milk on a weekly basis so it is always at optimal freshness.
- Clean your bench tops, and your kitchen every evening- critical when starting to live a more organised life.
- Shop only for the meals you have planned (don't bring the Hubby ;), and don't overstock the fridge or freezer.
- Have a digital and/or physical filing/display system for any recipes you come across
- Ensure you match the correct storage container with the right food/produce item and think about whether you want it to be used for just the fridge or freezer, in the microwavable, and to be dishwasher safe (or all 3)
- Re-purpose the same item in different ways. For example- with chicken breast: wash, then keep some whole, some diced, some in strips, and some for Schnitzel for example. Save time and always stay a step ahead.
- Labelling is completely up to you.- gauge if you need to add it to your fridge organisation if the visible container system is not working for the whole family.
- I add what we have for leftovers onto my meal planner to ensure we use/eat the lot
Our freezer includes freezer drawers which work amazingly for freezer organisation! So if you are planning on getting a new fridge/freezer I highly recommend draws (more the better)!
I am able to easily categorise all my food/produce items. In the top left we have frozen fruits, peeled/chopped bananas and ice cream. Pretty much anything sweet or smoothie-related lives here. The next shelf down is for frozen meals and fresh meat- that are yet to be cooked. All of my frozen meat and meals are labelled with what type it is, and a date (label date + expiry date)- Fresh frozen meats are stored in either zip lock bags or Pyrex glass containers. Cooked meals are stored in GOODCOOK containers. I label it for example - Spag Bol 15/4/19 or Diced Chicken 15/4/19. I wash the fresh chicken in vinegar and water before I freeze it so it ready-to-go. I also defrost my meats in the fridge. I take it out the night before and pop in the fridge on the drip tray.
The bottom left draw of the fridge has all of my frozen chillies in zip lock bags, as well as any frozen vegetables.
In the top right of the freezer we have ice, hydralyte ice blocks, and ice packs.
Below that lives any frozen breads or pastries.
Bottom right accommodates for any quick ready freezer meals- like chips, pizza pockets, nuggets, garlic bread, fritters etc...
All visible, categorised with like types and labelled- to keep good stock control on the fresh meats and bulk cooked meals.
I can't remember the last time I had to throw anything away from the freezer, this is working incredibly well!
And lastly, a night or two out from grocery shopping day I use up as much of possible from the freezer/fridge- this ends up being a bit of everything meal. It is always a bit of fun and is a great way to clear the deck for new fresh food!
Meal prep and planning, and disciplined food organisation with great storage solutions will not only save you money & time but also also reduce overwhelm and the chaos at meal times.
Thanks for reading and until next time...
Big love Ange x