There is nothing quite like opening a fully stocked and perfectly organized squeaky clean fridge. It becomes a well-chilled sanctuary for our precious food and delectable offerings to our late-night cravings. Yet, this sanctuary at times becomes a cemetery where unfortunately sometimes our food rots. It’s either because it’s forgotten in some part of the fridge, it’s not stored well, it sits in an unclean space, or because of poor grocery planning. However there are things you can do to avoid this and turn your fridge into a tool to avoid and reduce of food waste at home. Here are some tips.
Keep it cool.
Set your refrigerator between 1°C to 5 °C. If it’s any warmer, you run the risk of growing harmful bacteria but if it’s any colder some of your food may begin to freeze.
Organising your fridge
Top shelf; Here temperatures are constant so it’s best to keep drinks. Also, this is the first part of the fridge that you’ll look at, so it’s a good idea to keep leftovers stored in clear containers.
Middle shelves; Keep dairy here. Your milk, yogurts, cheese, and eggs should go here. Also, milk should be put at the back of the shelf since this is the coldest bit.
Bottom shelf; This is the coldest shelf, which makes it an ideal place to store raw ingredients. Things like raw meat and fish should be kept here in tight packaging to avoid dripping and cross-contamination.
Drawer; These tend to retain some moisture which is good for produce. You can place your fruits and vegetables here. If you have multiple drawers, use them to separate ethylene producing fruits and vegetables like apples and avocados, from sensitive ones to avoid quick spoilage.
Door; Even though most refrigerator models come with beverage and egg shelves on their door, this is not a good place to keep them. This part of the fridge is prone to temperature fluctuations and is actually the warmest part of the fridge, so avoid storing highly perishable foods. Instead keep your condiments and well-preserved foods here.
Top of the fridge; Usually this part is quite warm so avoid storing any food here. Instead you can keep some small kitchen appliances and utensils, or just your pile of cookbooks.
FIFO – First In, First out; Always move the food that is already there, and it closest to expiration date to the front of the shelves. That way you have a better visualisation of what you need to consume first and you’ll make have space in the back for the new groceries. This also helps to avoid finding a stray yoghurt from 3 months ago in the back of the shelf.
Markers. Set. Go; It’s very likely that you are not the only one using the fridge so labelling the shelves into sections can be a helpful way to keep the fridge organised. Food should also be labelled to avoid the ‘What is this, and when did I make it?’, sure a quick sniff can be suggestive of the answer but better to play it safe and just label it.
Air it out; Air needs to circulate in your fridge to avoid parts of the fridge from becoming too warm or too cold. When you over stock your fridge there isn’t enough air circulation and this can create warm or cold pockets causing food to spoil quicker.
Eat-me first!; This is really handy. Just take any organizing box and stick a post-it saying ‘Eat me first!’ then place all the food which is going to perish soon and needs to be eaten. This will convince everyone in the house to reach for these items before trying anything else.
Keep it together; Food keeps for longer when it’s still whole. Meat, fruit, and veggies expire quickly when they have been chopped, sliced and diced. Keep your foods whole until you’re ready to consume them.
Plastic – not – fantastic; The unfortunate trend of plastic wrapped produce is bad for MULTIPLE reasons, one of these being that food actually spoils quicker. Instead use glass containers, paper bags and, mason jars or a damp tea towel for fresh herbs and leafy vegetables.
Tidy up; In order to keep food good for as long as possible, it’s important that it stays in a clean space. So keep your fridge tidy, clean up any spills and make sure to wash the insides every month.
While we’ve been talking about what goes in to the fridge, it’s equally important to talk about what doesn’t. This may be to avoid altering the texture or flavour of the food, or even it going bad. It can also be to simply save space and keep a tidy ventilated fridge.
- Foods you shouldn’t refrigerate; potatoes, onions, garlic, honey, tomatoes
- Foods that can but don’t need to refrigerated; peanut butter, oils, apples, butter
- Food you must refrigerate; milk, cheese, eggs, meat
What other tips do you follow to keep your fridge in check and avoid wasting food?